From the Interim Chair

December 14, 2015

retired members at Welcome Back SoireeI told a friend that one thing I’ve noticed lately is how fast time seems to fly by.  His response was that the best advice he’d received when faced with time pressure is to ‘walk slowly and drink lots of water’.  At face value that saying seems a bit absurd as a way to deal with a heavy workload.  Upon more reflection I decided it was actually a good motto because it suggests a need to pace oneself and take measures to stay healthy.   I expect that the high level of activity we all experience in our department will get even more frenetic as the reorganization shifts into advanced gear.  Keeping channels of communication open during this period will help make the transition as smooth as possible.  So I’m thankful that Sean Sather-Wagstaff offered to edit the department newsletter.  He told me that a main reason for his offer is to get to know members of the various subfaculties.  Sean is going to feature one or two subfaculties in each newsletter.  Please be sure to provide material for inclusion, when asked.  Connie McClain, the newest member of our administrative staff, is working with Sean to put the newsletter together.  We are very fortunate to have Connie (at the desk behind the glass panel nearest Martin M) and Alison Ward (at the opposite end, i.e. at the desk nearest Martin E) recently join the administrative group.

Another aspect of communication is taking advantage of social events.  I’m enjoying our Wednesday afternoon coffee breaks (hosted by Felice Manganiello). The Welcome Back reception at the Outdoor Lab was fun, and the speaker Rich Ringeisen (at the far right in the picture of our emeritus faculty members at the reception) was both entertaining and thought-provoking.  Rich reminded us of the benefits of an active colloquium series.  It not only enriches us, it also gets the word out about good things in our department when visitors return home and tell others what they saw here.  Towards that end, we’re working with Physics to host a Sobcyzk colloquium in the Spring.

I’m glad to see that our department’s long-held tradition of spring and fall picnics for graduate students, faculty, and their families, sponsored by our SIAM student chapter, continues.  Each Fall we welcome newcomers, and the highlight of the Spring picnic is the graduate student awards.

Homecoming 2015Also on the social front, we’re working to increase participation in the annual Homecoming gathering.  I’ve included a picture from this year’s event.  We had a strong team effort in putting this on.  Near the center of the photo you can see Timo Heister cooking on the McKnew’s grill, with Kevin James helping.

Please consider donating to the Math Sciences enhancement fund.  Some generous friends of the department, including retired faculty, give regularly.  There are some recurring expenses that cannot be paid for (or at least are not fully covered) from accounts that are used for day-to-day operating expenses.  Donations to the enhancement fund help with undergraduate student awards, some of the expenses associated with faculty recruiting, seminars and colloquia, and scholarships that are promised to winners of the Clemson Calculus Challenge if and when they enroll here.  Checks should be made out to the Clemson University Foundation.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to be the i-chair (that sounds a little cooler than ‘interim chair’, doesn’t it?).   There are many things done by our students, faculty, and staff worth bragging about.  Soon you’ll see a revamped department website that will help us in that regard.  This newsletter is a good step in the right direction too.