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EPADEL:A Semisesquicentennial History, 1926-2000

Section 7.2 Activities

The broadening of sectional activities that began in the period of expansion, 1956-1978, intensified and widened even further during the EPADEL years. As usual, the program of invited lectures provided the centerpiece for the section’s activities, but several endeavors that had been initiated in the period of expansion were continued while several new ones emerged. President Nancy Hagelgans summarized the section’s underlying twin goals in her 1993 message reviewing ten years of volunteer service: “These meetings were designed for faculty members to further undergraduate mathematics education and to provide interesting mathematical talks.”
We begin our look at sectional activities from 1979 to 2000 by discussing the major ways in which the membership furthered the cause of undergraduate education. In one of her two governor’s messages from 1996, Hagelgans noted that the MAA’s mission was served by its Web site in four different areas: education, professional development, students, and public policy. These four areas provide a useful tool for summarizing all sectional activities.
In 1986 Anthony Hughes (then at Villanova) announced the initiation of a new sectional activity aimed at involving more undergraduate students in its programs. He wrote, “EPADEL is sponsoring a Student Paper Competition. Undergraduates are invited to submit papers in any area of the mathematical sciences. Winners will receive a one-year membership in the MAA.” There was no further mention of the competition until 1990, when Richard Grassl (Muhlenberg) took over. Grassl announced that the prize was raised to $100, an amount that would remain constant until 1998, when it was doubled. Six years earlier the name of the competition was changed to the Student Mathematical Papers Prize Competition, which it remains today. There have been four subsequent directors of the program: Nancy Hagelgans of Ursinus (1991), Walter Stromquist (Daniel Wagner’s) (1992-1993), and two members from Penn State – Abington: Ayoub Ayoub (1994-1997) and Lothar Redlin (1997-2000). Winners of the competition have been announced sporadically in the newsletters.
In January 1989 the national MAA inaugurated a program of student chapters that has proved to be immensely successful in our section. The official notification read, “The Board of Governors of the MAA has approved a plan to develop Student Chapters for the purpose of attracting students to careers in the mathematical sciences. MAA Student Chapters will be formed at individual institutions, and the members of the Student Chapters will be regarded as members of the MAA section associated with their institution.” The MAA envisaged chapter activities to include films, speakers, mini-courses, and career information. Our section served as a model for others right from the start. No wonder – the national coordinator of the program was Howard Anton (then at Drexel), the former EPADEL president.
The first coordinator of EPADEL Student Chapters was Nancy Baxter (Dickinson College), who initially found our section’s response to Anton’s call discouraging. After a few months in office she pleaded with the membership, “It’s time to organize an MAA Student Chapter at your institution! ... At this point only one school in the EPADEL section has requested application materials from the MAA office.” Baxter did not identify that school, though she suspects it was Kutztown. In a private correspondence, she wrote, “Deb Frantz was so gung- ho that I passed the torch to her. She was excited and enthusiastic. She organized the first student paper sessions and brought her students to the meetings – she set a great example for the rest of us to follow.”
Although Kutztown’s indefatigable Deborah Frantz became the EPADEL coordinator one year later, she recalls that Albright was the first school to request information from Baxter. Nonetheless, the new coordinator was soon boasting that our section sponsored 10 of the 160 nationwide sections. (EPADEL is the 13 th largest of the 29 sections.) Moreover, Frantz manned a student-chapters table at our section’s spring 1990 meeting and arranged for a program of 10-minute talks to run in a parallel session in the afternoon. When asked how she became involved in student chapters, she replied, “In the spring of 1990 the national MAA Committee on Student Chapters was in its infancy and I got a call from then-chair Howard Anton asking if I’d be willing to write a newsletter for the newly-created Student Chapters. The idea was that I’d write a first issue and then serve as editor of the newsletter once things caught on. As newsletter ‘editor’, I served on the National MAA Committee on Student Chapters for about seven years. This entailed not only the compilation of newsletters twice each year, but also attending the National Joint Meetings and helping to develop the newly- created Student Chapters.”
Clearly EPADEL student chapters were in enthusiastic and energetic hands. The number of chapters in the section grew to 20 in 1991 and leveled out at 24 by 1996. Throughout the 1990s students were kept abreast of competitions (Putnam, Modeling, and Problem-Solving in addition to our own section’s contest), opportunities for involvement at the two annual MAA meetings, Pi Mu Epsilon meetings, the magazine Math Horizons, and the NSF program in Research Experiences for Undergraduates. In addition to these activities, Deb Frantz initiated a series of biennial conferences called “Careers in Mathematics”, which have met at Kutztown (in 1991), Lebanon Valley (1993), Messiah (1995), Millersville (1997), and East Stroudsburg (1999). Those conferences garnered national interest as early as 1991. EPADEL President David Hill wrote, “The ‘Careers in Mathematics’ student conference coordinated by Deborah Frantz was an outstanding success and generated national interest.” Inspired by the success of this endeavor, Douglas Ensley initiated a series of annual Student Mathematics Conferences at his home institution, Shippensburg, in 1996. After a decade of excellent leadership, Frantz handed the mantle of leadership to Alicia Sevilla (Moravian) in the year 2000.
  • Deborah A. Frantz is a native of Reading, PA. She earned a B.S. degree in mathematics and computer science (with teacher certification in mathematics) at Saint Joseph’s College (Rensselaer, IN) in 1977. Then she entered the graduate program at Lehigh, earning an M.S. in 1981 and a h.D. three years later. Her dissertation on summability methods, probability distributions, and linear operators was written under EPADEL governor Jerry King. Frantz spent the year 1981-1982 as a visiting instructor at Moravian. Upon receiving her doctorate she accepted an assistant professorship at Western Kentucky, where she stayed for two years. She then returned to Lehigh, spending the year 1986-1987 as an adjunct assistant professor. In 1987 she moved to Kutztown University, where she has remained since then.
As noted in Chapter 6, student talks made their way onto the program for the first time in 1962 but they occurred only irregularly after that. However, these student talks became a staple at both the fall and spring meetings under Deb Frantz and they have continued under Linda Thiel (Ursinus and SIAM), who assumed the coordinator position for student talks in 1995.
The program of visiting lecturers has run continuously since it was directed by Jerry King (Lehigh) in 1974. Within two years King produced a list of 20 members who agreed to speak at nearby schools. He was succeeded by Charles G. Denlinger (Millersville). By 1979 the program had a new chairperson, Bruce Babcock (Penn State – York) and a formal name, the Visiting Lecture Program. Three years later there was a new chairperson, Marialuisa McAllister (Moravian), and a slightly expanded name, Visiting Lecturer and Consultant Program. In her call for additional members McAllister wrote that she was looking for volunteers who “have interesting topics or special expertise to share with colleagues within the section (either as a lecturer or as a consultant) and are willing to forgo the usual honoraria.” She noted too that the Program was aimed to complement the national MAA Program of Visiting Lecturers and Consultants on a regional scale. The Newsletter for the annual fall meeting in 1983 is almost entirely taken up with the complete list of speakers in the Program, some 16 in all. Chairpersons who succeeded McAllister (with the year of first mention in the sectional newsletter) are JoAnne Growney of Bloomsburg (1986), Nancy Hagelgans of Ursinus (1987), Growney again (1990), Louise Berard of Wilkes (1992), and Douglas Ensley of Shippensburg (1995). Berard reported 23 members on her list in 1994 and Ensley increased that total to 25 in 1996.
An activity of a different type occurred at the luncheon during the annual 1993 meeting when JoAnne Growney gave a public reading titled “Mathematics in poetry”. This endeavor reflected a humanistic approach to mathematics that was beginning to take hold nationally at that time.
Professional Development
The idea to form Special Interest Groups (SIGs) appeared for the first time at the annual fall meeting in 1980 when forms were distributed for members to declare their areas of special interest. By the next spring meeting Marialuisa McAllister declared, “EPADEL proudly announces the birth of its first SIG – Mathematical modeling and applications in mathematics.” At the fall meeting that year an hour was set aside for the SIGs to organize themselves. At that time Carl Leinbach of Gettysburg was appointed SIG Chairman. The newsletter for the 1982 meeting listed nine SIGs and their membership: computing and modeling, logic and foundations, mathematics anxiety, student programs, mathematics and statistics education, graduate school and job opportunity, linear programming, public policy on mathematical sciences, and the history of mathematics. Two years later Marialuisa McAllister took the reins again and distributed forms for new groups and new members. Her new list added several new groups: mathematical programming, graph theory/networks/combinatorics, student programs, and statistics. In 1986 that list expanded to include two new special interest groups: the monster simple group, and statistics/operations research. Apparently interest in SIGs dissipated quickly, because no sectional documents mention them after that time.
One of the issues central to the success of SIGs was communication. In an effort to improve overall communication with the entire membership the national MAA office initiated a program of Institutional MAA Representatives in 1977. These volunteers distributed MAA material to colleagues, encouraged the participation of members in sectional and national activities, and recruited new members. The newsletter from the fall 1988 meeting lists EPADEL representatives from 76 different institutions. A decade later the MAA changed from an unstructured set of representatives to an integrated program of liaisons with essentially the same charge and under the leadership of the section’s governor.
EPADEL played an active role in promoting the professional development of women and minorities. The Philadelphia Region of Women and Mathematics (WAM) has been coordinated since 1986 primarily by Gloria Dion (at Penn State – Ogontz and the Educational Testing Service). The major aim of WAM, initially funded by an IBM grant, was to encourage girls to continue their study of mathematics throughout high school by providing speakers who worked in fields that used mathematics or statistics. Along these lines it should be mentioned that Regina Brunner (Cedar Crest College) conducted a series of annual MathConns at her home institution throughout the 1990s to celebrate Mathematics Awareness Day for seventh- and eighth-grade girls and their teachers.
The year 1990 was a banner year for sectional activities aimed at increasing minority representation in mathematics. First a lunch table was set-aside at the annual spring meeting “for anyone who would like to discuss ways of drawing more minority students into mathematics.” This gathering generated a special EPADEL meeting held under the leadership of Joanne Darken at Community College of Philadelphia on October 13. Titled “Underrepresented groups in mathematics: Overcoming the obstacles”, the program began with a morning session featuring two stellar speakers, Johnny Houston and Uri Treisman. The afternoon session consisted of two one-hour panel discussions, “Filters in the pipeline”, moderated by Joan Countryman (Germantown Friends School), and “Pumps in the pipeline”, moderated by Marvin Brubaker (Messiah College). The meeting’s success generated interest at the national MAA meeting the next year, as reflected by an article in the Association’s journal Focus. EPADEL then sponsored a workshop conducted by Uri Treisman at Swarthmore on October 27, 1991, on programs designed to improve minority participation and performance in college-level mathematics courses.
In the middle of the last decade the section began participating in Project NExT, a national program aimed at helping graduate students (in the last two years of their doctoral program) and new professors (in their first three years) get acclimated to New Experiences in Teaching college mathematics. In 1994 section governor Marvin Brubaker reported that five of the 66 participants came from EPADEL. Two years later section governor Nancy Hagelgans reported that the four EPADEL participants kept in touch via e-mail. In 1998 EPADEL president Kay Somers hosted a breakfast for the seven sectional participants before the annual fall meeting at Lehigh.
Not all endeavors are as successful as those mentioned above. In 1992 Jerry Porter (Penn) asked if it was time for the formation of a professional chapter intended to meet the needs of the section’s nonacademic members. So Walter Stromquist (then at Daniel Wagner Associates) and Porter arranged a dinner that May at which 18 people heard a lecture by Herbert S. Wilf on efficient sorting algorithms. A second dinner meeting was held that November at which Brent Morris spoke about computer science and magic. However, the meetings were poorly attended – only eight were present at the second one – and the effort did not continue past that point in spite of a $500 grant to support it.
Another development that never came to fruition was a sectional database. The use of, and need for, a means of maintaining information about the membership was discussed at Executive Committee meetings throughout the early 1980s. However, by 1986 it was decided to table the issue because the national MAA maintained its own database that would satisfy the section’s needs.
The workshop to improve minority participation and performance, sponsored by the section in 1990, was one of many conducted under EPADEL’s aegis to enhance faculty development. Most of these workshops have been held during summer sessions at Messiah College under the direction of Marvin Brubaker. Table 7.2.1 (on the next page) lists some of the Messiah workshops taught by EPADEL members.
EPADEL was also involved in several other workshops, including those devoted to the history of mathematics, run by Paul Wolfson of West Chester, and those devoted to using calculators in mathematics courses, run by Roseanne Hofmann of Montgomery County Community College.
Table 7.2.1.
Year Speaker Affiliation Title
1989 Nancy Baxter Dickinson Using ISETL to teach mathematics
1990 Carl Leinbach Gettysburg A laboratory approach to calculus
using DERIVE
1990 David Hill Temple Teaching numerically with MATLAB
1992 Stephen Maurer Swarthmore Discrete algorithmic analysis
1992 Doris Schattschneider Moravian Symmetry and group theory
1993 William Dunham Muhlenberg A mathematical sampler: 1647-1900
1996 Carl Leinbach Gettysburg The impact of the TI-92 on
mathematics teaching
In \(1991\) the MAA announced the initiation of a program of awards for outstanding teaching. Formally called the Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics, each section could elect one winner, and that winner automatically became a nominee for one of at most three annual national awards (except the first year, when seven were awarded). Of course EPADEL participated in this program right away, naming a Selection Committee headed by David Rosen (retired from Swarthmore). The first winner was announced at the 1992 annual spring meeting. Table 7.2.2 lists the winners to date. Initially the award included a framed certificate and a donation to the recipient’s college for the purchase of library materials in the mathematical sciences. Beginning in 1997, however, funding from the Goodville Mutual Casualty Company allocated $500 to the recipient and $500 to the recipient’s library.
Table 7.2.2.
Year Outstanding Teacher Institution
1992 Doris Schattschneider Moravian College
1993 David Sprows Villanova University
1994 William Dunham Muhlenberg College
1995 Herbert S. Wilf University of Pennsylvania
1996 Nancy Baxter Dickinson College
1997 Rhonda Jo Hughes Bryn Mawr College
1998 James Crawford Lafayette College
1999 Joanne Darken Community College of Philadelphia
2000 Anthony D. Berard, Jr. King’s College
The final element under continuing education concerns contributed papers at annual meetings. A note in one of the 1988 newsletters disclosed, “The Executive Committee is considering a selected contributed paper session at a future meeting.” The Committee probably did not envision “future” to mean “10 years”, yet it was not until the spring 1998 meeting at Shippensburg that a session of 10- minute contributed papers under the direction of the host institution’s Cheryl Olsen was included on the program. Similar sessions were conducted during the fall meetings in 1999 and 2000.
Public Policy
In 1979 the MAA hired a part-time publicity specialist for the first time. By the mid 1980s some national leaders felt that a local version might be a valuable asset to the sections as well. Toward the latter part of the 1980s the section attempted to increase public awareness of mathematics in two different ways. First, in 1987 the section created a new position, Public Information Officer, to promote sectional activities. The three PIOs to date have been David Zitarelli (Temple) 1987-1992, Regina Brunner (Cedar Crest) 1992-1999, and Cheryl Olsen (Shippensburg).
Second, in 1993 James Crawford (Lafayette) attempted to promote local mathematical developments from a different vantage point – maintaining a “Mathematics in the news” bulletin board at annual fall meetings. He announced, “Issues of mathematics and mathematics education appear from time to time in newspaper articles which we clip and post on our bulletin boards and office doors ... At the fall meeting we plan to have a bulletin board emphasizing news items from Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.” Crawford maintained the bulletin board at two fall meetings but an apparent lack of interest in his novel program caused him to drop the idea.
The section has been more successful in maintaining communication with its members in two different ways. Beginning in 1990 the newsletters included the e-mail addresses of those section officers who maintained e-mail accounts. Four years later the section announced, “EPADEL goes Electronic,” meaning that the section’s newsletters could be sent to members by e-mail. The announcement also notified the members of the MAA’s fledgling Gopher server and the intended link from it to the section’s Gopher server. In 1996 president Louise Berard (Wilkes) announced the completion of the section’s Web page, maintained at the University of Pennsylvania by Dennis DeTurck, and its link to the national MAA Web page at 1 .