News and updates for UIUC Department of Mathematics alumni and friends
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[ Alumni + Friends Math Monthly | June 2021 ]

Image of a people sitting in the green space outside of Altgeld Hall.

UIUC is awarded second consecutive CAE designation

Society of Actuaries Center of Actuarial Excellence logo 

After a thorough review, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) has designated the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign a Center of Actuarial Excellence (CAE), the highest level of recognition the SOA offers universities, for a second consecutive five-year term. In addition to fulfilling the criteria pertaining to curriculum coverage, faculty composition, graduates’ success, research contributions and the program’s connection to industry, the CAE evaluation committee highlighted the commendable role the Illinois Risk Lab plays in helping students assimilate theoretical concepts through hands-on applications. The program will continue to foster a fruitful synergy between academia and the industry through continuous upgrading of curricula to equip its graduates with needed skills in future actuarial roles.

The continuing designation will run through June 30, 2026.
Learn more about the CAE designation →




MATCHing mathematicians with classrooms nationwide

Graphic with mathematical equations that says MATCH: Matching mathematicians with classrooms nationwide Learn more at Questions? Contact Javier Haro at 

MATCH is a year-long program, directed by the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) and sponsored by Mathematical Assocation of America (MAA) Tensor SUMMA, that pairs mathematicians interested in K-12 outreach with socioeconomically disadvantaged middle school classrooms. The program aims to improve historically underrepresented students’ attitudes and confidence about mathematics by providing engaging mathematical experiences and meaningful opportunities to interact with practicing mathematicians, or MATCH Fellows.

The program is currently seeking both middle school teachers and mathematicians to participate in the program. The priority deadline for applications for both MATCH fellows and middle school participants is June 30. 
Learn more →


Partnership provides new mentorship opportunity

Image of diverse students working together on a laptop. 

In May, the Department of Mathematics and Milliman, a global independent risk management, benefits and technology firm, launched a new actuarial mentorship program for students of underrepresented minorities at the University of Illinois. This mentorship opportunity will allow students to learn about the field from a practicing actuary at Milliman through a series of meetings. In addition to learning from a mentor, students will be offered financial aid to help cover the costs of their first actuarial exam, including both financial support of prep materials and exam sitting fees. These exams are critical steps along the path to becoming an actuary and are often required by employers for both internships and full-time job offers.

This program, which will run through May 15, 2022, is currently targeted towards students of color, early in their college career, who may be interested in a STEM-oriented career.

“The Milliman Mentorship Program will greatly help our actuarial science program to attract students of color and raise the awareness and visibility of our program among prospective students,” said Professor Runhuan Feng, director of the UIUC Actuarial Science Program. “We are very excited about this new partnership with Milliman, which has a long tradition and history of advancing social causes.”
Learn more →


The story behind the construction of Altgeld Hall

Groundbreaking for the future Altgeld Hall occurred on June 10, 1896. This photo displays the construction effort as the building opened in 1897. (University Archives.) 

The story behind the construction of Altgeld Hall reflects some of U of I’s most rooted principles. Currently home to the Department of Mathematics, and with previous lives as the university library, administration building, and College of Law, the campus icon is marking the 125th anniversary of its groundbreaking on June 10, 1896.

The need for Altgeld Hall arose from a growing demand for books and study spaces in the 1890s. Students and faculty were insisting on a new library, as the University Hall Library had become overcrowded during a period of rapid expansion on campus. It was no easy journey to construct the new building, however.

Fortunately for campus, the governor of Illinois at the time was John Peter Altgeld, the son of German immigrants who brought him to America when he was three months old. A strong supporter of university education, and a powerful orator, Altgeld believed that a thriving state school could improve the overall quality of life in Illinois.  
Learn more →



Yuliy Baryshnikov, director of graduate studies 

Starting in August 2021, Professor Yuliy Baryshnikov will serve as the director of graduate studies. As a member of the leadership team for the PI4 workforce grant, Baryshnikov is well-positioned to maintain our department’s national reputation in employment outcomes for PhD graduates across a wide range of academic and non-academic careers. He is also actively involved in other international partnerships promoting the interaction of mathematics with industry. He will step into the role following Professor Lee DeVille, who has served as director for the past four years.
Learn more about the Graduate Studies program →




Civil receives NCTM Lifetime Achievement Award


Marta Civil (PhD ’90) is a 2021 recipient of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Lifetime Achievement Award. The award honors NCTM members who have exhibited a lifetime of achievement in mathematics education at the national level.

Civil is the Roy F. Graesser Endowed Professor at the University of Arizona, where she holds appointments in the department of mathematics, the department of mathematics education, and the department of teaching, learning, and sociocultural studies.
Learn more →

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“The College Tour”

In May, eleven UIUC students starred in an episode of “The College Tour,” sharing what they love about the university through their own stories.
Watch the episode →



Image of the Altgeld Hall chime tower. 

Most people are familiar with "Bacon's Law," also known as "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," which theorizes that anyone involved in the film industry can be linked through their film roles to American actor Kevin Bacon within six steps. But have you heard of the mathematical twist, the Erdős–Bacon number? Take a look at this month's trivia and see how this twist has a UIUC number of 1.
Test your knowledge →



SIM Camp 2021 | June 21-25, 2021

This year's Summer Illinois Math (SIM) Camp Delta aims to provide 10th-12th grade campers with a creative, engaging, and fun online learning experience in mathematics.
Learn more →

24th International Congress on Insurance: Mathematics and Economics

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with partner universities, the Pennsylvania State UniversityUlm University, and the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) will host the the 24th International Congress on Insurance: Mathematics and Economics (IME), the largest international meeting dedicated to exploring current trends and research in actuarial science and the insurance and finance industries, July 5-9, 2021.
Learn more →

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