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.


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 MS in Mathematical Sciences first offered (first graduates in 1989)
1993 Ph.D. in Mathematical Sciences first offered (first graduate, Lucia Kimball in 1997)
1997 27 faculty comprised the department.  Center for Industrial Mathematics and Statistics (CIMS) was established.
2001 Professional Science master's degree programs first offered (first graduates in 2002 and 2003)
2004 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

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

Stratton Hall

Stratton Hall, the home of WPI’s Department of Mathematical Sciences, was built in 1894 and named for WPI trustee Charles G. Stratton, Class of 1885. From 1943 to 1946, the building also served as quarters for seamen who were part of the U.S. Navy’s V-12 training program.