Skip To Content
Etta Z. Falconer

Etta Z. Falconer Lecture Series

Etta Z. Falconer Lecture Series at Spelman College

The Etta Z. Falconer Mathematics Lecture Series honors and celebrates the memory and legacy of Etta Z. Falconer, Ph.D., Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Mathematics at Spelman College until her retirement in 2002.

Dr. Falconer earned her doctorate degree from Emory University with a dissertation titled, “Quasigroups Invariant Under Isotopy,” directed by Trevor Evans. She began teaching at Spelman in 1965 and served the College with distinction for 37 years, contributing vision, leadership and tireless energy.

Start of QuoteI have devoted my entire life to increasing the number of highly qualified African Americans in mathematics and mathematics related careers. High expectations, the building of self confidence, and the creation of a nurturing environment have been essential components for the success of these students. They have fully justified my beliefs. Perhaps the most rewarding moments have come when younger faculty have undertaken the same goal and have surpassed my efforts -- reaching out to the broader community to help minorities and women achieve in mathematics.End of Quote

Leona A. Harris Gives 16th Etta Z. Falconer Lecture

Wednesday, April 13, 2022 | 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

  • Albro-Falconer-Manley Science Center, NASA Auditorium, Room 134

Spelman College's Etta Falconer Lecture With Leona Harris

The Making of a Mathematician Through Inspiration, Empowerment, and Mentorship: Reflections on My Mathematical Journey Lecture by Leona A. Harris, Ph.D., C'95

"Whenever I reflect back on my years as a student in the Spelman College mathematics department, I cannot help but boast about the many lessons I learned that have shaped my professional trajectory, my world view and civic responsibility, and my commitment to diversifying the mathematical sciences," said Harris.

Her Falconer lecture will explore the impact of a legacy of inspiration, empowerment, and mentorship on her career path and life’s work. During the talk, she will reflect on her journey from student to professor to administrator to public servant. She will also share how she discovered the power of potential, possibilities, and purpose along the way. 

Spelman Alumna Leonora Harris Gives Etta Falconer LectureAbout Dr. Harris

Dr. Leona A. Harris is an energetic, innovative, and meticulous professional with over 20 years of experience in research, education and administration. Dr. Harris currently serves as the director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the American Mathematical Society (AMS). She began this new role in January 2022, and is leading efforts to promote equity, diversity and inclusion within the AMS and the broader mathematics community.

Before joining the AMS, Dr. Harris served as a program analyst in the Office of Science at the Center for Tobacco Products of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  At the FDA, she led data strategy, reporting, and analysis efforts for a team responsible for support and implementation of the Office of Science’s strategic planning and process improvement initiatives.

Dr. Harris is an applied mathematician specializing in mathematical biology. She graduated magna cum laude from Spelman College with a B.S. in mathematics and earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in applied mathematics from North Carolina State University as a National Physical Science Consortium fellow. After graduate school, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), before entering the academy as a mathematics professor.

Dr. Harris is an accomplished educator with experience teaching all levels of undergraduate mathematics to diverse populations of students, including first-generation college students, transfer students, and adult learners. Dr. Harris spent ten years at The College of New Jersey, where she was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor of Mathematics and held several leadership roles, including Faculty Senator, Chair of the Applied Mathematics Committee, and Career Advising Coordinator.

During her tenure at the University of the District of Columbia, Dr. Harris was an associate professor of mathematics and served as chair of the Division of Sciences and Mathematics, where she provided leadership and oversight over the mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics programs.

Dr. Harris has a demonstrated commitment to increasing the numbers of minorities and women pursuing careers and higher degrees in science and mathematics through her involvement in a variety of regional and national diversity initiatives. She has served as the executive director and interim president of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM), co-chair of the Diversity Committee for Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI); and co-founder of the Infinite Possibilities Conference (IPC).

Throughout her career, Dr. Harris has forged strong partnerships with a broad range of college faculty and professionals in education, industry, and government through academic support programs, interdisciplinary research, curriculum and program development, and professional association engagement.

Falconer Devoted Her Life to the Education of Future Mathematicians

Etta Z. Falconer Lecture Series at Spelman

Among her many official roles, Dr. Falconer served as chair of the Department of Mathematics, chairperson of the Division of Natural Sciences, associate provost for science programs and policy, and interim provost of the College.

In these and other professional roles beyond the College, she initiated and led many special projects which have increased the participation of women, African Americans and other under-represented groups in mathematics, science and engineering careers. Her work continues to have far-reaching impact today.

In 1995, Dr. Falconer was awarded the Association for Women in Mathematics' Louise Hay Award for Contributions to Mathematics Education.

At Spelman, Dr. Falconer's legacy includes a significant impact on the dual degree engineering program, the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Scholars Program, and the Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE) Program, as well as several science departments. The science building is named Albro-Falconer-Manley Science Center in her honor.

Past Etta Z. Falconer Lecture Speakers

  • 2019Expand
  • 2018Expand
  • 2017Expand
  • 2016Expand
  • 2015Expand
  • 2014Expand
  • 2013Expand
  • 2012Expand
  • 2011Expand
  • 2010Expand
  • 2009Expand
  • 2008Expand
  • 2007Expand
  • 2006Expand
  • 2005Expand

Give To Spelman Mathematics

The Department of Mathematics relies on the support from alumnae and friends who share in our commitment to excellence. Individual and corporate gifts enable the department to enhance its programs and attract and retain STEM student scholars. To make a secure gift to the Dr. Etta Z. Falconer Scholarship for Mathematics at Spelman College, use the button below, click the OTHER box and type "Falconer Scholarship" in the gift designation box.

Make A Gift Today

College representatives are available to assist you in exploring the many giving options and structuring a gift that is right for you. Please contact our fundraising team with additional questions.

Cassandra Joseph, Leadership Gifts Officer 
Work: 404-270-5057 | Cell: 404-798-6296

Contact Us

Mathematics Department
Science Center

Additional Contact Info

College Bulletin

Math Majors
on the Move