Graduate Students

100 Years Ago, Georgiana Simpson Made History as the First Black Woman to Graduate with a Ph.D.

Third-year students Marla Anderson (right) and Dayo Adeoye pose with the bust of Georgiana Simpson in the Reynolds Club at the University of Chicago. Anderson and Adeoye created the Georgiana Simpson Organization last year to honor Simpson's pioneering legacy and foster the advancement of Black women at UChicago.

In the summer of 1907, Georgiana Rose Simpson left Washington, D.C., to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Chicago. A 41-year-old high school teacher, she enrolled with the goal of furthering her interests in German language and literature.

As a pathbreaking figure, Simpson faced racism and discrimination throughout her academic career. Shortly after she arrived at the University, she was forced to live off-campus when white students objected to sharing a dorm with a Black woman.

Despite such challenges, Simpson would earn three degrees from the University of Chicago—an AB in 1911, AM in 1920, and a Ph.D. in 1921, when she was 55 years old. Simpson became the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. in the United States on June 14, 1921, followed within weeks by two scholars at other universities who also received their degrees that month.

Division of the Humanities Recognizes Student and Faculty Scholarship at the 534th Convocation

Division of the Humanities graduates celebrated in the sun.

As the pandemic winds down, the Division of the Humanities at UChicago conducted its Convocation on Friday, June 11, at Amos Alonzo Stagg Field in Chicago. Ninety-four students participated in the live ceremony, while 162 were celebrated virtually on mega-screens for those watching the in-person and livestreamed event.

Reflecting the times, seating on the stage and in the arena was socially distant in the outdoor setting. Those participating in the Convocation wore masks except when presenting awards and diplomas. In contrast to a traditional Convocation in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, graduates gulped spring water in UChicago aluminum cans and used manual fans to beat back the heat and full sun.

In addition to celebrating the achievements of 256 graduating students with master’s and doctoral degrees, seven presenters in the Division of the Humanities, including Dean Anne Walters Robertson and Dean of Students Shea Wolfe, honored students and faculty members for their achievements—Zsofia Valyi-Nagy, Rebeca Velasquez, Samuel Lasman, Christine Wilkie Bohlman, Veronica Vegna, Persis Berlekamp, Daniel Morgan, and Kaneesha Parsard.

Drawn from Music: Art Exhibition Opens Window into Composers' Creative Process

Map of Form by University Professor Augusta Read Thomas; Image courtesy of UChicago Arts

For composers, drawing a “map” of music can give shape to a new work and articulate its overarching ideas. As evocations of the composer’s intentions—from sweeping curves to stars, birds and brightly-colored dots—such maps capture the ebbs and flows within a musical piece and complement musical scores, serving as guides for performers.

MAPS OF FORM, a new exhibition at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts, presents a collection of these musical illustrations as works of art in their own right. Drawn by UChicago faculty and graduate composition students, the maps vary from abstract representations of operatic arias in numbers and letters to contemporary works illustrated with chariots and drawings of hanging mobiles.

Division of the Humanities Recognizes the Scholarship and Teaching of Students and Faculty at the 533rd Virtual Convocation

Graduate students at the Division of Humanities Convocation in 2018

During this unprecedented time of the coronavirus, the Division of the Humanities at UChicago conducted a virtual Convocation—not out of choice but of necessity. The importance of commemorating its students’ and faculty’s achievements is captured on film and is available starting at 4:30 p.m. on June 12.

In addition to celebrating the achievements of more than 200 graduating students with master’s and doctoral degrees on June 12, Dean Anne Walters Robertson and Dean of Students Shea Wolfe honored several Division of Humanities students and faculty members during the Graduation Ceremony—Zoe Hughes, Lester (Zhuqing) Hu, Olga Sánchez-Kiselewska, Elizabeth Asmis, and Jason Riggle.

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