Applied Mathematics and Statistics program will debut in fall 2008

By Matthew Stone

Students majoring in Mathematics will soon have the option of focusing their studies on Applied Mathematics and Statistics. The option will appear in the college’s course catalog beginning next fall, according to Professor Karen Saxe, chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science department.The addition to the department’s curriculum follows more than two months of debate among Educational Policy and Governance committee members. The committee initially rejected the department’s proposal for the new major.

When support later began to build among students for revising the decision, committee members invited a professor from the department to supply additional information about the major and the rationale behind it. EPAG informed the department of its revised decision last week, according to Alison Tray ’09, who, as chair of Macalester College Student Government’s Academic Affairs Commission, co-authored a student government resolution urging the approval of the major.

When students declare a major in Mathematics, they will opt for the traditional track in Mathematics or for the track in Applied Mathematics and Statistics. Applied math is a field of study that emphasizes connections between math and other fields that require the use of statistics.

The department already offers two majors-in Mathematics and Computer Science-and initially proposed offering Applied Math as a third major.

If any faculty member voices an objection to the new program within three weeks of a date in the coming months that EPAG has yet to determine, the faculty would have to vote on the new program.