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Every MAA Section is eligible to have one Section Visitor per academic year from the Association leadership to attend and participate in a Section meeting, with all travel expenses borne by the MAA. Sections are not expected to provide the Visitor with an honorarium or stipend; the Section’s only financial obligation is to cover the registration fee and the cost of any associated social events. This popular program is a great way to find a dynamic speaker for your Section meeting, to energize your Section NExT group, to ask questions and share information with the Board of Directors.

Why invite a Section Visitor?

The goals of this program are to:

  • Provide the Association leadership with information about the unique features of the Sections they visit, with a more immediate sense of the concerns and issues facing the membership, and with a sense of the well-being of the Section, including how well it is fulfilling its mission.
  • Provide the Section leadership with a perspective on trends in the Sections of the Association, with perceptions on the effectiveness of the management of the affairs of the Section, and with recognition for noteworthy Section activities and practices.
  • Provide the members of the Section an opportunity to interact directly with the Association leadership though individual conversations and formal Section activities.

What does a Section Visitor do?

To achieve these goals, each Section Visitor will participate in as much of the Section meeting as possible. In particular, the Section Visitor is expected to:

  • Present at least one talk, workshop, or other activity agreed upon with the Section leadership.

​These activities, and any other activities that the visitor is requested to lead, should be selected to align the experiences and talents of the Association leadership with the interests and needs of the Section.

  • Attend and participate in any business meetings of the Section, meetings of the Section officers, liaison meetings, chairs’ meetings, and Section NExT activities. (Please make sure the Visitor is placed on the agenda of each of these meetings.)
  • Participate in the social activities associated with the meeting.

After completing the visit, the Section Visitor will prepare a report for the MAA Board of Directors and the Committee on Sections, summarizing the activities that the visitor participated in or observed, noting those that should be shared with other Sections. The report should also reflect on the general health of the Section and areas in which the Section might improve. The Section Visitor will send a similar report to the Section officers and the Section representative.

How to schedule a Section Visitor

Because many Section meetings are scheduled for a short "window" in the spring, Section Visitors are in high demand at that time. Therefore, Section leaders should extend an invitation as early as possible to the Section Visitor whom they want. The MAA Secretary and Chair of the Committee on Sections will assist if a Section has problems in scheduling a Section Visitor, but early planning is essential. When you invite a Visitor to your Section, please make it clear that you are inviting him/her as a Section Visitor. In order to ensure that the reimbursements are processed correctly, please notify Susan Kennedy of your section meeting speaker plans as soon as arrangements are made.

Making your Section Visitor feel at home

Good advice for all invited guests

Each Section is asked to be a thoughtful host. In the crush of meeting details and the distribution of duties among Section officers and local arrangements folks, it is sometimes easy for responsibilities to fall through the cracks.

  • Please be sure to consider your Visitor’s arrangements for travel, lodging, meals, local transportation and registration. If your Visitor arrives the night before, or stays the night after, the Section meeting, it is especially cordial that the Section consider evening dining arrangements. At least give visiting speakers options ("Do you need a ride?" or “Can we arrange for a cab?”) for airport pickups, get-togethers at meals, etc.
  • Be sure to communicate fully about the schedule of events at your meeting.
  • Make sure the Visitor is on the agenda for the Section business meeting, executive committee meeting, and any other appropriate events.
  • Register your Visitor for the meeting! Prepare a name tag, meal tickets, and a program, and have them ready at the registration table.

Section Visitors, Pólya Lecturers, and Section Representatives

Finally, it is important to note the distinction between the roles of the Pólya Lecturers, the Section Representatives, and the Section Visitors:

  • Pólya Lecturers are leading members of the mathematical community, selected because they are outstanding speakers who are available to deliver an invited address during the Section meeting; they do not represent the leadership of the Association. Each Section may invite a Pólya Lecturer once every five years.
  • The Section Representative is the Section’s official liaison with the Association; he or she reports the official actions of the Congress to the Section and communicates issues from the Section directly to the Congress. Section Representatives are provided materials by the Association to assist in this communication.
  • Section Visitors are among the senior leadership of the Association and a primary purpose of their visits is to assist the Section leadership in maintaining healthy Sections by bringing to the Section leadership ideas of successful activities from other Sections and provide a means of communication between the leadership and the members.

The Association leaders who are currently designated as Section Visitors

Allen Butler, Treasurer, Board of Directors

Daniel H. Wagner, Associates,
Available as a speaker through Spring 2025

Topics include:

Bayes’ Theorem – Making Rational Decisions in the Face of Uncertainty
A statement of Bayes’ Theorem (aka Bayes’ Rule) can be written very succinctly, but this belies its far-reaching consequences. In this talk, I will provide a little of the history behind Bayes’ Theorem, a derivation of the mathematical basis in probabilistic terms, and a description of the less formal basis where it is viewed as a form of evidential or inferential reasoning. I will illustrate the utility of Bayes’ Theorem by describing applications from the work of my former company, Daniel H. Wagner Associates, Inc. One of these resulted in the location and recovery of the “Ship of Gold”, the SS Central America, a side-wheel steamer carrying nearly six hundred passengers returning from the California Gold Rush, which sank in a hurricane two hundred miles off the Carolina coast in September 1857.

Students considering Non-Academic Careers? – Help!
Most professors have spent their entire careers wandering academic halls. It’s no wonder they sometimes struggle with the task of advising students on non-academic careers. In this talk, we’ll look at ways to help such students. What advice can you give students about finding the right jobs? How can students best prepare themselves to be successful, both in the interview process and in their new career? Are internships really valuable and how does a student get one? What can students expect when they transition from the classroom to the “real world”?

Building a Successful Company – With Mathematicians???
In 1963, Dr. Dan Wagner founded his eponymous company, Daniel H. Wagner, Associates, with two guiding principles in mind: hire young mathematicians, then train them to solve real-world problems; and teach them that the quality of the writing in the technical reports and briefings is nearly as important as the technical content itself. Through the years, the company developed an impressive reputation for mathematical analysis applied to the budding field of Search Theory (find the lost H-bomb, find the sunken treasure, find the enemy submarine, etc.), and this continues to be an area of expertise today. At the same time, the company demonstrated the breadth of its capabilities by working in areas as diverse as DNA sequencing, retirement planning, crane anti-sway, speech recognition, speaker verification, and random number generation on GPUs.

Edray Goins, Chair, Congress

West Pomona College
Available as a speaker through Spring 2024

Topics include:

Clocks, Parking Garages, and the Solvability of the Quintic: A Friendly Introduction to Monodromy
Imagine the hands on a clock. For every complete the minute hand makes, the seconds hand makes 60, while the hour hand only goes one twelfth of the way. We may think of the hour hand as generating a group such that when we ``move'' twelve times then we get back to where we started. This is the elementary concept of a monodromy group. In this talk, we give a gentle introduction to a historical mathematical concept which relates calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and group theory into one neat theory called ``monodromy''. We explore lots of real world applications, including why it’s so easy to get lost in parking garages, and present some open problems in the field. We end the talk with a discussion of how this is all related to solving polynomial equations, such as Abel’s famous theorem on the insolubility of the quintic by radicals.

A Dream Deferred: 50 Years of Blacks in Mathematics
In 1934, Walter Richard Talbot earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh; he was the fourth African American to earn a doctorate in mathematics. His dissertation research was in the field of geometric group theory, where he was interested in computing fundamental domains of action by the symmetric group on certain complex vector spaces. Unfortunately, opportunities for African Americans during that time to continue their research were severely limited. "When I entered the college teaching scene, it was 1934," Talbot is quoted as saying. "It was 35 years later before I had a chance to start existing in the national activities of the mathematical bodies." Concerned with the exclusion of African Americans at various national meetings, Talbot helped to found the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) in 1969.
In this talk, we take a tour of the mathematics done by African and African Americans over the past 50 years since the founding of NAM, weaving in personal stories and questions for reflection for the next 50 years.

A Survey of Diophantine Equations
There are many beautiful identities involving positive integers. For example, Pythagoras knew $3^2 + 4^2 = 5^2$ while Plato knew $3^3 + 4^3 + 5^3 = 6^3$. Euler discovered $59^4 + 158^4 = 133^4 + 134^4$, and even a famous story involving G.~H.~Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan involves $1^3 + 12^3 = 9^3 + 10^3$. But how does one find such identities?
Around the third century, the Greek mathematician Diophantus of Alexandria introduced a systematic study of integer solutions to polynomial equations. In this talk, we'll focus on various types of so-called Diophantine Equations, discussing such topics as Pythagorean Triples, Pell's Equations, Elliptic Curves, and Fermat's Last Theorem.

Indiana Pols Forced to Eat Humble Pi: The Curious History of an Irrational Number
In 1897, Indiana physician Edwin J. Goodwin believed he had discovered a way to square the circle, and proposed a bill to Indiana Representative Taylor I. Record which would secure Indiana's the claim to fame for his discovery. About the time the debate about the bill concluded, Purdue University professor Clarence A. Waldo serendipitously came across the claimed discovery, and pointed out its mathematical impossibility to the lawmakers. It had only be shown just 15 years before, by the German mathematician Ferdinand von Lindemann, that it was impossible to square the circle because $\pi$ is a transcendental number. This fodder became ignominiously known as the "Indiana Pi Bill" as Goodwin's result would force $\pi = 3.2$.
In this talk, we review this humorous history of the irrationality of $\pi$. We introduce a method to compute its digits, present Lindemann's proof of its irrationality (following a simplification by Mikl{\'o}s Laczkovich), discuss the relationship with the Hermite-Lindemann-Weierstrass theorem, and explain how Edwin J.~Goodwin came to his erroneous conclusion in the first place.

Audrey Malagon, Senior Director of Programs

Mathematical Association of America

Topics include:

Votes of Confidence: Leveraging Mathematics to Ensure Election Security
From investigations into foreign interference to problems with voting equipment, news of election security leaves many questions for our democracy. In this talk, I’ll discuss why voting poses difficult problems and how mathematicians and computer scientists are working alongside political scientists, lawyers, and activists to solve these problems. I’ll share my story and discuss ways we as a mathematical community can contribute to election security in a non-partisan way.

Rebuilding our Mathematics Community
Post-pandemic, students returned to classrooms and to campus, but nothing really returned to “normal.” This talk is based on the article Welcome Back to the Math Lounge with Drs. Lydia Kennedy and Margaret Reese (Virginia Wesleyan University), which appeared in the Aug/Sep 2022 issue of FOCUS. I’ll discuss my experiences as a faculty member and department chair working to rebuild and reinvent a vibrant community of mathematics students.

Kool-Aid, Dice, and Snails: Modeling Activities for Mathematics Classrooms
This talk highlights projects from the SIMIODE project, which together with NSF funding created classroom materials and trained faculty to use a modeling first approach to differential equations. I’ll share my experience creating and using modeling projects in calculus and differential equations classes, including sharing some of my favorite projects

Lisa Marano, Chair, Council on Sections/h6>

West Chester University
Available as a speaker through Spring 2025

Topics include:

Mathematics and Service Learning
First-year seminars, learning communities, service-learning courses, undergraduate research projects, and capstone experiences are among a list of high-impact educational practices compiled by George Kuh (2008), which measurably influence students’ success in areas such as student engagement and retention. It is recommended that all college students participate in at least two of these HIPs to deepen their approaches to learning, as well as to increase the transference of knowledge (Gonyea, Kinzie, Kuh, & Laird, 2008). In Mathematics, if a student participates in service-learning, it is typically in the form of tutoring, in conjunction with a school or with an after-school program, or consulting for a non-profit by modeling or performing statistical analysis. I discuss a number of service-learning projects which were developed for mathematics courses, neither of which involves these traditional opportunities. I also describe my current research project which has potential impact on my community and yours.

Nancy Ann Neudauer, Associate Secretary

Pacific University
Available as a speaker through Spring 2026

Topics Include

Matroids You Have Known
Matroids show up several times in the undergraduate curriculum, but most of us don’t know them by name. In 1933, three Harvard junior-fellows tied together some recurring themes in mathematics, into what Gian Carlo Rota called one of the most important ideas of our day. They were finding properties of dependence in multiple mathematical structures. What resulted is the matroid, which abstracts notions of algebraic dependence, linear independence, and geometric dependence, thus unifying several areas of mathematics. The usefulness of matroids to pure mathematical research is similar to that of groups – by studying an abstract version of phenomena that occur in different realms of mathematics, we learn something about all those realms simultaneously.

We find that matroids are everywhere: Vector spaces are matroids; We can define matroids on a graph. Matroids are useful in situations that are modelled by both graphs and matrices. Yet many matroids cannot be represented by a graph nor a collection of vectors over any field. We consider the essential role of matroids in combinatorial optimization.
No prior knowledge of matroids or graphs is needed.

Models of Undergraduate Research in Mathematics
A well-mentored undergraduate research experience has been shown to be a high-impact practice, with particularly strong effects for students from minoritized groups. While common for decades amongst the lab sciences, undergraduate research has more recently been adopted and institutionalized in mathematics. I will present a few different models, and in particular, discuss the academic-year research and faculty professional development funded through the Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM). CURM has just been awarded its fourth five- year NSF grant to support faculty and students with mini-grants at universities and 2-year colleges throughout the United States.

CURM promotes academic-year undergraduate research in mathematics and statistics based upon a model consisting of (a) training faculty members to mentor students in research, (b) engaging students and a faculty mentor in research during the academic year at their own institution, (c) preparing students to succeed in graduate studies, and (d) advising faculty members on how to maintain consistent undergraduate research including finding resources for other funding sources.

Michael Pearson, Executive Director

Mathematical Association of America

Topics on request.

Hortensia Soto, President

Colorado State University

Topics include:

Diverse Assessments 2.0
Diverse assessments can inform us about students’ understanding of undergraduate mathematics and can shape our teaching. Oral assessments such as classroom presentations and individual student interviews can paint a better picture of students’ conceptions as well as their misconceptions. Reading assignments with structured questions allow students to get a glimpse of new content and their responses can be used to structure the classroom discussion. Perceptuo-motor activities offer opportunities for students to feel, experience, and be the mathematics. In this talk, I will share numerous diverse assessments that I have implemented, the benefits of such assessments, and the challenges in implementing these assessments.

Intentionally Bringing Diversity Awareness into the Classroom
We are in an era where we are intentionally trying to address the need to embrace diversity, especially in the STEM disciplines. Initiatives to address this need include hiring faculty of color, inviting speakers of color to national meetings, having mission statements that address diversity, etc. These are all wonderful efforts that support diversity. In my presentation, I discuss the value of identifying with others, looking inward, and reflecting on how our own experiences can be used to support diversity in STEM disciplines. Specifically, I will share my efforts to do this with my history of mathematics students, who are prospective secondary teachers and have an opportunity to influence generations to come.

Compassion in & Access to Learning Mathematics (CALM)
Research indicates that students from minoritized groups are more likely to pursue STEM degrees if they can see how these fields benefit their communities and if they are in classrooms where they experience micro or macro-affirmations. In this presentation, I will share my perspectives, based on research and personal experiences, on how we can create learning environments that provide our students access to learning mathematics. I argue that we can help students see the value of mathematics by challenging them, providing a supportive learning environment, and creating a space where they have a voice in their learning.

Embodied Cognition: What is it? How Does it Involve Mathematics?
Embodied cognition is a philosophy that claims that learning is body-based. One might ask how that has anything to do with teaching and learning mathematics. In this talk, I will illustrate ways in which this lens can facilitate learning especially for students whose second language is English. I argue that most faculty probably already adopt aspects of embodied cognition into their courses and my hope is to help make faculty more aware of how they do this. Please bring your fun meters so we can experience some of these ideas together.

Developing Geometric Reasoning of Complex Analysis
In this presentation, I will share research related to the teaching and learning of complex analysis that that my colleagues and I have conducted over the past 10 years. Much of this research centers on how research participants can discover and develop geometric foundations of complex analysis, beginning with the product of two complex numbers and extending to differentiation and integration. Research participants include high school students, pre- and in-service teachers, undergraduate mathematics and physics majors, and mathematicians. As part of my presentation, I will offer some teaching implications.

Intentional Integration of Embodiment Forms to Teach the FHT
In this case study, we explored how a mathematics education researcher integrated embodiment beyond gesture as she developed an experiential foundation for the Fundamental Homorphism Theorem (FHT) in a first semester abstract algebra course. We found that this instructor intentionally used embodiment to support student contributions and to reduce levels of abstraction for the formal definitions, theorems, and proofs. In addition, she encouraged students to interact with physical materials and simulate the mathematics with their bodies. Simulations opened communication lines between the instructor and students, who were not fluent in formal language. The instructor’s simultaneous use of various forms of embodiment primed students for the formalism and symbolism, highlighted and disambiguated students’ referents, amplified students’ contributions to develop fluency, and linked students’ body form catchments to reinforce the FHT. Our results offer practical implications for teaching by illustrating examples of how embodiment can be implemented into an abstract algebra classroom.

Cindy Wyels, Secretary

CSU Channel Islands
Available as a speaker through Spring 2026

Topics include:

Data Science for (& by) Pure Mathematicians

Consider the skills and habits of mind developed through studying pure mathematics. These – and some basic statistical techniques – are enough to fruitfully address some questions of interest when provided a small data set. With a larger investment of time for individual learning, a healthy dose of humility, and perhaps some collaborators, even those whose preparation was in pure mathematics can produce data-based studies of interest to wide audiences. Join me for a story involving a years-long transition, a cast of dozens, learning from failure, and experiencing joy as I argue for the value of all types of research for and by all types of researchers.