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Morehouse College Department of Mathematics Honored for Achievements
4/29/2016 2:30:47 PM

The Department of Mathematics at Morehouse College has been chosen to receive the 2016 AMS Mathematics Programs that Make a Difference Award.

The annual award was created by the AMS Committee on the Profession to recognize outstanding programs that successfully address the issue of underrepresented groups in mathematics. Morehouse is honored “for its significant efforts to encourage students from underrepresented groups to continue in the study of mathematics.”

David Savitt of Johns Hopkins University, who served as chair of the award selection committee, said: “The Department of Mathematics at Morehouse College goes the extra mile to encourage and challenge its students. The faculty show great care and devotion in their teaching and mentoring, and they also open students’ horizons by, for example, offering research opportunities and getting students to participate in conferences. The impact Morehouse has on increasing diversity in the mathematical sciences community will exert a positive effect for years to come. The AMS is very happy to present this deserving department with the Programs that Make a Difference Award.”

Morehouse College is a private, all-male, historically black college in Atlanta, Georgia, with enrollment of approximately 2200 students. In recent years its Department of Mathematics has graduated an average of 14 mathematics majors per year. This places Morehouse as the nation’s top producer of black male mathematics degree recipients (and one of the top producers of all black mathematics graduates). Roughly half of recent mathematics majors have gone on to graduate programs in STEM disciplines, a majority of those in the mathematical sciences. Notably, three alumni earned mathematics PhDs in 2015 (and a total of six in the past seven years); for comparison, a total of fifteen black male U.S. citizens earned a PhD in mathematics nationwide in 2013-14.

The Morehouse mathematics department strives to provide a challenging yet nurturing environment for all of its students. Much of the department's energy is focused on excelling in the ordinary business of all mathematics departments: delivering high-quality instruction in rigorous courses. Encouragement and support are given both to students who are struggling and to students who are excelling. The department hosts various social events that build community among the students and foster a sense of camaraderie centered on shared interest in mathematics.

Through interactions with faculty and colloquium speakers, Morehouse mathematics students gain new perspectives on the opportunities a degree in mathematics opens up. They also start to see beyond their coursework and to get a taste of what research in mathematics is like. Mathematics majors are encouraged to participate in Research Experiences for Undergraduates programs, and some also do research projects with Morehouse faculty. Students make presentations in departmental poster sessions and at local and national mathematics conferences, including in the Harriett J. Walton Symposium on Undergraduate Mathematics Research, which the department has held annually for the past 14 years.

The official announcement of this award, including the selection committee’s citation, is available from the AMS Public Awareness Office and will appear in the May 2016 issue of the Notices of the AMS.

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