May 25, 2008
Mary Gray, you are a statistician with an illustrious career whose commitment to advancing the cause of women and minorities transcends the traditional boundaries of your field.
Your graduation as only the second woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Kansas foreshadowed a professional life in which you would be testing and dismantling artificial barriers to achievement. Your research has probed, notably, equity and discrimination by gender and race in myriad venues. By analyzing salaries, test scores, promotion rates, and insurance and pension data you have exposed patterns of human and institutional behavior invisible to the casual observer. Your work has had direct application in countless industries and social service sectors, from information technology to primary education to sports, and it has helped lay a sound foundation for equitable and just practices in all of them.
In 1979, you earned your law degree, summa cum laude, and you have brought your expertise to bear on organizations, in the court, and in the U.S. Congress. The area perhaps closest to your heart, and the subject of your most intense scrutiny, has been women and minorities in education, and in mathematics in particular. We all remember the grim days when Barbie said, "Math class is tough." That time is long behind us, we hope. You have been outspoken and engaged, as a scholar, faculty member, and citizen to pave the way for generations of future scientists and mathematicians as diverse as the society from which they come. You were the founding director of the Association for Women in Mathematics and were named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, from which you earned the Lifetime Mentoring Award in 1995--just one of your many honors.
You have explored issues of economic development, gender equality, and human rights in areas of great need, from Palestine to Kosovo. You have worked with USAID and the State Department on schools and human rights in Iraq, and you chaired the U.S. Board of Directors of Amnesty International.
Dr. Gray, you affirm Mary Lyon's conviction over a century and a half ago that women should do math and science. You remind us that as citizens we must use our knowledge and influence, wherever we are, to make the world a better place. It is with great honor that I confer upon you the degree Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
Honorary Degree Address
By Mary W. Gray