This Day in History: 1938-04-05

Prominent educator Walter Eugene Massey is born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  His father, Almar, was a steelworker and his mother, Essie, a teacher.  Massey had an exceptional mind, even at an early age.  By the time he finished 10th grade, his skills in mathematics were strong enough to earn him a college scholarship.  Massey enrolled at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated with a BS in math and physics in 1958. While working on his master’s and doctorate degrees at Washington University in St. Louis, Massey conducted research on the quantum of liquids and solids.  He received a PhD in 1966.  Massey began his teaching career as an associate professor at the University of Illinois then moved to Brown University in 1970, becoming a full professor five years later. Massey became the first African American president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and as a director of the National Science Foundation, where he promoted more opportunities for minority students in math, science, and engineering programs at predominately white institutions. Massey also served as chair of the board of directors of Bank of America, chair of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board in 1997, and member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Learn more.