Mathematics and Statistics
The Ohio Section: Activities
At first the only activities of the Ohio Section were its annual meetings. However, many of the papers and discussions at these meetings led to programs or projects that involved members' participation at other times of the year. Concerns about the undergraduate curriculum, teacher preparation, and articulation between secondary schools and colleges formed the basis for some of the earliest activities.
In 1920 a round table discussion of the "changing high school mathematics as presented for entrance to college" revealed a tendency to minimize the amount of mathematics required for graduation. In addition to the required courses in beginning algebra and plane geometry, most high schools offered elective courses in advanced algebra and solid geometry, but these were often avoided by the students. As a result, there was a "tendency for more pupils to enter college deficient in a half-unit or more of mathematics." A feeling was also expressed that "the same care in selecting teachers of mathematics was not exercised nor the same respect accorded mathematics as was done in former years."
Two years later the State Department of Education ruled that a unit of mathematics was no longer required in every high school curriculum. At the urging of Chairman B.F. Yanney (College of Wooster), a committee of seven was elected, with power to appoint subcommittees, for the purpose of investigating the mathematics situation in Ohio with respect to state requirements, elementary and high school courses, college entrance requirements, college courses, and teacher training. This committee, known as the "Yanney Committee," was chaired by C.N. Moore (University of Cincinnati). Its six subcommittees presented detailed reports to the Section over the next two years.
Beginning in 1923, members of the Section were invited to submit reasons why high school freshmen and college freshmen should continue electing mathematics. Statements on the theme "Why Elect Mathematics?" were mailed to high schools and colleges annually for several years. Participants at the 1924 annual meeting engaged in a discussion concerning "What should be done with, for, and to the freshman having one unit of algebra?"
A decade later the articulation question surfaced again, as the Ohio Section sponsored tests, given in eleven colleges and universities on the first day of the fall term, 1931, to freshmen registered in mathematics courses. Of 1446 students taking the test, 642 obtained a score of less than 50%.
In the years following World War II a committee, chaired by Harold P. Fawcett (Ohio State University), prepared a model course of study for elementary school teachers and submitted it to the teacher training institutions in Ohio. The achievement of pre-college students in mathematics was again perceived as deteriorating, and the Section looked for ways to beef up college admission standards and promote student interest in mathematics. In 1953 a resolution was passed and sent to the Governor and the Education Committees of the Ohio House and Senate, supporting a bill for the establishment of a commission to study the Ohio educational system. In particular, the Ohio Section urged that statewide standards of achievement and uniform college entrance examinations be established.
In the late 1960's, and again in the 1980's, the Ohio Section, through its Committee on Teacher Training and Certification (CONTTAC) influenced the revision of teacher certification standards by testifying at open hearings and by submitting reports, based on the CUPM guidelines, to the State Board of Education. The Section also made an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Ohio colleges and universities to abolish undergraduate credit for courses in algebra and trigonometry.
In 1950 the Metropolitan New York Section of the MAA sponsored its first "Mathematical Contest" for high school students. Interest in this contest quickly spread within the state of New York and throughout the country and, by 1957, the MAA had decided to sponsor a national contest. The Ohio section, at its annual meeting in 1957, voted that "it is interested in sponsoring the Association high school mathematics contest in this region," and authorized the establishment of a standing committee to assume local responsibility. The first competition on a national basis, jointly sponsored by the MAA and the Society of Actuaries and known as the Annual High School Mathematics Contest," was held March 27, 1958.
The first Ohio contest coordinator was Harold Tinnappel (Bowling Green State University), who served from 1958 to 1963. He was succeeded by Louis J. Green (Case-Western Reserve University) from 1963 to 1973. During that time new sponsoring organizations were added and the word "Contest" was changed to "Competition." In 1977 the Competition adopted its present name, "American High School Mathematics Examination" (AHSME). By this time Leo Schneider (John Carroll University) had replaced Louis Green as Ohio coordinator.
The period from 1974 to 1986 saw a tremendous growth in the number of Ohio high schools, as well as the number of Ohio students participating in the contest. By 1983 Ohio led the nation in both categories. A new record was established in 1985, when 31,156 Ohio students at 516 high schools took the AHSME. That same year John P. Dalbec, of Youngstown, was among the eight medalists in the 14th USA Mathematical Olympiad. By 1990 participation had fallen off slightly, to 27,555 students and 497 high schools.
In 1986 Schneider resigned his duties as Ohio contest coordinator to become Chairman of the MAA Committee on American Mathematics Competitions. Dwight Olson and David Stenson, both of John Carroll University, became the Ohio coordinators for the AHSME. They have been joined by Bill Higgins (Wittenberg University), who coordinates the AJHSME for junior high school students, and Con Childress (Ohio Northern University), who represents the Ohio Section at the State Science Day, sponsored by the Ohio Academy of Sciences.
In the early seventies the Committee on Cooperation Between Colleges and Universities (COCCU), under the leadership of Donald O. Koehler (Miami University), established a visiting lecturer program within the Ohio Section. For 1973, the first year of its existence, there were 80 volunteers from 19 institutions. However, few requests for speakers were forthcoming, and the program was discontinued after two years. In the meantime, COCCU began its highly successful series of summer short courses, details of which will be found in another chapter.
Undergraduate mathematics clubs existed in Ohio even before the MAA was founded. The Mathematics Club of Oberlin College dates back to 1894, and another club was organized in Oxford at The Western College for Women in 1905 "to stimulate interest in certain phases of mathematics which, while closely related to class work, do not fall directly under it." The Denison Mathematics Club came into existence in 1915, under the leadership of Professor Forbes B. Wiley, and was formalized in January, 1916. Membership was open to any student or member of the faculty who desired to join. The Pi Mu Epsilon mathematical fraternity was organized at Syracuse University in 1914, and the second chapter of this organization was chartered at Ohio State University in October of 1919. Kappa Mu Epsilon, another national mathematics honorary society, was organized in 1931, and the Ohio Alpha chapter was installed at Bowling Green State University on April 24, 1937. All these clubs held regular meetings at which papers were presented by student and faculty members. In 1990 there were four active chapters of Kappa Mu Epsilon and fourteen chapters of Pi Mu Epsilon in Ohio.
In the 1930's Mary Sinclair (Oberlin College) and Wayne Dancer (University of Toledo) had presented papers extolling the virtues of mathematics clubs. A half-century later several Ohio Section Chairmen, including Donald Koehler (Miami University), Douglas Faires (Youngstown State University), and Milton Cox (Miami University), called for MAA support and recognition of undergraduate mathematics clubs. In 1988 the MAA finally approved the establishment of student chapters at colleges and universities. A mathematics department may affiliate its existing mathematics club with the national organization or simply create a new one. Interest in mathematics is to be the primary qualification for membership. Professor Cox along with Will Hahn (Wittenberg University) and Aparna Higgins (University of Dayton) served on the MAA committee that developed this plan for student chapters, and Cox and Al Stickney (Wittenberg University) have chaired the Ohio Section Committee on Student Members (CONSTUM). By mid 1990 Charter Student Chapters had been established at twelve Ohio schools.
Over the years Ohio Section activities have grown to include contests, short courses, and student chapters, along with short term projects of an ad hoc nature. In 1980 COCCU was renamed CONSACT (Committee on Section Activities) in recognition of its expanded responsibilities.
In addition to members, officers, and committees, every organization needs a source of income to enable it to carry out activities. At its first annual meeting in 1916 the Ohio Section passed a motion that "a collection of twenty-five cents each be taken to meet the expenses of this meeting for printing and postage." After the bills were paid, a balance of eighty-five cents remained in the treasury. In 1923 a similar collection amounted to $19.75, and it was reported that "the financial situation of the Section is satisfactory." Since only 63 persons attended that meeting, some must have contributed more than the quarter minimum. The following year, however, only $12.00 was collected from 60 persons in attendance. The Section opened its first savings account at the Delaware (Ohio) Savings Bank in 1930.
Beginning in 1955 the Ohio Section adopted a voluntary dues assessment of fifty cents per year, with one dollar being collected in even-numbered years. The 1964 By-Laws of the Section provided that membership dues, "not to exceed one dollar per year, may be assessed." The amount was to be set by the Executive Committee. By 1968 the dues had risen to a dollar per year, and the amount was doubled again in 1979. This plan had limited success, however, as many members conveniently forgot to pay. An amendment to the By-Laws in 1980 provided for a registration fee at Section meetings. Effective with the fall meeting that year, the registration fee was set at $2.00, and annual dues were discontinued. The registration fee has since risen to $5.00, but students are exempt.
The maximum balance in the Ohio Section treasury during its first thirty years was $90.19. With the advent of short courses in the 1970's, the section realized some "windfall profits" that placed it on a sound financial footing. While it is by no means "embarrassingly wealthy," the Ohio Section currently maintains a balance of approximately two thousand dollars.
Ohio section members in 1916 also passed a motion "that the national Association be asked to appropriate five per cent of the annual dues and at least one half of the initiation fees of new members in each section for financing the sections and stimulating them to retain and to gain new members for the Association." The subvention policy eventually adopted by the MAA provides for a flat sum of $100, plus $20 for each 100 members or fraction thereof. Sections may also apply to the national office for grants to carry out special projects. One such grant provided seed money for this Ohio Section History.
Copyright 1990, The Ohio Section, MAA, All rights reserved.