Memories of Vivienne

Vivienne’s legacy forever changed the campus environment and still reverberates through the lives of her students, colleagues and friends.

“Vivienne was an excellent student. I left Fisk before she finished there, so I give all the credit to Dr. Lee Lorch. He was our department chair who encouraged her to work on her advanced degrees. I was at Fisk from 1950 to 52, so we only overlapped for two years. I think it’s just wonderful that Baylor is going to further honor her: just beautiful. Of course, Vivienne and I stayed in touch over the years through Christmas cards and other ways.”

- Dr. Evelyn Boyd Granville, Vivienne’s former professor and the 2nd female African American to earn a PhD in Mathematics. Granville is a pioneer in the field of computing and worked for IBM and on various projects for NASA’s Apollo program.

“I went to A&M, and she went to UT, but I excused that. Vivienne was just really a nice person, very friendly with a great sense of humor. I knew her mainly through teaching. My wife knew her a little better than I did, having had lunch together years ago in a restaurant or two where Vivienne was skeptical she would be served. Our church, Central Presbyterian, was quite active at that time with racial relations during that time, and we met regularly with New Hope where Vivian and her husband were members. We visited with them at those meetings where we could discuss different issues. I got to know her husband, Dr. James Mayes, who was a fine man. Vivienne and I hit it off right away during our teaching days. I remember when Dr. King was killed, I mentioned something to her about it, either that night or maybe the next night before we were about to teach our classes. She said, ‘You’re the first person who has even mentioned Dr. King’s death to me.”

- Les Fisseler, Baylor Mathematics instructor in the “Evening Division” from 1956-71 and former engineer for the Texas Highway Department

“During both my undergraduate and law school years at Baylor, Dr. Malone-Mayes would annually host a “meet and greet” social at her lovely home in order for the black students to get to know one another. She would serve food and provide refreshments and even music for us to listen and eventually dance to. She would make it known that if any of us experienced any problems on campus to come to her and she would investigate and be our voice. She also provided guidance as we formed our first black student organization named Agiza Funika in 1971. She encouraged us to become active in the varied student organizations and activities which lead us to participate in All University Sing, Dia Del Oso, Student Foundation, etc. Her presence and caring meant a great deal to us all.  Thus, her impact was immeasurable.”

- Michael Heiskell, BA ’72, JD ’74, former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Texas

“Vivienne is one of those people – when I think about her, I get a smile on my face. She was an inspirational, remarkable woman. She also had no patience for students who didn’t try or do their work. I came to Baylor as a student in 1971, and we bonded immediately over our love of mathematics. She helped give me a passion for math and what it should be, as opposed to how it is often depicted. From my sophomore year on, I took every class she taught, and I think she even made up a few for me to take. We got to be very good friends. She really had a profound influence on me. To see someone at that level of achievement and realizing what she had to go through made an impression, but more than that, she was just a delightful individual.

When I came back to Baylor on the faculty, I spent a lot of time with Vivienne and knew what she was going through: in very bad health, excruciating pain, could barely walk. Two things that she said that still come into play every day in the work I do is, one, that mathematics is beautiful and artistic as well as quantitative. The other thing she always said is, if your solution isn’t simple and elegant, it’s probably wrong. That has stuck with me throughout my life. When students would try to get her off topic and talk about her life and involvement in civil rights marches, at the end of the day, she would always say, ‘Now remember, the assignment sheet goes on!’”

- Dr. Ray Perryman, BS ’74, prominent economist and a former student and colleague of Dr. Malone-Mayes. He gave one of the eulogies at Vivienne’s funeral.

“I really respected Dr. Malone-Mayes. She was always one to convince people to get to the next level. I was a biochemistry major and so I spent a lot of time in the lab. Walking through campus, she would see me always wearing a lab coat and she would tease me. She always had a very sweet smile, a sweet spirit. And she would say, ‘You know, you could be a math major and do all your work from the comfort of your bed in your gym shorts.’ She always invited students over to her home, and she was an unofficial ombudsman for some of the minority students. She was happy to listen; and she would help you walk through some of the issues you might face. I started at Baylor in 1974, so integration was still fairly new, and Dr. Malone-Mayes would give guidance on how to handle certain situations. I so appreciated her for that.”

- Dr. Sharon McDonald Barnes, BS ’78, biologist, chemist and inventor, selected as one of the 50 Most Influential Blacks in Research by

“Dr. Malone-Mayes was my touchstone during my four years as an undergraduate at Baylor University. She was not just a teacher on campus who looked like me, but she was also a friend without expectations or judgments. From 1980-1984, I was one of about one hundred African American students on campus. I felt I was under constant scrutiny, with the weight of my race and gender on my back. That may have been my imagination, but it was my perception, therefore, my sobering reality before I met her during my first year. Dr. Malone-Mayes made her presence known outside of her classroom. I was never enrolled in one of her classes but she was one of my favorite teachers. As many have testified, she had a willing ear, wealth of knowledge, and warm smile for everyone she encountered. She was brilliant and she had charisma. Dr. Malone-Mayes taught me, by example, that my only limitations are the ones I self impose. The history of Baylor is richer for her investment in the students.”

- Dr. Monica “mOe” Frazier Anderson, BA ’84, a dentist, bestselling author and motivational speaker