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CCMS Background

The Claremont Consortium has six independent mathematics programs, staffed collectively by over 50 faculty members. If all these programs were merged into one single program it would be one of the largest mathematical science programs in California. However, the unique nature of the Consortium — seven financially independent institutions — precludes such a merger. Although these separate programs cooperate in many ways to create a rich and vibrant mathematical experience, this separation impedes the full use of the talent and expertise present in the Consortium because of the time constraints in administering each of the individual programs. With the enthusiastic endorsement of the six mathematics departments, the Claremont Center for the Mathematical Sciences (CCMS) was proposed in April 2007 to provide a way to link all the Consortium mathematics programs operationally without actually merging them, thereby enabling mathematics research and other collaborative initiatives on an unprecedented scale in Claremont. CCMS will pursue initiatives that enhance collaborative activities on campus for faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and provide programs that emphasize creative teaching practice. In the Fall of 2007, the Academic Deans Committee approved the existence of CCMS as an official entity with the proviso that one institution in the Consortium would act as the lead institution. The CCMS Executive Committee approved Claremont Graduate University (CGU) as the CCMS lead institution.

The internationally acclaimed Claremont Colleges Consortium currently houses five undergraduate institutions: Harvey Mudd College (HMC), Claremont McKenna College (CMC), Pomona College (POM), Pitzer College (PIT), Scripps College (SCR); and two graduate institutions: Claremont Graduate University (CGU), which serves as the graduate school for the entire Consortium, and the Keck Graduate Institute for the Applied Life Sciences (KGI). These institutions are independent but share some common facilities (such as the library, business office, etc) and are all located contiguously in Claremont, California.

All mathematics faculty in Claremont Colleges have regular demands that make it difficult for them to find uninterrupted time for collaborative activities. Indeed, because of the high administrative workload, and the desire of each College to be all things for their own students, the practice of collaborative mathematics activities has received short shrift. In the undergraduate departments, senior theses are common and take considerable faculty time in their supervision, and hence the faculty’s contact hours with students are much higher than in colleges outside Claremont. The small CGU mathematics faculty administers half a dozen separate graduate programs, and serves on various Ph. D. committees of about 60 doctoral students. The mathematics departments in the Consortium, as elsewhere, place high value on research as a component of achieving tenure, promotion, and, in the case of CGU, funding for students as well. An unfortunate consequence of these pressures is that young faculty in Claremont are presented with an unnecessary conflict of interest: time spent on innovative teaching may cost them tenure or promotion. The CCMS will ameliorate this conflict of interest.