Major Donation to the BIG Math Network

Philippe Tondeur

by Fadil Santosa and Richard Laugesen

~ Philippe and Claire-Lise Tondeur have generously given over $300,000 to further the goals of the BIG Math Network. The funds go in equal portions to the American Mathematical Society (AMS), the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).  The three societies will use the funds in collaboration with the BIG Math Network to create new activities and programming over the coming three years. It is also an opportunity for the three organizations to work jointly to advance the BIG Math Network’s vision of facilitating career pathways for students in the mathematical sciences.

Philippe Tondeur was director of the Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) at the National Science Foundation from 1999 to 2002.  He is also Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  Philippe’s tireless efforts to advance the mathematical sciences have been recognized by SIAM in 2002 with the Frederick A. Howes Commendation for Public Service, and in 2008 by the SIAM Prize for Distinguished Service to the Profession. He is fellow of both SIAM and AMS.

Philippe’s passion for opening BIG (Business, Industry, and Government) career opportunities for mathematical scientists goes back to the time when he served on the advisory board of Canada’s Mitacs.  He felt that a version of their successful internship program could be launched in the United States. His vision of a national internship program was outlined in a white paper that he wrote and distributed in 2011.  The U.S. has still not developed such an internship infrastructure for funneling scientific talent into industry. Nonetheless, the creation of the BIG Math Network is a concrete manifestation of Philippe’s influence and vision.

By supporting the BIG Math Network with the donation, Philippe is endorsing our mission. He sees his donation as an initial investment needed to create sufficient momentum.  The growth and sustainability of the network will rely on the three societies and the contribution of the broader mathematical sciences community.

So please keep your eyes open for student and faculty activities at MAA section meetings and MathFest, at AMS sectional meetings, SIAM conferences, and the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings. Other efforts will take the form of products, services and studies to help departments connect effectively with BIG employers and help students navigate the BIG job market.  Finally, please contribute to the network with your ideas and your stories.  And consider getting involved when asked by AMS, MAA, and SIAM to take steps to promote BIG Careers. The donation got us started, but it still “takes a village”!

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