Mathematics at The College of New Rochelle

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Mathematics at the College of New Rochelle

 In 1905, the College of St. Angela (renamed the College of New Rochelle in 1910) catalog noted that all applicants were required to have both algebra and geometry for acceptance. Four courses in math through calculus were required for graduation. Freshmen were required to take an examination in math to determine their level of knowledge.

Over the years, the entry requirement for mathematics has been fairly consistent (usually, three years of mathematics), but required mathematics courses for graduation soon disappeared as more specialized areas of concentration developed.  The Mathematics and Physics departments have always been linked, often sharing faculty members. When the new “Gymnasium” (Chidwick) opened in 1907, it had a well-equipped Physics laboratory. Some of the early instruments of the Physics department were displayed in 2015 in Gill Library and online.

Most early CNR graduates were prepared to be teachers. Teaching was an available profession for women college graduates in an era when few women worked outside the home. As the Depression approached in the late 1920’s and a salaried job became a greater need, the College began to offer a degree in secretarial studies. However, by the 1940’s the Dean and faculty decided that a more rigorous academic curriculum was needed, and the practical courses like secretarial studies and home economics were eliminated.

Mathematics and physics courses continued to attract students who found good employment in the business world, banking, and teaching especially during and after World War II. Expertise in mathematics was and continues to be a very “marketable” skill.

The more rigorous curriculum of the 1950’s and 1960’s brought more professors and students into the Mathematics & Physics Department, and more advanced courses were added.  However, women college graduates continued to be relegated to auxiliary roles in many areas of employment.  This “glass ceiling” for women opened a crack when IBM and new computing businesses began to recruit women math majors as programmers in the 1960’s.  Eileen Mooney (CNR ’65) rose to be a senior VP at IBM and moved later to Apple. The sole Physics major graduating in 1967 was hired by General Electric for the then- astronomical salary of $10,000! Times were changing and by the late 1960’s there were an increasing number of CNR mathematics majors who found ready employment upon graduation.

 In 1981, the Mathematics Department offered its first Introduction to Computing. The Department continues to offer this course and a greater variety of others including Physics requirements.

Gill Library users will note that the majority of mathematics books listed in the online catalog are E-books, available online, available at any time for researchers.

 Martha Counihan, OSU

Archivist/Special Collections Librarian