Mary P. Dolciani Biography
Mary P. Dolciani is remembered for the great impact she had on students and for her professionalism in the mathematics community. Her enthusiasm for mathematics, teaching, writing, and research and her love of life continue to be inspirations to many. She was a teacher of undergraduate students and a teacher of teachers for 42 years. In her memory, the Houghton-Mifflin Company made a gift to the Mathematics Education Trust (MET), establishing a fund for the improvement of the quality of mathematics teaching.
Dolciani received her B.A. from Hunter College and her Ph.D. from Cornell University, where she was an Erastus Brooks fellow and an Olmsted fellow. Later, she continued her studies at Oxford University in England and at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. Dolciani was known as the "Master Teacher." She taught at Vassar College for 2 years, and then she taught for 40 years at her alma mater, Hunter College, were she also served as chairperson of the mathematics department and provost. Later she became dean for academic development at the City University of New York.
As a writer and researcher, Dolciani wrote a series of mathematics textbooks that have been translated into French and Spanish and have sold more than 50 million copies around the world. She developed the first multimedia mathematics learning laboratory in the New York City University system and the laboratory is still thriving today. She directed many National Science Foundation institutes and New York State Education Department institutes for mathematics teachers.
As a leader in mathematics and a member of the School Mathematics Study Group, Dolciani developed new curricula for secondary school mathematics. She also served on the U.S. Commission on Mathematical Instruction of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. She was a member of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), serving on the Board of Governors and as a member of the Committee on Publications. The MAA later named a series of expository essays in her honor, the Dolciani Mathematical Expositions.
Her accomplishments and contributions to the field of mathematics will continue to be remembered in a special way. The MAA headquarters in Washington, D.C., is named the Dolciani Mathematical Center. In 1979 the building was dedicated by Mary Dolciani as a living tribute to her father, an immigrant who died at a young age and struggled to provide for her education.
Mary P. Dolciani died in 1985.