North Central

Mathematical Bulletin

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

Volume 11 Number 1 April 2008

Table of Contents

President's Report

Conferences and Courses

Treasurer's Report

Future Section Meetings
MAA-NCS Section NExT Meetings of Other Sections
Spring Section Meeting Information for Contributors
Campus News  



President's Report
Tom Sibley
College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University


I’m looking forward to seeing you at our section meeting next month at the College of St. Benedict.  Paul Zorn from St. Olaf will be giving the invited Friday evening talk and Deanna Haunsperger from Carleton (and MAA Vice President) will be giving the invited talk on Saturday. 


One of the pleasures of presiding is realizing how many people have contributed to the ongoing success of our section.  A connected pleasure is thanking them for jobs well done.


Let me start by thanking Dick Jarvinen, who is stepping down as our Student Chapter Coordinator.  Dick was the first person in this position in our section.  Even more, he has been on the national MAA committee for student chapters since its inception.  The MAA has greatly increased its connection with undergraduates in the past ten years or so.  I am relieved to hear from him that his health is improving.  Still, he feels it is time to hand this job on to someone else.


We owe a big thank you to Mike Hvidsten, who has been a great “midwife” for the (re)birth of our section NExT group.  His ideas and organizational leadership, together with lots of enthusiasm of many newer members of our section, have led to a prospering group.  Mike will be passing the leadership on to two Project NExT fellows, Shawn Chiappetta and Kris Nairn.  Thanks to them.


Jerry Heuer deserves another annual thank you for conducting another successful team competition for our section.  53 teams enjoyed the challenging problems and fun of the teamwork.  We are fortunate to have someone willing and able to keep this fine tradition going.


We can also all be grateful for the work of the dynamic duo from Bemidji, Secretary Co Livingston and Treasurer Randy Westhoff.  I am grateful as well for the support, thoughtfulness and work of past President Steve Kennedy and President-elect Su Doree.  I was able to make it through my duties with two such pillars.  And I know the Section will be in good hands next year.


Treasurer's Report
Randy Westhoff
Bemidji State University


I would like to thank the following colleges and universities for becoming institutional members of the North Central Section.  This year all proceeds will be used to support our Section NExT program.


2007-2008 Institutional Members


Bemidji State University

Bethany Lutheran College

Bethel University

Carleton College

College of Saint Benedict

Concordia College

Concordia University, St. Paul

Gustavus Adolphus College

Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Fergus Falls

Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Moorhead

Minot State University

Normandale Community College

North Dakota State University

Northern State University

South Dakota State University

Southwest Minnesota State University

St. Cloud State University

St. Mary’s University

St. Olaf College

University of Manitoba

University of Minnesota, Crookston

University of Minnesota, Duluth

University of Minnesota, Morris

University of Saskatchewan

Williston State College


If your institution is not listed and you would like to become an institutional member the cost is $25 and checks (made out to NCS-MAA) can be sent to me at the address below. If you would like an invoice, please let me know and I will send one out.  Thanks again and I'll see you at the spring meeting.


Randy Westhoff, Treasurer

North Central Section MAA

1500 Birchmont Drive NE, Box 23

Bemidji, MN 56601


MAA-NCS Section NExT


Designed for new college and university faculty in the mathematical sciences, Section NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) is a professional development program that addresses the full range of faculty responsibilities including teaching, scholarly activities, and service.  Each year, applications will be solicited for new MAA-NCS Section NExT fellows to serve for a two year term. We will accept applications from faculty who are within the first four years of beginning full-time employment with teaching responsibilities at the college or university level.  The application consists of a short personal statement and a letter of support from the department chair, guaranteeing financial support for transportation, meals, and lodging at the fall and spring meetings of the North Central Section. 


The MAA-NCS Section NExT will meet on April 25, 2008 at College of St. Benedict, immediately prior to the NCS Spring Meeting.  Details about the MAA-NCS Section NExT program and its spring meeting may be found at  Questions may be addressed to any of the program organizers:  Mike Hvidsten (, Shawn Chiappetta (, Donna Flint (Donna.Flint@SDSTATE.EDU), Randy Westhoff (

See You in St. Joseph!

College of St. Benedict/St. John's University will host the MAA-NCS Spring Meeting, April 25-26.  More information can be found by clicking here.  For more information on contributing a paper, click here.  The North Central Section NExT will meet at the same site immediately prior to the spring section meeting.  A program for the Fall 2007 meeting will be posted on this website prior to the meeting.

The MAA/NCS Fall 2008 Meeting will be held at Concordia College, October 17-18.

Campus News

Bemidji State University, Bemidji

First, let me start by thanking all of you who were able to attend the NCS-MAA meeting we held last fall.  It was wonderful to have so many of you on our campus. 


This spring Tom Richard is retiring from our department after 37 years of teaching.  Tom specialized in teaching courses for elementary teachers and will certainly be missed. 


Our university is gearing up for a Higher Learning Commission accreditation visit in November 2009.  As part of our preparation for this visit Ivy Knoshaug was chosen to co-chair the Mission and Integrity Committee and will be leading our effort to document the university’s progress in that area.


Rich Sprindler attended a conference on inquiry-based learning in June and used it extensively in a complex analysis class he taught in the fall.  Rich has been using various cooperative and discovery learning strategies in several of the courses he teaches. 


Several of our faculty had articles appear this year. Todd Frauenholtz co-authored an article "Causes and Possible Solutions to the Mathematics College Readiness Problem" that appeared this spring in the journal Research and Teaching in Developmental Education.  Co Livingston had an article “Scheduling Forest Rehabilitation after a Fire” published in the DIMACS Module Series.  Derek Webb had two articles “The Great Event Search” and “Stating Probabilities” appear in the Statistics Teacher Network this spring.  He is currently the senior editor of this national publication for statistics educators.  Randy Westhoff co-authored an article “On Two-path Convexity in Multipartite Tournaments” that recently appeared in the European Journal of Combinatorics. (Submitted by Randy Westhoff)

College of St. Benedict/St. John's University

St. Ben’s and St. John’s are sorry that our Pi Mu Epsilon conference had to be cancelled this year due to the snow storm.  18 students had signed up to speak, along with the incomparable Joe Gallian.  We will try again next year.


We welcome Bret Benesh, who will be starting in September on a tenure track position.  Bob Hesse is greatly enjoying his first sabbatical, working on a project combining mathematical biology and dynamical systems.  Tom Sibley’s textbook Foundations of Mathematics has just been published by Wiley. (Submitted by Tom Sibley)


Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter

This spring semester Gustavus is pleased to host Stephen Samuel, a UBCHEA Scholar from the American College in Madurai in India.  (UBCHEA = United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia.)  Stephen, who recently gave a seminar titled "Fuzzy Sets and Fuzzy Numbers," does research on fuzzy linear programming.

Student teams of the department of Mathematics and Computer Science have celebrated recent successes in two math competitions.  In November "Team Erick" (Erick Knight, Sarah Cowles, and Andy Scott) placed first out of 53 teams in the North Central Section math contest, and in February the team of Erick Knight, Mark Myers, and Chenyu Yang won possession of the granite pizza when they earned the top score (99 out of 100) in the Konhauser Problemfest.

The department will wrap up its observance of Math Awareness Month on May 1, when Professor Francis Su of Harvey Mudd College will present a lecture titled "Voting in Agreeable Societies."  As April is also Poetry Month, the department is also sponsoring a Fibonacci poetry contest in which bonus points may be earned for content related to the theme of Math Awareness Month, the mathematics of voting, and the winner will be announced at our May 1 event.  (Submitted by John Holte)

Macalester College, St. Paul

On Feb. 20, 2008, a large granite sculpture by Helaman Ferguson based on the complicated form known as a Costa surface was installed at Macalester. The work weighs 6212 pounds and is titled Invisible Handshake, because the space it occupies is the complement of two hands coming together in a traditional handshake, but not touching. Topologically, this is the same as a torus with three punctures, but the sculpted form has negative curvature at every point (i.e., is a saddle shape at every point). Photos may be seen at

Minnesota State University, Moorhead

Vernon Wolff is on sabbatical this semester. Wayne Chen was elected (and then duly appointed) chair, effective this summer. He takes over from Jim Hatzenbuhler. We have hired O'Neil Lynch starting in August. Mr.

Lynch is originally from Jamaica and is finishing a Ph.D. in statistics at the University of South Florida.  (Submitted by Walter Sizer)

University of North Dakota, Grand Forks


Congratulations to Dr. Ryan Zerr, who won the UND Foundation/McDermott Award for Individual Excellence in Teaching this year.  This was the fourth time Ryan was nominated by his students in his five years at UND.

Congratulations to former UND masters student Brian Beaudrie (also a former instructor at Winona State) who recently became the first recipient of the Wixson Endowed Professorship of Mathematics at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.  (Submitted by Richard Millspaugh)

University of St. Thomas, St. Paul

We are pleased to announce that Mike Axtell we be joining the department in the Fall of 2008.  Mike received his Ph. D. from the University of Iowa in 2000.  He taught at Wabash College for 7 years where he was the PI for a successful NSF REU grant.  His area of research is commutative ring theory, in particular he is interested in the roll of zero divisors in commutative rings with identity.  In the summer of 2003 he was chosen as a Carnegie Scholar at the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.  The program provided three residencies at the Carnegie Institute in Palo Alto.


Pat Van Fleet will again offer a Wavelets Workshop at the University of St. Thomas June 4-7, 2008. The workshop will be offered under the auspices of the Mathematical Association of America's Professional Enhancement Program (PREP) and it is supported by the National Science Foundation and by the University of St. Thomas Center for Applied Mathematics. More information about the workshop is available here. Visit the MAA PREP Web Site to register for the workshop. Space is limited.


Pat Van Fleet would like to remind everyone that our next CAM Colloquium will be on April 16 at 3:00 in the 3M Auditorium.  The speaker is Colm Mulcahy from Spelman College in Atlanta.  You may know Colm from his “column” on the MAA online site ( entitled “Card Colm”.  He is an excellent speaker and he has agreed to give a more technical seminar on Tuesday, April 15 at 3:30.  He is undecided on the topic at this time.  Location is TBA as well.


Professor Gregory Foley from Ohio University will be visiting April 24-25.  Greg holds the Robert L. Morton chair in Mathematics Education at Ohio University and he will be on campus to interview my Math 316 students on 4/24 and visit my Math 316 class on 4/25.  This work is part of my NSF grant.  I had a chance to talk at length with Greg at the JMM in San Diego and I was excited to learn about a new course he was developing at the high school level.  I’ve asked him to give a seminar on the course on Thursday, 4/24 at 3:30.  The title and abstract are attached and location is TBA.  Greg has also been in contact with the Macalester group and might take part in the meeting there on 4/25.


With Cheri Shakiban’s help, we were able to set up a talk by IMA Director Doug Arnold for Wednesday, May 7 at 7:30pm in the 3M Auditorium.  The subject of his talk will be the wonderful video on Mobius transformations that has attracted so much attention on youtube (


So to recap, here are some extra exciting talks that will take place during the remainder of the semester:


4/15: Colm Mulcahy @3:30pm, location TBA

4/24: Gregory Foley @3:30pm, location TBA

5/7: Doug Arnold @7:30pm, 3M Auditorium (Submitted by Doug Dokken)



Conferences and Courses


GEMS Camp:  Girls Experiencing Mathematics in the Summer


The seventh annual GEMS Camp for high school girls will be held June 22 – June 27.  During the residential camp, approximately sixteen girls will participate in two mini-courses, attend a career panel and banquet where local professional women share how they use mathematics on the job, enjoy special short presentations on mathematics such as the topology of the Four Canoes sculpture on campus, and present their own explorations into mathematics at a family reception at the end of the week.  Participants will also visit the Science Museum and enjoy fun recreational activities.  For more information about the GEMS Camp, please visit or contact Lisa Rezac at  Please share this information with any high school girls you know who may be interested.  We are always looking for interesting guest speakers, so if you are interested in visiting and discussing an interesting math topic with a smart, fun, energetic audience, let us know!


Feynman Integration and Related Topics Conference


The 2008 Feynman Integration and Related Topics summer conference will be held at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN June 6-7.  This is the third in a series of annual conferences (2006 at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, 2007 at Creighton University in Omaha.)  The conference is open to anyone working with (or interested in) the Feynman integral, Feynman's operational calculus, or related topics. The purpose of the conference is for recent Ph.D.s and graduate students in the field to meet experienced researchers, to learn about recent developments in the area of Feynman integration, to exchange ideas with one another, and to develop collaborations for future research.  We have some support for lodging and meals from the UST Center for Applied Mathematics.  In order to be considered for support you will need to register by May 2.  Richard Feynman developed the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics in 1948. It is a description of quantum theory, which generalizes the action principle of classical mechanics. It replaces the classical notion of a single, unique history for a system with a sum, or functional integral, over an infinity of possible histories to compute a quantum amplitude.  For more information, please visit or contact Lisa Rezac at


Future Section Meetings

Spring 2008

College of St. Benedict/St. John's University (April 25-26)

Fall 2008

Concordia College (October 17-18)

Spring 2009   Hamline University (Dates TBD)


Meetings of Other Sections

Wisconsin Section

April 25-26


Madison Area Technical College

Iowa Section


Nebraska / SE South Dakota





Information for Contributors

Submissions should be sent via mail to:

Shawn Chiappetta
Natural Sciences Area
University of Sioux Falls

1101 W. 22nd St.
Sioux Falls, SD  57105

Or (and preferably) by electronic mail to:

This newsletter was last updated April 15, 2008.