The Passing of Olga R. Beaver

To the Williams Community,

I am very sad to report the death this morning of a true stalwart of our faculty, Professor of Mathematics Ollie Beaver, who taught as recently as this semester despite advancing illness.

While a small girl in her native Prague, she and her family fled the country in front of the growing wave of Soviet influence. They lived in West Germany for a time before settling in the U.S.Olga R. Beaver

Ollie earned her Ph.D., at UMASS Amherst, when that was quite a difficult path for a young mother, and in 1979 joined what was then a much smaller and male-dominated math department than the one she helped it become. From the start she was especially dedicated to women and minority students in math and science. She help found, and for many years directed, the Summer Science Program that has given countless Williams students a strong footing in those subjects. She often mentored those students throughout their four years.

Meanwhile, she pursued her research in measure and probability theory. She was the second person ever to win the Louise Hay Award from the Association for Women in Mathematics, and the phenomenal growth in our math department is attributable in no small part to her.

A college citizen of the highest order, she served also as department chair, as the Gaudino Scholar, and for many years as chair of the Winter Study Committee. In fact, the list of her committee assignments is impressively long. She loved all this work, and set about doing it effectively and without fanfare.

After such a painfully swift loss, our thoughts and hearts will be for a long time with her family, especially her husband Don, professor of history of science.

Adam Falk