Date: April 28, 2003
To: MAA Department Liaisons
From: David Stone, Chair
MAA Committee on Liaisons
Re: Liaison Feedback from Joint Math Meetings
As incoming chair of the Liaisons Committee, I'd like to thank outgoing
Chair John Petro for his leadership and his stewardship of the program
to date. Many years ago, my first MAA official role was "department
representative" and I firmly believe in the value of the MAA’s network
of local contacts.
More than 125 of you attended the Liaisons Breakfast held at the Joint
Math Meetings in Baltimore in January. The food was good, as was the
opportunity to discuss issues with colleagues. Two discussion questions
were posed at the breakfast tables and many people took the time to
write out thoughtful comments. I’d like to report to all of you the
flavor and some details of the responses and comments.
(Q1) Faculty members have heavy time demands placed on them by all of
their teaching, research, and service commitments.
(a) What suggestions do you have to help faculty cope with the problem?
(b) What can the MAA do to help with this?
For (a), respondents generally felt that setting priorities, effective
time management, and learning that it OK to say “no” sometimes were the
best ways to cope with the problem. Specific suggestions included
keeping a time log to discuss with your administrator, getting involved
with existing faculty professional development programs at your
institution or in your areas, and trying to repeat courses taught and
maintaining committee membership, especially early in your career.
One respondent replied that they are experimenting with a team teaching
approach to a large section of calculus with the ultimate goal of
reducing the teaching
For (b), respondents recommended that the MAA do what it does best for
* help faculty network, by sponsoring forums, sessions at national and
section meetings, workshops, list-serves, web boards. In fact, several
people commented that the MAA’s Project NExT already works to help * new
* faculty members address these issues and suggested the NExT models of
sessions and e-mail discussion lists be expanded/copied.
* provide information -- making a comprehensive list of resources
addressing these concerns, information regarding grant and other funding
opportunities, as well as curricular materials, and provide reviews and
commentaries (Math DL, for instance);
* act as a professional voice for faculty – establishing and advocating
guidelines for departments; talking to administrators about teaching
loads, research expectations, service commitments for the different
stages of a career and at various types of institutions.
* providing professional development activities which provide
strategies, augment skills and help to avoid “reinventing the wheel”. An
experienced faculty member suggested a workshop entitled “No Is Not a
(Q2) The future of our profession is dependent on the success that
current faculty members have in recruiting math majors and encouraging
them in their studies.
(a) What suggestions do you have to help faculty in doing this?
(b) What can the MAA do to help with this?
Three suggestions really prevailed, with most mentioning at least one
of the three. The predominant suggestion was to focus more time and
material on providing career information to students. The MAA’s 101
Careers in Mathematics is a great point of reference, but it is not
feasible to distribute this to hundreds of potential math majors. Many
respondents requested brief but concise brochures on careers, an
ultra-slim version of the book, which would be easy to distribute. Some
also proposed profiles on graduate and post-grad students on university
websites or even the MAA website. We could also send short career
vignettes to liaisons, who could pass them on to potential math majors.
Many students do not realize the potential and flexibility of studying
Advertising university success stories was also a popular suggestion.
Successful departments should be models who share productive and
effective strategies. Teachers and departments need more opportunities
to share and discuss ideas.
Many respondents pointed out that the MAA could only do so much and
that often the deciding factor is how much effort individual teachers
put into “recruiting”. A popular suggestion was to focus on the younger
students in calculus classes. Departments could organize more freshman
activities such as math clubs, where not only meetings would be held,
but where kids can get study help, socialize and become part of a
mathematical community. Many stressed the call for mentoring, taking
promising students “under your wing”. Instead of telling the whole class
they should consider a math major, a faculty member should personally
let kids know of their potential. Many want to show videos, including
career information and math applications. Recruiting from high schools
was also mentioned often. Many stressed the importance of developing a
strong relationship with high school teachers and making the materials
and information mentioned above available to their students.
Other recurring suggestions included touting mathematics as a double
major, holding workshops for reviewing math journals, and inviting
speakers to talk about the role mathematics plays in their careers.
those who would like to see all of your colleagues' responses in full, click here.