UMD News Releases

Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

July 17, 2007
Susan Beasy Latto, Director, UMD Public Relations 218 726-8830
Harlan Stech, Assoc Head, UMD Math Dept. 218 726-8272

Mathematicians Converge on Duluth to Honor UMD Mathematics Professor
July 16-19

Professor Joseph Gallian -
Famous Gifted Mathematician, Teacher, Scholar

It is common practice to universities to sing the praises of their faculty. But how often do students throw a party to thank a faculty member? This week over 75 students and mathematics faculty from across the nation have come to Duluth to attend a mathematics conference entitled "Communicating Mathematics." The conference is the brainchild of several former students of UMD faculty member Dr. Joseph Gallian, who wanted to commemorate his many achievements in mathematics teaching, his success in fostering research programs designed encourage them to become professional mathematicians, and his leadership in developing a national program for mentoring new college faculty. And it is Dr. Gallian's 65th birthday.

The conference is taking place July 16-19, 2007 at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). The conference program includes invited lectures delivered by some of this nation's brightest research mathematicians in a wide variety of mathematical fields. But more than just numbers, the event is designed to provide opportunities for participants to develop new and meaningful collaborations. The common link to conference participants is their appreciation of the career achievements of Dr. Gallian.

Principal organizers of the conference are Dr. Daniel Isaksen (734-904-6867,, Wayne State University (MI), and Dr. Sarah Spence Adams (781-492-6716,, Olin College (MA). Local arrangements are being coordinated by Dr. Harlan Stech ( of the UMD Department of Mathematics and Statistics. The conference is funded by the National Security Agency, the UMD College of Science and Engineering, and the UMD Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Professor Gallian's abilities as a teacher of undergraduate mathematics were recognized shortly after he joined the UMD faculty in 1972. He was awarded the all-University Horace T. Morse Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education after only three years at UMD. In 1986, the Jean G. Blehart Distinguished Teaching Award was established at the Duluth campus, and Dr. Gallian was the first recipient. He is also the first faculty member from UMD to receive the University-wide CEE Distinguished Teaching Award. Gallian has won every University teaching award for which he is eligible.

Professor Joseph Gallian.

Professor Gallian's teaching has grown beyond standard courses in his area of expertise--discrete mathematics. For example, he developed a course on Einstein in observance of the centennial of Einstein's birth, and he has regularly taught a cultural studies course entitled "The Lives and Music of the Beatles." When he can fit it into his busy schedule, he also teaches a course on "Mathematics and Sports".

In addition to his technical papers in pure mathematics, Dr. Gallian has published over 50 articles pertaining to teaching and the use of novel, real-world applications of mathematics in the undergraduate curricula. He is the author of the senior undergraduate-level text "Contemporary Abstract Algebra", now in its sixth edition and widely considered to be the leading textbook in the area. He is coauthor of "Principles and Practices of Mathematics", intended for first-year undergraduate mathematics majors, as well as the best-selling freshman level book "For All Practical Purposes" (6th edition), a book that is commonly used in liberal-arts mathematics courses in universities across the country.

At the national level, Dr. Gallian's writings have earned him numerous awards and honors. He received the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Trevor Evans Award for Exposition, 1996, as well as the MAA Allendoerfer Award for Exposition in 1977. As the MAA Polya Lecturer in 1999-2000, Gallian toured the country as a conference speaker. The popular press has observed Gallian's engaging style, with articles appearing in such newspapers as The Washington Post, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, The Minneapolis Star Tribune and The St. Paul Pioneer Press. As ambassador of mathematics, he has been able to elevate the public's appreciation of the role of mathematics and critical thinking in our society. In 2003, Professor Gallian was named the Minnesota Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Beyond teaching, this week's conference at UMD recognizes Dr. Gallian's extraordinary impact on mathematics research in the United States. His contributions in this area began in 1977 when Gallian directed the first of 30 summer "Research Experience for Undergraduates" (REU) programs. In these programs, first supported by the National Science Foundation, Gallian has mentored our nation's most elite undergraduate students in a rigorous program of high-quality research. Many of these returning to Duluth are now faculty members at some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the United States, including Princeton, Stanford and MIT.

Professor Gallian's summer program at UMD is of the highest quality, and often referred to as the "gold standard" when compared to others that have been started over the years. Participation in his Mathematics Program has contributed to many students receiving fellowships and gaining admission to leading graduate schools. Specifically, of the 100+ who have earned an undergraduate degree, over half have received graduate school fellowships (NSF, Hertz, NDSEG, Truman), and gone to graduate school at either Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Berkeley, Chicago, Stanford, or Cambridge.

In 1988 the Mathematics Directorate of the National Security Agency approached Gallian and offered additional support. Since then, the NSF and NSA have co-sponsored this program. Students from his summer research program have won many prestigious awards at least in part because of their participation in his program.

More information about UMD Professor Joseph Gallian's summer program can be found at
See for Isaksen's description of Professor Gallain's UMD Summer Program.
Dr. Gallian is currently president of the Mathematical Association of America ( ).

As a natural extension of Gallian's efforts towards mentoring young mathematicians in the ways of conducting research, he has also invested enormous energy in mentoring new mathematics faculty as they enter the academy. With funding from the EXXON Mobil Education Foundation, the Mathematical Association of America established Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) in 1994. The mission of the program is to act as a professional development program for new and recent Ph.D.s in mathematics. It is designed to help them understand, explore and discuss the issues involved in the teaching of undergraduate mathematics and to get their careers off to a successful start. Professor Gallian participated in Project NExT at its inception and was for many years co-director of the program.

See for the MAA posting for the conference.
The official conference web site is

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