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University of Iowa News Release

May 18, 2005

UI Mathematics Department Receives Presidential Excellence Award

In recognition of its outstanding minority mentoring program, the Department of Mathematics in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) has received one of 14 2004 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). Supported and administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the award includes a $10,000 grant for continued mentoring work and a Presidential commemorative certificate.The department was nominated for the award by Dr. Carlos Castillo-Chavez, Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor of Mathematical Biology at Arizona State University.

Department Chair David Manderscheid (left) accepted the award on behalf of the department at a May 16 Washington, D.C. awards ceremony presided over by John H. Marburger, science advisor to President George W. Bush and director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President. Also attending and representing the department were Professor Juan Gatica and Professor Phil Kutzko, as well as Dr. Sara Del Valle, who received her doctorate from the UI Program in Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences this month and has accepted a postdoctoral position at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Professor Eugene Madison, who has played a key role in the Department of Mathematics’ minority mentoring program, was invited to the presentation but was unable to attend.

Following the awards ceremony, Manderscheid, along with the representatives of the four other award-winning organizations and nine individual winners, met with the President’s Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, and then with President Bush in the Oval Office.

“I was honored to accept this award on behalf of my colleagues and to meet Mr. Card and President Bush,” Manderscheid said. “I thank the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Graduate College and the University of Iowa for their support, without which our efforts could not have succeeded. Through this recognition the department will be able to further strengthen our efforts to provide access to an excellent graduate education in mathematics to all students.”

Said CLAS Dean Linda Maxson, “I applaud the leadership the Department of Mathematics has shown in recruiting and mentoring a diverse graduate student body. Other departments at our university, other Iowa institutions, and mathematics departments nationwide have benefited from the energy and creativity that our mathematics faculty have shown in fostering an environment in which a diverse student body can thrive. Their efforts have achieved, and will continue to achieve, excellence through diversity.”

The UI award, the only such award presented to an academic department this year, reads: “The Department of Mathematics at University of Iowa is the largest single awarder of math doctorates to minorities in the nation. Articulated less than 10 years ago, Iowa's commitment to increasing the numbers of minority graduate students has resulted in a well-crafted recruiting campaign to convince students that the environment is a supportive one. A standing committee has responsibilities from student admissions to monitoring their progress. Alliances with other institutions including, but not restricted to those serving minority students, has resulted in substantial support from external grants and new and continuing collaborations with minority faculty elsewhere.  Currently, the department has 21 percent underrepresented minority graduate students. It is ensuring continuity by institutionalizing structures, thereby permitting the growth of a community where organizations work together.”

The PAESMEM program honors individuals and institutions that have enhanced the participation of underrepresented groups -— such as women, minorities and people with disabilities -— in science, mathematics and engineering education at all levels. Since its inception in 1996, the PAESMEM program has recognized 87 individuals and 67 institutions.

Each year the President recognizes the people and institutions that have provided broad opportunities for participation by women, minorities and people with disabilities in science, mathematics and engineering in elementary, secondary, undergraduate and graduate education.

The UI Department of Mathematics has attracted support from the U.S. Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program for its graduate program and from the Sloan Foundation for dissertation-year studies for its minority students. The department has formed partnerships with the mathematics departments of several historically black undergraduate institutions, among them Alabama A&M University, Benedict College, Florida A&M University, and Jackson State University, as well as with several universities in Puerto Rico. The Department of Mathematics spearheaded the creation of the Iowa Regents Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professorate -– an NSF program to bring more minorities into professorial positions. In a related effort, the UI’s Department of Mathematics has formed the Heartland Mathematics Partnership, a program designed to encourage students at 12 midwestern colleges to pursue graduate studies in mathematics.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,