teachers. During this period, NSF Director Neal Lane was promoting the concept of integration of research and education.

Given these facts, DMS, with the advice of a DMS Special Emphasis Panel (SEP),3 decided to replace the GIG program with the Grants for Vertical Integration of Research and Education in the Mathematical Sciences—VIGRE—program. The report of the SEP stated that this program could “achieve a change in the culture in a department” (NSF, 1997) and that

  • The funding should enable departments to carry out innovative educational programs at all levels that were not possible with their current resources;

  • The duration of awards should be 3 to 5 years (a 5-year period was recommended) and, if possible, should be renewable; and

  • Every proposal must include components on undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral education and programs to increase the participation of underrepresented groups.

The SEP report (NSF, 1977) went on to recommend that VIGRE proposals should include components addressing the improvement of research, mentoring, and communication skills at all trainee levels and that an integration of faculty and students into a “community of scholars” be achieved. Moreover, it suggested that the average time to PhD degree should be reduced to 5 years, that undergraduates should be exposed to a breadth of mathematical sciences and problem solving, that graduate students should receive supervision in teaching and seminar presentation, and that postdoctoral training should be flexible and should include the possibility of interdisciplinary research. The SEP also suggested that optional outreach programs—such as collaboration with industry and the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, K-12 teacher enhancement, and the development of K-12 instructional material—should be viewed positively.

As detailed in the letter from Donald Lewis, the SEP was provided, at the request of its chair, with “a draft description of a program named VIGRE … as a means of focusing the panel’s discussions.”4 The SEP report opens by saying, “The panel strongly endorsed the concept of vertical integration; that is, constructing undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral programs to be mutually supportive.” Overall, “the funding provided by these grants should enable departments to carry out innovative educational programs at all levels not possible through present departmental resources. The panel sees this as a program that can achieve a change of culture in a department, one that results in broadening opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students both through innovative curriculum development and research experiences” (NSF, 1997).

The SEP report recommended that the VIGRE program have undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral, and optional curriculum development and outreach components tied together by vertical integration and supported by active recruitment of women and underrepresented minorities. The objectives for the undergraduate component were “preparing mathematical science majors for a wider variety of career opportunities, improving communication skills of mathematics students, and increasing the number of students who major in the mathematical sciences” (ibid.). For the graduate traineeships foreseen in the program, they would “provide a mechanism for broadening graduate education, shortening the average


The SEP was chaired by Morton Lowengrub, then at Indiana University. The other members were Mary Ellen Bock (Purdue University), John Garnett (University of California at Los Angeles), Tom Gerig (North Carolina State University), Philip Hanlon (University of Michigan), Raymond Johnson (University of Maryland), Nancy Kopell (Boston University), Calvin Moore (University of California at Berkeley), Tinsley Oden (University of Texas, Austin), Peter Sarnak (Princeton University), and Shmuel Winograd (IBM).


“Dear Colleague” letter, September 10, 1997.

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