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Sylvia Trimble Bozeman

  • Ethnicity: African American
  • Gender: F
  • Year of Birth: 1947
  • Place of Birth: Camp Hill, Alabama
Dept. of Mathematics
Spelman College
Atlanta, GA, 30314
(404) 223-7621 Voice
(404) 223-1723


  • PhD Institution: Emory University, 1980
  • Dissertation Title: Representations of Generalized Inverses of Fredholm Operators
  • MS Institution: Vanderbilt University, 1971
  • BS Institution: Alabama A&M University, 1968


"As my career provides me with many opportunities of professional involvement, it is my commitment to always remain 'connected' with mathematics through teaching and/or other scholarly endeavors, and to continue to promote the development of women in mathematics." -- Sylvia Bozeman, 1997

Sylvia T. Bozeman was born in Camp Hill, Alabama as Sylvia Trimble, the third of five children (3boys/2girls) to Mr. Horace T. Trimble, Sr. and Mrs. Robbie Jones Trimble. Although her father worked with numbers daily in his profession as an insurance agent, it was her mother, a housewife, who first cultivated Sylvia's love for mathematics. Her high school mathematics teacher, Mr. Frank Holley, further cultivated her interest. He came back after school and taught trigonometry (a course not offered in the curriculum) to her and a group of committed students. In 1964, she graduated valedictorian of Edward Bell High School in Camp Hill, AL, and in the fall entered Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, AL, with one clear goal: to study mathematics. In Huntsville, she met two mathematicians that had a great influence on her life -- the late Howard Foster, formerly Chair of the Dept. of Math and Physics at A&M and Dr. Robert Bozeman, currently the Chair of the Dept. of Math at Morehouse College. Dr. Foster guided her first research experience in mathematics and was the first person to introduce her to a computer. Robert Bozeman, a classmate, became her life partner through matrimony.

The two were married in 1968, soon after college graduation. In the fall, they matriculated at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN to do graduate study in mathematics. Sylvia Bozeman earned a master's degree in mathematics at Vanderbilt in 1970, and did a year of further study. Robert Bozeman earned his Ph.D. degree in mathematics at Vanderbilt. It was also in Tennessee that their two children were born. Their son Robert, Jr. is a chemical engineer and their daughter Kizzie will receive her MBA from Harvard (Summer 1997).

Although Sylvia Bozeman worked for one year as an instructor of mathematics at Tennessee State University, Nashville, her professional career has primarily been spent as a member of the mathematics faculty at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She began as an instructor in 1972, became assistant professor in 1980, an associate in 1984, and professor in 1991. Moreover Sylvia served as Chair of Math at Spelman (1982-1993), as adjunct faculty in Math at Atlanta University (1983-85) teaching graduate mathematics/ supervising a masters thesis, and became Director of the Center for the Scientific Applications of Mathematics (1993-present), a center she established at Spelman. In the late 1970's, Sylvia took a three-year leave of absence from Spelman to matriculate at Emory University in Atlanta where she earned a Ph.D. degree in mathematics in 1980 in Functional Analysis; her thesis title : "Representations of Generalized Inverses of Fredholm Operators." Her noted scholarly activities include several publications, funded research (by NASA, the US Office of Army Research and the Kellogg Foundation); and her recognitions, contributions, and services as a gifted teacher and presenter. Her many presentations nationally include an invited address at the Joint Winter Mathematics Meeting (1993), at the American Council of Education (1995), at the South Carolina Academy of Science (1988), and at many colleges, universities, conferences, meetings, seminars, symposia, etc. She has been diligently pursued to serve on many boards, councils, etc. and her service includes: the Math. Sc. Ed. Bd.- Nat'l Research Council (1992-95); Bd. Of Dir. - Nat'l Phy. Sc. Consortium (1991-1995); Bd. Of Dir. - Geometry Center (1995-); Bd. Of Gov. - MAA (At-Large Gov, 1989-92); Exec. Council - AWM (1992-); Bd. Of Dir - NAM (VP: 1984-88; Reg. A: 1993-); HRAC-Math. Sc. Rsch. Institute (1992-); Adv. Bd. - GA Coalition for Excellence in Math. Ed. (1990-); Board of Trustees - Spelman College (1993-); and Sigma Xi Rsch. Society.

Sylvia Bozeman also has a strong commitment to community service. The elementary students' Tutorial Program at Friendship Baptist Church is one of her favorites. Her awards, honors, and recognitions are many. They include: Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award - Al A&M Univ/NAFEO (1996); Pres. Fac. Award for Dist. Service - Spelman (1995); Dist. Teaching Award - Southeastern Section of the MAA(1995); White House Initiative Fac. Award for Excell. in Sc. & Tech. (1988); Tenneco UNCF Award for Excell. in Teaching (1988) and election to Phi Beta Kappa and to Pi Mu Epsilon Honorary Math. Fraternity. In 1997 Sylvia Bozeman was selected to be the Project Shepherd of the most expensive construction project in the history of Spelman: the $25 million (+) Spelman College Science Center. Also in 1997, Sylvia Bozeman was elected Governor of the Southeastern Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).

She is the first African-American to be elected a Section Governor in MAA's eight-two year history. The MAA is the largest mathematics organization of college and university professors, and the Southeastern Section is one of the largest sections. Dr. Sylvia Bozeman's mentor is her friend of many years, Dr. Etta Falconer.

[Johnny L. Houston, The Executive Secretary of NAM]

This biography first appeared in NAM's Newsletter, Summer Issue, 1997. It has been reprinted with permission from NAM.