Affiliation: School of Sciences & Mathematics
The mission of the Mathematics program is to develop and maintain an active community of students and faculty whose common pursuit is the learning and teaching of mathematics in a liberal arts and sciences environment. This community encourages the view and use of mathematics both as a universal logical language and as a mode of inquiry. The Mathematical mode of inquiry requires studying assumptions critically, reasoning logically, evaluating objectively, and arriving at sound conclusions. The goal of the bachelor’s degree program is to provide each graduate with the foundation needed to pursue a professional career in mathematics through advanced study or employment. Graduates should be well qualified to enter strong graduate programs to prepare for teaching, research, or other professional employment. The major includes an extensive core of traditional and contemporary courses capped by five elective courses and a Senior Capstone that enable students to develop a concentration that prepares them for a career in statistics, pure, applied, or computational mathematics, or mathematics education.
THE DEGREE PROGRAM
The program of study for a major in mathematics builds on the University’s Dialogues but with the science requirement at a higher introductory level. Mathematics majors gain computer programming expertise through at least one computer science course. The major requirements are based upon a core of classical and contemporary mathematics courses that follow recommendations of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics of the Mathematical Association of America. At least one course in statistics is required. Finally, majors build upon the required core with five elective courses, chosen with the approval of their advisor, to develop a concentration compatible with their interests and career goals. Beginning freshmen take a seminar which provides an opportunity for career exploration and interaction with faculty and other Mathematics majors. A junior seminar prepares students for their senior year and facilitates the transition from undergraduate to graduate school or to a first position in the work force. Review for senior exit exams and résumé writing are included in the junior seminar. As a graduation requirement, Mathematics majors complete a capstone seminar which provides an opportunity for them to study independently an area of mathematics and to synthesize and communicate the results obtained.
Several activities are available to encourage interaction among faculty and students and promote the development of learning communities. Problem-solving groups meet with faculty to sharpen and challenge their skills and prepare for regional and national competitions such as the Mathematical Modeling contest and the Putnam Exam. The groups also attempt to solve problems posed in professional journals, thereby gaining insight and experience in the methods and techniques used by research mathematicians.
Student organizations, such as Kappa Mu Epsilon, a student chapter of the Mathematical Association of America, and Mathematics and Science students in Secondary Education provide opportunities for students to learn more about careers, to develop leadership skills, and to hear from professionals engaged in careers in mathematics. Students may obtain credit and research experience by participating in a recognized national undergraduate research program in mathematics such as an REU site or in one of several research programs in mathematics sponsored by Truman.
The Department of Mathematics holds a regular colloquium series featuring presentations about exciting developments in mathematics and the mathematical sciences. The talks are given by faculty from the Department or other departments, visiting faculty, and, on occasion, students. The talks may cover new areas of mathematical research, uses of mathematics in the “real world,” or aspects of mathematical culture. Students may find that the talks give them ideas for possible capstone or other undergraduate projects. The talks are also a great way to learn about the faculty members’ scholarly activities.
Opportunities to develop skills in communicating mathematics are embedded in the curriculum and available to students in the form of employment as departmental tutors or graders and as research assistants to faculty. Faculty and student interactions resulting from these activities, social activities sponsored by the Department and student organizations, and professional development programs create a strong sense of community in the Department and enrich the student experience.
DEPARTMENTAL HONORS IN MATHEMATICS
Honors in mathematics may be earned by maintaining an overall grade point average of 3.5, maintaining a major grade point average of 3.5, scoring at or above the 80th percentile on the MFT in mathematics, demonstrating excellence in scholarship with a scholarly paper or project, by an exemplary showing at an approved mathematics competition, or by passing at least two actuarial exams, and receiving the approval of a majority of the non-abstaining faculty in mathematics.