I have just returned from Math Fest in Madison, Wisconsin. Although I heard that 100 inches of snow fell there last winter, Madison is a lovely place to attend a summer meeting. The convention center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is beautiful and provided a comfortable facility for Math Fest.
Once again it was nice to see Ohio students presenting, and winning awards, in both the MAA and Pi Mu Epsilon sessions. The invited talks were some of the highlights of the meeting. For example, Erik Demaine dazzled us with lectures about art, puzzles, origami, magic and algorithms. In the annual student lecture, John Conway gave a new look at crystallographic tilings. Christine Stevens presented the James Leitzel lecture, tracing the fifteen year history of Project NExT. She noted how involvement with Project NExT has encouraged new faculty to become involved in the activities of the MAA. Christine reminded us that we can see Jim’s legacy by just looking around at any conference and noting the participation of the new faculty. The Ohio Section has also been invigorated by the participation of our NExTers. Some remember Jim Leitzel as a vital member of the Ohio Section. Jim was certainly one of the established leaders of the Ohio Section who encouraged me (forcefully, sometimes) to take on responsibilities within the Section.
While in Madison, I attended the MAA Board of Governors meeting. The Executive Committee of the MAA continues to works on strategic planning for the MAA in cycles. In response to the final report from Cycle II on governance, the committee is proposing a realignment of standing committees and a change in some representation on the Board of Governors. No formal proposals have yet been presented to the Board. Cycle III groups started their work which will concentrate on STEM issues, Sections and Meetings, and Publications. To this end we had two breakout sessions to brainstorm on these issues. Many of you participated in the “dot” session at our spring meeting in Marietta. Similar sessions were conducted in other Sections and at Math Fest. This data will be part of the considerations for Cycle III.
The US team placed third at the 2008 International Mathematical Olympiad in Madrid. Alex Zhai earned one of only three perfect papers. At Math Fest I had the opportunity to see “Hard Problems,” a documentary on the 2006 IMO in Slovenia. It is movie that you may want to share with your students.
I urge you to continue seeking ways to participate in Ohio Section activities. Vickie Van Dresar welcomes your input and your help on various committees. Plan ahead to attend the meetings, and invite your colleagues and students to join you. I look forward to seeing you in Columbus.