Department History

Graph of ph.d degrees over time

In 1997 the UW-Madison Mathematics Department celebrated the 100th anniversary of the granting of the first PhD in Mathematics by the University of Wisconsin.

The first Wisconsin Mathematics PhD was awarded to Henry Freeman Stecker in 1897 with a thesis titled “On the roots of equations, particularly the imaginary roots of numerical equations.” Stecker, a native of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, went on to have a successful career at Penn State University.

The peak years of PhD production were 1970 and 1971. Thirty nine people received their PhDs in each of those years. It is interesting to note that two of the first five PhDs from this department were granted to women.