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Fall 2017 Newsletter


The 2018 Tri-Section Meeting

The Ninety Seventh Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America will be held jointly with the Indiana and Michigan sections of the MAA. This Tri-Section meeting will be held March 23-24, 2018 at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.

2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the first Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan Tri-Section meeting in 1943 and the 25th anniversary of the second Tri-Section meeting in 1993.

Invited speakers include Steven Butler (Iowa State University), Allison Henrich (Seattle University), Judy Holdener (Kenyon College), Michael Jones (Math Magazine), Jennifer Quinn (MAA EC), and Mike Starbird (UT Austin).

From the Section Chair

Sharon K. Robbert
Trinity Christian College

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Perhaps you are, like me, getting increasingly excited for the days about to occur. Yes, I enjoy Christmas and the approaching holiday season. But this season is not the one I am excited about. I'm excited for EXAM WEEK!

Students may dread studying for exams and colleagues may view with dismay the large piles of papers that come across their desks, but I do not. I love the transition times in the academic year. Especially the transition that comes during exam week. Now don't get me wrong. Just like you, I do not enjoy grading exams and seeing how poorly some of my students have internalized content from the mathematics we've studied over the course of the semester. But I do enjoy the change in pace... from the frantic scramble to get the next lecture prepared, the next article written, and the next quiz graded to the time to reflect and plan, to rest and rejuvenate for the next term, and to read at my leisure.

In my department at Trinity, we mark the anticipation of exam week with a "ceremonial excision," a time at the conclusion of every day at the end of the last week of classes where we physically cut the day out of our door calendar. By the start of exam week, our weekly door calendars are literally a shell of what we posted in August in anticipation of an excellent semester. This open space is an invitation to plan for the future while celebrating the end of the current semester.

So what do I anticipate for the Illinois Section of the MAA in the upcoming weeks and months? I look forward to an opportunity to convene with two other state sections—the Michigan and the Indiana sections—to share ideas on best practices in teaching mathematics and learn about the latest research of our talented colleagues and students. This wonderful event will occur in March at Valparaiso University (March 23-24) in northwestern Indiana, a short drive from the Illinois border. Please consider joining me to hear excellent talks by mathematicians from across the country.

I also anticipate discussion that might even be lively around changes to the section bylaws. Thanks to the excellent leadership of past chair Tim Comar, we will have a new version for members to review at the March 2018 section meeting. A copy will be made available at this web site in early 2018.

Next, I anticipate that we will have opportunities to work together to advance the teaching and learning of mathematics in Illinois. If you are interested in participating in this common cause, the section committees have space for you. Especially if you are interested in how two-year and four-year institutions can work together or if you are interested in advising the section on how to manage our finances. A list of all committees is available on the section website.

Finally, I have one request of you. In our section there is an opportunity to celebrate the excellent work of colleagues in the teaching of mathematics, both those with a long tenure of excellent work and those who are in the beginning stages of a life-long career in the teaching of mathematics. Information on the Distinguished Teaching Award and the Early Career Teaching Awards are available on the section website. Please consider nominating one of your colleagues to be honored as one of these award winners.

Happy Exam Week to you all! May you have a restful time to plan for your spring term and enjoy the holiday season with family and friends, too.

From the Section Representative

Jon Johnson
ISMAA Representative
Elmhurst College

As you can see by the title, there will no longer be Governor's Reports. In the January Business Meeting of the MAA new bylaws were passed and the governance structure of the MAA was changed. The position of Section Governor was renamed "Section Representative to the MAA Congress." The 2017 MathFest in Chicago was the first meeting of the MAA Congress. At that meeting officers of the Congress were elected, and a great deal of the time was spent on defining (mathematicians do like to define) the roles of Representatives and the Congress as a whole.

The early part of the Congress meeting was spent on examining potential MAA Strategic Goals that involved programmatic as well as financial goals. As summarized by Deanna Haunsperger, the MAA President, "The Strategic Plan includes goals related to our mission, the financial health of our organization, growing membership, growing the AMC [American Mathematics Competitions Program], increasing meeting participation and sponsorship sales, finalizing the publication partnerships, developing a comprehensive program for donor development, and ensuring excellence in operations." Specifically, programmatic goals included "expand, support, and increase engagement of our core member community with relevant programs." The Strategic Goals will be revisited at the Congress meeting in San Diego during the Joint Meetings.

Representatives to the Congress also discussed and offered feedback on the following issues:

  1. The evolving role of the MAA in support of professors
  2. Reaching out to historically under-represented groups
  3. Two MAA opportunities for professional growth: the Instructional Practices Guide and the Mentoring Network
  4. Increasing Section participation
  5. Connecting mathematics and other disciplines
  6. MAA finances
  7. How the Congress can support the mission of MAA.
Please feel free to contact me ( if you have any input on these issues so that I may forward them to the Congress and Board of Directors.

Information of general interest from MathFest:

  1. A new MAA Mission Statement was presented: "To advance the understanding of mathematics and its impact on our world."
  2. There will be 90 new NExT fellows this year with hopes of increasing that number in the future.
  3. A new Career Resource Center will be launched this fall (See
  4. A total of 1936 people registered and attended MathFest in Chicago. The 1936 was topped only by attendance at the Centennial Anniversary MathFest in Washington, DC.

ISMAA is grateful for its 2017 institutional sponsors:

The financial support from these institutions helped us to put on a great spring meeting in Glen Ellyn.

Now it's time to start thinking about institutional sponsorship for 2018. Please encourage your institution to join us. The benefits for sponsorship this year are a bit different because our spring meeting is at the Tri-Section meeting (with the Indiana and Michigan Sections) in Valparaiso, Indiana. Student registration is free for this meeting, but there will be a charge for each team in the math contest. This will cover the cost of the t-shirts.

Ordinary sponsorship ($50) includes reimbursement from the Illinois Section for one team entered in the math contest at the Tri-Section meeting; sustaining sponsorship ($100) includes three free faculty registrations in addition to the reimbursement for one contest team; and speaker sponsorship ($200) includes the three free faculty registrations, reimbursement for one contest team, and listing as an underwriter of a plenary speaker in the meeting program. To become an institutional sponsor, download this form and send it with payment to:

Pat Kiihne
ISMAA Secretary/Treasurer
Illinois College
1101 West College Avenue
Jacksonville, IL 62650

ISMAA Awards

Distinguished Teaching, Distinguished Service, and Early Career Teaching Awards—Support Your Colleagues!

The deadline for the ISMAA's Distinguished Teaching, Distinguished Service, and Early Career Teaching Awards is Friday, February 16, 2018. We strongly encourage you to nominate your colleagues for these awards. The winner of ISMAA's Distinguished Teaching award will be the ISMAA's section nominee for the national Haimo Award. The winner of the section's new Early Career Teaching Award will be the ISMAA nominee for the national Henry L. Alder Award.

To make a nomination for one of these awards, please submit a one-page PDF letter of recommendation detailing the nominee's qualifications. Submit the nomination to the ISMAA Awards Committee Chair, Michael Sostarecz, via email at with "ISMAA Distinguished Teaching Award," "ISMAA Distinguished Service Award," or "ISMAA Early Career Teaching Award" in the subject header.

To find the guidelines on eligibility and nomination requirements, please visit the ISMAA Awards web page. Questions about the ISMAA awards should be addressed to the ISMAA Awards Committee Chair, Michael Sostarecz, via email at

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Awards

OUR Awards—Support Undergraduate Research!

The ISMAA invites submissions for the 2018 Outstanding Undergraduate Research (OUR) Awards. Up to three awards will be given for papers authored and presented by undergraduate students at the upcoming ISMAA meeting. Working in collaboration with a faculty advisor, undergraduate students who wish to apply for the OUR Awards should submit the following materials electronically (either as a PDF or MS Word document):

Submissions may be emailed to the Awards Committee Chair, Michael Sostarecz, at Please include "OUR Awards" in the subject heading. Papers need not have been submitted for publication in a professional journal at the time of consideration, but must be complete manuscripts, even if only a subset of the research will be presented at the meeting. To be considered, the deadline for OUR Awards submissions is Friday, March 2, 2018.

Applicants should also make arrangements to give a talk in the student session of the 2018 Tri-Sectional Meeting that will be held with the Indiana and Michigan sections on March 23-24, 2018 at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. Applicants will be evaluated both for quality of research and for quality of presentation. Questions? Email

OGRE Awards—Support future college educators!

The ISMAA invites submissions for the 2017 Outstanding Graduate Research Exposition (OGRE) Awards. These awards are designed for graduating or near graduating graduate students in mathematics who have an interest in academic careers at undergraduate teaching-oriented institutions. Candidates for the award will submit a written statement by Friday, March 2, 2018 and present a talk at the 2018 Tri-Sectional Meeting that will be held with the Indiana and Michigan sections on March 23-24, 2018 at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.

The written statement should take the form and tone of a research statement for a job application to an undergraduate teaching-oriented mathematics department. The statement should include:

The written statement should be submitted as a PDF file by Friday, March 2, 2018 to the Awards Committee Chair, Michael Sostarecz, via email at Please include "OGRE Awards" in the subject heading.

Applicants should also make arrangements to give a talk at the 2018 Tri-Sectional Meeting that will be held with the Indiana and Michigan sections on March 23-24, 2018 at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. The talk should contain the content above and should be directed to undergraduate students and an audience of non-experts in the particular area of mathematics. Questions? Email

ISMAA Project NExT

Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) is a professional development program of the MAA. This program is designed to support new college faculty in their teaching, scholarly, and professional activities and to help these new faculty members to get involved in the mathematical community beyond their own institutions. The success of Project NExT on the national level has prompted a number of MAA sections to organize their own local versions of this program.

The Twenty First Annual ISMAA Project NExT Program will be held in conjunction with the ISMAA annual meeting at Valparaiso University, March 23-24, 2018. Up to nine ISMAA Project NExT Fellows will be selected. Anyone within their first four years of teaching mathematics (after finishing a master's or doctoral degree) at any two or four-year college or university in Illinois is eligible, as well as any graduate students at universities in Illinois who are completing their PhD this year and have a position in Illinois for the upcoming academic year. Newly selected ISMAA Project NExT Fellows' meeting registration, pre-conference workshop registration, opening banquet fees, and Friday and Saturday lunches at the annual meeting will be paid for by the ISMAA for the current and next year's ISMAA Annual Meetings.

Application materials for ISMAA Project NExT Fellows can be accessed via the links below. For further information, please contact the Director for the ISMAA Project NExT Program:

ISMAA Project NExT Application (MS Word)
ISMAA Project NExT Application (PDF)

Ellen Ziliak
Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences
Benedictine University
Lisle, IL 60532
Phone: 630-829-6594