Agnes Scott College

Lida Barrett

Lida Barrett

May 21, 1927 -

Lida K. Barrett is a mathematician and mathematics educator. Born in Houston, Texas, she holds a baccalaureate from Rice University (1946), a masters from the University of Texas (1949), and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania (1954)--all in mathematics. Her dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania was on "Regular Curves and Regular Points of Finite Order," written under the supervision of John Kline and Dick Anderson.

Immediately following graduation from Rice she was employed as a mathematician at the Schlumberger Well Surveying Corporation. The academic year 1947-48 she taught at the Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman's University.) Following her doctorate she taught one year at the University of Connecticut while her husband held a postdoctoral appointment at Yale.

She has served as a mathematics faculty member at the University of Utah and the University of Tennessee and as Head of the mathematics department at the University of Tennessee from 1973 to 1980. She has served as an administrator and mathematics faculty member at Northern Illinois University, where she was Associate Provost, and at Mississippi State University, where she was Dean of Arts and Sciences. After retirement as Dean Emerita from MSU, she was a Senior Associate to the head of the Education Directorate at the National Science Foundation for three years and then a Professor of Mathematics at the United States Military Academy at West Point for three years.

While at Tennessee, during her husband's tenure as department head, she ran an independent mathematical consulting business, including editorial work for book publishers, primarily for calculus texts, and work at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Her thesis work and initial publications were in General Topology. At Oak Ridge, her work and publications were in applied mathematics. Her recent work and publications have been in mathematics education.

She has been active in the American Mathematics Society, including chairing the Committee on Employment and Educational Policy (1979-82). In the Mathematical Association of American she served on a large number of committees and as President in 1989 and 1990. As the second female president of the MAA, she sought to increase minority membership and involvement in the MAA and within the mathematics community. She helped initiate and enhance MAA programs and committees highlighting minority interests. In 2008 the Mathematical Association of America presented Barrett with the Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics [Citation].

She was on the planning committee for the International Congress in Mathematics Education in Madrid, Spain, in July of 1996. She was a member of the advisory committee of the Harvard Calculus Consortium and of the Adolescence and Young Adult/Mathematics Standards committee for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.


  1. Personal communication
  2. Lida Baker Kittrell Barrett, 1989-1990 MAA President, Mathematical Association of America website
  3. Interviewed by Kenneth Ross, MAA Focus, December 2103/January 2014, p30-31.
  4. Author Profile at zbMath
  5. MathSciNet [subscription required]
  6. Mathematics Genealogy Project

Photo Credit: Photograph is used with permission of Lida Barrett