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MAA Iowa Section Newsletter
Fall 2015

This is the web edition of the Iowa Section Newsletter. To receive a printed copy of the newsletter or to make suggestions/comments, please contact the editor, Joy Becker,


Section Governor's Report

The centennial MathFest meeting was a grand success. There were more than 2500 registrations which exceeded the previous high by about a 1000. There were a number of celebrations and gatherings, include a crowded group photo.

The Board of Governor's meeting, which preceded the general meeting, was also a success. Note Francis Su was in his role as president, transitioning from Bob Devaney. Francis addressed some issues facing the association, including membership. He performed a simple survey of some Project NExT participants to try to understand this issue. He established some Principles for Action to address the concerns (recruit younger, increase member-only benefits, adapt, need to take risks). The Treasurer pointed out that 2014 was the 10th consecutive year of annual operating deficits with a total of $1,300,000, hitting our free reserves. The good news is that the break-even point is getting closer each year.

A focus point of considerable importance concerns the result of the Governance Task Force. This group put forth three models to consider for future models of how the board might operate. These are summarized on There was plenty of discussion of these models and it is likely that no model will arrive intact as a candidate at the January meeting but rather some shuffling of various aspects will be put together in two models for a possible vote. If you have any thoughts on these issues, please forward them to me.

Submitted by Section Governor Al Hibbard
Central College

Section Chair's Report

Greetings Iowa MAA members and potential members,

A recurring theme I've been hearing starting at Mathfest is "What can the MAA do for you that you cannot do for yourself?" The Mathematical Association of America is a wonderful and worthy association and is looking to assist its members in their endeavors. There are numerous big picture endeavors single mathematicians are unable to do which the MAA, a large group of mathematicians, can do; however, it cannot do this if it does not know what you need. If you have a suggestion, please do not keep it to yourself.

As mentioned at our 2015 fall meeting, a centennial planning committee has been formed to help make next year's conference, our local centennial, extra spectacular. Members of the Iowa section can contact the centennial committee with suggestions on making this meeting spectacular by logging in on our website and using the Communicate tab.

At the section officer's meeting at Mathfest this past August, there was discussion about Business, Industry and Government (BIG) involvement in regional sections ( There are mathematicians who are not in academia who would enjoy attending our meetings and being welcomed into our mathematical home in Iowa. As we look toward our next section meeting in Des Moines, there will be ample opportunity to invite local BIG mathematicians to be involved in our meeting.

Another opportunity mentioned at the section officer's meeting was the PIC Math program ( PIC Math stands for Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences. Two faculty from Iowa participated in the 2015 summer workshop designed to prepare faculty to run a credit bearing industry-problem-based course during the Spring 2016 semester. Students will work with problems encountered by industry to gain skills desired by industrial careers.

Finally, if you are looking to get involved, either locally or nationally, please do so. Our governor, Al Hibbard, is seeking feedback on the proposed restructuring of the Board of Governors. Please contact him if you have an opinion on the matter. We are looking for someone to help with the database of scanned historical documents. We are accepting proposals for what to do with our funds. Put together a formal proposal for consideration and send it to me with IA MAA Request For Funds in the subject line. If you have half of an idea (for a funding request or an outreach activity or just something you would like to see the section doing) and would like help getting connected with other members of the section who might work on it with you, please let me know. If you are on Twitter, try using #iamaa2015 or #maaiowa to get in touch with other MAA members in Iowa. Nationally, they are seeking people to work on committees. Go here ( for a list of MAA committees.

Submitted by Section Chair Amanda Matson
Clarke University

Section Treasurer's Report

Here is the final report from the Section Meeting: Report from Treasurer

Submitted by Section Treasurer Jonas Meyer
Loras College

2015 Iowa Section Teaching Award

Steve Butler of Iowa State University was awarded the 2015 MAA Iowa Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.

Nominations for the 2016 MAA Iowa Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics are now being accepted. Please send any questions to Section Secretary, Susan Crook,

2016 Governor Election

The Nominating Committee (Ruth Berger, Alex Kleiner, and Jon White) for the Section's next Governor, who represents us with the national MAA, has selected Murphy Waggoner, Simpson College, and Mariah Birgen, Wartburg College, as candidates. The election will be held through the national office. Please contact Jon White,, Chair of the Nominating Committee, with any questions.

2015 Iowa Collegiate Mathematics Competition and Competition Coordinator

The 21st annual Iowa Collegiate Math Competition was held on Saturday, February 21, 2015, at ISU. UNI was the winner, and the trophy was presented to UNI at the fall section meeting. The 2016 competition will be held April 2 at UNI. See the contest page for further information.

It was decided at the Executive Committee meeting that the competition coordinator will have a term length of five years. A subcommittee of the Executive Committee will be appointed to choose the new coordinator. Interested individuals are encouraged to volunteer, or nominations for the coordinator may be sent to members of the Executive Committee.

For questions or comments, contact the competition coordinator, Ruth Berger
Luther College

Dates of Importance

January 6-9, 2016 - JMM in Seattle, WA.

August 3-6, 2016 - MathFest in Columbus, OH.

October TBA, 2016 - Annual Meeting of the Iowa Section, Grand View University, Des Moines, Iowa.

Departmental News

The following items have been submitted by the liaisons for the corresponding departments. If your department has news that is not included, please contact your liaison so that it can be included and have them e-mail the the editor, Joy Becker,

Central College
Russ Goodman

Coe College
Cal Van Niewaal

Luther College
Ruth Berger

Mount Mercy University
John Robeson

Charles Ashbacher

Charlie Ashbacher has edited and published "Topics in Recreational Mathematics 5/2015.” The book is a continuation of the publication of topics in recreational mathematics. Ashbacher is the owner of Charles Ashbacher Technologies and an adjunct instructor at Upper Iowa University.