Friend of the University of Rochester

March 21, 1996

President Thomas H. Jackson
Administration 240
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627-0011

Dear President Jackson:

I am writing to express my concern over announced plans to drastically reduce the size of the University of Rochester's mathematics faculty and to rely on faculty from other departments to teach core mathematics courses for undergraduates. I write as both a university president and a mathematician.

As a president, I understand well the need for retrenchment in these economically austere times. It is regrettable that retrenchment has led to the elimination of the Ph.D. program in a discipline as central as mathematics. Without knowing more about the special circumstances at Rochester, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on what I am sure is a painful but considered decision.

As a mathematician, however, I have grave concerns over a decision that results, as I understand the matter, in non-mathematicians teaching basic mathematics courses on a regular basis. Such a practice is akin to asking non-philosophers to teach Aristotle or non-specialists to teach Shakespearean drama.

It is my sincere hope that a plan is developed that assigns the bulk of core mathematical instruction to full-time members of the Mathematics Department.

Sincerely yours,

William E. Kirwan
University of Maryland at College Park

American Mathematical Society