Dorothy Walcott Weeks 1916

Alumnae Achievement Awards 1983

Dorothy Walcott Weeks 1916
Women's Educator

Dorothy Weeks, a physicist and dedicated educator, was raised in Washington, D.C. It was her parents’ dream to have a son who graduated from MIT and a daughter who graduated from Wellesley, but Weeks did both. At Wellesley, she was an active member of the Shakespeare Society and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a physics degree. She was the first female to earn a Ph.D. from MIT, where she studied under Norbert Weiner, “the father of cybernetics.”

From 1930 to 1956, except for two years during World War II when she worked at the Office of Scientific Research and Development, Dr. Weeks was the chair of the physics department at Wilson College, a small, women’s liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Before retiring at the age of eighty, she worked at the Ordnance Material Research Office on a project that developed radiological shielding material for use against nuclear weapons, neutrons, and gamma rays, and at the Harvard College Observatory as a spectroscopist with the Solar Satellite Project. The American Association of University Women honored her with its achievement award in 1969 and later established the Dorothy W. Weeks International Fellowship.

Known for her strong love of Wellesley College, Dr. Weeks once said, “the four years at Wellesley is just the planting of the seed. The Wellesley experience ripens through a lifetime of shared experiences.” Before her death in 1997, Dorothy Weeks could often be found chatting with current Wellesley students and walking her Cocker Spaniel around Lake Waban.


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