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7 RENEWING U.S. MATHEMATICS A synopsis of progress since the 1984 David report is provided. Preliminary plans for dissemination of the 1990 update of the David report are described. Discussion focuses on the role mathematical sciences department chairs can play in the dissemination effort and the community support they will need to use the report effectively. RENEWING U.S. MATHEMATICS Lawrence H. Con, National Research Council 63
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RENEWING U.S. MATHEMATICS ~ NEW~GU.s. M~EM~CS Lawrence H. Con National Research Council When this program was planned, we anticipated being able to give a great deal of information about the David II report. However, that is impossible because the report remains under development. According to policies of the NationalResearch Council, reports and their recommendations cannot tee discussed in any detail until they have withstood a rather stringent review process. Thus, the discussion today will be in the abstract not about the report, but about how the community can make best use of a report on the mathematical sciences research enterprise. However, it is an important first discussion that may lead into similar discussions that are planned by the American Mathematical Society and probably by others. We expect the report to be available to you by April 1990. I will tell you what the Board on Mathematical Sciences has been asked to do and what the report committee took as its charge. Then I would like to discuss possible uses of the report and its dissemination within the university context. The first issue before the report committee is research support. The 1984 David report stated that funding for mathematical sciences was out of balance with the other sciences. It found that there were some 1,600 to 1,800 supported principal investigators out of 2,600 highly active researchers in the mathematical sciences. Those were people who produced at least one paper per year over a three-year period of reference. In gathering data in preparation for the work of the report committee, we found that there are now some 1,900 supported principal investigators. So there has been some improvement, but this is much less than 2,600, which was the goal set by the David report. In 1984, postdoctoral and graduate student support was low. In 1989, we see a great deal of improvement across the spectrum of all the agencies, especially the National Science Foundation. However, a few compari- sons are in order. Graduate students supported in the mathematical sciences are 18 percent of all graduate mathematical sciences students. Close to 50 percent of graduate students in programs leading to He doctorate in the physical sciences are supported. Additionally, in chemistry and physics, there are approximately 1.2 postdoctorate for each Ph.D. produced; in the mathematical sciences, 0.16, roughly a factor of 8 differential. The David report asked for 130 percent real growth in mathematical sciences research funding over a five- year period. The five years have passed and there has been some progress. There has been real growth of 41 percent. The second issue before the community is that of human resources. Due in part to funding problems, but also attributable to the way we present the field to new entrants and the way we develop new talent, many believe that careers in the mathematical sciences are viewed as less appealing. Especially important here are the issues of domestic Ph.D. production, female and minority entrants into the mathematical sciences, and the role of the research establishment in national mathematics education reform. The third area of focus in the charge to the committee was the research, the output, of our community. We all know that high quality and U.S . leadership continue to prevail. However, these are threatened by the factors above. New opportunities for research are being rapidly created. This is especially due to the use of and interface with the computer. There is also strong evidence that researchers individually, and the research community at 65
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CHAIRING TO MATHEMATICAL S~IFNCES DEPARTMENT OF TO 1990S large, are looking outward to other fields, both in their research and in their interactions. This is easily seen in the newsletters and meeting programs of professional societies, and from the agendas of their committees. It was documented in the 1987 EMS report, Mathematical Sciences: Some Research Trends. These are national issues. I believe that a national response to the first issue-research funding is dependent upon community and university response to the second set of issues-career paths, the development of scientific manpower, and the directions and impact of our research output. I would like to begin the discussion of how the report under development might be used by a mathematical sciences department chair. I jotted down some sample areas. To whom should the department chair present the report? How should the report be presented? Should it be presented informationally or coupled with a request for resources? Should it tee presented in conjunction with an existing or in-process departmental plan to address national issues and, in particular, university issues of interest and concern? What additional support would a department chair need to effectively use and present this report? The first report made recommendations to the federal community, to the mathematical sciences community, and to the university community. I gave you the quantitative information about the federal response. That is basically a dollar issue directed toward graduate students and postdoctorals. The mathematical sciences community has responded in a variety of ways in the last five years; education issues have been examined and there has been expansion into cross-disciplinary research. It is safe to say that the response within the university community has been nearly zero. My view is that community action has to precede university action; possibly the community needed a period of time to consider and work with the report before the information could get into the university hierarchy and the resultant actions taken. This is the motivation of the question of a national plan and group thinking about this problem. PARTICIPANT: A national effort is crucial. The Chronicle of Higher Education and other media that come to the attention of higher administrators must be exploited. There is also the Association of American Universities, the presidents' organization. These are all media one must utilize if one wishes to apprise higher administrators of the fact that the future of the United States as a world power depends on their support of mathematics. That may be an expansion of reality, but that is what we really want to say to them. I believe every effort must be made to bring this issue to the public. As a product of the post-Sputnik era, I recall what happened when that was done, when the need was manifest throughout the country and pressure was put on the federal government to fund fellowships for graduate students and research opportunities for mathematicians and other scientists. PARTICIPANT: Let me give you the view from the standpoint of statisticians to whom I have talked. Their general view is that the David report did not help statistics. There was the feeling that a shell game was being played with the government. Look at the shape our country is in: quality control is lousy, reliability is lousy, and we do not know how to manage epidemics. Therefore, we must spend more money in ring theory and algebraic topology. PARTICIPANT: Our dean is not convinced he should support ring theory and algebraic topology. He is convinced he should support chemistry and physics, because there is no money for mathematics. I gave him a copy of the David report. It has not been adopted. PARTICIPANT: It might be useful for you to seek and distribute a few successful case studies of how the David report and subsequent supporting information have been used to advantage. 66
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RENEWING U.S. MATHEMATICS DR. T. LANCE (SUNY, Albany): A two-pronged attack works very well. Around the time the David report was released, we were getting no support and no promises of support for a decade. We had been aggressively recruiting American students and were beginning to succeed. The administration has turned around and is supporting mathematics to the exclusion of support of chemistry and physics. The report did help. PARTICIPANT: If we use the report individually, we may have some isolated successes. However, if we can get it on the agenda of administrators' organizations, so that they are discussing these ideas among themselves, we will have a greater chance of having a broad impact from this report. DR. COX: One of the comments expressed to me about this meeting was that new chairs viewed this meeting in a sense as a tutorial on how to be a chair, which is not its intent. Would information on how to use the report be of help to new chairs? PARTICIPANT: Yes. 67
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Representative terms from entire chapter: