The American Mathematical Society has named The University of Texas at Arlington the winner of its 2013 AMS Award for an Exemplary Program or Achievement in a Mathematics Department. The award honors the mathematics department at UT Arlington as a model of excellence among the group's 570 member institutions.
The Society recognized the UT Arlington mathematics department for doubling the size of its doctoral program over five years and bolstering those ranks with historically underrepresented student groups, including women and minorities.
From 2005 to 2010, the number of doctoral students in the UT Arlington math department grew from 23 to 52. Large gains were also made in the number of U.S. citizens or permanent residents pursuing doctoral degrees.
"This is an extraordinary honor and recognition of the achievements of the UT Arlington Department of Mathematics," said Ronald Elsenbaumer, UT Arlington provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Our nation needs more leaders who have achieved the highest degrees in math, science and engineering. We are pleased to see the tremendous work of our math faculty recognized on the national stage."
The UT Arlington mathematics department now joins ranks of elite math programs that are former winners of the award, such as University of California at Los Angeles and University of Iowa.
In their citation, the selection committee said that UT Arlington's math department stood out because of its focus on students. Over several years, faculty and staff created an environment where undergraduate and graduate students of all backgrounds could flourish, the judges said. Mentoring programs, professional development, active recruiting and study groups that build connections among students were essential components, they said.
The math department also significantly increased its number of undergraduate majors during the same period of time.
"Departmental faculty are truly dedicated to training a culturally and ethnically diverse group of students with the potential to thrive in our profession, and they have had great success," said Phil Kutzko, a University of Iowa math professor who served as chairman of the award selection committee. "This commitment on the part of a significant percentage of the faculty is what sets departments like the one at UT Arlington apart from other departments with similar goals."
The Department of Mathematics is housed within the College of Science, one of the University's fastest-growing academic units. Pamela Jansma, dean of the College of Science, said math faculty members have actively pursued federal and state grants to improve their department and to provide students the support they need to finish their doctoral degrees. She credited the leadership of former UT Arlington math department chair Jianping Zhu and current chair Jianzhong Su.
"Many of these students would not have been able to attend graduate school