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Release: July 25, 2001

UI math department participates in Sloan Foundation minority program

IOWA CITY, Iowa –- Some 11 faculty in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts department of mathematics have been selected to participate in an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation program to help minority students earn doctoral degrees in mathematics. Participating mathematics professors are: Daniel D. Anderson, Kendall Atkinson, Thomas Branson, Raul Curto, Juan A. Gatica, Herb Hethcote, Phil Kutzko, David Manderscheid, Paul Muhly, George Nelson and Robert Oehmke.

The program, called "Increasing Ph.D.s for Underrepresented Minorities," identifies faculty in mathematics, natural science and engineering who have shown the ability to recruit, mentor and graduate minority students with doctoral degrees. Minority graduate students in the department are invited to apply for support from the Sloan Foundation to carry out research toward the Ph.D. under the guidance of the designated faculty members. As Sloan Scholars, doctoral candidates receive stipends of up to $30,000 to support their doctoral research.

"We are honored to have our faculty included in this highly prestigious program," said UI mathematics professor and Collegiate Fellow Phil Kutzko. "The Sloan Foundation is in the forefront of the national effort to promote inclusion and diversity in colleges and universities. As a result of its generosity, several of our minority graduate students can expect to receive much-needed support at a critical moment in their careers. Such support will also make it easier to attract first-rate minority scholars to our department and will enable us to continue to expand our effort to welcome and nurture graduate students from diverse backgrounds."

Earlier this year, the UI math department received a three-year, $173,000 GAANN (Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need) grant from the U.S. Department of Education to assist in training minority doctoral candidates in mathematics. Over the past six years, the department has won four GANN grants totaling more than $1.5 million. The grants, which provide full funding for minority graduate students, are designed to help increase the number of minority mathematics professors nationwide.

At the UI, underrepresented U.S. minority students presently account for 25 percent of the math department's graduate student population, a statistic that has attracted national attention, according to UI mathematics professor Paul Muhly. He estimates that of some 1,100 doctorates in mathematics earned at U.S. colleges and universities each year, only about 25 are earned by African- American or Hispanic students. Muhly says that because those two minority groups account for 27 of the UI's current mathematics graduate students, Iowa is in a position to make a significant contribution to the national minority mathematics effort.

Current departmental activities include partnerships with the mathematics department of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla., a historically black institution, as well as with several universities in Puerto Rico. In January 2001, the Committee for Minority Student Recruitment and Development in the UI department of mathematics held its first annual Martin Luther King Celebration, including reports on diversity activities and future initiatives.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, nonprofit institution established in 1934 by its namesake, then president and chief executive officer of General Motors.