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Scott W. Williams

  • Ethnicity: African American
  • Gender: M
Dr. William's Home Page


  • Ph.D. Institution: Lehigh University, 1969
  • MS Institution: Lehigh University,1967
  • BS Institution: Morgan State College, 1964


Scott Williams is an only grandchild. His grandparents strongly valued Education. Thus, all of his aunts and uncles on both sides had Master's degrees at least. His mother Beryl E. Williams was the first Black to graduate from the University of Maine (1936), later earning the M.S. in mathematics (1940). His father, Roger K. Williams, was one of the first Blacks to earn a Ph.D. in Psychology (Penn State U - 1946). When he was 12, Scott Williams' mother took him to see the M.I.T. campus during a family trip to Boston. After her description of the Institute as a great place of mathematical learning, he said, "Mom, I will get a Ph.D. here in Mathematics."

Despite a nearly perfect College Board Exam (now the SAT) math score, Williams failed to get a scholarship to MIT. So he attended Morgan State College (now University), along with Earl Barnes and Arthur Grainger and became involved as a student in Dr. Clarence Stephen's mathematics learning program, now known as the Morgan-Potsdam Model. By the time Scott Williams received a B.S. in Mathematics from Morgan State College (1964), he had solved 4 advanced problems in The Mathematical Monthly and had co-authored two papers on Non-Associative Algebra with his undergraduate advisor, Dr. Bohun Volodymir-Chudyniv. That work and a 96% on the Advanced Mathematics Graduate Record Exam assured him he would be accepted into the Yale University Ph.D. program. However, for unknown reasons he was not accepted into Yale. So after working in the Product Testing Division of International Business Machines on the IBM 360, he entered Lehigh University's graduate program and distinguished himself in his first year by producing many new examples in Dr. Albert Wilansky's Ph.D. student topology seminar. He earned an M. S. in Mathematics from Lehigh University (1967) and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Lehigh University (1969).

After a postdoctoral position at Pennsylvania State University (1969-71), Williams joined the State University of New York at Buffalo in a two-year Affirmative Action position. Because of his research, an appointment to a normal position followed, and after a nasty and divisive battle, he was appointed Associate Professor with tenure in 1977. He became Full Professor in 1985.

Dr. Williams has published 33 papers in Topology and Set Theory. His work in his fourth paper, "The G-delta -topology on compact spaces," Fundamental Mathematicae 83 (1974), pp. 143-149, established him as one of the rising stars in General Topology. In 1975 he became the first to apply the notion of scales from Logic to solve problems in Topology. His 1978 work on Boolean Algebras began the now popular technique of using trees to study Stone-Cech Remainders. His 1987 work with Jan Pelant of the Czech Academy of Sciences solved two 30-year-old problems in the field of Topological Dynamics.

Dr. Williams has given nearly 90 invited conference lectures, colloquia, and seminar lectures on his mathematics research at 56 institutions in seven countries and is a columnist with the journal Topology Atlas. Scott Williams has also a great interest in teaching. He has lectured to high ability high school students many times over the past 20 years. In 1983 he was awarded the State University of New York's Chancellor Award for Excellence in Teaching. His interest in the history of blacks in mathematics led to his world wide web book, "Mathematicians of the African Diaspora," which has received numerous awards. He has also served as an advisor to programs for the National Research Council and the National Science Foundation. He is co-founder of the Council for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences.

Along with his interest in mathematics, Williams has also been a community activist. At Lehigh University, he founded, along with the other three Black students at the school, the Black Uhuru Society which later became the Black Student Union. At the time, this was the only functioning civil rights organization in the area. His work in the Buffalo community has also been the source of awards. He is also talented in the written, visual, and audio arts.

[Scott W. Williams]