FROM THE DEPARTMENT HEAD
On July 1, 2003, Naresh Jain stepped
down as Head of the School of Mathematics,
after eight successful and effective
years in that office. Since then,
I have been trying to grasp the intricacies
of the job, determine what my own
style will be, and keep out of trouble!
The faculty and staff have been supportive
and patient. The change in administration
has had a natural domino effect. David
Frank took over my previous position
as Director of Undergraduate Studies.
He was in that spot once before, and
I very much appreciate the experience
that he brings, as well as his obvious
dedication to our undergraduate teaching
mission. Rick Moeckel kindly agreed
to become the Associate Head, taking
over the job from Bernardo Cockburn,
who was on leave for part of this
year. Administration is a new thing
for Rick, but he has done well, and
it has been very enjoyable working
with him as we both try to figure
out what we are doing. I am grateful
to Paul Garrett, who was persuaded
to stay on another year as the Director
of Graduate Studies. It was important
to me to have someone in that role
who is an expert. Paul will be leaving
that job at the end of this year.
Scot Adams will be our new DGS, and
I look forward to working with him.
The past few months have been busy.
We have just completed our “normal”
hiring season, and we are pleased
that two strong young mathematicians
have accepted our offers to become
tenure-track assistant professors
in the School. Daniel Spirn is an
applied analyst who will be joining
us from Brown University. He works
on nonlinear PDE’s, particularly
in connection with fluid motion. Gilad
Lerman, currently a postdoc at Courant,
will be involved in our Minnesota
Center for Industrial Mathematics
(MCIM). He has been applying methods
of harmonic analysis to problems in
bioinformatics. As we look to the
future, we will be trying to fill
several more positions. We will particularly
focus on trying to increase the diversity
in our faculty by seeking strong female
and under-represented minority candidates.
This will be an ongoing effort that
is not restricted to any particular
time of year, and I have asked that
the entire faculty be engaged.
There are a couple of other changes
in the works. Significant modifications
of our computer system are underway,
including the hiring of additional
staff to keep up with the huge workload.
We have started a new Ordway Lecture
Series, which will bring world-class
mathematicians here for a week of
special lectures, once or twice a
year. Our first Ordway lecturer was
Hillel Furstenberg, who gave three
lectures on ergodic theory that were
well-attended by faculty and students,
including some enthusiastic undergraduates.
Our next Ordway Lecturer will be Maxim
Kontsevich, on April 20-23, 2004.
We have hopes of obtaining a “VIGRE”
grant from the NSF (the site visit
occurred on March 11). This grant
would have a tremendous impact on
our program, particularly regarding
postdocs, grad students, and undergrads.
Special thanks go to Willard Miller
for his work in writing the proposal
and preparing us all for the site
visit. And finally, our faculty keeps
changing. Morty Harris and David Storvick
have retired. There will be a retirement
dinner for them on April 29th of this
year. And Avner Friedman and John
Lowengrub decided to leave us: Avner
to continue as Director of the Mathematical
Biology Institute at Ohio State, and
John to take a position at UC Irvine.
Such changes can be difficult, at
times, as we try to keep up. At least
for me, it has kept my life very interesting.