UA Math Professor Honored

University Communications
Jan. 17, 2006

University of Arizona Professor of mathematics William Yslas Vélez was honored with one of five Certificates of Meritorious Service Awards presented at the Joint Mathematics Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, on January 13, 2006.

The certificates are presented by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) in recognition of service to the MAA at the national level or for service to a section of the association. The MAA is the world's largest professional society that focuses on mathematics accessible at the undergraduate level.

The MAA has 27,000 members who participate in a variety of activities that foster mathematics education, professional development, student involvement and public policy. The Southwestern Section of the MAA nominated Vélez for this award.

Vélez's longstanding passion has been opening the doors to mathematics and the sciences for underrepresented groups and attracting students to the mathematics major.

William McCallum, a fellow mathematics professor at UA, says he marvels at "the truly phenomenal energy that Bill puts into recruiting minority students into the math major at the University of Arizona."

"Each year he gets a list of every minority taking calculus or expressing interest in a science career and sets up personal interviews with them. He is tireless and forceful and this has really paid off in both minority recruitment and recruitment in general into the math major."

The 11 grant projects related to minority participation that Vélez has either directed or co-directed have provided scholarships, funded programs and supported minority recruiting and retention efforts. He has written a dozen articles discussing strategies for attracting students to the mathematics major and for increasing minority participation.

His tireless efforts have resulted in several awards, including five advising and mentoring awards, the President's Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring Program (Washington, DC, September 1997) and two National Science Foundation (NSF) awards.

Vélez has served as president of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science and as governor-at-large for minority interests on the MAA board of governors.

Vélez's leadership is evident in other roles as well. He served a term as program director of the NSF Algebra and Number Theory Program and he has been a member of five MAA committees and 18 other national advisory boards or committees dealing with mathematics, diversity in the profession and education.

In addition, Vélez has organized three annual meetings of the Southwestern Section of the Mathematical Association of America, one of which included the Sociedad Matematica de Sonora, Mexico.


Resources for the media

Julie Kraman
Mathematics Association of America (MAA)
William Yslas V lez
Professor of Mathematics UA