Alumni Highlight: Dr. Genevieve M. Knight, ’61

Alumna helped transform mathematics education

May. 10, 2018

FVSU Alumna Dr. Genevieve M. Knight, 1961 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1999 for her extraordinary effectiveness in helping people from underrepresented groups excel in mathematics. She helped found the Benjamin Banneker Association, a national non-profit organization and partner affiliate with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), dedicated to mathematics education advocacy, establishing a presence for leadership, and professional development to support teachers in leveling the playing field for mathematics learning of the highest quality for African-American students.

Her impact is evident by the accolades she garnered seemingly everywhere she served as an educator. While working at Hampton Institute in 1980, the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics awarded her the College Teacher of the Year Award. Coppin State University presented her with the Louise Kerr Hines Distinguished Faculty Award in 1990. Maryland State College (University of Maryland-College Park) named her Mathematics Teacher of the Year in 1993. The faculty members of the Mathematical Association of American gave her their Distinguished Teaching Award for faculty from Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC and she was named the Wilson H. Elkins Distinguished Professor for the entire University System of Maryland. Fittingly, the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities presented her with the Outstanding Faculty Award for Mathematics and Mentoring of Minority Youth.

Dr. Knight was born in Brunswick, Georgia and earned her B.S. in mathematics from Fort Valley State College in 1961. She went on to earn an M.S. in mathematics from Atlanta University and a Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Maryland. She overcame communication problems due in large part to throat issues, and then went on to be a star student. She earned straight As as a freshman FVSC student after faculty encouraged her to change her major from home economics to mathematics. During the civil rights movement, she was actively engaged in fighting social injustice in her own way, particularly in addressing the logistics involved in making the mass demonstrations successful. She was inspired to enter mathematics as the Russians launched the Sputnik satellite to orbit Earth, and answered President John F. Kennedy’s call for Americans to help put a man on the moon by becoming more proficient in the math and science fields.

Learn more about Dr. Knight from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.