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JMM 2007: Report of the MAA Secretary

By Martha J. Siegel

It was a leap of faith that moved us to adhere to the plans to meet in New Orleans, as originally scheduled, long before Katrina. We were rewarded by having the all-time largest registration for the Joint Mathematics Meetings. I want to thank the MAA and AMS Meetings Staff, and MAA Associate Secretary, Jim Tattersall, for the success of these meetings. The Program Committee chose an outstanding list of invited speakers and all those who attended added substantially to the vibrant and friendly atmosphere. I note that more than 400 undergraduates attended this meeting. Thanks to the various MAA committees and individual faculty members who have contributed to this excellent undergraduate turnout demonstrating interest in and support for mathematics.

I will review briefly the matters discussed by the Board of Governors at its meeting on January 4 and mention one or two items of note from the MAA Business Meeting.

Our bottom line in 2005 was an operating surplus of almost $600,000. As a result, we have added substantially to our endowment. We cannot afford to rest on these laurels, though. Our endowment is still far from what would be ideal for an association of our size. External funding is likely to become more competitive, especially in the collegiate mathematics area, so we will continue to try to increase revenue and control spending. The Carriage House is already being used for meetings, and eventually we hope that it will be a source of added revenue. Grand Opening ceremonies will be held in April. More information will be available on the MAA web site.

The 2005 audit was very positive, reflecting the great improvement in Association finances and financial procedures in recent years. The total income from publications in 2006 seems to be on target. Much of this is due to the efforts of former Associate Executive Director Don Albers in bringing our publications to a larger market through agreements with Cambridge and and through the efforts of the book series editors who keep excellent titles coming. Although Don Albers has left the position of Associate Executive Director and Director of Publications, Publications are in good hands: Don continues to manage acquisitions from his base in California, Elaine Pedreira is heading the Books program and Carol Baxter is acting Director for Journals and Communications.

As you may already know, Tina Straley and the Executive Committee, with Board approval, have decided to spend some time revisiting our goals and strategic plans for the next five years, ten years, and so on. (See the January issue of FOCUS, starting on page 18.) At these meetings we received the final reports of the working groups in three important areas: Revenue, the American Mathematics Competitions, and Professional Development. The working groups on each of these areas, chaired by Barbara Faires, Frank Farris, and Nancy Hagelgans, presented reports to the Board and these will be posted on the website shortly after these meetings. I urge you to read them. Meanwhile, we are in the midst of Cycle II with working groups in three new areas: Membership (chair: Carl Pomerance), Governance (chair: Carl Cowen), and Students (chair: Deanna Haunsperger). The Board voted to add Meetings, Sections, and STEM issues for study in Cycle III to begin this spring.

The format of Board meetings has changed somewhat in that we have had breakout sessions to discuss strategic planning for part of the day. The Board itself suggested a more active role in the focus groups held last August and the implementation has made for some interesting discussions so far!

We have launched a new project with the American Institute of Physics (AIP), nominating Joe Gallian and Carl Pomerance as our Advisory Board to AIP. Visit to see what we're up to. In addition, we have endorsed a film project on the Mathematical Olympiad Program. President Joe Gallian and AMC Director Steve Dunbar are taking the lead on that.

The Euler Prize, endowed by funds contributed by Paul and Virginia Halmos, was given this year for the first time, in celebration of the 300th anniversary of Euler's birth. The award winner is John Derbyshire for his book, Prime Obsession. The MAA study tour this summer will trace Euler's life (1707-1783) from Basel to St. Petersburg. This is the MAA Year of Euler, and celebrations included a mini-course at the Joint Meetings and the release of two new books on Euler, complete with cake for the birthday boy. Three more books will come during the year, and there will be many Euler-related events at MathFest. I urge you take advantage of the posters, the books, the courses, and the Study Tour highlighting the mathematical contributions of Euler.

An Ethics and Whistleblower Policy was recently adopted by the Board to comply with the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Bill. At the Business Meeting, an addition to the MAA Bylaws was formally approved. It provides a mechanism for removal from office in case of serious violations.

Addition to the MAA Bylaws, approved at the MAA Business Meeting on January 8, 2007.

Article IV. 9. Persons appointed to positions within the Association may be removed from office by the entity that appointed them. Persons elected to office by the Board of Governors, by the general membership, or by the membership of a constituency within the Association may be removed from office by a 3/4 vote of the membership of the Board of Governors, with or without cause, if deemed to be in the best interest of the Association. The vote of the Board of Governors for removal from contractual positions is an authorization for the President or the Executive Director to take the steps necessary for that removal.

The Board passed several other Bylaws changes that can be found online. They will be brought to a vote by the membership at the Business Meeting in San Jose this summer.

Daniel Maki, member of the Audit and Budget Committees, has taken a position with the NSF this year. He has resigned from these two committees and the Board has elected Richard Cleary of Bentley College to serve for one year as his replacement and then for a four-year term to replace Jim Daniel, whose second and final term ends this time next year. Dan has been a thoughtful, articulate, and hard-working member of these two committees and a true asset to the Executive Committee and the Board of Governors. We miss him and wish him well!

The Board approved the 2007 Budget and the 2008 Dues. We are finishing the work for the 2007 elections. The Nominating Committee for the 2007 Elections was chaired by Ann Watkins. Wade Ellis, Barbara Faires, Ron Graham, and Betsy Yanik served on the committee. We will continue to use a mix of electronic and paper ballots. We will be electing new officers, including a new president, who will serve a year as President-Elect during 2008 and become president at the end of the 2009 Joint Meetings.

Daniel Velleman of Amherst College is now the Editor of the American Mathematical Monthly and will serve a five-year term that began January 1, 2007. We again thank Bruce Palka for doing a splendid job as Editor of the Monthly and for his dedicated service as a member of the Board. Searches are now underway for new editors of the College Mathematics Journal and of Math Horizons.

The Board approved a template for Section bylaws. The Committee on Sections established a schedule for periodic review of section bylaws and this should streamline the process for the sections and the Board.

I want to take this opportunity to thank those governors whose term on the Board has expired: Tom Banchoff as a Former President; Jonathan Borwein as Governor-at-Large for Canadians; and Nathaniel Dean as Governor-at-Large for Minority Interests. We will miss the contributions of these three active members, and look forward to their continued involvement with the work of the Association. Governors-at-Large, elected by the Board to begin a three-year term beginning after these Joint Mathematics Meetings are: Camille McKayle, Governor-at-Large Representing Minorities, replacing Nate Dean and Andy Liu, Governor-at-Large Representing Canadian Mathematicians, replacing Jonathan Borwein.

Those Section Governors who will serve on the Board until July, 2007 but for whom this was the last Board meeting are: Doug Ensley (EPADEL), David Kerr (Florida), Richard Wilders (Illinois), David Wright (Intermountain), James Freeman (Iowa), Roger Waggoner (Louisiana-Mississippi), David Carothers (MD-DC-VA), Ruth Favro (Michigan), Dan Kemp (North Central), Art Benjamin (Southern California-Nevada), and Elizabeth Bator (Texas). The three years of their terms have flown by! Most of these members are already actively enrolled as committee members. Join me also in wishing a speedy and complete recovery to our colleague, Jim Bruening, Governor of the Missouri Section. We look forward to seeing him in San Jose.

The schedule of future meetings of the Association is:

August 3-5, 2007, San Jose, CA
January 6-9, 2008 San Diego, CA
July 31-August 2, 2008, Madison, WI
January 7-10, 2009, Washington, DC
August 6-8, 2009, Portland, OR
January 6-9, 2010, San Francisco, CA
August 5-7, 2010, Pittsburgh, PA
January 5-8, 2011, New Orleans, LA
January 4-7, 2012, Boston, MA
January 9-12, 2013, San Diego, CA
January 15-18, 2014, Baltimore, MD
August 5-8, 2015, Washington, DC

The last of these is our Centennial Meeting. The Co-Chairs of the Centennial Celebration Committee, Deanna Haunsperger and Steve Kennedy, have some great plans!

I want to thank Tina Straley, Michael Pearson and the rest of the MAA staff. They have been instrumental in making the MAA a vibrant and intellectually exciting professional organization. I thank my assistant, Denise Raspa, whom most of you know only by her electronic name She has been a tremendous help to me. She and Marlesa Adams at MAA have been working diligently to simplify and streamline our operations. I thank them both for making my job so much easier.

Of course, these meetings cannot take place without the concerted effort and the considerable skill of many people. We acknowledge the staff in Washington, our Associate Secretary, Jim Tattersall, and the volunteers who have served on the program committee and the local arrangements committee, as well as the many folks who have given papers and run sessions.

The members of the MAA Program Committee for January 2007 in New Orleans were Frank Farris (chair), Jerome Goldstein, Tom Moore, Michael Neumann, Talmage James Reid, V. Frederick Rickey, Don Saari, Carol Schumacher, James Tattersall (ex off.), and Sylvia Wiegand. The members of the Joint AMS-MAA Program Committee for New Orleans 2007 were Frank Farris (MAA), Gail D. Ratcliff (AMS), Donald Saari (MAA), and Michael Starbird (AMS) (Chair).

It's perhaps worth noting that Jim Tattersall's term as Associate Secretary will end in February 2009, and that we are actively searching for a new Associate Secretary, who will spend a year as Associate Secretary Elect learning the ropes. See the MAA web site for specifics and details.

We have lost several wonderful friends of the MAA since MathFest. G. Bailey Price, who was President of the MAA in 1957 and 1958, died November 7. Paul Halmos (1919-2006), a great friend of the MAA, died in October, Leon Henkin died on November 1 at his home in Oakland, CA. and Don Kreider, former Treasurer and President died suddenly at his home on December 7th. See the In Memoriam Section of Focus Online for more information on these outstanding men.

Carl Cowen handed the gavel to our new President, Joseph Gallian, at the MAA Business Meeting. This marked the end of Carl's two-year term as President. It has been a pleasure to serve under Carl. His quiet and steady leadership and his interest in drawing a diverse group of mathematicians into the governance of the MAA have made the MAA a stronger and more inclusive organization than ever. I am sure I represent the entire leadership of the Association in thanking him for his service. We welcome President Joe Gallian with enthusiasm.

Martha Siegel teaches at Towson University in Maryland and is Secretary of the Association.

News Date: 
Tuesday, March 20, 2007