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
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
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
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 without the financial help of these grants,” Jansma said. “By seeking
out these funds, our faculty has ensured that the University doesn’t miss out
on the contributions these talented individuals can make.”
Two of the essential grant programs are:
Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need, or
GAANN, program. UT Arlington has been awarded nearly $2 million since 2006
through this program, which supports departmental fellowships for U.S.
citizens, nationals or permanent residents. The program provides doctoral
students with up to $30,000 each year in stipend support as well as coverage of
tuition and other educational expenses. Those students participate in supervised
teaching and mentoring activities. Professor Tuncay Aktosun, principal
investigator of the grant, and his team of co-principal investigators have
created an effective system of recruiting and mentoring U.S. doctoral students
in mathematics. The GAANN program currently supports 16 doctoral students and
has already helped ten students to receive their doctoral degrees.
National Science Foundation funded GK-12 Initiative. In 2009, the department
received a five-year, $2.85 million award through this program. The money
provides fellowships for eight graduate students a year. They work with
teachers in the Arlington school district at schools with large, low-income
populations to incorporate math research ideas into high school and middle
school classrooms. Those fellowships also provide $30,000 a year and additional
support for educational expenses. Associate Professor Minerva Cordero-Epperson,
principal investigator of the grant, and her team of co-principal investigators
have developed an innovative program that vertically integrates mathematics
research and education by involving middle and high school students, school
teachers, doctoral fellows and mathematics research professors.
Many of UT Arlington’s efforts
have been in coordination with the National
Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences. The department
is now working with that group to establish the Gulf States Math Alliance. That
group would make sure students in the region who are interested and capable of
pursing undergraduate and graduate degrees in the mathematical sciences get
appropriate support and mentoring.
official announcement of the award to the UT Arlington Mathematics Department,
including the selection committee's citation, is available from the AMS Public
Awareness Office and appears in the May 2013 issue of the NOTICES OF THE
AMS. That issue is available on the NOTICES web site http://www.ams.org/notices. No subscription is necessary.
About The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is a
comprehensive research institution of more than 33,800 students and 2,200
faculty members in the heart of North Texas and the second-largest member of
The University of Texas System. Research activity has more than tripled over
the past decade to $71.4 million last year with an emphasis on bioengineering,
medical diagnostics, micro manufacturing, advanced robotics and defense and
Homeland Security technologies, among other areas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.
About the American Mathematical Society
in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, today the more than
30,000-member American Mathematical Society fulfills its mission through programs
and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen
mathematical education and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and
its connections to other disciplines and to everyday life.