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Why is a research mathematics program necessary for graduate science programs?

Jerrold Meinwald, Goldwin Smith Professor of Chemistry, Cornell University in a letter to the president of the University of Rochester regarding their decision to cut back the math program:

"I think that the giving up of mathematics at the graduate level would have a number of very serious consequences:

  1. The university would no longer be a participant in one of mankind's most fundamental intellectual endeavors.

  2. With the collapse of mathematical research, it will become impossible to maintain a faculty capable of providing an insightful and inspiring math teaching program.

  3. There will be a powerful, negative impact on the education of physists (both experimental and theoretical), chemists, biologists, (particularly ecologists), engineers, economists, philosophers, and indeed anyone else whose discipline may require deep, quantitative and/or logical analyses of complex problems.

  4. It will become harder to recruit or retain outstanding faculty members in any fields that are at all dependent on mathematics.

  5. It will consequently become harder to attract either Federal or industrial support for the university's programs.

  6. The quality of students attracted to study at the University of Rochester at both the undergraduate and graduate levels can be expected to decline. While I have always thought highly of the University of Rochester, it would certainly become difficult for me to recommend it to students seeking a quality education.

... if an enemy of the University wanted to devise a plan to destroy this institution, I believe that [doing away with graduate mathematics] would be as effective as anything such a person might conceive, comparable to the possibility of closing the libraries or doubling the tuition. Mathematics is simply too central a subject for a university to abandon, even in the face of the most serious economic problems."

Jerrold Meinwald is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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