Rare indeed is an organization consisting of more than ten persons which does not delegate responsibilities for its ongoing work to committees. Although committee jokes are legion, by and large it is the case that, as the committees go, so goes the organization. The Ohio Section of the Mathematical Association of America is no exception to this rule.
Actually the Ohio Section's first committee was formed before there was an Ohio Section or even an MAA. On December 30, 1915, while the organizational meeting of the Association itself was still in progress in Columbus, Ohio, twenty-five members of the Ohio Teachers of Collegiate Mathematics (O.T.C.M.) convened at 2:00 p.m. in Columbus. After passing a motion favoring the formation of the O.T.C.M. into a section of "The Mathematical Association of America", the group directed that a committee of five be appointed to "a) Issue a call to all teachers of collegiate mathematics in Ohio to join in this project; b) To formulate a scheme of organization; and c) To prepare, if possible, a program for the regular meeting of the Section."
The membership of this first committee consisted of Professors C.C. Morris (Ohio State University), T.M. Focke (Case School of Applied Science), W.D. Cairns (Oberlin College), M.E. Graber (Heidelberg University), and Harriet E. Glazier (Western College for Women). Already two important precedents had been set, which have been followed with reasonable consistency in the Section for seventy-five years: 1) there was a good balance between major university and four-year college representation, and 2) both men and women were represented on the committee.
The most important precedent set by this committee of five was that it did its job and did it with alacrity. At 2:00 p.m. on December 31, 1915, less than twenty-four hours after the formation of the committee, the O.T.C.M. reconvened, received and adopted a Constitution which the committee had written overnight. The organizing committee apparently had done its work well, because this hastily drawn Constitution was left unchanged for many years.
The 1915 Constitution provided for one committee, to be called the Executive Committee. It consisted of the two section officers (Chairman and Secretary-Treasurer), plus an additional member to be elected by the Section at its annual meeting. The individuals elected in December, 1915, to comprise the first Executive Committee were Professors R.B. Allen (Kenyon College), Chairman; G.N. Armstrong (Ohio Wesleyan University), Secretary-Treasurer; and C.C. Morris (Ohio State University), third member.
During the first thirty years of the Section other committees seem to have been constituted only in response to a particular need and without any constitutional or bylaw provisions. In 1923 a Program Committee was created, consisting of three members. To provide for continuity of organization, the senior member would retire and a new member would be elected each year. (This scheme was formalized in the By-Laws at a later date and has continued without change to the present.)
There must also have been a nominating committee appointed each year, although it is not explicitly reported in Section records until 1954, when Chairman Paul R. Rider (Wright-Patterson AFB) appointed such a committee. When a comprehensive set of By-Laws replaced the original 1915 Constitution, a Nominating Committee was included as a standing committee, with its members being the three most recent past chairmen who are not members of the Executive Committee. Throughout its history the Section has, from time to time, set up ad hoc committees to deal with specific current interests and issues. Section records mention the following committees, formed in the years prior to 1964:
It is very likely that, during the first nearly fifty years, other ad hoc committees were born, carried out their assignments, and died without being recorded in the Section files.
The 1963-64 academic year saw changes of monumental proportions in the organization and subsequent level of activity in the Ohio Section. On November 16, 1963, the CUPM Panel on Teacher Training held a conference in Cleveland. During this conference a group of some thirty-two Ohio college mathematics faculty members met and expressed an interest in seeing the Ohio Section pursue its mission of promoting the cause of mathematics in the region more aggressively than it had done in the past. In particular there was talk of revising the Section Constitution and working to improve the freshman mathematics program.
Subsequently, under the able leadership of Section Chairman Charles Capel, (Miami University) a special meeting of the Section was held at Denison University to discuss the items mentioned above as well as the general question of "activating" the Section. The outcome of this special meeting was the creation of three key committees:
The committees with these mnemonic titles did their work well. CONCUR proposed a resolution that, beginning in September 1966, no college credit be given in four-year degree programs for courses in pre-calculus, algebra, or trigonometry and further that, after September 1968, these courses should no longer be given in four-year colleges, even on a non-credit basis. After the resolution passed, copies were sent to college mathematics departments and academic administrators. Even though the recommendation could only be advisory, many institutions did conform at least to its spirit, and often to its letter, for a number of years. Alas, within a decade or so a deterioration in the mathematics preparation of most first-year college students forced the abandonment of this noble effort.
CONTTAC made three recommendations pertaining to the training and retraining of secondary school teachers of mathematics. These were keyed to the CUPM recommendations and, in particular, specified a curriculum for teachers of calculus in high schools.
COB proposed adoption of a set of By-Laws to replace the Section Constitution - probably the first formal change since the 1915 adoption of the original Constitution. These By-Laws provided for three standing committees:
It was agreed that CONTTAC, CONCUR, etc. should not be frozen into the By-Laws. This decision allowed the ad hoc committees to be modified easily to meet changing needs. A year later (1965) COB, on the advice of the Association's Committee on Sections, recommended minor changes in the 1964 version of the By-Laws. After this revision COB was discharged.
Following their very active years of 1964 and 1965 CONTTAC and CONCUR continued to exist, and persons were regularly appointed to succeed those whose terms were expiring. Membership of both committees included high school, as well as college teachers of mathematics, and they were recognized as joint committees of the Ohio Section and the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics (OCTM). In 1967 CONTTAC issued a report and recommendations on the training of elementary and secondary school teachers. This report was widely circulated, and most of these recommendations were incorporated into the revised teacher certification standards adopted by the State Board of Education the following year. By the close of the decade, however, CONTTAC and CONCUR had lapsed into inactivity.
In May 1971 the Executive Committee, at the urging of then-Chairman Elwood Bohn (Miami University), reactivated both CONCUR and CONTTAC, formed a new COB to undertake a complete bylaw revision to meet recommendations of the MAA Committee on Sections, and set up another committee to be known as COCCU (Committee on Cooperation Between Colleges and Universities). This new group was to explore ways in which the various mathematics departments might cooperate - joint seminars, colloquia, etc.
Ever since their reactivation in 1971 all committees have remained active. The level of activity of a given committee varies from year to year, depending on the status of its current projects and the current needs in its area of responsibility. Persons whose terms expire are regularly replaced (or reappointed).
At times the ad hoc committee structure has been modified. For example, when the Section began a drive to involve undergraduates by inviting them to present papers at Section meetings, a special committee acting under the COCCU umbrella was charged specifically with promoting this effort. The success of the undergraduate involvement, the summer short courses, and other projects spearheaded by COCCU and the Executive Committee made the COCCU name a bit restrictive, so in 1980 it was renamed CONSACT (Committee on Section Activities), with sub-committees responsible for specific activities. In 1987 two of these subcommittees themselves achieved the status of standing committees. CONCON (Committee on Contests) is responsible for administering the MAA contests (AHSME and AJHSME) in Ohio, and CONSTUM (Committee on Student Members) is charged with promoting student chapters of the MAA. At present three of the committees (CONCUR, CONSACT, and CONTTAC) are explicitly named in the By-Laws.
In 1979 and 1980 two more ad hoc committees were appointed, one to investigate problems resulting from the need at many institutions to teach computer science in departments of mathematics, and the other to arrange for the writing of this 75-year history of the Ohio Section. The first of these was dissolved when its job was done, and the second will self-destruct when the history is completed.
It is no accident that the period of greatest activity in the Ohio Section has occurred in the two and one-half decades since Charles Capel and his colleagues established the modern committee system. Many more members have been regularly and actively involved as the result of their service on a Section committee. Personal and professional friendships and cooperation have flourished. From these contacts new ideas have emerged and have been constructively implemented. The accomplishments of the Section have become known and envied throughout the other twenty-eight sections of the Association. Of course it is people who have brought this about, but only by working together on committees have the people been effective.
Copyright 1990, The Ohio Section, MAA, All rights reserved.