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Dorothy Lewis Bernstein, 1979-1980 MAA President

Born: April 11, 1914, Chicago, Illinois
Died: February 5, 1988, Providence, Rhode Island

Dorothy Lewis Bernstein was a mathematics professor at Goucher College who was instrumental in introducing computers into mathematics curricula.

Presidency: 1979-1980

In April 1979, Bernstein published "The Role of Applications in Pure Mathematics" in the American Mathematical Monthly based on talks given to the Southeastern Section and the Iowa Section of the MAA a year earlier.

During her presidency, the classification of finite simple groups was thought to be completed with Michael Aschbacher's work in August 1980. A special session on the classification of finite simple groups was held at the 1981 national meeting. A long-standing conjecture by van der Waerden was proved independently by Falikman in 1979 and by Egorychev in 1980.

Education and Career

Bernstein graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin in 1934. She received her Ph.D. from Brown University in 1939. Bernstein taught at Mount Holyoke College, the University of Wisconsin, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Rochester, but she spent the majority of her academic career as a professor of mathematics at Goucher College.

Bernstein taught at Goucher for 21 years, beginning in 1959, and chaired the mathematics department for 15 of them (1960-70, 1974-79). She took sabbatical leaves for research at the Institute for Advanced Study, the University of California at Los Angeles, Brown University, and the University of Tennessee.

Her professional interests included analysis, probability and statistics, and the use of computers in the mathematics curriculum, of which she was an early supporter. Through her efforts, in 1961 Goucher became the first women's college to have a computer. Bernstein co-founded the Maryland Association for the Educational Uses of Computers and helped introduce computers into the high school mathematics curriculum in Baltimore County, Maryland. Bernstein also instituted an internship program for mathematics majors at Goucher.

Bernstein served as first vice president of the MAA in 1972-73 and won the MAA's Certificate of Meritorious Service in 1985. She was also a member of the American Mathematical Society, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

External Resources

Agnes Scott College biography

Pioneering Women in American Mathematics: The Pre-1940 PhD's

MAA Officers Records, Dorothy Lewis Bernstein, President at the Archives of American Mathematics

The Mathematics Genealogy Project

"Dorothy L. Bernstein, 1914-1988" by R.P. Boas (MAA FOCUS, Volume 8, Number 4, page 5)