|UW Mathematics||Autumn 2009|
Message from the Chair
NSF Research Training Grant
Gunther Uhlmann: Academy Fellow
Mathematics Honors Luncheon
Chad Klumb: Sophomore Medalist
Solutions to 1,000 Year Old Problem
NSF CAREER Grant
Message from the Chair
As you might imagine, 2009 brought unusual challenges to our department. There were uncertainties well into the spring regarding our 2009-10 academic year budget. Graduate student recruitment, which takes place across the nation during the winter, was conducted without knowing the level of our TA funding. Similar scenarios played out nationally as few educational institutions were spared by the financial crisis. In a survey conducted by the American Mathematical Society, mathematics departments reported about 900 expected faculty openings nationally, down from about 1,500 in a typical year, despite expecting to award 1,300 PhDs in 2009 as in recent years. We reported expecting one new postdoctoral appointment at best, but we remained in touch with some of the top candidates as the possibility of making several appointments emerged in subsequent months.
When the extent of the reduction in the state budget gained clarity late spring, our departmentís budget (TAs, staff and operations Ė everything besides faculty salaries) was reduced by about 18%. Fortunately, a significant part of the reduction was replaced by temporary money made available for the 2009-10 academic year. Coupled with an increase of about 10% in the sizes of some of our classes this fall, the temporary funding enables us to continue to serve the record number of students enrolled at the UW. In particular, enrollment in Math courses is even higher this fall than in recent years. The continuation of this funding will be critical to our ability to meet student demand for mathematics in future years.
The faculty component of the budget was not spared. The College of Arts and Sciences is having to eliminate most of the faculty positions vacated by faculty who retire or leave over a two or three-year period. There is ongoing discussion and planning, led by the Provostís Office and the Deanís Office, to develop a vision to ensure the leadership of the UW in research and education for the next two to twenty years.
We are pleased to report that, despite the uncertainties, the Departmentís work continued unabated. We have a string of good news to share with you in this newsletter, such as the UW Sophomore Medal awarded to Chad Klumb, the newfound success of our students in the Putnam Competition, the election of Gunther Uhlmann to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the NSF CAREER award to Ioana Dumitriu. Our undergraduate degree programs set new highs at the end of the 2008-09 academic year with 368 Math majors, and with a total of 537 majors in Math and ACMS. Thirteen graduate students completed the PhD, continuing our recent trend of awarding significantly more PhDs than the Departmentís historical annual average of 6.5.
During the spring and summer, we received a boost of federal funding, thanks to the excellent research projects proposed by department faculty and, partly, to the availability of stimulus (ARRA) funds. The list of these awards is headed by a $2,000,000 NSF Research Training Group grant in Inverse Problems and PDE. We were able to proceed with seven postdoctoral (acting assistant professor) hires, with the funding for six appointments split between the Department and NSF grants. Each of these impressive recent PhD recipients comes here to work with faculty who are leaders in their research area, and together they will add tremendous talent and energy to our research and teaching. We are also delighted to welcome Max Lieblich as an assistant professor. With these appointments and assuming renewal of the (temporary) funding, we are optimistic that the excellent work of the Department will continue in the coming years.