The meeting of the MAA Board of Governors in San Antonio in January was my second. We heard reports and dealt with matters requiring formal action from the Governors. Much of this is routine, but there were several matters that were the subject of genuine debate and a search for the right solution.
Among the non-routine matters, in my opinion, was the report on membership in the MAA. The report we were given shows a decline over the past five years of 14% - from 28,704 to 24,820 - in the number of individual memberships. The most dramatic contributor to this overall decline is a 25% drop in the "Regular 1" category. This is the category of full dues-paying members whose income level is below the threshold for the higher "Regular 2" membership level.
The "Regular 2" category consisting of more senior people with higher salaries has remained essentially stable. Once people become committed to their membership and reach that category, apparently they faithfully continue to renew.
It appears that we need to recruit our younger colleagues more diligently to join and stay with the MAA. But what does it take to convince them to spend money on dues for a professional organization when they are new in their career and they have heavy family demands on their limited income? One can of course point to the excellent journals and books published by the MAA and the resources it makes available to us for guiding our students interested in mathematics from career materials to competitions.
This is what MAA can do for us. But there is another factor which I hope is also meaningful for younger potential members as it is, I know, for those of us who have been around awhile. That is that by being members and paying our dues, we are making it possible for this organization to do the good work that it does. To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, we should ask not what the MAA can do for us. We should ask rather what we can do for the MAA.
John O. Kiltinen, Governor, Michigan Section-MAA
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