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Engaging the Community of ACM Mathematicians

This project will bring several members from each mathematics department in the ACM to participate in a two-day meeting to be held in July 2017 at the ACM office in Chicago. The meeting will focus on how departments can address contemporary problems facing their departments within the framework of the recommendations contained in the updated 2015 Mathematical Association of America (MAA) CUPM Undergraduate Curriculum Guide and other relevant documents.

This meeting of ACM mathematicians will occur in conjunction with MathFest 2017, the annual summer meeting of the MAA on July 26-29 at the Chicago Hilton, which is four blocks from the ACM office.

Engaging the Community of ACM Mathematicians

Conference on July 25-26, 2017
ACM Office, Chicago, IL

Note: Content below is adapted from the project proposal.

Mathematics and statistics are key requirements of many STEM disciplines and, increasingly, many social science disciplines as well. A lack of success in mathematics and statistics often prevents students from succeeding in their chosen fields, while, simultaneously, demand for graduates with high-level mathematical skill sets in the workforce is increasing.

Although liberal arts colleges are traditionally more successful than many other post-secondary institutions at preparing students, the changing requirements of client disciplines and the changing interests of students and their potential employers — as well as a difficult admissions environment for many schools — mean mathematics departments are facing new teaching demands up and down the curriculum.

Because ACM faculty members are also educational innovators, the goal of this project is to bring mathematicians from the different campuses together to discuss contemporary issues facing their departments, to have them exchange ideas on how these issues are being addressed on their campuses, and to facilitate future collaborations among mathematics departments geared toward addressing these issues.


The initial proposal circulated among departments cited multiple issues that all are likely facing:

  1. How are departments dealing with placement and remediation for incoming students?
  2. How are departments currently structuring their introductory courses such as calculus and linear algebra?
  3. How are departments responding to the rise in importance of statistical reasoning and other quantitative demands on college graduates?
  4. How are schools implementing mathematics/quantitative reasoning general education requirements?
  5. How are departments developing pedagogies which reflect the impact of new technologies and current student learning models?
  6. How are departments serving the needs of client disciplines?
  7. How are departments implementing assessment? In their responses to the proposal, many agreed that they were discussing similar questions internally.

The goal of this project is to broaden those discussions. Participants in the meeting will make personal connections with their colleagues at similar institutions while also learning about the strategies different schools have developed for addressing these questions. In addition, they will be provided with mechanisms for continuing these connections.

We currently have commitments from all 14 of the ACM mathematics departments, as well as departmental liaisons in each of those departments, so we believe the impact of these discussions and the ongoing connections will be widespread throughout the ACM.


Potential sessions at the meeting

  • Keynote by a thought leader in the mathematical community (for instance, several members of the development committee for the updated MAA CUPM Curriculum Guide are on the faculty at ACM schools)
  • Panel discussion of innovative and best practices found in introductory mathematics departments within the ACM
  • Concurrent small-group discussions on the curricula of introductory mathematics courses
  • Concurrent small-group discussions on the mathematics major program
  • Panel discussion on innovative offerings within and involving the mathematics major (e.g. financial mathematics, data science and computational science)
  • Small group discussions on new challenges facing mathematics departments (e.g., the rise of statistics, remedial mathematics)

It is also anticipated that the participating mathematicians will (1) act as change agents on their campuses and in their departments and (2) develop new relationships with other mathematicians that will help them implement changes at their institution.

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