From the Interim Department Chair:

July 8, 2016

It seems that an appropriate theme these days is ‘change happens’. As of July 1st, the twenty year residence of our department in the College of Engineering and Science will be over, and we will be (back) in the College of Science.  And even if Clemson’s upper administration hadn’t announced a plan for growth in enrollments over the next several years, the building program underway on and surrounding the campus indicates that we will soon see more students in our midst.


In this period of university restructuring, our department is examining its own organizational structure. The Math Sciences Council had some interesting discussions in the latter part of Spring 2016, which led to a survey that will be distributed to the faculty around July 1st to get feedback on how we can best organize ourselves administratively as we move forward.  That feedback will help guide the discussions that we’ll have in the fall.


Professor ‘TK’ Khan showed me the report ‘The Mathematical Sciences in 2025’ published in 2013 by the National Academies Press. If you do a web search using the title, you’ll find a free download of this document that runs about 220 pages.  This report both challenges us and affirms that we’re doing quite a few things right.  A takeaway for me is that Clayton Aucoin, who spearheaded the remodeling of our graduate program in the 1970’s, was a true visionary.


Change is often accompanied by stress. We welcomed the news that the College of Science administrative offices would be in Long Hall, just a few steps away from Martin Hall.  However, with relatively short notice, we had to move most of our emeritus faculty out of the Long Hall offices they were sharing to make room for administrative (CoS and other) offices.  We hope to secure, in the near future, more office space for those emeritus faculty members who are maintaining ties with us.  We value their collective wisdom.  Some, like Dr. Renu Laskar, are quite active.  She regularly meets with graduate students to mentor their research, and even continues to chaperone a group that attends the ‘Boca’ conference each spring.


Changes are occurring along the administrative hallway of our department, in particular at the north end. Julie McKenzie is our new Student Services Program Coordinator, and this summer Leo Rebholz is learning the ropes involved with being Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies from Eliza Gallagher until Eliza takes a position in August as assistant professor in the Engineering and Science Education Department.


This has been a good year for our department. We’ve met a huge teaching load with tight resources.  Our research productivity, including articles, conference presentations, and grants, is strong and well-distributed across the subfaculties.  The biggest grant hit this year is a $2.1 million dollar NSF RTG (research training groups), with PI Jim Brown and co-PI’s Shuhong Gao, Kevin James, Felice Manganiello, and Gretchen Matthews.   Also worth noting are the extra time and effort that department members put into outreach events, including the Clemson Calculus Challenge (see the article on the 2016 CCC in this newsletter), the AP Statistics Practice Exam, led by Christy Brown, that drew 220 students, and several conferences (see the separate article) hosted by department faculty and graduate students.


One of the many things I appreciate about working in a university environment is that stagnation rarely occurs. We’re challenged on a daily basis (or nearly so) to learn and grow, knowing that students are looking to us as models of that process.  In this regard, change is good.  I believe that changes in the college structure will bode well for our department.  I’m excited about the variety of opportunities in the coming year that will both challenge us and allow us, as a department, to keep growing.


This past spring the department website was upgraded (with a few tweaks still to come) and also donating to any of the nine CU Foundation funds associated with the department, including the Mathematical Sciences Enhancement Fund, has been made easier. There’s a link to the giving site on the department home page.


Thank you for all of the ways that you participate in and support the work of this department.