Illinois Section of the MAA

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Fall 2001 Newsletter

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Report from the Chair

Robert Johnson, Augustana College



With the new year comes the daunting task of adjusting to the new state guidelines for teacher education programs. At my school meetings with our education department begin today (January 7) so, while I have no specific information yet, it is clear that a fairly massive change is upon us. The annual meeting of the section will have sessions devoted to teacher education and this is likely to be the hot topic. One vehicle for sharing your concerns and your suggestions could be through our section’s teacher education committee or the program committee for the spring ISMAA meeting at McKendree College in Lebanon, IL on April 5, 6.  Send any such items to

ISMAA Teacher Education Committee: Don Porzio

e-mail )

ISMAA Program Committee: James Olsen

e-mail )


In a somewhat related matter word has come from the MAA Special Interest Group on Statistics Education, (SIGMAA) that “The American Statistical Association (ASA) endorses the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) "Guidelines for Programs and Departments in Undergraduate Mathematical Sciences," approved in August of 2000, and offers a position paper as a complement to them.” If you haven’t received this information and are interested in the position paper or the SIGMAA group please refer to their website at or contact

Dex Whittinghill, Department of Mathematics

Rowan University, 201 Mullica Hill Rd.

Glassboro, NJ  08028

Phone:  856-256-4500 x3879  FAX:     856-256-4816



Since our annual meeting is at the southern end of the state this year we are hoping to attract many who normally are not able to attend. Further, we hope student participation will increase this year and that those of us from the northern regions will make the effort to support the section and find a way to bring some of our students. I look forward to seeing you all at


 McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois this April 5 and 6.

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Message From the Governor

Ralph Czerwinski  Millikin University

Decatur, Il   62522 (217) 424-6270


This is my first message to the entire membership of ISMAA as your new Governor.  I want to thank you for affording me this opportunity to serve the section.  I also want to thank our past governor Larry Morley for his excellent service for the past three years.  I will be seeking his advice and ideas frequently.  I will attempt to keep you posted on significant developments and issues at the national level of MAA.  I will also attempt to represent your position in meetings and contacts at the national level.


This means that I am depending on you to communicate to me any issues or suggestions that you deem important for our organization.  I came away from my first Board of Governors’ meeting with the impression that that our executive officers at the national level depend on the governors to relay ideas and issues from the membership.  A special request was made of the governors by the executive committee to determine potential nominees to serve on national committees.  If any of you are interested or have nominees you would like to suggest, please let me know.


Another impression was that our MAA is involved in a large number of activities to improve and enhance mathematics teaching before and at the collegiate level.  One way of getting an idea of these activities is to visit the web site and surf through the various menu items there.  The new TIMSS Assoc Management software in the national office is making it possible for us to have the MathDigitalLibrary and the Journal of Online Mathematics.  I’ve also noticed that my notices for dues payment due are more accurate and timely now.


Speaking of dues, you may have noticed that they are slightly higher.  This is to be expected to cover increasing costs.  The MAA Investment Fund is down 1.1% (this was in August before the tragic terrorist attack in NY), but this is a smaller decrease than one might expect with the down turn in the stock market.  It was pointed out that conservative management kept it from being worst.  The Audit Committee reported that the MAA is in good financial shape overall.  However, there are some troubling trends.  Contributions to the Greater MAA Fund decreased by $40,000 in year 2000.  Also, in 1965 there were about 23,000 math majors and in 1995 this number had decreased to about 12,000!  There are several explanations possible for this startling decrease.  We must make an effort to be accurately aware of these explanations and what, if anything, we as an organization can do to deal with them.


There are at least three causes for celebration.  The International Math Olympiad was hosted by the US this year and it was a resounding success.  Not only was it organized and run extremely well, but the US students performed well, e.g. two of the four perfect scores were by students from the US!  Project NexT is a continuing success.  Robert F. Witte, who was Senior Program Officer for the ExxonMobil Foundation when they decided to fund the NexT Program, gave a talk at the Summer Fest meeting in Madison, WI about what he learned from the mathematics community while the program was being set up.  Finally, our own Ira Rosenholtz from Eastern Illinois University was the recipient of the Trevor Evans Award for an expository article “One Point Determines a Line” published in Math Horizons.  Congratulations Ira!


I hope to see you at the January meeting in San Diego and also at the April, 2002 meeting of the ISMAA at McKendree College in Lebanon, Il.

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Results of the Student Math Contest

Annual Meeting at the U. of Illinois 2001


A team made up of sophomores  (Jacob Corzine and Mundia Mubyana) from Bradley won.  Jacob is a math

major who graduated from Rockford Lutheran High School and Mundia's an actuarial science major from Zambia.  The second place team was from the University of Illinois-Chicago and the third place team was from Augustana College.


At the Annual Meeting of the ISMAA there will be a Student Mathematics Contest on Friday afternoon.  Teams are made up of up to three undergraduate students from a particular college. 


Students are also invited to present papers on mathematical topics at a special session on Saturday morning.  See the Illinois Section Web site for details.

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Paul Sally Wins National Award for Teaching


Professor Paul Sally, recipient of ISMAA's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001, has been named one of three winners of the National Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.

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ISMAA Book Sales Representative


The Illinois Section of the MAA is looking for an ISMAA Book Sales Representative. This individual will work with the Secretary Treasurer on the MAA Book sales at the Annual Meeting.  The ideal candidate would assist the Secretary Treasurer in the sales of the MAA books at the

Annual Meeting, keep an up-to-date "library" of MAA books for display at the meeting, work on making the MAA display attractive to the members, and have a keen interest in the MAA books.

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Robert Witte’s Witt-cisms

Jon L. Johnson   Secretary Treasurer


Robert F. Witte, Senior Program Officer (ret.) of the Exxon Mobil Foundation presented the Third James R.C. Leitzel Lecture at Mathfest 2001.  Robert was instrumental in the MAA receiving funds for the Project NExT Program from the Exxon Foundation.  Although an engineer by training, he has come to appreciate and advocate for increased

mathematics in k-12 and college/university education. His talk, "What I have Learned from the Mathematics  Community," outlined future directions for mathematics in education. Three of these are:  1) to place mathematics at the center of the education of elementary school students; 2) to have mathematical leadership involved in shaping

education accountability policy and national school  improvement efforts; and 3) to develop NExT like programs for other disciplines at the college/university level. He is, however, leery of many attempts at education reform since many are based on "an oversimplified notion of education."  He had some wonderful quotes concerning education and life in general (Witte-cisms):  "education takes place one person at a time," "If everyone who works on the problem is ill-informed, you will get a stupid answer," and "If things are bad enough, you don't need to be very good to be a lot better."

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