In the early 1990s, the Department of Mathematics, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, developed its own long-range plan to strengthen both its undergraduate and graduate programs. The department also developed a long-range plan to become a model program, for a research department in the mathematical sciences, where educational goals are integral to the departmental mission and are supported by broadly based participation in educational programs. Central to the accomplishment of this goal, the department focused on mentoring its students and on the active recruitment of U.S. graduate students.
The department is proud of the results. In the last four years, 12 of 24 Ph.D.s awarded by our department went to women and 79% went to U.S. citizens. In 1998, the department was recognized for its success in mentoring women graduate students with an NSF Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Within the past year, we have received a grant from the Graduate Assistantships in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Program of the U.S. Department of Energy, and we were named one of eight Departments of Mathematics (along with the University of Chicago, Duke University, the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, the University of Southern California and the State University of New York at Stony Brook) to serve as partners in the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate.
As evidence of its commitment to educational goals, the department can point to the fact that over half the tenured faculty have won a College or University Distinguished Teaching Award and the department has won Nebraska's University-wide Departmental Teaching Award in 1998. In 1999, our Chief Undergraduate Advisor, Professor Gordon Woodward, won an award as the outstanding advisor at UNL and our Graduate Chair, Professor Roger Wiegand, won the corresponding award at the graduate level in 2001.
Examples of mentoring abound in our department. Each year, our Math Day attracts over 1000 high school students to campus and our Eastman fund provides $200,000 in scholarship money to our majors. We have a strong history of providing research opportunities to our undergraduates through honors theses, REU grant supplements and UNL's Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experiences (UCARE) Program. In addition, we offer opportunities to students at nearby colleges through our Regional Workshop in the Mathematical Sciences, and to students across the country through both our REU site and the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics.
The UNL Department of Mathematics is the only institution granting Ph.D.s in mathematics in the state of Nebraska, and there are no such departments in the neighborinig state of South Dakota. In part as a result of this fact, our graduate program includes a large number of students who attended four-year colleges and/or desire positions at four-year colleges upon graduation. These demographics, combined with our established record of mentoring, make the UNL Department of Mathematics ideally suited to carry out the Nebraska Mentoring through Critical Transition Points program.