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Dr Joseph Alphonso Pierce Sr.

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Dr Joseph Alphonso Pierce Sr.

Birth
Waycross, Ware County, Georgia, USA
Death
18 Sep 1969 (aged 67)
San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, USA
Burial
Houston, Harris County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID
96797812 View Source


A.B. from Atlanta University; M.A. University of Michigan
Ph.D. (1938) from University of Michigan

Joseph Pierce was the son of William Arthur Pierce, a Methodist minister, and Fannie McGraw. Orphaned at an early age, Pierce was raised by his maternal uncle, Joseph McGraw, in Waycross. Following studies in sociology and business and participation in varsity football, in 1925 Pierce received a B.A. degree from Atlanta University. He accepted an assignment as assistant coach at Texas College in Tyler, Texas, but upon arrival he learned that he would also be required to teach mathematics. Four years of teaching mathematics proved so agreeable that Pierce adopted it as his profession.He returned to school at the University of Michigan to earn an M.S. in mathematics in 1930, and he became professor of mathematics at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. Pierce married Juanita George in 1933; they had one child.

In 1938 Pierce earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Michigan with a dissertation on statistical sampling. In that work and subsequent publications, he generalized previous sampling theory for grouped data to show that a single formula could be applied to both finite and infinite populations, and he made contributions to the theory of time series analysis as well. Pierce was appointed professor of mathematics at Atlanta University in 1938; the following year he served as project supervisor for the National Youth Administration in Georgia while carrying his normal teaching load at the university.

In 1948 Pierce returned to Texas as professor and chairman of the mathematics department at Texas State College for Negroes, now Texas Southern University (TSU). Pierce accepted added responsibility as chairman of the Division of Natural Physical Sciences in 1950 and was named dean of graduate studies in 1952. He continued teaching mathematics in addition to these duties until 1963.

Admission to graduate programs had been denied to blacks at southern universities until 1948, when Texas State College for Negroes was granted authority to confer the master's degree. Thus there was a pent-up demand for graduate degrees, particularly in education, and when Pierce took over as dean of graduate studies, he faced burgeoning enrollment and faculty overloads. He was particularly effective in recruiting senior professors from nearby universities to assist with this demand for graduate faculty. Master's degrees conferred by TSU rose dramatically, from ninety-five in 1948 to a peak of 304 in 1955. In the first ten years of Pierce's tenure as dean, TSU conferred a total of 2,287 master's degrees and 3,663 bachelor's degrees. In 1963, when the Manned Spacecraft Center was established near Houston, Pierce and B. A. Turner, TSU dean of technology, were released from teaching duties for eighteen months to recruit minority engineers for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Although his health was poor and he was planning retirement, in 1966 Pierce was appointed interim president, and later president, of TSU. The decade of the 1960s was a period of intense unrest among blacks and on college campuses, and the one academic year in which Pierce served as president was marred by that general turmoil. After retiring from TSU in 1967, Pierce served as a consultant to NASA. Two years after his retirement,however, he died in San Antonio, Texas.

Published by The Mathematics Department of
The State University of New York at Buffalo.

Maintained by Scott W. Williams
Professor of Mathematics


A.B. from Atlanta University; M.A. University of Michigan
Ph.D. (1938) from University of Michigan

Joseph Pierce was the son of William Arthur Pierce, a Methodist minister, and Fannie McGraw. Orphaned at an early age, Pierce was raised by his maternal uncle, Joseph McGraw, in Waycross. Following studies in sociology and business and participation in varsity football, in 1925 Pierce received a B.A. degree from Atlanta University. He accepted an assignment as assistant coach at Texas College in Tyler, Texas, but upon arrival he learned that he would also be required to teach mathematics. Four years of teaching mathematics proved so agreeable that Pierce adopted it as his profession.He returned to school at the University of Michigan to earn an M.S. in mathematics in 1930, and he became professor of mathematics at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. Pierce married Juanita George in 1933; they had one child.

In 1938 Pierce earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Michigan with a dissertation on statistical sampling. In that work and subsequent publications, he generalized previous sampling theory for grouped data to show that a single formula could be applied to both finite and infinite populations, and he made contributions to the theory of time series analysis as well. Pierce was appointed professor of mathematics at Atlanta University in 1938; the following year he served as project supervisor for the National Youth Administration in Georgia while carrying his normal teaching load at the university.

In 1948 Pierce returned to Texas as professor and chairman of the mathematics department at Texas State College for Negroes, now Texas Southern University (TSU). Pierce accepted added responsibility as chairman of the Division of Natural Physical Sciences in 1950 and was named dean of graduate studies in 1952. He continued teaching mathematics in addition to these duties until 1963.

Admission to graduate programs had been denied to blacks at southern universities until 1948, when Texas State College for Negroes was granted authority to confer the master's degree. Thus there was a pent-up demand for graduate degrees, particularly in education, and when Pierce took over as dean of graduate studies, he faced burgeoning enrollment and faculty overloads. He was particularly effective in recruiting senior professors from nearby universities to assist with this demand for graduate faculty. Master's degrees conferred by TSU rose dramatically, from ninety-five in 1948 to a peak of 304 in 1955. In the first ten years of Pierce's tenure as dean, TSU conferred a total of 2,287 master's degrees and 3,663 bachelor's degrees. In 1963, when the Manned Spacecraft Center was established near Houston, Pierce and B. A. Turner, TSU dean of technology, were released from teaching duties for eighteen months to recruit minority engineers for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Although his health was poor and he was planning retirement, in 1966 Pierce was appointed interim president, and later president, of TSU. The decade of the 1960s was a period of intense unrest among blacks and on college campuses, and the one academic year in which Pierce served as president was marred by that general turmoil. After retiring from TSU in 1967, Pierce served as a consultant to NASA. Two years after his retirement,however, he died in San Antonio, Texas.

Published by The Mathematics Department of
The State University of New York at Buffalo.

Maintained by Scott W. Williams
Professor of Mathematics


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