the pipeline—of students with strong talents in the mathematical sciences per se—has been focused outreach to precollege students via mechanisms such as Math Circles.
Recommendation: The federal government should establish a national program to provide extended enrichment opportunities for students with unusual talent in the mathematical sciences. The program would fund activities to help those students develop their talents and enhance the likelihood of their pursuing careers in the mathematical sciences.
STRESSES ON THE HORIZON
Mathematical science departments, particularly those in large state universities, have a tradition of teaching service courses for nonmajors. These courses, especially the large lower-division ones, help to fund positions for mathematical scientists at all levels, but especially for junior faculty and graduate teaching assistants. But now the desire to reduce costs is pushing students to take some of their lower-division studies at state and community colleges. It is also leading university administrations to hire a second tier of adjunct instructors with greater teaching loads, reduced expectations of research productivity, and lower salaries, or to implement a series of online courses that can be taught with less ongoing faculty involvement. While these trends have been observed for a decade or more, current financial pressures may increase pressure to shift more teaching responsibilities in these ways.
The committee foresees a more difficult period for the mathematical sciences on the horizon because of this changing business model for universities. Because of their important role in teaching service courses, the mathematical sciences will be disproportionately affected by these changes. However, while there may be less demand for lower-division teaching, there may be expanded opportunities to train students from other disciplines and people already in the workforce. Mathematical scientists should work proactively—through funding agencies, university administrations, professional societies, and within their departments—to be ready for these changes.
Some educators are experimenting with lower-cost ways of providing education, such as Web-based courses that put much more burden on the students, thereby allowing individual professors to serve larger numbers of students. Some massive online open courses (MOOCs) with mathematical content have already proven to be tremendously popular, and this will only increase the interest in experimenting with this modality. While online education in the mathematical sciences is a work in progress, effective ways to deliver this material at a level of quality comparable to large university