AMS Committee on Meetings and Conferences (COMC) 2007 Annual Report

Highlights of 2007 meeting (May 5, 2007)

Report of the Secretariat

The AMS Secretariat gave a report on the May 4, 2007 Secretariat meeting.

  • The Secretariat reviewed International Meetings through 2009 with Shanghai at the end of 2008 as the 2009 meeting. Other meetings reviewed were Mexico and New Zealand for 2007 and Brazil for 2008.
  • The 2008 Erdős Lecture will be held at Courant Institute in New York University in the spring of 2008.
  • The 2007 Einstein Public Lecture will be held at Rutgers University. Roger Penrose will speak.
  • The 2008 Einstein Public Lecture will be held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Freeman Dyson will be the speaker.
  • The Secretariat discussed those special sessions held at the JMM that are repeated each year, sometimes called "endowed sessions". The Secretary was asked to look at this topic for the 2007 CoMC meeting including checking to see how many have repeat speakers. The Secretary did report on this and found that these Special Sessions were valuable and definitely should continue and that the concern of repeat speakers was not a legitimate concern.
  • The Special Session for the Nemmers Prize speaker has not happened for the past few years. The Secretary decided to no longer hold a room for this Special Session.

Report on the Subcommittee to Review the International Meetings. This subcommittee was composed of Jon McCammond (Chair), Carol Wood, Lesley Sibner and John Meakin. The subcommittee reported that in their assessment, the International Meetings are a valuable experience, with excellent organization by the AMS and high scientific merit and overall work very well and the AMS should continue with this type of quality meeting. The subcommittee also felt that the International Meetings clearly showed the AMS as a leader in the international community.

  • The Notices continues to be the primary source of information about International Meetings. The subcommittee recommended that some further efforts to advertise the existence of the International Meetings be made. The Secretariat recommended that the Meetings Department advertise the International Meetings in the Notices with large advertisements. The International Meetings for the year will also be listed under the calendar of the main AMS web page and on the main Meetings web page.
  • The subcommittee discussed that there seemed to be confusion over the role of the AMS and the role of the host society and asked that this be made more explicit. On the International Meetings page the Secretariat recommended that the Meetings Department add a sentence clarifying the role of the AMS.
  • The subcommittee wished to make explicit the principle that the AMS continue its policy of only entering into arrangements with a host society where the professional practices of the host society are sufficiently similar to those of the AMS.
  • The subcommittee recommends that a strong statement be made to the special session organizers and the committees in charge of the main speaker selection encouraging them to consider issue of representation when making selections and be reminded of the AMS policies along these lines.
  • CoMC recommended that the AMS look into the question of what travel funding is available from other organizations, such as the AWM, and look into cooperating with these organizations in advertising the International Meetings. For example, it was suggested that an advertisement of International Meetings in the AWM newsletter might be appropriate in conjunction with an announcement of AWM travel grants.

Report on the New Orleans Focus Group. Judy Kennedy moderated the CoMC Focus Group discussion in New Orleans. Joel Hass gave the report to the committee. The comments and suggestions from the Focus Group were discussed during Hass's report. Some suggestions were to increase the Society awareness of the fact that AMS holds Joint International Meetings. Three special sessions were looked at as examples of consistently repeating sessions at the Joint Meetings. These sessions, MER, Undergraduate Research and History of Mathematics were all were considered important; Undergraduate Research was considered a special session that should be consistently supported. The Meetings web page continues to need clarification in some areas. The Focus Group and CoMC has suggested that a self-scheduler be made available or that how to use Google should be made clear on the web. It was also suggested that directions on how to cut and paste a text file into a scheduler be provided on the JMM web site. The Focus Group also recommended that the JMM should go to facilities where growth of special sessions was possible. Another topic discussed was that Sectional Meetings should have input from the local organizers or school for speakers.

New Orleans Questionnaire. The responses from the New Orleans questionnaire were reviewed. CoMC recommended that where possible there be additional message boards that can be used to put up names of participants involved in interdisciplinary research and how to reach them at the meeting.

AMS Conference Report on Y Research. Ellen Maycock reported on the status of this conference. The new name will be AMS Communities. It was suggested that sometime in the future this conference include individuals who have had interrupted careers and wish to return to mathematics research.

Review of Selected Activities. The committee decided to change the order of the reviews. The review for 2008 will be on Sectional Meetings. The subcommittee will be chaired by John Meakin. Other members will be announced at a later time. A subcommittee will also look at the full cycle of topics for review, and will make recommendations for possible topics and their order at the next CoMC meeting. That subcommittee will be made up of David Meredith (Chair) along with Carol Wood.

Policy on Diversity for Organizers of AMS Meetings & Conferences. A subcommittee consisting of Joel Hass, Catherine Roberts and John Ewing was appointed to write an AMS Meetings policy on diversity to include young mathematicians and underrepresented groups. This policy will be posted on the meetings web pages and on all Call for Papers. The following was approved by CoMC and recommended to go to the Council for approval:

"The American Mathematical Society encourages organizers of meetings and conferences to seek participants and speakers from groups underrepresented in mathematics, and to include programs in which students and recent doctorates can participate."

Speaker Selection at Sectional Meetings. The Focus Group discussed having the local institution be involved in choosing speakers. The Secretariat explained how each Secretary handled this question of asking the local participants for input into the Invited Speaker program. CoMC suggested that the Associate Secretaries consult with the host institution and consider speakers in the areas of speciality of the local mathematical community, as well as consulting the local host about names of potential speakers.

Graduate Students and Undergraduate Students at the Joint Meeting. CoMC was asked for any suggestions they have for ideas for programs for the growing population of undergrad and graduate students. It was felt that present programs were succeeding based on increasing student attendance. No recommendations were made.

Other Informational Items. CoMC will host a Focus Group on Monday January 7, 2008 in San Diego. Catherine Roberts will chair the focus group.

Diane Saxe, Director, Meetings & Conferences Department
Ellen Maycock, Associate Executive Director
May 14, 2007

American Mathematical Society