Agnes Scott College

Dorothy Lewis Bernstein

Dorothy Bernstein

April 11, 1914 - February 5, 1988

First woman President of the Mathematical Association of America (1979-1980).

The following obituary appeared in the July 1988 issue of SIAM News. It is reprinted here with permission of the SIAM News.

Dorothy L. Bernstein, professor emeritus of mathematics at Goucher College, died on February 5 at the age of 73.

After simultaneously receiving bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin in 1934, Bernstein graduated from Brown University in 1939 with a PhD in mathematics [with a dissertation on "The Double Laplace Integral" (Abstract)]. She taught at Mt. Holyoke College, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Rochester [1943-1959] before joining the Goucher faculty as a professor mathematics in 1959. She taught at Goucher for 21 years, serving as department chair from 1960 to 1970 and 1974 to 1979.

Bernstein was among the early proponents of the use of computers in college mathematics courses. In 1961, largely as a result of her efforts, Goucher College became the first women's college to have its own computer. She was one of the three founders of the Maryland Association for the Educational Uses of Computers and, by developing and directing summer programs, was instrumental in introducing computers into the Baltimore County high school mathematics curriculum.

In the 1970s Bernstein organized a cooperative program for mathematics majors at Goucher College, establishing internships in local industries, business, and government.

During a sabbatical at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, she wrote the book Existence Theorems in Partial Differential Equations [Preface]. In addition to her numerous papers, talks, and lectures, she served on many national committees and on the advisory panels of professional societies and the National Science Foundation.

President of the Mathematical Association of America from 1979 to 1981, Bernstein was the first woman to hold that office. She was later elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Other honors include an honorary degree from Towson State University for her leadership among mathematician-educators and citations from MAA for her role in advancing the status of women in mathematics. She was also a member of the American Mathematical Society and SIAM.


  1. Moskol, Ann. "Dorothy Lewis Bernstein," Women of Mathematics: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook, Edited by Louise S. Grinstein and Paul J. Campbell, Greenwood Press (1987), 17-20.
  2. "Dorothy Lewis Bernstein, American mathematician," Notable Twentieth-Century Scientists, Emily McMurray, Editor, Gale Research Inc. (1995), p162.
  3. Obituary, SIAM News, July 1988.
  4. Obituary, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, April 1988, p543.
  5. Bernstein, Dorothy. "Women Mathematicians before 1950," AWM Newsletter, Vol. 9, No. 4 (1979), 9-11. [Reprint in Complexities: Women in Mathematics, Bettye Anne Case and Anne Leggett, Editors, Princeton University Press (2005), 204-205.]
  6. Author Profile at zbMath
  7. MathSciNet [subscription required]
  8. Mathematics Genealogy Project

Photo Credit: Photograph is used with permission of the MAA Committee on Participation of Women and is taken from Winning Women Into Mathematics, published by the Mathematical Association of America, 1991.