Outreach of Mathematician

community_outreachOutreach for a mathematics department as any activity that enhances the teaching and learning of mathematics outside the department, in particular in K–12 education and community colleges. Undoubtedly, most math department have such program, and many graduate students have involved in it.

It’s not hard to note that an outreach mathematician is not a mathematics education researcher but is likely to spend considerable time working on matters that are sometimes within the domain of mathematics education. I know some graduate students, even professors who are such kind of mathematicians. Their main job are very similar to those in  TTU(described in the latest article, Revisiting an Outreach Mathematician, Notices of AMS):

(1) on-campus activity teaching courses, supervising students, and interacting with faculty in other departments who have interests that are aligned with outreach activities;(2) organizing locally and regionally funded outreach activities such as K–12 school visits and summer programs; and (3) serving on national committees and participating on panels at various meetings. The outreach mathematician normally face the similar issues to those traditional faculty will meet, in other word, they also need to seek funding and to publish scholarly articles. But here comes the question, how many departments are willing to provide a tenure to an outreach mathematician? Right now, TTU is able to provide a good offer:

A significant development in support of outreach at TTU occurred in 2012 when the university adopted a revised tenure and promotion policy that recognized outreach and community engagement as part of a faculty member’s contributions to teaching, research, or service. Even if a discussion of outreach and community engagement does not rise to the university level, a mathematics department should consider amending the reward and promotion structure to take into account the nontraditional role of an outreach mathematician. The mathematics department at TTU has recently adopted such a clause in its promotion and tenure documents. 

In my department, Dr. Herald is acting such a role. He leads the Math Club, takes care of the Math Center, which provides tutoring services for the whole school, and develops K-12 activities in the Nevada area. But his main job is still a traditional professor.

TTU definitely set a good example in the outreach field. Do you think there will be more departments follow TTU’s action and provide more positions for outreach mathematicians?


About Shijie Gu

I'm a PhD student of UWM. I obtained MS from University of Nevada Reno. My research interests include Geometric Topology (decomposition theory), PDEs, Wavelets, Numerical Analysis, Nonlinear Dynamic and Chaos.
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