February 1 Day 330: Actually Day 1

When I woke up this morning, I didn’t feel any different. I’ve worked with the MAA for many years in many different roles. However, today you may call me Madame President and my husband, the First Gentleman of Mathematics (but he would prefer the First Exponent). I am honored to start a two year term as president of the Mathematical Association of America.

There was even an official press release.

For the past year I have been meeting regularly with the executive director Michael Pearson and president Michael Dorff. I scribbled notes, asked questions, and added my 2 cents worth to topics of the moment. Afterwards, I carefully summarized my important learnings in one or two pages of a small black moleskin notebook.

My little black book. Shown here is information on MAA Focus deadlines. I’m already late for the President’s Column in the April/May issue. I know the editor. She has given me some grace.

I have six blank pages and then I need a new moleskin.

I had no executive orders to sign on my first day. (I don’t think I will ever have an executive order to sign. ) Progressing through the day, the realization dawned on me that I am responsible for stewarding this association. I can ensure important actions are taken. My professional community has given me their trust and I will work to be worthy of it.

Communication is one of MAA’s four core values. Without face-to-face meetings for the past ten months, board communication is limited to emails, MAA Connect discussions, and quarterly Zoomings that are choreographed to the minute. It’s hard to build the relationships that make serving on the Board so special. Just as professors experienced in their teaching this past year, the Board of Directors might need to do things differently.

I’m always willing to try something new in an attempt to build trust and community. So on Day 1, I proposed monthly Zoom meetings for the Board with no prescribed agenda. I want a place where we can share observations, concerns, and updates. A place to have generative discussions, crazy brainstorms, or difficult conversations. In short, a place where we can be engaged and present with the work that is happening or needs to happen to serve the MAA community and help its members thrive. It’s a different take but I hope it works.

Cover image is the official presidential headshot taken by Mark O. Martin.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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