Welcome from the Chair

 Jean-Francois Lafont

Dear Friends of the Department,

In the year since our last online newsletter, the department has seen a fair amount of change. Our former chair, Dr. Luis Casian, has taken over as Dean of the Natural and Mathematical Sciences. I have stepped in as Interim Chair of the department, for the 2018-19 academic year.

At the graduate level, we are in the process of rolling out a new applied mathematics track in our PhD program. Expected to start next year, this will provide an alternative to our traditional pure mathematics track. Building on the tremendous success of our undergraduate actuarial program, we have also seen an expansion of our Masters program in Actuarial and Quantitative Risk Management.

At the undergraduate level, we have continued to see an explosive growth in the number of mathematics majors — a nearly 50% increase over the last 5 years. This growth has presented challenges, and we are still in the process of adapting to our expanded undergraduate program. This year we are piloting a peer-mentoring program, allowing select Junior and Senior math majors to provide guidance to some of our new majors. We are also in the process of expanding our degree possibilities, by adding university honors options to all of our existing major tracks. This fall, we launched a new degree, in collaboration with the English Department, the Integrated Major in Mathematics and English. Over the next few years, we will be paying particularly close attention to our undergraduate degrees, to ensure that our math majors are indeed obtaining the best education we can provide.

We continue to be devoted to our teaching mission, through the constant monitoring and fine-tuning of our service courses. Our leadership role in the Ohio Mathematics Initiative allows us to continue to seek ways to improve undergraduate mathematics education, both at OSU and throughout the state. Most recently, this has led to the development of the Quantitative Reasoning course, an introductory (and terminal) mathematics course that better serves the needs of non-STEM students in the university.

Finally, we recognize the need to engage with the broader community at OSU and in the city of Columbus. This is reflected in our engagement with the STEAM factory, and the newly created Erdos Institute. This spring semester also saw the launch of our Outreach Group, who will (amongst other activities) visit local schools to give presentations on recreational mathematics.

It’s been an eventful year. Stay tuned for further updates!

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