Edray Goins, Ph.D., to Speak at 2019 Commencement

POSTED ON: May 10, 2019

Professor Edray Goins of Pomona College will give the keynote address at The Cooper Union's 160th commencement exercises on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. 

Goins caused quite a stir when he wrote a blog post in September 2017 for the American Mathematical Society (AMS) titled “Why I'm leaving a Research I University for a Liberal Arts College." In this essay, Goins outlined his reasons for leaving his tenured position at Purdue University after 14 years in favor of Pomona College. He discussed how isolation—both academic and social—led him to rethink his career trajectory. This blog was picked up by the New York Times, where Goins's story was featured in more detail. The February 2019 front-page article titled “For a Black Mathematician, What It's Like to Be the `Only One'" and its follow-up article titled "What I Learned While Reporting on the Dearth of Black Mathematicians" featured Goins's struggles with the mathematical community and his efforts to make it more inclusive.

Edray Herber Goins grew up in South Los Angeles, California. The product of the Los Angeles Unified (LAUSD) public school system, Goins attended the California Institute of Technology, where he majored in mathematics and physics, and earned his doctorate in mathematics from Stanford University. Goins is currently a professor of mathematics at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He works in the field of number theory as it pertains to the intersection of representation theory and algebraic geometry.

Goins has held positions at the world's premiere research institutions, including the National Security Agency in Ft. Meade, Maryland; the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California; the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey; the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, Germany; Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. 

The recipient of numerous awards, Goins has published over 20 journal articles in areas such as applied mathematics, graph theory, number theory, and representation theory, and on topics such as Diophantine equations, elliptic curves, and African Americans in mathematics. He has acted as a referee for nearly 20 different journals in mathematics, served on dozens of panels for the National Science Foundation (NSF), and has given more than 150 invited addresses on his research. Goins is on the Board of Directors for Mathematics Learning by Inquiry, a non-profit organization which seeks to use active learning to increase academic success for students from pre-Kindergarten through higher education, and is president of the National Association of Mathematics, the nationwide organization of African Americans in mathematics.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.