This article is published in the February/March 2012 issue of MAA FOCUS.The mission of the MAA is “to advance mathematics, especially at the collegiate level.” MAA’s emphasis on exposition and scholarship across the collegiate spectrum is unique among disciplinary societies. We need to maintain and strengthen efforts that support our mission. These include our high-quality publications program, our outstanding national meetings, and our long history of providing guidelines for undergraduate programs.
Through participation in MAA activities, members, volunteers, committees, and officers devote enormous amounts of time and energy in service to the profession. I want to find ways to broaden and strengthen pathways for members of our community to engage with and contribute to our association. At the end of the day, MAA doesn’t do things—our members do.
Along with MAA officers, I share responsibility for representing MAA interests to the mathematical sciences community, our donors, other disciplinary societies, federal agencies, policymakers, and others. I’ve been engaged enough in many of these arenas to recognize how complex my new job will be, and I can’t say it doesn’t keep me up some nights. But I also recognize the amazing reserves of talent and goodwill we have, and I expect to lean heavily on friends and colleagues to help carry on the mission of the MAA.
Since I’ve been at MAA headquarters for almost 10 years, I already know a lot of folks in our community. But I hope to get out and meet more members in the coming months. The more I can understand our community, the better equipped I’ll be to position the MAA to serve the needs of our members.
At the same time, we will be conducting a thorough review of MAA business and management practices. This effort will surely involve identifying new opportunities, redefining the roles and responsibilities of current staff, and developing alternative models and leveraging technology to keep our programs on track.
I’ve always thought of MAA as being my professional family, and I don’t think that the word “family” is at all out of place. You can see this clearly at MathFest, where the atmosphere is almost that of a large family reunion. You can also experience it at section meetings.
Starting with my involvement with the Louisiana-Mississippi Section, and expanding during my time at the national office, I marvel at the great friends I have made through MAA. I am amazed that I can make a career out of something I enjoy so much.I hope that my colleagues will be patient with me as I learn the job, and bear with me as I try to convince folks to roll up their sleeves and help with the work. We can find ways to work together to advance the goals of the MAA—and have some fun while we’re at it!