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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 20, 2005

UI Math Department Achieves National Recognition For Third Time In 2005

If there were a Super Bowl for encouraging U.S. minorities to enter the field of mathematics, then the University of Iowa Department of Mathematics would be in it.

That's because the UI department's graduate program has achieved national recognition for its efforts three times in 2005. Most recently, the graduate program was recognized by the American Mathematical Society (AMS) Committee on the Profession for bringing more underrepresented minorities into the field of mathematics in 2005.

On behalf of the department, David Manderscheid, professor and department chair will give a presentation on the UI program at the joint national meetings of the AMS and Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Jan. 12-15, 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. Says Manderscheid of the inaugural AMS award: "It is my hope, and that of the AMS, that this recognition will help publicize successful programs and foster their spread. We are an example of a program that involves the entire department, and that is what makes our effort a model."

Also, in May 2005 the UI department received one of 14 2004 U.S. Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). Supported and administered by the NSF, the award consists of a $10,000 grant to continue mentoring work and a presidential commemorative certificate. Manderscheid accepted the award on behalf of the department at a Washington, D.C. awards ceremony presided over by John H. Marburger, science advisor to President George W. Bush and director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President.

The UI award, the only such award presented to an academic department this year, reads, in part: "The Department of Mathematics at University of Iowa is the largest single awarder of math doctorates to minorities in the nation ... . Currently, the department has 21 percent underrepresented minority graduate students."

Also, in August 2005 Manderscheid was invited to make a presentation on the UI program at the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) workshop, "Engaging Young Mathematicians: An NSF Workshop on majors and the transitions to graduate work," in Washington, D.C.

Manderscheid says the national awards recognize that the UI is using innovative programs to attract and cultivate students from underrepresented groups to expand the number of potential mathematics majors and graduate students at a time when the talent pool is shrinking. He says he hopes the UI programs will be a model for other mathematics departments across the country as the nation tries to alleviate the critical shortage of U.S. citizens entering the field of mathematics.

The UI Department of Mathematics, a part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), has attracted support from the U.S. Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program for its graduate program and from the Sloan Foundation for dissertation-year studies for its minority students. The department has formed partnerships with the mathematics departments of several historically black undergraduate institutions, among them Alabama A&M University, Benedict College, Florida A&M University and Jackson State University, as well as with several universities in Puerto Rico. The Department of Mathematics spearheaded the creation of the Iowa Regents Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professorate -- an NSF program to bring more minorities into professorial positions. In a related effort, the UI's Department of Mathematics has formed the Heartland Mathematics Partnership, a program designed to encourage students at 12 Midwestern colleges to pursue graduate studies in mathematics.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu