Assessment of Department Strengths and Weaknesses

The major strength of the Department of Mathematics is the quality of the faculty. All Assistant, Associate and Full Professor faculty members are PhD holders. The permanent instructors have MS or PhD degrees and extensive teaching experience. A majority of the faculty have strong and established research programs with strengths in the areas of discrete mathematics and combinatorics, applied analysis, mathematical modeling and simulation, control theory, numerical analysis, operations research, optimization, applied probability, and mathematics education. Many of the mathematics faculty have had their research programs supported by grants from external agencies; these include NSF, NIH, ARO, AFOR and ONR. The faculty also have evidence of quality research work through service on scholarly journal editorial boards, invited presentations at national and international conferences, colloquium presentations at other academic institutions, service as referees for journal articles, advising successful graduate students, or undergraduate and graduate textbook authoring. Quality teaching has been a priority for mathematics faculty, and several faculty have received outstanding teacher awards. Unfortunately, the quality work of mathematics faculty has not been properly rewarded. The average mathematics faculty salaries are significantly below College of Sciences and WSU averages, and below peer institution averages (much more below peer averages than COS and WSU averages are), and there is some evidence that the problem is getting worse. This has occurred in spite of the fact that overall mathematics student credit hours have brought very substantial funds to WSU, and the College of Sciences has made a substantial profit from the revenue generated by students taking mathematics courses.

The current primary weakness of the department is insufficient support for undergraduate instruction. The result is large section sizes (often accompanied by high W/F/D rates) in many of the service courses provided by the department. The use of so many large-section mathematics classes is highly inconsistent with the new primary focus for Washington State University, to provide world-class face-to-face education for all of the students. It is also possible that relatively large section sizes for some mid-level Mathematics courses is contributing to a loss of Mathematics majors to other departments.



Alan C Genz
2002-01-11