The Department of Mathematical Sciences at WPI is as old as the university itself. The timeline below highlights key moments in the history of the department, its programs, and its home building, Stratton Hall.

1868 WPI opened its doors to the first incoming class
Harriett Goodrich was the first to teach Mathematics at WPI
1869 John E. Sinclair succeeded Goodrich
1870 Thomas E. N. Eaton joined the faculty
1894 Stratton Hall completed
1954 8 professors comprised the mathematics faculty
1958 Undergraduate major in mathematics first offered (first graduates in 1962)
1962 The department grew to 12 professors
1963 WPI received its first computer, housed in Stratton Hall
1972 The first woman to graduate from WPI, Leslie Small, earned her B.S. in Mathematics
1979 Name changed to Department of Mathematical Sciences
1987 Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences first offered (first graduates in 1989)

Ph.D. in Mathematical Sciences first offered (first graduate, Lucia Kimball in 1997)


27 faculty comprised the department.  Center for Industrial Mathematics and Statistics (CIMS) was established.


Professional Master's degree programs first offered (first graduates in 2002 and 2003)


The Board of Trustees elects as the 15th President of WPI, a mathematician Dennis Berkey

2005 Research and education funding reached 1.8 Million Dollars

Learn more about the history of Stratton Hall in the WPI Tech Bible.  

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Department Heads

  • John E. Sinclair, 1868-1908
  • Levi L. Conant, 1908-1916
  • Arthur D. Butterfield, 1916-1917
  • Raymond K. Morley, 1917-1955
  • Harris Rice, 1955-1957
  • Richard N. Cobb, 1957-1960
  • Elliot L. Buell, 1960-1968
  • John P. Van Alstyne, 1968-1971 (Acting)
  • J. J. Malone, 1971-1978
  • Paul W. Davis, 1978-1983
  • Bruce C. McQuarrie, 1983-1986
  • Gordon C. Branche, 1986-1987 (Interim)
  • Samuel M. Rankin, III, 1987-1995
  • Gordon C. Branche, 1995-1997 (Interim)
  • Homer F. Walker, 1997-2002
  • Bogdan Vernescu, 2003-2013
  • Luca Capogna, 2013-present