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The doctoral program in mathematics at the University of Iowa: an American model Fourth Workshop for Chairs of Statistics and Biostatistics Departments.

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Presentation on theme: "The doctoral program in mathematics at the University of Iowa: an American model Fourth Workshop for Chairs of Statistics and Biostatistics Departments."— Presentation transcript:

1 The doctoral program in mathematics at the University of Iowa: an American model Fourth Workshop for Chairs of Statistics and Biostatistics Departments JSM 2010 Vancouver, BC Saturday, July 31, 2010,

2 UI Department of Mathematics Graduate Minority Enrollment

3 UI math department US graduate enrollment

4 Our 2010 Entering Class EthnicityFemaleMaleTotal African American011 Latina/o145 Total Minority156 Majority US549 Total US6915 International123 Entering Class71118

5 Programs Success To Date Significant change in the culture of the Department Benefits to all students Friendships and close working relationships

6 Programs Success To Date 13 US minority Ph.D.s since 2002, 3 new Ph.D.s in NSF Poctdoctoral Fellowship to Dr. Paulette Willis (2010) Anticipated steady state of 2-4 per year. Graduation rate ( ) of minority students approximately equal to that of US majority students

7 Recognition PAESMEM award (2005, 2008) AMS Exemplary Program or Achievement (2008) AMS Programs that make a difference (2006)

8 Resources A community of mentors (Faculty) A community of mentors (Grad students) The wider community (churches and civic groups) Leadership

9 Strategies: Before the student arrives Close ties with mentors at MSIs Build a team for each potential grad student: One or two faculty members Two or three of your present grad students Discuss your departments culture and expectations

10 Strategies: The first year Getting to know the department and the community Finding a place to live Planning the curriculum Joining the departments community Building the mentoring team Increasing compacity: no pain, no gain. Getting the right fit: try 100 ways

11 The National Alliance: Building a new American Community in the Mathematical Sciences

12 The Alliance: History Began in 2002 as a partnership between the three Iowa Regents Universities and four HBCUs –Alliance for the Production of African American Ph.D.s in the Mathematical Sciences Funded by NSF DMS

13 The National Alliance: Present National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences: Funded by NSF DMS –Goals –Community –Programs

14 Goals To increase the number of students from backgrounds which are underrepresented in the mathematical sciences who: –Enroll in doctoral programs in the mathematical and other computational sciences –Earn a doctoral degree in one of these fields –Enter the professoriate –Enter the workforce

15 Community Alliance Undergraduate Mentors –105 undergraduate faculty at 54 colleges and universities that serve a significant percentage of underrepresented students. Alliance Graduate Departments –21 math sciences departments, each with a substantial number of faculty committed to mentoring and training underrepresented students. (A total of 64 faculty) Alliance Scholars –275 underrepresented undergraduate math sciences majors. Recommended by Alliance undergraduate mentors.

16 NSF Postdoc Awardee Paulette Willis, Bill Jones(Xavier) and Paul Muhly(Iowa )

17 Alliance Programs Field of Dreams Conference Mentor Match Summer REUs Activities Scholarships Alliance Committees: –Community Building –Curriculum –External Funding –Field of Dreams –Research Collaboration

18 Lessons Learned

19 Its an ethnic thing European Science in a non- European context

20 There is no organic connection between Hellenic civilization and modern European and American civilization. … Greeks and Indians and Chinese and Iranians were always seeking a religion and philosophy which affected all their activities and which were intended to produce an equilibrium and a state of harmony. … It is important to remember how far removed are modern Europe and America from the whole approach and outlook of the Greeks, whom they praise so much in their leisure moments, and with whom they seek some distant contacts in order to satisfy some inner yearning in their hearts or to find some oasis in the harsh and fiery deserts of modern existence. - Nehru, The Discovery of India There is no organic connection between Hellenic civilization and modern European and American civilization. … Greeks and Indians and Chinese and Iranians were always seeking a religion and philosophy which affected all their activities and which were intended to produce an equilibrium and a state of harmony. … It is important to remember how far removed are modern Europe and America from the whole approach and outlook of the Greeks, whom they praise so much in their leisure moments, and with whom they seek some distant contacts in order to satisfy some inner yearning in their hearts or to find some oasis in the harsh and fiery deserts of modern existence. - Nehru, The Discovery of India

21 Further, to enable me to cast a bit of shade over this variety of subjects, and to express my judgment regarding them with greater freedom, without being obliged to adopt or refute the opinions of the learned, I resolved to leave everyone here to their disputes, and to speak only of what would happen in a new world, if God were now to create somewhere in the imaginary spaces matter sufficient to compose one, and were to agitate variously and confusedly the different parts of this matter, so that there resulted a chaos as disordered as the poets ever feigned, and after that did nothing more than lend His ordinary concurrence to nature, and allow her to act in accordance with the laws which He had established. – Descartes - Discours de la méthode, part V Further, to enable me to cast a bit of shade over this variety of subjects, and to express my judgment regarding them with greater freedom, without being obliged to adopt or refute the opinions of the learned, I resolved to leave everyone here to their disputes, and to speak only of what would happen in a new world, if God were now to create somewhere in the imaginary spaces matter sufficient to compose one, and were to agitate variously and confusedly the different parts of this matter, so that there resulted a chaos as disordered as the poets ever feigned, and after that did nothing more than lend His ordinary concurrence to nature, and allow her to act in accordance with the laws which He had established. – Descartes - Discours de la méthode, part V

22 Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. Dr. Martin Luther King

23 They wont care that you know till they know that you care --Dr. Floyd Williams, Professor of Mathematics, U. Mass. Amherst

24 Thats just not my background at all Paulette Willis, UI math graduate student, discussing skepticism

25 Stereotype Threat White men cant jump (unless they are from Europe or South America) Claude M. Steele, Thin Ice, Atlantic Monthly, August, 1999

26 The greatest lesson of all: Why it is worth doing

27 Omayra Ortega Ph.D Assistant Professor, Arizona State I definitely benefit from the extra diversity in the department. Moving to Iowa City was a big change for me. As each year in Iowa passed, more and more people who looked like me joined the department. I noticed a slow formation of a community of scientists of color who became the basis of my study groups, social functions, and support. Now I can count at least 15 brown students in the math department alone..

28 Ian Besse Assistant Professor U Missouri Kansas City Grinnell College What I appreciate most about the environment that has been created in the department is the fact that racial and ethnic issues are in the forefront of departmental discourse. As scholars, we must be devoted to more than just quality academics; we have the additional responsibility to play an active role in informing our society's conscience. I'm proud to be a member of a department that recognizes and celebrates this dual obligation.

29 Heather Russell Washington College Assistant Professor: LSU I came from a small liberal arts school with a lot of concerns about pursuing a Ph.D. in pure mathematics. My experience here has been so positive. Most of all, I have been extremely impressed with the strong sense of mentorship here-professors encouraging students to make the transition between classroom work and research, grad students helping other grad students, people coming together to help students from New Orleans succeed in their new surroundings, and students from the U.S. helping foreign students with their english skills. Our department is great and I will be so honored to, someday, graduate from here.

30 Aba Mbirika Sonoma State University Post Doc: Bowdoin College Coming from a predominantly minority New York City schooling system as a youth, then moving to a predominantly white university system for undergraduate in Northern California, I have experienced a range of 'rainbow' levels. Although I never really noticed the lack of diversity at Sonoma State University (where I held my undergrad studies in California), I can DEFINITELY feel a better sense of racial community while here at Iowa. There are very few other schools that can boast the racial numbers that we have here in Iowa's math dept. I am grateful and tremendously happy to be at this university at this time.

31 Reyes "Matiel" Ortiz Assistant Professor UPR Mayagüez As a minority student I have been supported on a GAANN grant. This support has enabled me to overcome my financial situation so that I could work to overcome the language difference and the differences in my mathematical background. The atmosphere in the department is very supportive and most of the student population is very nice.

32 Paulette N. Willis Southern University at New Orleans NSF Postdoctoral Fellow: Univ of Houston My experience at the University of Iowa has been nothing but positive. From day one I felt included in all activities. We not only do math work together, but also commune socially. Its hard to explain, but students here often forget that they are racially different. I honestly believe that the world would be a better place if it were more like our math department.

33 Cecil Flournoy 5th Year Math Grad Alabama A&M When I came to the University of Iowa, I was warmly greeted and integrated into the system. The math department feels like a very close community with a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Almost everyone in the graduate department is willing to help with any questions or concerns one might have. Living in such a community will make one forget that other math communities are not so diverse.

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36 When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. Dr. Martin Luther King, Where Do We Go From Here?


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