Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Mathematics Awarded to WFU alum

Dr. Philip GriffithsAn Update

The Simons Foundation has posted online an interview with Phillip Griffiths — there are both written and oral comments.  Segment two (see playlist at the right of the screen) has a 5 minute oral interview where Griffiths talks about his time at WFU (e.g. he had a small scholarship to play basketball, but since he wasn’t really good enough to play, he tutored the athletes). Though the curriculum was quite limited, he makes some positive comments about the value of liberal arts education.


Today I wish to take a moment to congratulate a Wake Forest alum.  The American Mathematical Society’s (AMS) 2014 Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement is perhaps the highest intellectual achievement and one of the highest distinctions in mathematics.  This award is presented annually by the American Mathematical Society. It is no wonder that I am extremely proud of Wake Forest’s alumnus Phillip A. Griffiths (WFU 1959) for having attained this distinctive award.

AMS recognizes outstanding achievements in mathematics, excellence in mathematical research, exceptional public service supporting math research and education, and significant contributions to the public understanding of mathematics. It is a great privilege therefore that they are acknowledging such an exceptional man and celebrating his accomplishments and contributions to mathematics research and to the mathematics profession.

Dr. Griffiths, professor emeritus in the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, has supported the field of mathematics by serving on and chairing numerous committees and boards, both nationally and internationally. He has carried on a remarkable research career while serving eight years as the provost of Duke University and twelve years as the director of the Institute for Advanced Study. He currently chairs the Science Initiative Group, which aims to assist the development of mathematical training centers in the developing world. The prize citation states: “His example of service and leadership has inspired so many in the mathematics community to emulate him in some degree, and our mathematical world is much the richer for it.” (The full citation for this prize and additional information can be found in the 2014 Prizes and Awards Booklet

Dr. Griffiths is known for his work in the field of geometry, and in particular for the complex manifold approach to algebraic geometry. He received his B.S. at Wake Forest College in 1959 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1962. In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society and this year has been awarded one of their top honors, the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement by the American Mathematical Society.

I am proud to have a Wake Forest alumnus receive this major intellectual lifetime achievement award. Our mission here at Wake Forest is to educate the whole person, graduating students who seek purpose-filled lives while building a community dedicated to serving humanity in the spirit of our motto, Pro Humanitate.  In the 2014 U.S. News America’s Best Colleges report, Wake Forest ranked 11th in terms of “Best Undergraduate Teaching and 23rd overall among national universities.

Congratulations to Dr. Phillip A. Griffith. Wake Forest is proud of you!

The AMS news release is at

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