August 1983 Council Minutes
The Council met on 7 August 1983, at 5:00 PM in the Squire Room of the Ramada
Inn in Albany. Members present were D.W. Anderson, P.T. Bateman, F.P. Browder
P.L. Duren, P.A. Fillmore, A.M. Gleason, P.R. Halmos, A.J. Hoffman, M. Jerison,
W.B. Johnson, O.C. McGehee, C.C. Moore, E. Pitcher, J.B. Robinson, H.Rossi, L.
P. Rothschild, JC. Scanlon, M. Shub, E.M. Stein, H.J. Sussmann. Also present
were J. DeRobbio. L.K. Durst. R. Hahn, W.J. LeVeque, J. Mesirov, J. Selfridge.
By invitation and with the privilege of the floor, E.F. Infante, Director of
the Division of Mathematical & Computer Sciences of the NSF, Judith S. Sunley,
Acting Head of the Mathematical Sciences Section, Alex Rosenberg, Society
Trustee, and Kenneth Hoffman, Chairman of the Science Policy Committee,
1.1 COUNCIL MINUTES OF 14 APRIL 1983; These minutes were previously
distributed by mail and were approved.
1.2 TRUSTEES' MINUTES OF 4 JANUARY 1983: These minutes were previously
distributed by mail and are attached.
1.3 EC/BT MINUTES OF 13-15 MAY 1983: These minutes were previously distributed
by mail and are attached.
1.4 EC MINUTES OF 11 JULY 1983: These minutes are attached. They have not
been approved at this point. The following paragraph should be inserted
following the first paragraph on the second page:
The EC proposes that each copy of the translation of
Mat. Sbornik be accompanied by a separate sheet on
which the historic high quality of the journal is
recognized, the initial willingness of the Society
to enter into the agreement to translate it is noted,
and the current antisemitic editorial policy is deplored.
3.1 PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS: There were no candidates by petition for the
Nominating Committee. Presdident Robinson brought the total number of
candidates to eight by two appointments, namely:
John H. Ewing
3.2 REPORT OF THE SECRETARY: The report is attached.
The agenda were not considered in the order presented in order to accommodate
the invited guests. The account in these minutes is in the order that items
were actually considered.
8.1 NSF SUPPORT OF RESEARCH: Carruth McGehee introduced a procedural motion to
the effect that a resolution (untitled and undated) on the criterion for
government support of the mathematical sciences, attached to the attached
minutes of the EC of 11 July 1983, be presented to the Business Meeting of
January 1984 for its endorsement. Professor McGehee noted that he was not one
of the authors of the resolution. The EC considered both the procedural motion
and the resolution at its meeting of 11 July 1983. The EC took the position
presented in the following five statements:
1. The EC can support the substance of the resolution only if it is
2. The EC supports the sentiments expressed in the first two sentences
and encourages the deletion of the remainder.
3. The EC regards such a resolution as the proper business of the
Council alone (see the bylaws, Article IV, Section 8).
4. The EC believes that the persons at the NSF who are directly
administering mathematics grants are already aware of the resolution. The EC
also believes that the changes in the distribution of grants about which
anxiety has been expressed have not taken place.
5. The EC feels that the manner of expression in the latter parts of
the original resolution will not help the case of mathematics with those in
higher levels of the administration.
Alex Rosenberg spoke to the substance of the resolution. Dr. E.F. Infantem
presented figures and charts in support of his position that there had been
no recent concentration of support of research of individuals at a small
number of institutions. Andrew M. Gleason presented similar material, part
of which is attached. After further discussion, Professor McGehee withdrew
The Council recessed for dinner at 6:30 pm. It reconvened in executive
session at 8:15 pm, with Council, staff and invited guests Alex Rosenberg
and Ivan Niven, President of the MAA in attendance.
COMMITTEES AND BOARDS
4.7 WASHINGTON PRESENCE: The Joint Concerns Committee for Mathematics, a
creature of AMS-MAA-SIAM, had been seriously considering the establishment of a
Washington presence for mathematics. This would consist of a knowledgeable
mathematician on part-time salary who would gather information and espouse the
cause of mathematics as liaison between the mathematical community and
government, particularly the federal government. This person would represent
the mathematical science programs in government agencies, White House
administrators, and legislators and their aides in order to present a
consistent picture of the needs, policies, priorities, and accomplishments of
mathematical scientists. Some staff support would be necessary. A possible
job description is attached to the EC minutes of 11 July 1983. The carrying
out of this project depends on securing the approval and the appropriation of
funds by a number of groups. These include not only the AMS, MAA and SIAM, but
also several government agencies which might be in a position to supply small
amounts of money to be used for the facet of work concerned with the gathering
and analysis of information (but not for the promotion of opinions). The EC
recommended Society participation in the project and the BT authorized funds
for the first year, subject of course to Council approval of the recommendation
of the EC.
There was extended discussion of the advisability of the proposal. Professor
Niven stated that the MAA has agreed to finance a share of the project for one
year. It was noted that SIAM had agreed to finance a share for one year also.
Professor Carruth McGehee offered the following motion:
That the Council endorse the creation of the office of
Coordinator of Federal Relations for the Mathematical
Sciences, who will report to the Joint Concerns Committee
for Mathematics. The appointment of the Coordinator and
any AMS financial commitments must be approved by the AMS
Trustees. The Council charges the Committee on Science
Policy to evalute the performance of the office, to advise
the President, thereon, to report its findings to the
Council not later than its January, 1985 meeting, and to
make recommendations at that time regarding the continu-
ation of the office. Should the office be continued, no
one person shall serve longer than four years as its head.
It was passed by a vote of roll call of nine to seven.
On a motion by Professor William B. Johnson, it was decided that the position
should be advertised. It was understood that th JCCM would have a search
committee to evaluate applicants.
It should be noted that although the Science Policy Committee is to evaluate
performance from the point of view of the Society, the coordinator is to report
to the Joint Concerns Committee.
The title "coordinator" is to be regarded as provisional.
4.9 NOMINATIONS: There were no nominations by petition for the positions of
vice-president or member-at-large in the election of 1983. Following the
suggestion of the Nominating Committee, the Council in executive session,
made three additional nominations for the position of member-at-large, namely:
Carl R. Riehm
Johnathan M. Wahl
William K. Allard
The Council returned to open session at 10:15 pm.
4.1 PROFESSIONAL ETHICS: The EC recommended that the ad hoc Committee on
Professional Ethics become a standing committee. The report of the ad hoc
Committee in attachment #16 of the EC/BT minutes of 13-15 May 1983, describes
its view of how the standing committee should function. The Council approved
the establishment of the Committee. The ad hoc Committee was discharged with
4.2 DELEGATION OF POWERS: THE EC recommended that three powers delegated by
the Council to the EC be delegated instead to the Assocate Secretaries. These
1. To elect members of various classes.
2. To set dates and places of meetings
3. To set dates and places of Council meetings.
The actions are to be reported to the EC and to be of record as attachments to
their minutes. With the modification that the delegation be to the Secretary
and the Associate Secretaries, the Council approved.
4.3 TERM OF MEMBERS OF THE EC: THE EC concluded that a term of two years for
its elected members is too short for the most effective level of service.
Accordingly, the EC recommended to the Council that the procedure be changed
so that one member is elected to the EC each year for a term of four years.
The bylaws state that the EC shall include four elected members, but do not
specify the terms, so that the Council can effect the change.
The Council approved the change and requested the Secretary to produce a
mechanism by which the Council may vote on the extensions of terms of members
required to keep the number of elected members at four during the transition.
4.4 REVIEW OF SOCIETY ACTIVITIES: THE EC in its review of Society activities
over a three year cycle considered the multitude of miscellaneous activities of
of the Society other than meetings and the publication of mathematics. The
report is an attachment to the EC minutes of 11 July 1983, and is incorporated
in Council minutes by reference for information.
4.5 EVADING PEER REVIEW: The EC viewed with alarm and distress the fact that
some scientific grants may be awarded through a purely political process
without the usual scientific review. See the clippings from SCIENCE attached
to the minutes of the EC of 11 July 1983.
After discussion, Professors Browder and Gleason were appointed a Committee to
draft a resolution. The text, produced later in the meeting, is as follows:
The Council of the AMS deplores the intervention of political
processes in scientific decisions that should be made on the
basis of scientific judgments through the peer review process.
In particular, we view with dismay that funding for certain
scientific projects has been incorporated in legislation that
was passed by the House of Representatives although these
projects have not been subjected to the review processes
that have in the past guided federal fundings. Such action
opens the prospect that in the future federal support of
science may be determined more by political considerations
than by scientific merit. We believe that this prospect
constitutes a grave threat to the health of science in the
The resolution was passed.
4.6 ENSURING A SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF YOUNG MATHEMATICAL SCIENTISTS: THE EC/BT
jointly considered this question at their meeting of 12-15 May 1983. See the
minute 6.20 from that meeting, which is also attached to the EC minutes of
11 July 1983, when the EC again considered the question. The attachments to
item 6.20 in the minutes of 12-15 May 1983 are pertinent. The EC requested
that the Council be made aware of the problem, but that action be postponed
at least until January 1984. The same remarks apply to a proposal from
Melvin Hochster, which is attached to both sets of minutes.
The Council referred both questions to the Committee on Employment and
4.8 ANNULLED DEGREES: The report of the Committee on Human Rights of
Mathematicians was prepared by the new Chairman, Professor Chandler Davis. The
Committee was concerned about instances of the withdrawal of advanced degrees
in the Soviet Union. Although they had heard that the practice will stop, they
had not heard of any case of restoration of degrees. The Committee recognized
that withdrawal of a degreee may be different in kind and severity from the
violations of rights that the Committee is charged to investigate. For this
reason, the Committee brought a specific case to the Council.
The case concerns E.P. Gil'bo. His field of mathematics lies between
mathematics and statistics. A principal publication is his 1975 book with I.
B. Celpanov on applied estimating of time series. His doctorate dates from
1979. He worked for years for the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute. He applied
for permission to emigrate in February 1981, following which he was stripped of
his degrees in January 1982 and was pressured into resigning from the
The Committee proposed the following resolution:
It is moved that the following letter be sent in the name of the
Council to Professor Z.S. Vladimirov, Steklov Mathematical
Institute, ul. Vavilova 42, 117333 Moscow. [The addressee is
the head of the committee on mathematics of the Vyssaja
Attestacionaja Kommissija (VAK), which is responsible for the
approval of advanced degrees in the Soviet Union.]
"Our great respect for the Soviet system of education and our
appreciation of your commission, VAK, and its key role in that
system move us to ask you about puzzling reports we have
received. In particular, it is reported that the scientific
degrees of E.P. Gil'bo have been annulled. We are aware of
scientific publications by E.P. Gil'bo over a period of almost
twenty years, including the 1975 book in collaboration with
I.B. Celpanov, we are not aware that anyone has raised doubts
of the quality of these publications, or of the quality of his
work at the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute. The whole world
will naturally assumne that the degrees awared to E.P. Gil'bo
were fairly earned; annulling his degrees will not have
diminished the honor with which he is regarded by scientitists.
We wonder, therefore, why such an action as annulling his
degrees should be taken. It may cause him personal
difficulties, but we cannot see that it can serve any legitimate
scientific purpose. We would be grateful for a reply as we
are eager to know your views on this question."
The Council passed the resolution.
The question whether withdrawal of degrees is a deprivation of rights that
falls within the charge, attached, of the Committee was raised during the
discussion. The Consensus was that withdrawal of degrees "deprives a
mathematician of the opportunity to function professionally."
7.1 MAT. SBORNIK; The EC continues to be concerned about the intrusion of an
antisemitic bias into the editorial function of the journal MAT SBORNIK. It is
of concern to the Society as a matter of principle and of special concern
because the Society publishes a translation. The contract requires that there
be no additions, deletions, or alterations in the material as originally
published. The EC proposes that each copy of the translation be accompanied
(as a loose sheet inserted in the book or in the wrapper) with a statement
deploring the antisemitic policy of the editors. In order to focus the
argument the Secretary, subsequent to the EC meeting, drafted a statement that
was modified by the Council during the discussion to read as follows:
The AMS has been cognizant of the mathematical distinction
of the journal MAT. SBORNIK. For this reason, and as a
service to the mathemnatical community, it was happy to
enter into a contract with VAAP (All-Union Agency for
Authors' Rights) to translate the journal and publish the
translation. At the same time, the Society wishes to
record the fact that it deplores the antisemitic bias that
has appeared to become part of the editorial policy of the
journal. The AMS hopes that this aspect of policy in the
management of the journal will change.
The statement was approved with the understanding that it also appear in the
catalog of publications.
8.2 AAAS AFFILIATION: The Society was invited to affiliate with Section U
Statistics of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The
Council agreed to apply for affiliation.
INNFORMATION AND RECORD
2.1 NSF REPORTS FROM REVIEWERS: Professor Serge Lange requested distribution
of the attached material.
The Council adjourned at 11:25 pm. August 7, 1983.
Everett Pitcher, Secretary