A brief history of the National Alliance
The Alliance was founded in 2001 as a partnership between the math sciences departments at the three Iowa State Regents universities and at four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Its name - the Alliance for the Production of African American Ph.D.s in the Mathematical Sciences -- reflected the shared concern of the partners that African Americans were significantly underrepresented at all levels in these fields. Support for the Alliance was applied for and received from DMS in 2002. A second grant (DMS 0502354) to support the Alliance was awarded by the DMS EMSW21-MCTP program in 2005.
From the beginning, the Alliance was organized as a community of mentors and students. The students, who were undergraduates at the four HBCU Alliance partners, were called Alliance Scholars. They each received a stipend and they were invited to the Alliance Summer Research Experience held jointly at the three Iowa Regents universities. Each student had an undergraduate mentor at his or her home institution as well as a graduate mentor at one of the Iowa schools.
The Alliance was one of several initiatives developed by the Department of Mathematics at the University of Iowa
as part of its program to increase the representation of US citizens from minority backgrounds in the mathematical sciences. At around the same time, the department formed a tie with the MBTI/SUMS
program and its director, Carlos Castillo-Chavez
, which resulted in more than 15 students, almost all of them Latino, enrolling in the department's doctoral program (eleven of these students, nine of which are Latino, have obtained their doctoral degree).
These ties, successful in themselves as vehicles for increasing the number of minority doctoral students in the math sciences at the University of Iowa and the other Iowa Regents universities, also led to ties with other math sciences faculty at minority serving colleges and universities, among them, Joe Omojola at Southern University New Orleans and Bill Jones at Xavier University (New Orleans). When Hurricane Katrina devastated the colleges and universities in New Orleans, the University of Iowa was well placed to act on behalf of the dislocated students. See the article, ''University of Iowa welcomes scholars
,'' in the Fall, 2005 edition of the LS-LAMP Journal.
Ties between departmental faculty at the three Iowa Regents universities and faculty at institutions that serve a substantial proportion of underrepresented students grew rapidly and it became clear that the Alliance was outgrowing its original structure. More and more students from backgrounds underrepresented in the math sciences nationally were expressing interest in attending graduate school and the Alliance mentors were beginning to build community with like-minded faculty nationally. In recognition of this evolution, Alliance leadership requested that NSF allow them to change the structure of the Alliance; the name of the Alliance was also changed to the National Alliance for Doctoral Study in the Mathematical Sciences to reflect its broadened mission. At the heart of these changes was an expansion of the group of undergraduate mentors to include math sciences faculty at a wide variety of colleges and universities that serve a substantial percentage of students who are underrepresented in these fields. These mentors nominate Alliance Scholars who are then eligible for various Alliance programs, including our Alliance Summer Research Experiences, the annual Field of Dreams conference, our Mentor Match program and our Alliance Activity Scholarships. The Alliance has grown rapidly. There are presently approximately 180 Alliance Undergraduate Mentors representing more than 70 departments nationally and approximately 450 past and present Alliance Scholars, almost all of whom come from US minority groups which have been historically underrepresented in the mathematical sciences.
Up until this point, the Alliance had concentrated on the transition point from undergraduate school to masters and doctoral programs. As the number of students who were ready for the transition to graduate programs grew, the Alliance began to work with math sciences graduate faculty nationally to build Alliance Graduate Program Groups
: groups of faculty at math sciences graduate programs which have committed themselves to the best practices and community building which has been the hallmark of the Alliance. At about the same time, several highly successful programs serving underrepresented students in the math sciences affiliated themselves with the Alliance. These include the North Carolina Alliance
and the National Alliance for Building Faculty Diversity in the Mathematical Sciences, both directed by Loek Helminck
and the Mathematical Computational and Modeling Sciences Center (MCMSC)
, both directed by Carlos Castillo-Chavez
The original Alliance included both math stat and applied stat programs at the Iowa Regents universities. In order to ensure that these areas would continue to play a central role in Alliance activities and programs, the Alliance has developed a statistics initiative under the direction of Kathryn Chaloner
As a result of these changes, partnerships and initiatives, the National Alliance has evolved into a program that serves students from their freshman year in college to their postdoctoral studies and covers the spectrum of fields in the mathematical sciences from pure and applied mathematics and mathematical biology, to statistics, biostatistics and measurement and testing. At the heart of all of this is our Alliance community; we hope you will join us!