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MAA MathFest 2009: Report of the Secretary

The MAA Board of Governors had a lively meeting in Portland on August 5th. As you may know, the MAA Board of Governors has instituted what we hope will be a continuous strategic planning process. The process began with the study of three areas: revenue, professional development, and the American Mathematics Competitions. It continued with strategic planning in the areas of membership, students, and governance. These reports have already been posted on MAA Online. Many of the recommendations of the working groups have either been implemented or are being discussed by the relevant committees, and we expect to have further action on some of these soon.

The membership working group made many recommendations. At the August meeting of the Board some of those recommendations were approved. We now have plans for optional electronic memberships, changes in student memberships, and opportunities for more international and departmental memberships. These are exciting innovations for the MAA. The details are available in the October/November 2009 issue of MAA FOCUS.

Two strategic planning working groups presented their final reports to the Board at this meeting. The reports on sections and on STEM issues are available online. Strategic planning groups on meetings will report in January and periodicals and communications will report at MathFest 2010. The Board had a lengthy and thorough discussion on the electronic membership proposal, the section report, and the STEM report.

It is my pleasure to welcome newcomers to the Board. Although David Bressoud has been serving as President since the end of the January 2009 meetings, he presided over the Board meeting for the first time at MathFest. We have two new Governors-at-Large, who have been on the Board of Governors since the end of the January meetings but actually met with the Board for the first time: Judith Covington, the Governor-at-Large for Teacher Education and Gregory Coxson, Governor-at-Large for Mathematicians in Business, Industry and Government. Likewise, Richard Gillman, Chair of the Committee on Sections, joined the Executive Committee and the Board at the end of the Joint Meetings in January.

I am so pleased to welcome our new Section Governors, elected to serve three-year terms from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012: Stuart Boersma of Central Washington University (Pacific Northwest Section), Cheri Boyd of Nazareth College of Rochester (Seaway Section), Stephen Davis of Davidson College (Southeastern Section), Thomas Gruszka of Western New Mexico University (Southwestern Section), Jean Johnson of Baker University (Kansas Section), Mark Korlie of Montclair State University (New Jersey Section), Ed Sandifer of Western Connecticut State University (Northeastern Section), Alan Stickney of Wittenberg University (Ohio Section), and Yungchen Cheng of Missouri State University (Missouri Section).

The Board elected Richard Guy as incoming Governor-at-Large for Canadian Members and Dawn Lott as new Governor-at-Large for Minority Interests. Mary Shepherd was re-elected by the Board to a second term on the Audit and Budget Committees. The terms of Governors elected by the Board at MathFest begin after the Joint Meetings in January 2010.

One of the recent innovations in accordance with Board action on the Strategic Planning report on governance was to have elections to select new Council Chairs. I have marked with an asterisk those who were elected by the Board as incoming chairs for three-year terms. To summarize:

  1. Council on Prizes and Awards – chair is Thomas Banchoff (Gerald Porter*)
  2. Council on Outreach Programs – chair is Harold Reiter (re-elected)
  3. Council on Programs and Students in the Mathematical Sciences – chair is Harriet Pollatsek (re-elected)
  4. Council on the Profession – chair is Catherine Murphy
  5. Council on Meetings and Professional Development – chair is Howard Penn (Elizabeth Mayfield *)
  6. Council on Publications and Communications – chair is Paul Zorn (Frank Farris*)
  7. Council on Members and Communities – chair is David Stone

Federal laws require non-profits such as the MAA to file a Form 990, which is parallel in some sense to the personal 1040. New regulations require the Board to have an opportunity to review a draft of Form 990 before it is submitted. Accordingly, the 2008 report was available for Board review on the MAA website. A slightly abbreviated public version will be available, as it has been in the past, on Guidestar ( As always, reports of the Treasurer are available on the Treasurer’s page on MAA Online.

In addition, we are in the process of revising and strengthening our conflict of interest policies. We are required to ask all those who work on MAA business to declare that they have disclosed all conflicts of interests in accordance with a specific protocol. Council and committee chairs will receive notice of the requirements shortly. If you have any questions, contact me.

The Board approved prizes to be awarded at the Joint Prize Session in 2010. The Board approved Meritorious Service Awards for six sections and selected the winner of the Gung-Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics. Three outstanding teachers were selected as winners of the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Awards. Haimo Award winners - Curtis Bennett, Michael Dorff, and Allan Rossman - will deliver addresses at the 2010 JMM revealing some of the secrets of their outstanding teaching success. The Board approved the winner of the Euler Book Prize and the Chauvenet Prize, also to be awarded in January 2010.

The Board selected William McCallum as James Leitzel Lecturer for MathFest 2010, and Bob Devaney was elected Hedrick Lecturer for MathFest 2010. Judy Leavitt Walker is the Pólya Lecturer for 2009-10 and 2010-11. The Board is in the process of selecting the Pólya Lecturer for 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Governors also approved changes in the Section bylaws of the Illinois and Intermountain Sections.

The MAA Business Meeting was held on Saturday, August 8. Certificates of recognition were presented to T. Christine Stevens, for many years of service to Project NExT, to Joan Ferrini-Mundy, MF 2009 Leitzel Lecturer, to Ravi Vakil, MF 2009 Hedrick Lecturer, and to George Andrews, outgoing Pólya Lecturer.

MathFest was a grand success. There are many people to thank, including our outstanding staff in Washington, and the MF 2009 Program Committee: Ezra Brown, Richard Cleary, Keith Devlin, Frederick Hoffman, Nancy Ann Neudauer, Jennifer Quinn, Kenneth Ross (chair), Amy Shell-Gellasch, James Tattersall (ex off.), Daniel Velleman, and Gerard Venema (ex off.) For Associate Secretary Venema this marked an auspicious beginning to his five-year term, which began immediately after the 2009 JMM. Thanks to everyone.

Committee appointment letters will be sent out in early September. We have been automating the invitation letters and updating the database so despite the conversion to a new management database we hope that the records are up-to-date and correct.
The ad hoc Bylaws Task Force, chaired by our Parliamentarian, Wayne Roberts, is working to revise the Bylaws in light of changes in governance recommended by the Board and the Strategic Working Group on Governance. The membership will have the opportunity to vote on the Bylaws when the revisions have been made and approved by the Executive Committee and the Board of Governors. We will try to make the process transparent so that ideas can flow freely to and from the Task Force. We had expected the process to take some time, and though we had set a target of MathFest 2009 for presentation to the Board, it looks like it will be January 2010 before the document will be ready. Members of the ad hoc Task Force are William Haver, Wayne Roberts (chair), Kenneth Ross, Tina Straley, Ann Watkins, and myself. Barbara Faires has been participating of late, as well.

In May the Executive Committee directed David Bressoud to appoint several ad hoc committees. One such group, chaired by David Manderscheid will consider the role of the MAA in Professional Science Master’s Degree Programs in the Mathematical Sciences. Dan Teague will head up a group working on MAA’s role in developing a website for mathematically gifted high school students. And David Stone will chair a group on the development and maintenance of e-communities. Joe Gallian and Andy Liu will be heading a group on general outreach.

I want to take the opportunity to thank the MAA staff for their willingness to work with me and my office in a timely and cheerful manner. My assistant, Denise Raspa, has been my essential right arm. She is professional and efficient and watches out for the best interests of the Association.

Respectfully submitted,

Martha J. Siegel,
MAA Secretary

News Date: 
Friday, September 4, 2009