Lewis receives MAA Gung and Hu Award

Jim Lewis

Jim Lewis, Aaron Douglas Professor of Mathematics and director of the Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education, is the 2015 recipient of the Gung and Hu Award by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), a professional society that focuses on mathematics at the undergraduate level. Lewis will receive the award at the 2015 Joint Math Meetings in San Antonio, Texas, in January.

The Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics is the most prestigious award for service offered by the MAA. First presented in 1990, it consists of a cash prize of $5,000, a citation, and the recognition of the American mathematical community.

“It is a great honor to receive the Gung and Hu Award. Having the opportunity to contribute to mathematics both at UNL and nationally has greatly enriched my career,” Lewis said.

The citation that accompanies the award recognizes Lewis for his outstanding contributions to the mathematics education of teachers, for his leadership in the mathematics profession and in academia at all levels, for his work increasing the visibility and participation of women in mathematics, for his exemplary work serving the state of Nebraska, and especially for his vision and ability to bring together diverse stakeholders in support of positive change in mathematics.   

“Jim Lewis has made tremendous contributions to the mathematics profession, not only at UNL and in the state of Nebraska, but across the country,” said Judy Walker, chair of the mathematics department. “To have his contributions recognized with the MAA’s Gung and Hu Award is a testament to his commitment to mathematics.”

Lewis’ work at the national level includes chairing or co-chairing the committees that produced the publications The Mathematical Education of Teachers, Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics and Technology: New Practices for the New Millennium, and The Mathematical Education of Teachers II. He has also served as Chair of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences.

Lewis also has had a significant impact on K-16 education in Nebraska, much of it done in partnership with his colleague, Professor Ruth Heaton in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education. From the creation of The Mathematics Semester for pre-service teachers at UNL to a remarkable collection of professional development opportunities for in-service teachers, he has been masterful at building communities and programs whose goals are to improve education.

Over the past 10 years, Lewis has been the Principal Investigator for two NSF Math Science Partnerships (Math in the Middle and NebraskaMATH) and an NSF Robert Noyce Scholarship grant, NebraskaNOYCE. More recently, he led the team that received major funding from The Sherwood Foundation® and the Lozier Foundation to support the Omaha Public Schools Teacher Leader Academy.

His encouragement of women in mathematics has led to the department being nationally recognized for its successful mentoring of women. Presently, the department is one of the most successful in the country with respect to educating women in mathematics. The department has awarded 42 percent of its Ph.Ds to women since 1995, compared with only 27 percent nationally for all new female Ph.Ds. This data also stands in stark contrast to the fact that the UNL mathematics department did not award the Ph.D. to a single woman during the decade of the ’80s.

The 2014 recipient of the Gung and Hu Award was Joan Leitzel, a former interim chancellor, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and professor of mathematics at UNL between 1992 and 1996, who is president emerita of the University of New Hampshire. Leitzel’s husband, Jim, also was a professor of mathematics at UNL from 1993 to 1996. For a list of the past recipients, see the MAA website.

The initial endowment for the award was contributed by husband and wife Dr. Charles Y. Hu and Yueh-Gin Gung. They were not mathematicians, but said they consider mathematics to be the most vital field of study in the technological age we are living in.