Annual Newsletter of the University of Wisconsin Math Department

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2004 Van Vleck Notes

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From the Chair Griffeath

Greetings.  I've now been Chair of the UW-Madison Math Department for a challenging but very rewarding year and a half. Let me take this opportunity to thank Richard Brualdi for producing another stellar edition of Van Vleck Notes, and for giving me this page to mention some recent highlights in the department, many of which are described in more detail elsewhere in the newsletter.

As you know, the nation's struggling economy and our state's budget crisis have posed serious challenges for the UW, the College of Letters and Science, and our department. I am happy to report that we are weathering the storm remarkably well. In the crucial area of hiring, despite a freeze from the college last year, we were able to take advantage of the Chancellor's Strategic Hiring Initiative to recruit two outstanding interdisciplinary researchers: Julie Mitchell and Albrecht Klemm. I invite you to read about Julie and Albrecht in the New Faculty section. This year we will be filling two tenure-track assistant professor positions and three Van Vleck postdocs. By all indications, future prospects for hiring are even brighter. So despite the recent retirement of six distinguished members of our department, there is no doubt that the vitality and excellence of our faculty will continue to grow.

During this time of austerity, one way I have been able to enhance the quality of life in our department has been through a series of remodeling projects. The first and most ambitious reclaimed a little-used computer lab above our library and converted it into new, attractive, and much-needed office space for about two dozen of our TAs. Another project has created an inviting undergraduate lounge for members of the Math Club, undergrad researchers, and other students. Most recently we have begun the conversion of our copy center into a more efficient space which will let us provide a long overdue lounge for our support staff. These renovations are being funded jointly by Letters & Science, and by a generous gift of the Van Vleck family for improvements to our building and grounds. Such donations are especially crucial when state funding is restricted, so let me encourage all who are able, to make a contribution to our annual fund drive through one of the many worthy UW Foundation accounts described on the last page of this newsletter.

These pages are filled with evidence of the steady stream of conferences, workshops and seminars we host in Madison. Of special note this past year were the highly successful Great Lakes Geometry Conference last May and, over the summer, Ken Ono's Research Experience for Undergraduates and the annual Probability Intern Program hosted by Jim Kuelbs and Tom Kurtz. This coming April, Shi Jin and Athanasios Tzavaras are organizing an International Conference on Mechanics and Partial Differential Equations here, in honor of Marshall Slemrod's 60th birthday.

Of the many recent honors and awards described in the newsletter, two stand out: Marty Isaacs' selection as Pólya Lecturer for this year and next, the naming of Ken Ono to a chaired professorship: the Solle P. and Margaret Manasse Professor of Letters and Science. I extend hearty congratulations to Marty and Ken on behalf of our entire community.

In closing, let me remind all friends of UW Math that you are always welcome to stop by Van Vleck Hall for a visit whenever you're in town. Otherwise, I hope to see many of you at the next Wisconsin Reunion of Alumni and Friends - in January 2005 at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta. Meanwhile, I wish you the very best for 2004.

David Griffeath, Chair
Department of Mathematics

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