Big Addition for Math


The University of San Diego has received a $1 million grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation to fund the Fletcher Jones Foundation Endowed Chair in Applied Mathematics.

The endowed chair will be held by a faculty member with an impressive record of teaching, scholarship and service who is outstanding in the field of mathematics and embraces the role of a teacher-scholar-mentor. He or she will enhance the applied mathematics program, develop a new curriculum, improve the recruitment of students, expose them to math as the language of technology and advance the belief that students benefit from educational opportunities that bridge theory and practice through undergraduate research experiences. The endowed chair will also build relationships with corporate partners that will hopefully lead to additional internships, research projects, funding opportunities and student jobs.

“There’s an increasing demand in the workforce for people with strong backgrounds in mathematics, especially those who can apply mathematics to solve real-world problems,” says Perla Myers, professor and chair of USD’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. “The study of mathematics develops logical and abstract reasoning, the ability to recognize and employ patterns, structures and models to solve problems using different strategies, as well as an enhanced work ethic. These are all abilities and skills that are necessary for solving real-world problems.

“In response to this demand, more students at USD are interested in majors in applied mathematics as they prepare for careers in diverse fields such as computing, physics, biology, finance, actuarial science, medicine, law, engineering and earth sciences, to name a few.”

Fletcher Jones was a mathematician, visionary businessman and larger-than-life pioneer in the fast moving and unpredictable new field of computer science in the 1950s. It is widely believed that, had it not been for the tragedy of his untimely death in an airplane crash at the age of 41, Jones would have gone on to be recognized as one of the giants of computer science.

The Fletcher Jones Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the University of San Diego, dating back to its first gift more than 30 years ago. Since then, the foundation helped build the Donald P. Shiley Center for Science and Technology, funded science equipment and established the Fletcher Jones Chair in Developmental Biology, currently held by Curtis Loer, who studies the process by which organisms progress from a single cell to a complex, multicellular species. The foundation also supported the building of, and technology needs for, Mother Rosalie Hill Hall, home to USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences.

“With the support of the Fletcher Jones Foundation, the applied mathematics program can be a model for other schools,” says Mary Boyd, dean of the 
College of Arts and Sciences. “USD can help lead the United States to regain its leadership in science and technology.” — Krystn Shrieve