The Chronicle of Higher Education
Date: January 19, 1996
Section: Personal & Professional
Letters of protest have poured in to the University of Rochester from scholars upset about its plan to close its doctoral program in mathematics.
Administrators at Rochester decided to suspend admissions next fall to four Ph.D. programs, including mathematics, as part of a five-year plan to reduce the size of the university.
Since announcing the plan in November, the university has received about 100 letters of protest from leading scientists and mathematicians. Last week, the American Mathematical Society passed a resolution urging Rochester to reconsider. It criticized the university's plan to hire adjuncts to teach introductory math. Reducing the department's faculty through attrition, the resolution said, would diminish the opportunities for collaboration among colleagues in science, math, and engineering.
So far, university officials have not been swayed. "It's very easy for someone outside the university to say, Don't do X, when they don't have to make any of the tradeoffs," said Richard N. Aslin, vice-provost and dean of the college.
He said institutions could provide a high-quality education in mathematics for undergraduates without a Ph.D. program -- and, he noted, most do. And while interaction between mathematicians and their colleagues is important, he said, that collaboration usually happens between colleagues on different campuses.