North Central Mathematical Bulletin

The newsletter of the North Central Section
of the
Mathematical Association of America

Volume 5 Number 1 March 2002

Table of Contents

Governor's Report 2001 NCS Team Competition Problems/Solutions
President's Report Richard Jarvinen Receives Award
Secretary's Report Campus News
Treasurer's Report

Other Local Spring Section Meetings

Student Chapter Coordinator's Report

Conferences and Courses

A Boy Named Sue

Future Section Meetings

2002 Section Team Competition Information for contributors
2001 NCS Team Competition Results  

Governor's Report


The January meeting of the Board of Governor's was held in sunny San Diego of January 5, 2002. Here are a few of the major highlights from the meeting:

1. The events of September 11 have effected the association in several ways. Revenue from book sales and other sources is down. 42% of the MAA budget is funded from book sales. Because of the anthrax scare a lot of fall mail has still not been delivered to the Washington office. It is not known how much revenue was lost in that mail.

2. Gerald Porter has stepped down as treasurer of the MAA after serving for nearly ten years in that position. He will be succeeded by John Kemeny.

3. The database conversion that was budgeted at $300,000 has actually cost $600,000. This cost overrun will be amortized after the next five years and will mean less funds for other activities of the section.

4. The executive committee recommended a combination of cost-saving measures for the association in tandem with an increase in membership dues of 4Membership, and a change in the structure for student memberships. The Board passed the changes in the dues structure for 2003.

5. Membership in the MAA continues to be strong, total membership is 10.7% higher than this time last year.

6. The Association continues to have a healthy and vibrant program of competitions, both at the national and sectional level. Sections are urged to do more to recognize winners in their areas and to promote competitions.

7. There was a lengthy discussion at the meeting on public policy and the MAA. A motion was brought by the Science Policy Committee for governors to serve as ``first responders" to public policy issues for which the MAA has taken a position. The discussion centered on what was the most effective way for the MAA to influence public policy at state and national levels. The motion was tabled until the next meeting.

8. The next MathFest will be in Burlington, VT on August 1-3, 2002. The next joint meeting will be in Baltimore, Maryland in January of 2003.

See you all in April.

President's Report


One of the many activities of the North Central Section that I have found very special over the years is our summer seminar, held every other year. Our last summer seminar, hosted by Bemidji State University last summer on the history of mathematics was one such successful event. We are already well along in our planning for the 2003 summer seminar. I am pleased to report that Gustavus Adolphus College will host this seminar on the topic of Combinatorial Games. Our thanks to David Wolfe and others at Gustavus for extending this invitation to us.

As always the North Central Section lives on a frugal budget; we would probably have a hard time imagining any other way. A small but important part of that budget comes from institutional memberships. If your department can afford $25.00 per year to help out the section this can play an important role in helping us meet our obligations and extending our efforts. Please send your department's $25.00 contribution to our treasurer Tom Sibley at St. John's University in Collegeville, MN 56321.

As president this year I have been able to see how much work goes on behind the scenes to make our section activities successful. Our section officers have each contributed much as have all the committees, especially the Distinguished Teaching Award Committee, the Nominations Committee, the Summer Seminar Committee, and the Service Award Committee. If you are a new member of the MAA or have recently transferred to our section please consider volunteering to be on a committee and helping us spread the workload around so that we can continue our strong service without overburdening a handful of people.

Please join us for the Spring Section Meeting at St. Cloud State University in our new high technology library (alias: Learning Resources Center), and at next year's Fall Section meeting at Minnesota State University - Moorhead in October. If you have new colleagues please encourage them to attend as well, and don't forget students. Both students and new members can go to their first section meetings with free registration. I'll look forward to seeing you in St. Cloud.

Secretary's Report


1. The Fall, 2001, meeting of the North Central Section was held at the University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND) on Friday & Saturday, October 26 & 27, 2001. 60 people attended from 16 different schools. This Spring the meeting will be at St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN on the last weekend in April. See the call for papers in this newsletter and on the Section Web Site listed below. Try to make attending NCS/MAA meetings a priority for you and your Department this year. If you have suggestions or ideas that would make the meetings more attractive to you, please write one of the officers (names and addresses listed elsewhere) or talk to your departmental MAA Liaison or Head.

2. The responsibilities of Webmaster have been transferred to Dale Buske at St. Cloud State University. Please bookmark the URL for the North Central Section,

and visit it often. This website will be the primary means of communicating with the Section membership. In particular, the Call For Papers for the Fall and Spring Meetings will appear there before you see them in the newsletter. The Program Notes for the Meetings will be posted at the website and not mailed to the general membership. Only Department Heads and Departmental Liaisons will receive hard copies.

Treasurer's Report


The Section's finances are sound. However, I would like to remind departments that with a new year just started it is time to send your institutional memberships of $25 to me at the address below. These memberships do make a noticeable difference in balancing the general account. (The Summer Seminar Fund is separate and now quite healthy, thanks to last summer's success.) More details at our Spring meeting.

Tom Sibley
Math Dept.
St. John's University
Collegeville, MN 56321-3000


Student Chapter Coordinator's


I would like to suggest that if you currently do not have an MAA Student Chapter on your campus, that you consider having one. It is so easy to install a chapter, and so easy to maintain one. Minimum conditions for maintaining a chapter would be to have at least one meeting per year (which can be in conjunction with another meeting such as a Math Club or even a non-induction meeting of PME) and submit a brief report signifying your continued existence each year.

Having an MAA Student Chapter can greatly benefit your students. They, then, 1) belong to a professional society (a resume item), 2) receive membership at extremely reduced rates, for which they receive Horizons and the MAA newsletter, FOCUS, 3) can purchase other MAA journals, e.g., the Monthly, at greatly reduced prices, 4) qualify for up to $600 in travel, to present a paper at Mathfest (held in August of each year), and 5) receive reduced MAA membership rates for at least one year after graduation (longer if they become a grad student).

Importantly, having students become members of the MAA enchances the chances that their membership in the MAA will continue into the career life of the student.

Please, consider having a chapter on your campus. Katarina Briedova ( is only to happy to receive your request to start a chapter for your department, and she makes associated paperwork simple.

Richard Jarvinen Receives Leadership Award From MAACUSAC

Upon his recent departure from the MAA Committee on Undergraduate Student Activites and Chapters, Richard Jarvinen of Winona State University received an award in recognition of his leadership. After having completed his second term as Chair of the MAA Committee on Undergraduate Student Activities and Chapters, after working with this committee for more than a decade, and having been a founding member of the MAA Student Paper Session (which has been in existence for well over a decade) held annually at Mathfest, Professor Jarvinen received a large, well-pointed plaque which read:

Presented to
Dr. Richard Jarvinen
In recognition of your leadership and its impact
on the students, faculty advisors, and institutions
you have served during you tenure as
Chair of the MAA Committee on
Student Activities and Chapters.


Your experience, knowledge, and conduct
have been assets to the college mathematics
students and advisors of this nation.

A Boy Named Sue

In a paper, "Assessment: What's in a Name?", Bernard Madison asks: why does the word "assessment" frighten people? Perhaps, Madison suggests, we might exorcise the word of its tabus if we called it "innovative education."  The conventional assessment "cycle" recommended by legislatures and accreditors would have us set appropriate goals and learning objectives, study outcomes, report on these and then revert to the beginning, revising our goals. In fact, most of us are already instinctively doing this in our own classrooms. Assessment of programs, on the other hand, is more difficult; this must be a shared, open process; one that requires cooperation and more careful planning.

As reported in Focus December 2001, the MAA has been awarded a half million dollar grant by NSF for a 3-year project, entitled "Supporting Assessment in Undergraduate Mathematics" (SAUM). The project will include a workshop series, a volume of new case studies, and a web site for further information.

Bernard Madison (University of Arkansas, MAA Visiting Mathematician), is project director, and senior personnel are Bonnie Gold (Monmouth College) , Bill Haver (Virginia Commonwealth), Bill Marion (Valparaiso University), Sandy Keith (St. Cloud State), and Lynn Steen (St. Olaf College), with Tom Rishel (Cornell) in management.

In 1995 the Assessment sub-committee of the CUPM issued guidelines for departments to use in establishing a cycle of assessment aimed at program improvement, and Gold, Keith and Marion collected case studies into a book, "Assessment Practices in Undergraduate Mathematics," which the NSF grant allowed to be freely distributed to department chairs. You might want to read the report by Leitzel in this volume.

What's Coming and Can We Hope To Recruit You?

As other sections of the MAA are doing, we hope to hold a 90-minute workshop session on Assessment at an upcoming section meeting in year 2002 or 2003. We are looking for faculty who have been doing interesting work in program assessment who would volunteer to participate in a panel or to present their work briefly (with handouts). The targeted areas we are looking at are: assessing the major, courses for future teachers, service courses, placement and advising, and general education or quantitative literacy courses (QL).

I would be delighted to provide more details. Please contact me,

Sandy Keith,
St.Cloud State University,
St. Cloud, MN 56301

Here are, meanwhile some interesting web sites to browse.

2002 NCS Team Competition

The sixth annual NCS Team Contest is (tentatively) scheduled for Saturday, November 16, 2002. The announcement and call for registrations will be sent by email in September to at least one person from each collegiate department of mathematics in the section. If you are unsure whether anyone from your department is receiving these announcements, contact Jerry Heuer at

2001 NCS Team Competition


The fifth annual NCS/MAA Team Competition was held on Saturday, November 10, 2001, with 64 teams from 21 colleges and universities participating. This once more tops the previous record of 54 teams from 17 institutions set in 2000. The expenses of the competition are covered by a fee of $15 per team. Teams of up to three undergraduate students work collaboratively at their home campuses on the ten problems, under the supervision of a faculty member. The problems count 10 points each, and scores ranged from 1 to 100, with median of 41. There were 2 scores in the 90s, 3 each in the 80s and 70s, 9 each in the 60s and 50s, 6 in the 40s, 9 in the 30s, 12 in the 20s, 4 in the 10s and 6 below 10.

The sixth annual NCS Team Competiton will be held on Saturday, November 16, 2002. An announcement and invitation to participate will be sent by email in September to at least one member of the Mathematics Department of each college and university in the Section.

Campus News

Concordia College - Moorhead

Nineteen Concordia mathematics students and their faculty mentors attended the Fourth Annual Regional Workshop in the Mathematical Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, November 2-3, 2001.

The T. C. Wollan Distinguished Lectures in mathematics were delivered by Dr. Joseph A. Gallian of the University of Minnesota, Duluth, on January 24, 2001. Professor Gallian follows in a long line of nationally and internationally acclaimed mathematicians in the T. C. Wollan lecture series, including such luminaries as Paul Halmos, I. N. Herstein, Stephen Kleene, Irving Kaplansky, Victor Klee and George Andrews.

Normandale Community College

The Math/CSci Department has two new permanent faculty members who joined the faculty in August. Tony Dunlop came to us from St. Benedict's, and Matt Dempsey was formerly a faculty member at Jackson Community College in Jackson, Michigan.

The Math/CSci and Physics Departments were awarded a PTK/NSF grant to improve math and science courses for preservice elementary teachers.  Team members participating in the grant are Peggy Rejto (Normandale Math/CSci Department), Julie Johnson (Normandale Physics Department), Steve Reuter (Minnesota State University Mankato), and Julie Guelich (Normandale Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics).

Christopher Ennis and Flauren Ricketts received a MnSCU Innovative Student Affairs Program Award for coordinaating the AMATYC Exam, given three times each year on the Normandale campus. Funding for this activity is provided by a grant from Normandale's Student Life budget.  Shirley Beil of the Normandale Math/CSci Department received a NISOD award in June, 2001. (Submitted by Julie Guelich)

University of Minnesota - Duluth

UMD has two new tenure-track faculty members. Statistician Yongcheng Qi has a Ph.D. in probability from Peking University and a Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Georgia. Dalibor Froncek earned his Ph.D. at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario in 1994 and most recently held a visiting position at the University of Vermont. Closely tied to his research area of graph theory, Dr. Froncek has a special interest in the league schduling of professional sports teams. Among his accomplishments is the authorship of the game schedule of the XFL professional football league made famous by Minnesota's current governor.

Harlan Stech is on sabbatical leave this year leaving Barry James as chair of the department. During his leave, Harlan is engaged in research involving hybrid poplar growth with scientists of the UMD Natural Resource Research Institute. Associate Chair of the department, Sabra Anderson is back on campus after spending a year in England. Dr. Anderson will spend next year in England as well. Dick Green has returned from his 2000-01 sabbatical during which he continued work on optimal foraging theory - how an animal should look for prey in order to maximize its feeding rate. John Greene also returns from a year of sabbatical in which he continued research in computational and algebraic number theory.

Ronald Regal has stepped down as Associate Head so that he can devote more time consulting for USX/Minntac (iron ore processing) and at the UMD Center for Water and the Environment at NRRI.

Among other items of interest, Joe Gallian has recently taught a freshman seminar ``Mathematics and Sport." Students learned about such things as standard deviation, confidence intervals, modeling, correlation, and probabilities.

According the chairperson James, the number of majors at UMD has risen to 90 and the number of graduate students stands at 24 (with a majority of them female). (From UMD department newsletter submitted by Joe Gallian)

Other Local Spring Section Meetings

Wisconsin Section Ripon College, Rippon, WI
12-13 APRIL 2002
Nebraska/SE South Dakota Section Creighton University, Omaha, NE
19-20 APRIL 2002
Iowa Section Morningside College, Sioux City, IA
5-6 APRIL 2002

Conferences and Courses

Twenty-fourth Annual Pi Mu Epsilon Student Conference

12-13 APRIL 2002

The 24th Annual Pi Mu Epsilon undergraduate mathematics research conference will be held at St. John's University on Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13. This year's featured speaker is David Bressoud of Macalester College. Professor Bressoud will give two talks: "The Life and Mathematics of S. Ramanujan," and "Proofs and Confirmations: The story of the alternating sign matrix conjecture." Student talks will proceed Professor Bressoud's talks on both Friday evening and Saturday morning.

To submit a talk, or for further information, contact

Marc Brodie
Phone: 320-363-5867

or visit

NCS Summer Seminar 2003


Though a precise date has yet to be chosen, Gustavus Adolphus has offered to host the Summer Seminar in 2003. The topic will be combinatorial games and the main speaker will be Elwyn Berlekamp. More information will be forthcoming in this newsletter and on the NCS website.

MCTM 2002 Spring Conference

22-23 MARCH 2002

For more information, go to

Future Section Meetings

Fall 2002 Minnesota State University, Moorhead
Spring 2003 Macalester College

Information for contributors

Submissions should be sent via mail to:

Dale Buske
720 4th Ave. S.
St. Cloud, MN  56301

Or (and preferably) by electronic mail to:

This newsletter was last updated May 30, 2003.