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Contents for the Spring 2015 Issue


ISMAA Annual Meeting


The 2015 Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the MAA


Don’t miss the ISMAA annual meeting at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL on March 27 and March 28, 2015.

This year’s plenary speakers include: John D’Angelo, University of Illinois, Karen Saxe, Macalester College, AMS/AAAS Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow and 2nd Vice President of the MAA,  and T. Christine Stevens, American Mathematical Society.

For more details and registration information see: http://sections.maa.org/illinois/2015AnnualMeetingHomepage.htm



From the Section Governor


Sharon K. Robbert

Trinity Christian College


On January 9, 2015, I had the privilege of attending my first MAA Board of Governors meeting in San Antonio, Texas.  At this meeting, officers and a few committee chairs reported on activities since the last meeting in August 2014.  Highlights of these reports included ways in which officers represent the association, how these same officers promote mathematics, and plans for the future of the association. There was a palpable buzz regarding the anticipated celebration of the 100th anniversary of the association at Mathfest 2015 in Washington, D.C.

President Bob Devaney visited reported on the way he has represented the MAA in (1) state associations: Iowa, Ohio section meetings, (2) national associations: Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) Forum on first 2 years of collegiate mathematics—AP Calculus exam concerns, Common Vision Project, Joint Policy Board in Mathematics (JPBM)—big data is the hot issue, American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges (AMATYC), and (3) international associations: International Congress of Mathematicians where he encountered disinterest in MAA activities and recommends not participating in the future. 

President-Elect Francis Su indicated that the focus of his presidency will be on several items:  (1) public speaking about the MAA under the theme Engaging mathematics, engaging mathematicians, (2) public popular writing about mathematics and mathematical issues, (3) encouraging underrepresented groups in STEM, (4) developing research endeavors of faculty, possibly by utilizing section communities as a vehicle, and (5) supporting the 2nd Century Campaign.  The 2nd Century campaign is an MAA initiative to encourage membership and donations with a goal to raise $7.5M and to increase membership to 15,000 over five years between January 2012 and December 2016.  In the silent phase the MAA raised roughly half of the desired amount; 2014 contributions were $160,000. There were 12,598 MAA members in 2013 and 12,493 by week 40 in 2014. Members of the association should expect to receive fund-raising appeals in March and October this year and next.  Please consider making a contribution if your finances allow. 

Secretary Barbara Faires invited governors to propose names for service on MAA committee appointments for terms beginning in 2016, preferably by April 1.  If you are interested in serving on a committee for the national organization, please contact me.  Barbara also reported on three other items of interest. First, the  MAA is starting the search process for the next editor of American Mathematical Monthly.  Paul Zorn will serve as chair of the search committee.  Second, the Executive Committee is considering creating a SIGMAA on Undergraduate Research.  This SIGMAA will seek to promote and broaden participation in undergraduate research in mathematics by supporting faculty serving as mentors and by supporting interested students. Finally, David Bressoud will give the Leitzel Lecture at MathFest 2015, the Centennial Celebration in Washington, DC.

Associate Secretary Gerard Venema reported on MathFest 2014 (largest event ever with 1651 attendees) and plans for MathFest 2015, the MAA centennial celebration meeting.  Highlights planned for MathFest 2015:  (1) meetings will be extended for one day, (2) the meeting will be held jointly with Canadian and British mathematical societies, (3) MAA Centennial Lectures given by six (instead of three) persons:  Manjul Bhargava (Princeton), Carlos Castillo-Chavez (Arizona Sate), Jennifer Chayes (Microsoft Research), Ingrid Daubechies (Duke), Erik Demain (MIT), and Karen Parshall (University of Virginia), (4) Centennial Celebration events: reception with parade of section flags (new flags will be provided!), a Vaudeville Night, a special Music event, and a Theatre event.  Note that MathFest 2017 will be hosted in Chicago. There is general encouragement by Centenniel planning committee for section involvement in MathFest—show section spirit!

Treasurer Jim Daniel reported that MAA investments have outperformed benchmark since management was outsourced to Stertzbach in 2012, that the MAA is fairly healthy financially as evidenced by $13M cumulative net assets, but that free reserves hoped to be in the 40% to 70% of operating budget are at 25% levels.  The MAA has had ten consecutive years of annual operating deficits. In 2012 governors approved the principal to invest funds toward operations that will promote future operating surpluses.  He anticipates that these modifications will yield successful results for operating surpluses by 2016.

Executive Director Michael Pearson reported on the integration of AMC operations into mainline MAA customer service, goals for number of attendees for Centennial MathFest meeting (1800, which is 200 more than Portland actual), gave updates on the 2nd Century campaign (see below) and NSF grant proposal ($15M in active grants currently), and new leaders: David Kung (Director of Project NExT), Jim Angelo (Director of Publications), and Mark Saul (Director of Competitions).

Several new motions were discussed and approved by the governors during this meeting.  Governors approved a new award, the Daniel Solow Award for exemplary undergraduate course materials ($2,500 prize).  Primary criteria for the Solow Award selection will be “…by the material’s impact on undergraduate education in mathematics and/or the mathematical sciences (operations research, statistics, computer science, applied mathematics).” Governors also approved a modest increase in individual dues for those who pay in one payment (a $6 increase to $175).  Other individual dues will remain the same ($249 for member-plus, $180 for those who pay in monthly installments, and $35 for students). The most significant change will be in Departmental Memberships.  To promote early involvement of students with the MAA, department members will now include unlimited student memberships in addition to one full MAA membership and discounted WeBWork hosting ($200 per year instead of $300 per year).  Rates will be variable depending on size and degree-level of institution.  The MAA will monitor this change over the next two to three years to ascertain whether this change has the desired results.

One additional item that was discussed is the Common Vision 2025 project.  This is an NSF-funded project to coordinate efforts across organizations to improve collegiate mathematical curriculum in the first two years. One potential outcome is to launch of a Center for the Advancement of Mathematical Sciences Education to Expand STEM Capacity.  Karen Saxe, one of the speakers who will be at the spring meeting of the Illinois section, is coordinating efforts for this grant. 

At the end of the day, governors separated into three focus groups to discuss three aspects of the governance structure of the MAA:  one on strategic planning, one on checks and balances, and one on communication and representation.  Future possibilities for governance include: maintain current structure of governors, radically alter to a much smaller group and overhaul communications with sections, or create a two tier system with an executive board with fiduciary responsibility and an assembly of governors to provide vision, strategic thinking, and oversight.


From the Section Chair

Tony Bedenikovic


Department of Mathematics

Bradley University




Dear Friends of the Illinois Section,

The program committee of the ISMAA has been hard at work for the 2015 annual meeting, which will be held on the campus of Northern Illinois University on March 27 and 28.  A pedagogy workshop and four plenary talks have already been arranged, with multiple parallel sessions developing for faculty and student talks.  As you read this, questions for the student math contest are being vetted and menu options for Friday night's banquet are being finalized.   In short, another meeting of the ISMAA is coming together.  It would be great to see you in DeKalb, Illinois next month.  Please read further in this newsletter and visit the ISMAA web site (http://sections.maa.org/illinois/index.html) for details.

I am excited to report that the awards committee of the ISMAA has created an award for graduate students who are interested in academic careers at undergraduate, teaching-oriented institutions.  This type of award fits well the mission of the ISMAA.   The winner of the first-ever OGRE (Outstanding Graduate Research Exposition) Award will be determined at this year's meeting.  Candidates for the award will submit research statements geared toward a general audience,  indicate how their research can be adapted to projects with undergraduates, and give a talk at the meeting. Details about the OGRE Award can be found on the ISMAA web site.

The ISMAA award for undergraduate research, the OUR (Outstanding Undergraduate Research) Award, continues to be given at the annual meeting, with more students competing each year.  Here again, the mission of the ISMAA is served well.  If you are a faculty member doing research with an undergraduate, please encourage your mentee to submit for the OUR Award.  Building a community is a habit that will serve the undergraduate well throughout his or her professional life.

Doing something for the last time is sure to spark nostalgia.  As this is my final newsletter greeting, I would like to say that it has been an honor to serve as chair of the Section these past two years.  I have learned a great deal during this time, and I appreciate the help that I have received along the way.  The Section is in good hands with Tim Comar, who will become the chair of the Section during this year's annual meeting.  Tim has been bringing his students to our meetings for many years and has already provided great service to the Section.  Please make Tim feel as welcome as you have made me feel.  I look forward to continuing to see all of you at our Section's meetings.

Become an Institutional Sponsor

Now it’s time to start thinking about institutional sponsorship for 2015.  Please encourage your institution to join us.  Ordinary sponsorship ($50) includes unlimited free registration for undergraduates at the 2015 annual meeting; sustaining sponsorship ($100) includes three free faculty registrations in addition to the free student registration; and speaker sponsorship includes the three free faculty registrations, free student registration, and listing as an underwriter of a plenary speaker in the meeting program.  To become an institutional sponsor, download the form (Word or pdf) and send it with payment to:

Pat Kiihne

ISMAA Secretary/Treasurer

Illinois College

1101 West College Avenue

Jacksonville, IL  62650


Outstanding Undergraduate Research )OUR) Awards 2015

The Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America invites submissions for the 2015 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):

1. a brief, one-page cover letter stating the nature of the project and identifying the researchers involved;

2. a complete, original research paper;

3. a letter of support from the faculty advisor which also describes the student’s contribution to the work.

Submissions may be emailed to Tim Comar, Awards Committee Chair, at tcomar@ben.edu. 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.


Applicants should make arrangements (see the ISMAA home page) to give a talk in the student session of the upcoming ISMAA meeting. Applicants will be evaluated both for quality of research and for quality of presentation. The deadline for OUR Awards submissions is Friday, March 6, 2015.


Questions? Email tcomar@ben.edu

Outstanding Graduate Research Exposition (OGRE) Awards 2015

The Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America invites submissions for the 2015 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 March 6, 2015 and present a talk at the 2015 ISMAA Meeting at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL March 27-28, 2015 as described below.

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

The written statement will be submitted as a PDF file by March 6, 2015 to Tim Comar, Awards Committee Chair, at tcomar@ben.edu. Please include "OGRE Awards" in the subject heading.

The talk should contain the content above and should be directed to an audience of non-experts in the particular area of mathematics and to undergraduate students.  Candidates must be registered for the ISMAA meeting as well.

Questions? Email tcomar@ben.edu

Looking for ISMAA Awardees

The ISMAA Awards Committee has extended the deadline for the section Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Service awards to February 27, 2015. This is to enhance the likelihood of having section awardees this year. The section awardees will be presented at the ISMAA annual meeting, held at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL March 27 – 28, 2015. We strongly encourage all members to take the time and nominate a colleague worthy of the awards.

For the guidelines on eligibility and nomination please visit the MAA Teaching Award web page. Questions about the ISMAA awards should be addressed to the ISMAA Awards Committee Chair Tim Comar at (tcomar@ben.edu).

ISMAA Project NExT Program - 2015

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 Eighteenth Annual ISMAA Project NExT Program will be held in conjunction with the ISMAA annual meeting at Northern Illinois University, March 27-28, 2015. 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. 

The Fellows’ Program will begin on Friday morning (March 27, 2015), with the pre-conference workshop.  The workshop is followed by an opening lunch during which new ISMAA NExT Fellows will have an opportunity to get to know one another as well as other sectional Fellows and national NExT Fellows. The ISMAA Project NExT program will conclude on the morning of Saturday, March 28, 2015, preceding the closing address of the ISMAA meeting.  The topic for the Saturday morning session will be determined by interest of the Fellows.   At the meeting, we will match new ISMAA NExT Fellows with a Mentor. It is expected that each Mentor-Fellow pair will continue to communicate about professional development issues throughout the following academic year. 

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) 

Cindy Traub
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Edwardsville, IL 62026-1653
Phone: 618-650-2356
email: cytraub@siue.edu

The application deadline for the 2015 ISMAA Project NExT Fellows is February 28, 2015.