Historical Narrative of the PNW MAA

I have tried to split the information from the old historical narrative into two (related) narratives. Information regarding the annual section meeting has been moved to the Meeting Page. The historical information off the Meeting Page should contain information related to the location, dates, speakers, and attendees of the meeting. Information on this page is more directly tied to the business of the section. Since much of our business is conducted at the sectional meeting, separating these two strands is not going to be easy and I will continue to work on this as time allows. The original text of this historical narrative is also available. However, once I feel comfortable that all the information in that text is available on the two historical pages, I will probably delete the file.

Starting in 2000, we have a fairly complete archive of Newsletters. Much of the history of the section can be found by reading through those documents.

If you would like to help either by providing information or editing information (or you just want to make suggestions about how these tasks are done), please email the webmaster (link below).

1900 – 1950

The following appears in A History of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Washington, 1861 to 1991.

On February 4, 1919, the Department discussed the possibility of organizing a Northwest section of the Mathematical Association of America. After some discussion, the idea was tabled.

In the fall of 1929, H. E. Slaught (President of the MAA in 1919), inquired of the University of Washington mathematics department about the desirability of forming a Pacific Northwest Section of the MAA. J. P. Ballantine consulted his colleagues and the 26 other MAA members in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Vancouver, Canada. The answers were "doubtless honest, but not over encouraging." Only 11 responded and only 7 of these favored the idea. The idea was dropped.

On June 24, 1936, Albert A. Bennett (Vice President of the MAA in 1934) wrote to F. L. Griffin at Reed College and inquired whether anyone had considered organizing a section of the MAA in western Oregon. Bennett wrote to Reed College because he understood “that there is a rather natural feeling of jealousy between the two state institutions in that part of Oregon, owing to a suspicion of political juggling of funds. It may be, therefore, that neither the University nor the Agricultural College could make a move without having its impulses open to suspicion.” Bennett made a strong case. However, Griffin's response, if any, has been lost to posterity.

Before the formation of the section, there was an informal organization known as the Pacific Northwwest Mathematicians, which was instrumental in the formation of the section. Professor M. S. Knebelman of State College of Washington was the first chairman. Others succeeding him included R. M. Winger (University of Washington), A. F. Moursund (University of Oregon), R. D. James (University of British Columbia), A. S. Merrill (University of Montana), to mention a few. F. S. Nowlan of the University of British Columbia was the first secretary-treasurer. Professor Griffin of Reed College was always a strong supporter of the section. Information in this paragraph is taken from the fifty-year history o the MAA, edited by Kenneth O. May.

A petition, dated May 9, 1945, for the formation of a new section to be known as the Pacific Northwest Section was submitted to MAA President C. C. MacDuffee. There were eighteen signatures on the petition:

Professor Knebelman acted as chair of the committee that petitioned for the new section and F. S. Nowlan evidently served as secretary. The new section received formal approval by the Board of Governors at its Chicago meeting on November 24, 1945.

In 1948, a committee, chaired by H. H. Irwin of State College of Washington and including high school teachers from various regions, was appointed to consider possible improvements in the Pacific Northwest. The committee presented a report at the 1950 meeting and numerous persons expressed opinions on this difficult problem. Finally, a motion was adopted unanimously which asked to the committee to continue ”to act for another year in an effort to realize its objectives and implement its present findings.”

One of the first issues faced by the section concerned the geographical extent of the section. Only Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia were included in theoriginal bylaws. Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and Alberta were added to the section at the 1949 meeting. Later, parts of Idaho and Montana were ceded to other sections. According to the MAA’s fifty-year history, ”the inclusion of Saskatchewan remained optional.”

In 1949, it was determined that June was the best time for sectional meetings. Thus, beginning in June 1950, all sectional meetings were scheduled in June until 1993, after which some meetings are in June and some in the spring. 1949

1950 – 1974

After the 1951 meeting the section's bank balance was $69.50.

At the 1953 Meeting, it was agreed to discontinue the idea of a Pacific Northwest Contest, while retaining the Contest Committee. This decision was made in part because the director of mathematics for the Seattle public high schools was opposed to any official contests.

At the 1954 Business Meeting, a recommendation from the Board of Governors was discussed, namely that the sectional Governor be a member of the Executive Committee of the section. This posed a problem since the section had no such committee. There was considerable discussion as to how this recommendation could be implemented, including a motion to table which was seconded but failed. Finally a successful motion amended the bylaws as follows: “There shall be an Executive Committee … consisting of the Officers and the Governor of the Section.”

The Treasurer reported a bank balance of $25.47 as of June 20, 1958 (the date of the annual meeting).

At the 1961 meeting, it was reported that a sum of $10,000 was made available for lectures in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska and that about 20,000 high school students and 500 faculty had heard the lectures.

At the 1966 Annual Meeting, the $1 registration fee was waived.

At the 1967 Business Meeting, the bylaws were amended to provide for a Second Vice-Chairman, who shall represent the two-year colleges on the Executive Committee. The new position was immediately filled by Theodore White of Everett Junior College. After 1976, the First and Second Vice-Chairmen were replaced by the Vice Chairman for 4 year colleges and the Vice Chairman for 2 year colleges.

At the 1969 Business Meeting, it was agreed to join in the sponsorship of the Northwest Mathematics Conference at an annual expenditure not to exceed $150. [This policy was dropped in 1981.]

At the 1971 Business Meeting, the Treasurer reported that annual expenditures were exceeding annual income and suggested that the section adopt an annual budget. This wasn't done, but in 1972 it was agreed to raise the registration fee from $1 to $2, students exempted as before.

1975 – 1999

In 1976, the First and Second Vice-Chairmen were replaced by the Vice Chairman for 4 year colleges and the Vice Chairman for 2 year colleges.

In 1977, the Treasurer reported a balance of $771.82. It was successfully moved that the officers investigate proposals for the use of excess money in the treasury. Preference was to be given to spending the money in the Northwest.

In 1978, the use of excess money was discussed at the Business Meeting. The following motion was successful: “Invited MAA speakers at the annual section meeting be invited guests of the section at the meeting banquet.” The issue of excess funds was then referred to the Executive Committee. At this meeting, Secretary-Treasurer John Herzog gave a short slide presentation on the new MAA headquarters building and reminded members to send money to the building fund.

In 1980 Sue Kaplan at Western Washington State University was persuaded to begin editing a newsletter, to be circulated two times a year. After producing a beautiful newsletter for the spring of 1981 that was well received, Sue had to abandon the project.

In 1980, Marjorie Enneking of Portland State University was elected Chair-elect. She was the first woman elected to office in the section, though the Newsletter Editor Sue Kaplan was an officer on the Executive Committee in 1980.

In 1981, the sponsorship of the Northwest Mathematics Conference was dropped.

On June 1, 1983 the section treasury had a balance of $1089.82, apparently the first time it exceeded $1000.

At the 1985 meeting at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, two old issues were raised. The idea of regional meetings within the section besides the annual June meeting was discussed. There was interest in publishing a newsletter again. In June 1986 Chris Meyer and Ken Batker of Pacific Lutheran University accepted the responsibility of producing a sectional newsletter. It has been published regularly since the fall of 1986, and has been well received.

At the 1988 Business Meeting it was voted to form a committee 1) to study the current policies and practices for accrediting secondary mathematics teachers in the states and provinces within our section; 2) to recommend an appropriate course of action to the section; and 3) to coordinate implementation of any recommendations made by the section.

In 1992, the first sectional Award for Distinguished Teaching of Mathematics was presented to André Yandl at Seattle University. You can find the names and affiliations of other award winners on the Awards Page.

In 1996, the question of updating the bylaws of the section, which were last amended in 1983, was discussed at the meeting of the Executive Committee.

In the 1999 Business Meeting, it was observed that the experiment with March meetings every three years, which are more accessible to students, has been a big success. It was decided to modify the scheduling of meetings so that the March meetings occur every two years. Specifically, it was agreed to schedule them on the following four-year rotation, starting with the current meeting: March meeting in Willamette Valley, June meeting west of the Cascades, March meeting in Puget Sound, June meeting east of the Cascades.

2000 – 2024

In addition to elections of officers, two important decisions were authorized at the 2002 Business Meeting. A first-ever section meeting in Alaska was approved for mid June of 2004. Several bylaw changes were approved that had been prepared by the Bylaws Committee, chaired by Jenny McNulty.

At the 2004 Business Meeting, there was discussion about the scheduling cycle for our meetings. The tentative schedule for the next few meetings is: Spring 2005, University of Puget Sound; June 2006, Southern Oregon University; Spring 2007, populated area; June 2008, Carroll College in Montana. The new Local Arrangements Chair will be Rob Beezer, and the new Program Chair for Universities and Four-year Colleges is Nancy Neudauer at Pacific University.

At the 2005 Business Meeting, it was noted that there will be a $3000–$4000 deficit due to partially subsidizing so many students; only 40 were anticipated. There were 120 faculty in attendance. Jenny McNulty agreed to create a meeting evaluation form for future meetings.

At the 2008 Business Meeting, it was noted that the Board of Governors has asked the section to rewrite the portion of the bylaws pertaining to a quorum.

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