Notes from the Chair

by Jenny McNulty

As the snow is melting, my thoughts are turning towards Spring and our meetings in Vancouver. Preparations are well underway and the conference promises to be an exciting one. At this meeting we will start the PNW section of Project NExT, a program for new faculty interested in improving the teaching of mathematics. Since the program announcement appears elsewhere in the Newsletter, I won't go into the details here, instead I'd like to relate my personal experiences of Project NExT.

I became involved in Project NExT in the Spring of 1994. I was finishing my first year as a faculty member at the University of Montana, when my department chair approached me with the idea of applying to become a Project NExT Fellow. I read the project description, thought it sounded interesting, and applied. Several months later I was heading off to Minneapolis and our first meeting. Since the program was new I did not know what to expect. What I encountered was a group of enthusiastic, exuberant, exciting "new" faculty members (Fellows) and a group of even more energetic "experienced" faculty (Consultants) who were excited about teaching mathematics. Over the years the discussions at meetings and on the e-mail list have provided me with many things: some concrete, such as using e-mail assignments as a tactic to get students to read the text or a new approach to teaching students how to write a mathematical proof; others abstract, like encouragement to make changes or a sounding board to discuss ideas. Project NExT has had an enormous impact on my career. I hope the sectional NExT will impact members of the PNW similarly. In the PNW we currently have 13 national NExT Fellows and numerous Consultants. I am looking forward to working with these people as we develop this program. We'll keep you posted!

Every year each section of the MAA confers an Award for Distinguished Teaching. The purpose of the award is to recognise outstanding teachers of mathematics. In previous years we have given this award to well-deserving well-qualified people.

While this year marks the beginning of a PNW Section of NExT, it is also a year in which the PNW section will not be giving an award for distinguished teaching. Soliciting nominations has been a recurring problem in our section; a problem which we will be considering in Vancouver. I encourage you to present your ideas for a solution either at the meeting or to an officer of the section. Nominations for this award are solicited each fall. Any member of the PNW MAA is eligible for the award. I know our section has many excellent teachers, and I urge you to nominate a worthy candidate for the 2001 PNW Distinguished Teaching Award.

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Last updated 22 July, 2000