Meet the AMS Committee on Education

The AMS has five “policy” committees, which were established in 1993 to correspond to the five major areas in which the mission of the AMS is concentrated: Education, Meetings and Conferences, the Profession, Publications, and Science Policy. Each policy committee provides major direction for AMS activities and programs in its area.

I wrote about Committee on Science Policy on April 11, 2019. Today, I write to introduce you to the Committee on Education. A summary of the committee’s charge reads:

The Committee on Education serves as the Society’s channel for communication and cooperation with other organizations on matters concerning education, provides a forum for the discussion of mathematics education issues, provides information and makes recommendations to the leadership and membership of the Society on education issues, and organizes elements of AMS meetings addressing mathematics education.

I serve as the staff support for this committee. This means that I give logistic and content support throughout the year for the committee’s work.

One of the specific principal activities of this committee is “To recommend to the leadership of the Society, members of the Society and to the research community as a whole, actions which will make positive contributions to improving mathematics education.” You may have heard that the AMS Department of Education has moved from AMS headquarters in Providence, RI to Washington, DC. The relatively new Director of Education Abbe Herzig will be working in concert with this committee.

The CoE also reviews nominations and selects the recipient of the Award for Impact on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics. This award is given annually to a mathematician (or group of mathematicians) who has made significant contributions of lasting value to mathematics education. Consider nominating your colleagues, please! The next deadline is September 15, 2020.

The Committee on Education (CoE) meets for two days each fall and the meeting is paired with the AMS Annual Mini-conference on Education, which the committee organizes. This year we will be together October 24-26; the committee business takes place Thursday evening and Saturday while the mini-conference is open to the public and will occur on Friday October 25th. All of this takes place in Washington, DC.

This year’s mini-conference, Mathematics Departments and the Explosive Growth of Computational and Quantitative Offerings in Higher Education–organized by CoE members Kate Stevenson (Chair), Erika Camacho, and Uri Treisman–promises to be great. Here is a description of the day’s focus:

New computational and quantitative majors, minors, specializations, and certificates are flourishing in all sectors of American higher education.  Examples include Certificates in Computational Intelligence and Linguistics, Bachelors degrees in Data Science, and Masters degrees in Financial Engineering. This reflects the growing centrality of the mathematical sciences to the development of knowledge in traditional STEM fields as well as to a growing list of non-STEM disciplines. It also reflects the increasing demand for quantitative competence in the workplace.  This mini-conference will explore the role of mathematics departments in these new computational and quantitative offerings.

The speaker list is impressive:

Ben Baumer (Assistant Professor of Statistical & Data Sciences, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Smith College)

Michael Dorff (Professor of Mathematics, Brigham Young University & President, Mathematical Association of America)

Mark Green (Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor, University of California, Los Angeles & Chair, NAS Board on Mathematical Sciences and Analytics)

Tom Halverson (DeWitt Wallace Professor and former Chair 2013-2019, Department of Mathematics, Statistics & Computer Science, Macalester College)

Stephanie Hicks (Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics & Member of Data Science Lab, Johns Hopkins University)

Nirmala Kannankutty (Acting Division Director, Division of Graduate Education, National Science Foundation EHR-DGE)

Anthony Kearsley (Information Technology Laboratory, Applied and Computational Mathematics Division, NIST)

William “Brit” Kirwan (Chancellor Emeritus, University System of Maryland)

So far, we have over 100 participants registered from two- and four-year colleges, research universities, and federal agencies.

The committee meeting on October 24 and 26th includes discussions about AMS programs and activities which focus on education, and planning for the 2020 mini-conference and education-related activities at the 2021 Joint Mathematics Meetings. A report on the meeting, as well as of past meetings, are found at the committee website.

The AMS CoE includes several at-large members, and also some who serve on the committee by virtue of some other position they hold within the AMS. The current at-large members of the Committee are:

  • Deborah Loewenberg Ball, University of Michigan, is the William H. Payne Collegiate Professor of education, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and the director of TeachingWorks. She is an expert on teacher education, and her work centering on ways to improve the quality of beginning teaching, particularly for children of color and low-income children. She taught elementary school for more than 15 years, and continues to teach mathematics to elementary students every summer. Deborah served as president of the American Educational Research Association from 2017 to 2018, as a member of the National Science Board from 2013 to 2018, and as dean of the University of Michigan School of Education from 2005 to 2016.
  • Michael Dorff, Brigham Young University, is Professor of Mathematics and founder and director of the $2.6 million NSF-funded Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM). He is a fellow of the AMS and current President of the MAA.
  • Katherine Kinnaird is Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Computer Science and of Statistical & Data Sciences at Smith College. Her research is computational and at the intersection of machine learning, mathematics, and cultural analytics. She co-organized the 2013 Workshop for Women in Machine Learning (WIML), and has served on the WiML executive board, including a term as president. She also was a co-organizer for the first Women in Music Informational Retrieval Workshop in 2018.
  • Katherine (Kate) Stevenson (CoE Chair) is Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Developmental Mathematics Program at California State University, Northridge. From 2011-2016 she directed a $2.7 million grant from the Gates Foundation Grant to improve entry level courses within the CSU and California Community College System.
  • Uri Treisman is a University Distinguished Teaching Professor, professor of mathematics, and professor of public affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the founder and executive director of the University’s Charles A. Dana Center. Uri has served as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Education Commission of the States since 2013. He is also chairman of the Strong Start to Finish Campaign, and serves on the director’s board of Transforming Post-Secondary Education in Mathematics, and is the representative of the American Mathematical Society to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Education, Section Q).
  • Diana White is Associate Professor of Mathematics and Mathematics Education at the University of Colorado at Denver. She is also Director of National Association of Math Circles.
  • Jon Wilkening is Professor and Graduate Vice Chair in the Department of Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests focus on Numerical Analysis, Computational Physics, Partial Differential Equations, and High Performance Computing. He sits on several editorial boards and is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER).

Additional members are:

  • Erika Camacho, Arizona State University and NSF Division of Human Resource Development, is a member of the AMS Council and represents the Council on the committee.
  • Ralph Cohen, Stanford University, is on the AMS Board of Trustees and represents the board on the committee.
  • Doug Ensley, Shippensburg University, is the MAA Representative to the committee.
  • Susan Loepp, Williams College, is a member of the AMS Council and represents the Council on the committee.
  • Jill Pipher, Brown University, is the AMS President and thus sits on the committee.
  • Catherine Roberts, American Mathematical Society, is the is the AMS Executive Director and thus sits on the committee.
  • Carla Savage, North Carolina State University, is the AMS secretary and thus sits on the committee, as a non-voting member.
  • Michael Vogelius, Rutgers University, is the Chair of the Committee on Science Policy and thus sits on the committee.
  • Ravi Vakil, Stanford University, is a member of the AMS Council and represents the Council on the committee.

How can you get involved? You can volunteer for any one of the five policy committees, or for one of the many other committees of the AMS.


About Karen Saxe

Karen Saxe is Director of the AMS Office of Government Relations which works to connect the mathematics community with Washington decision-makers who affect mathematics research and education. Over many years she has contributed much time to the AMS, MAA, and AWM, including service as vice president of the MAA and in policy and advocacy work with all three. She was the 2013-2014 AMS Congressional Fellow, working for Senator Al Franken on education issues, with focus on higher education and STEM education. In Minnesota she has served on the Citizens Redistricting Commission following the 2010 census and serves on the Common Cause Minnesota Redistricting Leadership Circle. She has three children and, when not at work especially enjoys being with them and reading, hiking and sharing good food and wine and beer with family and friends.
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