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Giving Opportunities

Giving Initiatives in Mathematics

A summary of giving initiatives within the Department of Mathematics is available through the College of Literature, Science and the Arts Office of Development.  Some additional giving opportunities are detailed below.

The Power

The Department of Mathematics is an internationally recognized leader in mathematical research and mathematical instruction innovation—particularly for its developments in inquiry-based learning, calculus, and its postdoctoral training, with the largest program of any university mathematics department in the country. The extent and commitment to inquiry based learning, to the undergraduate research experience, and to the professional development of its graduate students and postdoctoral assistant professors sets the department apart. Moreover, for over 85 years, the Department of Mathematics has been one of the world’s premier research centers, consistently ranked in the top 10 and noted for the depth and breadth of its research and many important innovations. The challenge ahead is to maintain, in an extremely competitive environment, the quality of the Department’s research and instructional program, while simultaneously becoming increasingly interdisciplinary, so that its faculty can play leading roles in research endeavors in other disciplines — a development that is characterizing research in the 21st century. Our goal is to be recognized as one of the top five mathematics departments in the country, both for excellence in education and in research.

The Opportunities

Our faculty and students contribute to expanding the knowledge of fundamental mathematics and its uses in other disciplines. While mathematics was once the province of a few, it has now become an essential component for many livelihoods. The Department enrolls over 10,000 students annually in its elementary programs and provides them with the foundation for their studies at the University. While undergraduate mathematics majors receive a thorough grounding in mathematics and its applications, our graduate students are well prepared for research and for a teaching career, and our postdoctoral assistant professors receive the career foundation and training that will help them shape the next generation of mathematicians. The Department plays an important role in community outreach as well. U-M Mathematics has recently established a Math Circle that brings area middle and high school students to the department to work with our faculty and graduate students. The Department also manages the very successful Michigan Math and Science Scholars (MMSS) Program, which brings intensive study of mathematics and science to high school students during the summer.

The Impact

To maintain its leadership role in research,expand its interdisciplinary programs, and enhance the student learning environment, the Department depends heavily upon financial support from alumni and friends. The Department must build on its strengths and ensure that gifted students have scholarship funds and faculty members have the resources they need to pur- sue research and offer an innovative curriculum. Also, our Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) program, the AIM (Applied and Interdisciplinary Mathematics) Program, and our renowned actuarial program need support to continue to flourish so future generations of students and faculty can benefit from them.

Center for Risk Analysis

For over 100 years, the Department has been one of the nation's leaders in instruction and research in actuarial mathematics, with a very distinguished group of alumni. Looking to the future needs of society, the Department has expanded this program to include a wider range of problems where risk is an essential element. In addition to insurance and pensions, instruction is provided in mathematics of finance, including derivatives, long-term investments, regulation of financial markets, and the fundamental techniques of stochastic control. To continue to develop this highly interdisciplinary program, the Department must be able to recruit outstanding faculty, many times competing with much more lucrative careers in the financial industry. Hence, it is necessary to provide faculty retention incentives, and be able to offer scholarships and fellowships to attract the most talented students and postdoctoral faculty. Endowing these awards will assure that the Department is an innovator in the field and is able to provide talented graduates who build successful careers in various fields for years to come. In the past, the Department has hosted very successful conferences and workshops in this area, and to maintain leadership in the field, should continue to offer such activities in the future. Support needed for the Center for Risk Analysis includes:

  • Graduate and Postdoctoral fellowships ($1M endowed; $50,000 annually per recipient)
  • Undergraduate scholarships ($100,000 endowed; $5,000 annually per student)
  • Endowed professorship ($3M endowed) would be the catalyst to create an interdisciplinary center with the potential to attract additional faculty to conduct research in risk analysis.
  • Faculty recruitment and retention ($1.4M endowed) would provide funding to compete with industry as well as more lucrative academic positions in business and finance.
  • Support of an annual workshop on subjects related to Risk Analysis and Management ($500,000 endowed).

Center for Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) Fund

In courses with an Inquiry Based Learning component, students discover some of the material they need to learn themselves—in this way they are introduced to the research experience and acquire a deeper understanding of the subject matter than can be obtained from having someone else present the theory and methods to them. The IBL Center develops inquiry based learning and supports training of faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in IBL teaching. Our goal for the IBL fund is to help meet current expenditures, including those described below, as well as to raise a permanent endowment. 

  • Curriculum development: $50,000 annually
  • Postdoctoral faculty teaching: $100,000 annually will help fund a postdoctoral faculty member to teach students using
    the IBL methods
  • Graduate student instructors: $30,000 annually will sponsor a graduate student to assist in teaching an IBL course
  • Undergraduate course assistants: $20,000 annually to sponsor several undergraduate students to assist faculty in teaching IBL courses


Applied and Interdisciplinary Mathematics Program (AIM)

This doctoral degree program, which requires students to complete extensive course work in another discipline, is attracting a substantial number of bright students who are pursuing innovative research in various fields including:

  • Mathematical Physics (Fluid Dynamics, String Theory)
  • Modeling in Engineering (Materials, Aeronautics, Control Theory)
  • Mathematical
  • Biology (Epidemiology, Cancer, Fluid Mechanics)
  • Informatics (Algorithms, Theoretical Computer Science)
  • Risk Analysis (Insurance, Financial Engineering, Health, Contamination)
  • Mathematical Economics.

This program maintains a vital link between mathematics and the life sciences initiative. To expand the program, we need additional funding for this area that an endowment would make possible.

Named Endowed Professorships

To maintain its leadership in research and in teaching, the Department needs to retain current faculty and to continue recruiting at the highest level in a fiercely competitive environment. An endowment of $3 million would provide a competitive annual salary for a distinguished professor and a supplemental research fund. We seek endowed professorships for both theoretical mathematics and applied mathematics.

Postdoctoral Named Assistant Professorship

Postdoctoral faculty play a vital role in refreshing the program with new ideas and research. At the same time, the Department provides outstanding mentoring for these new researchers both in research expertise and educational methods. In learning new approaches to teaching and research, these young scholars have much to offer current students. External funding is needed to attract the brightest new and recent Ph.Ds.

Graduate Student Fellowships

Very talented students are essential for a top quality department, and competition for them is intense. Department funding for graduate students is becoming more limited. Attracting the top students assures that our program will thrive and graduates will be prepared to contribute to the mathematical community.

Fund for Innovation in Mathematics

Project-specific funding is crucial in the retention and recruitment of faculty who are at the cutting-edge of innovation. The Department must be able to provide seed funding for faculty development and research projects encompassing students and postdoctoral faculty. The Innovation Fund would allow the Department to meet unexpected challenges quickly to retain outstanding scientists well into the future. Funding could be used for new faculty start-up packages, computer packages at the higher end of technology, and postdoctoral support as well as graduate student funding. The fund could also be used to sponsor faculty grants for research and training workshops that are regularly held in the department.

Area Specific Research Initiative Funds

Faculty often have research expenses that cannot be covered by conventional sources. These include funding for graduate students to work on research projects, computing costs, conference activities, travel, and research related items. Endowed funds may be named.

Curtis E. Huntington Honorary Fund for Actuarial Activities

The Department has established this fund to recognize and celebrate Professor Huntington's incredible contributions and dedication to our Department, College, University, and the actuarial profession at large. In his career at the U-M, Professor Huntington  worked tirelessly to prosper the actuarial program and the broader undergraduate mathematics program. One can argue convincingly that he single-handedly rescued the actuarial program at a time that it would have faltered. He was always generous with his time, energy, and money. It's no secret that giving to the University is a cause that was near and dear to Professor Huntington's heart, and he lead by example.  He passed away in October, 2013.

The Curtis E. Huntington Honorary Fund in the Department of Mathematics will provide support for the Actuarial and Financial Mathematics program.  The fund will constitute an endowment, with only monies from the distribution to be spent. The fund will provide support for actuarial exam fees, student group activities including job recruiting, student loans, recruitment activities to attract students and faculty, and other programmatic activities as deemed appropriate by Department administration. 

Gifts to this fund should be directed to allocation 572235.  This fund constitutes a gift for endowment and distributions from this fund will be made in accordance with the University of Michigan's existing endowment distribution policy.

Undergraduate Scholarships

Attracting bright undergraduate students to the Department and to the University is essential to achieving excellence in mathematics education. Far too often, the cost to attend the University of Michigan is in excess of 25% of a family's total annual income. Providing assistance to outstanding students in need not only benefits the students, it strengthens our program and our ability to provide future productive members of society with the most competitive skills. Named undergraduate scholarships can be funded by endowments of $200,000. Funding these scholarships is a high priority.

The Department also has a Scholarship Fund that is funded by annual gifts of any size. It provides another way for friends of the Department, especially alumni, to contribute. A gift of $500 annually equals the income from an endowment of $10,000.

Mathematics Education Fund

In collaboration with the School of Education, the Mathematics Department teaches the core mathematics background needed to become a successful K-12 teacher. This fund will help us continue to attract and retain distinguished senior faculty in this area. Our goal is to create a national model of excellence in mathematics education. Additionally, the fund provides training opportunities for postdoctoral faculty and graduate students, both in mathematics and education, and provides scholarships for both undergraduates and graduate students involved in math education, development of new courses and revising curricula of existing ones and in assessing the program.

Distinguished Lectures

To keep current with groundbreaking research developments, it is essential for the Department to invite those making innovative discoveries to campus to give presentations and to be available for consultation. These could be a series of lectures or a single lecture from a renowned scholar in the field.

Mathematics Strategic Fund

Each year, the Department faces unexpected opportunities to extend its mission that are not funded by the standard state budgeting process. An expendable account would allow the department to respond to such opportunities and address unexpected special needs.  It also provides the Department Chair resources that can support exceptional cutting-edge work that will have a high impact on mathematics, our students, or our department. 

Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Each summer the Department’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program gives students an authentic taste of what it is to “do mathematics.” Paired with a faculty member, students work on research problems that are at the frontiers of the mathematical sciences. Students frequently report that participating in an REU was a high point of their undergraduate experience at Michigan. Each contribution of $6,000 will support one undergraduate student for a summer
of research experiences.

Allen L. Shields Memorial Fellowship

To commemorate the many contributions of Professor Allen L. Shields to Mathematics and to the University of Michigan, his family and friends established the Allen L. Shields Memorial Fellowship for graduate students in the Department of Mathematics at the University. 

Professor Shields received his bachelor's degree from City College of New York in 1949 after serving in the United States Army from 1945–46. He received his Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1952. Before coming to the University of Michigan in 1956, he taught at Tulane University from 1952–56. 

Allen Shields was an immensely warm and caring person who took his "pastoral duties" to faculty and students very seriously. He was a gregarious mathematician, completely dedicated to his work, with an amazing eagerness to discuss mathematics in any circumstances. His more than 90 published papers show collaboration with 44 different authors. He had a contagious enthusiasm and the knack for coming up with interesting and important questions. A mathematical universalist, he made substantial contributions to many different areas of mathematics including semigroups, measure theory, complex functions, functional analysis, and operator theory. His standards were high, his taste impeccable, and his ideas deep. 

A very popular teacher, Allen's lectures were models of clarity and always highly informative. He was an engaging speaker and a constant source of inspiration for students and faculty alike. Highly sought by students as a thesis advisor, he directed 26 doctoral dissertations in his 33–year career as a faculty member at Michigan. 

He also made many contributions to the mathematics community at large, including his work as the author of a popular column on mathematical history in the Mathematical Intelligencer. Within the department, he served as Chair of the department from 1975–77 and as acting Chair in 1980–81 as well as constantly serving as a source of advice on decisions facing the department. 

Allen Shields is remembered by his colleagues for his talent, his personal charm, and his extraordinary generosity. He changed the lives of all who knew him while his broad and penetrating contributions altered the face of the science he so loved. He showed by example what a mathematician should be. 

Allen Shields is survived by his widow, Smilka Zdravkovska, his children, Katherine, Thomas, and Jean, and his stepchildren Howard, Bojana, and Andrei. Dr. Zdravkovska still lives in Ann Arbor.

Gifts to this fund should be directed to allocation 796147.  This fund constitutes a gift for endowment and distributions from this fund will be made in accordance with the University of Michigan's existing endowment distribution policy.

Joel Smoller Memorial Fellowship

Joel Smoller, the Lamberto Cesari Collegiate Professor of Mathematics, passed away in September, 2017. His first and only academic appointment was at University of Michigan Department of Mathematics. His 54 year career here began in 1963 as an instructor. Smoller was promoted to professor in 1970, and was named a Collegiate Professor in 1998. He retired from active faculty status in June, 2017. Smoller’s long and prestigious academic career includes supervising 28 graduate students and mentoring many postdoctoral faculty, producing more than 180 publications in association with 34 co-authors, and teaching hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students.

Smoller cared deeply about mentoring and supporting his students. To carry on this tradition, a scholarship has been established in his name to benefit graduate mathematics students working in his area of expertise, partial differential equations associated with physical processes. Memorial contributions can be made to the Joel Smoller Fellowship Fund in the Department of Mathematics (fund #700262). 

Gifts to this fund should be directed to allocation 700262. Contributions can be sent via mail to the UM Department of Mathematics, 530 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043 (checks to University of Michigan), or online at

This fund constitutes a gift for endowment and distributions from this fund will be made in accordance with the University of Michigan's existing endowment distribution policy.

Juha Heinonen Memorial Fellowship

Juha Heinonen, Professor of Mathematics, passed away on October 30, 2007.  He arrived in the Department in 1988 as a postdoctoral assistant professor, and became a professor in 2000.  He was a leading researcher in geometric function theory, having published two books and numerous articles with many collaborators.  Most recently, Juha served as Associate Chair for Graduate Studies in the Department, where he mentored many young mathematicians

Juha Heinonen Memorial Graduate Student Fellowship was established in the University of Michigan Department of Mathematics.  Juha gave tirelessly of his time as a mentor to young mathematicians and this fund will help to carry on his spirit of support and guidance. 

Gifts to this fund should be directed to allocation 571702.  This fund constitutes a gift for endowment and distributions from this fund will be made in accordance with the University of Michigan's existing endowment distribution policy.

Carroll V. Newsom Fund

This fund was established in 1990 through a bequest from Carroll Newsom, a 1931 Ph.D. graduate of the Mathematics Department, whose long career included serving five years as the president of New York University. The fund provides support for graduate student recruiting, retention, and summer stipends. It also funds the Department's annual Marjorie Lee Browne lecture, commemorating Martin Luther King day. The colloquium brings a distinguished speaker to campus to present a talk that highlights their research but also addresses the issue of diversity in the sciences. Gifts to this endowment fund should use the account code 720728.