UND General Info | UND Medical School | UND Discussion | Other Sites | Look Back


The UND mathematics department is going into the 1989-90 school year with vacancies in more than one-third of it regular faculty positions.

"It will be a critical year for us in recruiting," math chairman and professor Milton Winger said.

Math was one of the hardest-hit departments, after about 50 turnovers at the university this past school year.

With temporary visiting professors, lecturer and student assistants, the math department will be able to cover the needed courses, but the future of the department depends on replacing senior faculty, Winger said.

Four resignations of tenure-track professors since spring have come on the heels of two previous faculty losses going back to the 1987-88 school year.

The department temporarily abandoned its search after unsuccessful efforts to recruit a pair of new math professors.

Winger hopes the administration will throw in support for an all-out recruiting effort to replace as many as six positions. The authorized 17-member tenure-track faculty has been reduced to 11 professors.

Winger said the four resignations this spring came as a blow, but it could have been worse. "The number would have been five," he said. "But professor Jerry Motzger decided not to accept prestigious national security job in Washington."

Metzger earlier had been granted an unpaid leave to go to work for a Defense Department agency. He said a number of reasons, including the plight of the UND math department prompted him to change his mind.

Winger, too, decided, against taking a leave. He was to receive a paid developmental leave the second semester of the coming school year.

"I could see the handwriting on the wall. We were going to be losing people, and entering a concentrated search this year."

Winger will teach some of the classes to help fill the breach for another year of possible record enrollments at the university. The hardest-hit areas now are statistics and applied mathematics, he said.

Both Winger and Metzger said the prospects of replacing much of the lost faculty experience were uncertain.

An experienced faculty is crucial, they said, in attracting the graduate teaching assistants who, along with lecturers, play a key role in the short-handed department.

A dozen such assistants and 10 full- and part-time lecturers outnumber the regular faculty and visiting professors.

Math courses are required and play fundamental roles in the curriculum of numerous fields of study, including business, engineering, computer science and aviation.

The math faculty members who recently resigned, all for out-of-state opportunities, were:

Edward Adams, an associate professor. He's returning to his home state to head the math department at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo. He has been at UND 13, years.

Steve Carlson, associate professor. He will join the faculty of the Rose-Huhlman Institute in Terre Haute, Ind. It is a private, undergraduate engineering school. He has been at UND eight years.

Mohammad Khavanin, assistant professor. He will teach at Frostburg (Md.) State College. He has been at UND three years.

Linda Penas, assistant professor. She has been on leave for two years and recently resigned to stay in California to work in the defense industry and teach at the University of California-Riverside. She was at UND two years.

Metzger, who almost left, too, said he and his wife found several reasons to stay in Grand Forks, rather than move to a federal post in Washington. One of them was another look at the finances. He said, "My salary would have gone up $10,000, but when you look at the cost of living around Washington, that's really not a raise at all."

Metzger said the prospects of replacing the lost professors in the next year or two look bleak, "My guess is that we won't be able to hire many normal, regular, tenure-track faculty. It will be more the lecturer-type. I could be wrong, though."

Winger said he doesn't know what extra funds the administration in Twamley Hall can come up with to help the major math recruiting effort, but he said he was encouraged by interest so far in making the department competitive. "I'll have to see what that translates to, in terms of budgets.

"I felt our lack of success in recruiting the past few years has not necessarily been low starting salary, though that's part of it," Winger said. "But the people going into the jobs are concerned about what sort of career prospects they'll have at the institution, and that's challenge we have to overcome. We've had topnotch people come, and now this year, we've had top-notch people go.

"If we can get three new professors recruited this year, I think we'll be doing good."

Grand Forks Herald, August 6, 1989