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University of Iowa News Release

 

Dec. 1, 2006

UI Mathematician Co-organizes Conference On Diversity In Graduate Programs

The University of Iowa will be well represented at a national conference on diversity when David Manderscheid, professor and chair of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Mathematics serves as a co-organizer and presenter of "Finding and Keeping Graduate Students in the Mathematical Sciences" Dec. 4-8 in Palo Alto, Calif.

Sponsored by the American Institute of Mathematics and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the conference will include teams from nine universities including the University of Michigan, the University of California at San Diego and the University of California at Berkeley. The goal, Manderscheid said, is to have participants return to their home campuses with action plans to increase the numbers of U.S. women and minorities who complete doctoral degrees in mathematics.

"Nationally, only 39 percent of the Ph.D.s in mathematics go to U.S. citizens, 3 percent to minorities and 29 percent to women. The NSF has made it a priority to increase these numbers. At Iowa the numbers are 62 percent, 23 percent and 42 percent, respectively," Manderscheid said.

Manderscheid and the other presenters plan to share examples of their successes in addressing recruitment and retention of women and minorities in graduate mathematics programs. They then plan to help the teams develop plans to adopt similar strategies tailored to their own institutions. At the UI, success has been documented and recognized in many ways.

For example, in September, the UI Department of Mathematicians won a prestigious five-year, $3 million NSF grant to help train high-quality U.S. mathematicians. Called VIGRE (Vertical Integration of Research and Education), the UI grant is one of only three such grants awarded annually across the country. The project builds upon recognized UI success with the goal of developing a model for research university mathematics programs nationwide. The grant enables the UI to support undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in teaming up with UI faculty to conduct state-of-the-art research, said Manderscheid, VIGRE project principal investigator.

And in 2005, the UI Department of Mathematics earned nationwide recognition when it received one of 14 2004 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) presented at the White House in Washington, D.C. Supported and administered by the NSF, the award was the only one of its kind presented to an academic department in 2005 and included a $10,000 grant for continued mentoring work and a Presidential Commemorative Certificate. The department won the award for its work with U.S. minority graduate students.

Manderscheid said that the diversity conference is a logical step in sharing the information and expertise that he and his colleagues have acquired over the past decade.

"I hope to share some of our methods so that other programs can address this area of national need. I also plan to learn more about successful programs at other institutions so that we can improve our program here at Iowa," he said.

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