Skip to main content

EPADEL:A Semisesquicentennial History, 1926-2000

Section 5.1 Annual Meetings

Table 5.1.1 provides an overview of annual meetings in the period 1942-1955. The final column provides a reference (date of issue and page numbers) to the official annual reports as they appeared in the Monthly for anyone desiring further information about the meetings.
The first column of Table 5.1.1 lists the dates of the 14 meetings in this period. It is notable that the Philadelphia Section, unlike many others, was able to hold meetings every year throughout World War II. Even two national MAA meetings were canceled, the 1942 meeting scheduled for New York (“at the request of the Office of Defense Transport”) and the 1945 summer meeting scheduled for Montreal (“by order of the Office of Defense Transport”). Continuing the official policy from 1939, the section held its annual meetings on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.
Table 5.1.1.
Date Location # MAA % Monthly
November 28, 1942 Penn 35 26 74 March, 1943, 210-211
November 27, 1943 Penn 41 27 65 March, 1944, 182-184
December 2, 1944 Penn 27 19 70 April, 1945, 234-235
December 1, 1945 Penn 48 28 58 March, 1946, 179-180
November 30, 1946 Penn 51 35 68 June, 1947, 363-364
November 29, 1947 Bryn Mawr 60 41 68 June, 1948, 391-392
November 27, 1948 Penn 51 42 82 May, 1949, 363-364
November 26, 1949 Haverford 68 48 71 May, 1950, 367-368
November 25, 1950 Lehigh 33 27 82 May, 1951, 366-368
November 24, 1951 Penn 58 44 76 June, 1952, 436-438
November 29, 1952 Delaware 60 39 65 April, 1953, 289-291
November 29, 1953 Drexel 65 44 68 April, 1954, 291-293
November 27, 1954 Princeton 115 78 68 April, 1955, 301-302
November 26, 1955 Penn 87 64 73 May, 1956, 360-362
The second column lists the sites of these 14 meetings. Clearly the University of Pennsylvania dominated, hosting eight gatherings, including every one during WW II. The twin institutions, Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College, hosted postwar meetings in 1947 and 1949, respectively. (Bryn Mawr was always a women’s college. Haverford was a men’s college until 1978, when women transfer students were first admitted; the first fully coeducational class entered in 1980.) Consequently the 1950 meeting at Lehigh University marked the first time the section met outside the Philadelphia area since Lehigh hosted the annual affair in 1939. The site of the 1952 meeting – the University of Delaware – marked the first time the section sponsored a meeting in the “First State”. This location represents the culmination of activity by Delaware members that had increased dramatically throughout the 1940s.
The section met in New Jersey for the last time in 1954. The meeting hosted by Princeton University is noteworthy for another reason – attendance exceeded 100 for the first time in the section’s history. The Philadelphia Section sponsored no more meetings in New Jersey after 1955 due to the formation of two other MAA sections. In 1941 the Metropolitan New York Section had been carved out of the existing Upper New York State Section, with boundaries including the part of New Jersey north of New Brunswick. However, by the mid-1950s two developments prompted the desire for a New Jersey Section: a committee formed to improve articulation between colleges and secondary schools in the state, and the emerging role of mathematicians within the College Entrance Examination Board, located in Princeton. Due to the efforts of two individuals who had been active in our section up to that time, Dean Albert E. Meder of Rutgers and Albert W. Tucker of Princeton, the New Jersey Section met for the first time on November 3, 1956, at Rutgers. From that time onward any MAA member who lived in New Jersey became a member of the new section unless another preference was indicated. The by-laws of the New Jersey Section have been lauded for attention to detail, with most of the credit going to our section’s former chairman, Cyril A. Nelson. Nelson’s affiliation was listed as Douglass College of Rutgers University, the name given to the former New Jersey College for Women in 1955 in honor of its first dean, Mabel Smith Douglass.
As might be expected, attendance at wartime meetings was lower than in other years, yet interest was sufficient to sustain the meetings every Thanksgiving. The 27 people who attended the 1944 meeting at the University of Pennsylvania was the smallest since the organizational meeting in 1926, a result of gas rationing as well as war activity by the membership, but attendance rebounded nicely to 48 the following year. Once again the low attendance at the 1950 meeting held outside the Philadelphia area at Lehigh University reflects the degree to which travel difficulties continued for MAA members. Except for the record-setting attendance at the Princeton meeting in 1954, meetings held in suburban Philadelphia drew the largest numbers, attracting slightly more members than meetings held in the city. Recall that the Philadelphia Section no longer included central Pennsylvania during the 1940s, which provides a partial explanation for the decrease in attendance figures shown in the remaining columns of Table 5.1.1, especially during the period 1942-1946. Overall, an average of 57 people attended meetings during this 14-year period, up somewhat from the average of 51 who attended the preceding nine meetings; 40 of the 57 belonged to the MAA, or 70% – an increase from the 60% from the previous period.
Two special events took place at the annual meetings during this period. The first is reflected in the official report from the 1944 meeting at the University of Pennsylvania, which states, “At the instance of Professor Dresden, appropriate action was taken in memory of the late Professor James A. Shohat”. We have already profiled Shohat in Chapter 4. This chapter will cite his influence on C. J. Rees (Delaware) and Alexander Tartler (Drexel), while Chapter 6 will cite his influence on Walter Lawton (Temple).
The other event concerns sectional governance. In 1953 it was voted to form an Executive Committee consisting of “the chairman, the secretary, the program chair, and the sectional governor”. Although membership on the Program Committee is noted for the 1954 meeting, that committee is never mentioned in any reports, its role having been subsumed by the more expansive Executive Committee.
The report from 1954 provides the first mention of a governor. Initially a Board of Trustees administered the national MAA, with 12 of its members being elected at large. In 1939 these elected members were designated as governors and a Board of Governors replaced the Board of Trustees. Both boards included the Association’s officers. The 1939 national by-laws stated that there would be 14 governors elected biennially by regions. Just six years later these unwieldy regions were eliminated in favor of one governor from each section of the MAA. We defer discussion of the section’s governors until Chapter 6.