Math Alliance, ran by Purdue Mathematics, wins national diversity award


Author(s):Kelly Beranger

The National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences, known as the Math Alliance, has been chosen to receive the 2017 Mathematics Programs that Make a Difference Award from the American Mathematical Society.

The annual award was created to recognize outstanding programs that successfully address the issue of underrepresented groups in mathematics. The Math Alliance is honored "for its programs over the last 10 years promoting participation by groups underrepresented in doctoral programs in the mathematical sciences."

William McCallum of the University of Arizona, who served as chair of the award selection committee, said: "The Math Alliance shows what can be achieved when the community takes seriously the promise of equal opportunity for all mathematicians. By building a network of mentors and students united by their dedication to mathematics and to increasing diversity in the field, this program is having a strong positive effect that will continue for years to come. The AMS is very happy to recognize the Math Alliance with the Mathematics Programs that Make a Difference Award."

The main purpose of the Math Alliance is to ensure that students from underrepresented groups who have the ambition and desire to pursue graduate study in the mathematical sciences have an opportunity to do so in a supportive environment. The alliance helps students realize their potential for graduate work in these fields and nurtures them in their journey to becoming math science professionals.

Now based at Purdue University, the Math Alliance began in 2001 as a partnership of three Iowa state regents universities and four historically black colleges and universities and has grown into a
national network of institutions and faculty that mentor minority students in both undergraduate and graduate programs. The work of the Math Alliance has received support from the National Science Foundation since 2002.

The Math Alliance holds the annual Field of Dreams Conference, attended in 2016 by 198 undergraduates and 115 faculty from 113 institutions. In addition, Alliance Mentors work at the predoctoral, masters, Ph.D., and post-doctoral levels to help students succeed in their studies and progress on to the next level. In 2015-16, the program listed 552 faculty mentoring over 600 active scholars. The Alliance has expanded its network 30-fold over the last 10 years and has recently been used as a model for a similar program in physics by the American Physical Society.

The ultimate goal of the Math Alliance is to spark a spiritual transformation within mathematical sciences departments as they progress away from the traditional model of weeding students out and towards embracing an inclusive model of helping all students succeed.

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