News and updates for the Department of Mathematics faculty and staff
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[ Faculty + Staff E-News | July 2020 ]
U of I partners with other universities to form math and statistics institute

The National Science Foundation has awarded $15.5 million to four universities in Illinois, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to create an institute to bring powerful mathematical ideas to bear on key contemporary scientific and technological challenges.

Researchers at the new Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Innovation (IMSI), which will be hosted by the University of Chicago, will build a platform that accelerates the translation of applied mathematical and statistical techniques into solutions for urgent scientific and societal problems. 

In addition to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IMSI will include a collaborative group of mathematicians and statisticians from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The $15.5 million grant will be provided by NSF over five years.
Learn more →

Summary of departmental expectations for instructors for Fall 2020

In preparation for this coming fall semester, in which most of our classes will be partially or entirely online, the department has formulated a list of departmental expectations for instructors. These are contained in Section 6 of the report of the Covid Taskforce on Instruction; a summary is available online.
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Federal government rescinds new rule regarding international students

On Tuesday, the federal government rescinded the recent directive from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that placed new restrictions on visas for international students. The rule prohibited international students from entering or remaining in the country to take fully online course loads.
Read the message from UI President Tim Killeen →

Math Times – Summer 2020

The latest issue of our department newsletter, Math Times, is currently being printed and will be heading to mailboxes soon. In the meantime, view the digital version and get a first look of the summer issue.
View the Summer 2020 issue →

Undergraduate enrollment update

Starting July 11, registration has been paused for students until early August. Once reopened, students may register Aug. 3–14 according to their time tickets (registration start day/time). Students will be able to see the updated COVID-19-informed timetable for fall online at Course Explorer starting at 6 p.m. on July 31. In the meantime, instructors who receive enrollment questions should direct students to

Summer staffing

While registration is closed, the Undergraduate Office staff will be taking some vacation time before the fall semester starts back up. Ernesto Machado, AJ Schmidt, Alison Champion, Kay Daly, and Sue Tolman will be out of the office intermittently in late July and early August. Emailing and/or calling the office's main line, 217-244-7310, are the best ways to reach someone from the office during this time.

We continue to appreciate Mark Drennan, Jane Bergman, and Paula Luesse for assisting the Undergraduate Office since Staci Walker's departure in May.

New campus branding guidelines

In a message to the campus community sent on June 30, Chancellor Robert Jones provided an update on the branding work undertaken by the campus Office of Strategic Marketing and Branding. Last week, the office released the new brand guidelines on their website. All units are being asked to implement updates to both visual identity and messaging within the next 12 months. No changes need to be made at this time; LAS units, including our department, will implement these changes through a coordinated process with a rollout targeted for mid-January. Please contact Jenell Hironimus if you have questions regarding branding.


An Illinois Risk Lab research team led by professors Runhuan Feng and Alfred Chong and Visiting Professor Xiaowei Chen developed a quantitative framework for pandemic resources contingency planning and allocation. This work takes an actuarial approach to forecast demand and supply for critical medical resources, develop optimal stockpiling and allocation strategies to minimize the economic impact of demand-supply imbalance. The tool has been applied to analyze mechanical ventilators, testing kits, and personal protective equipment in all 50 states in the U.S. An early version of the research paper has been published on ResearchGate.

The team launched a web-based tool to showcase the analytical framework. As the team continues to refine and improve the tool over the summer, the ultimate goal is to make the toolkit useful for public health policymakers and risk management professionals. The toolkit can be used to assess demand and supply of scarce resources, and assist in contingency and emergence response planning. The second phase of the research project is to develop fair and optimal allocation strategies for COVID-19 vaccines. 

Due to the pandemic, this year's annual Summer Illinois Mathematics (SIM) Camp went virtual, hosting two online day camps for students entering 8th-12th grade. Even though SIM Camp 2020 has drawn to a close, various camp materials are now online for students and families to utilize for the remainder of the summer. 
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Ron Graham (1935–2020)

Ron Graham, a leader in discrete mathematics and a former president of both the American Mathematical Society (1993–94) and the Mathematical Association of America (2003–04), died on July 6. He was 84. Graham published more than 350 papers and books with many collaborators, including more than 90 with his wife, Fan Chung, and more than 30 with Paul Erdős. Graham, who served as the lecturer for our department's Arthur B. Coble Memorial Lectures in 1981–82, created the Erdős number and Graham's number (in a 1971 paper on Ramsey theory written with Bruce Rothschild), which was for a time the largest number used in a proof.
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Department Town Hall Meeting

Our next department town hall meeting will be held Friday, July 24, at 4:30 p.m. CDT virtually via Zoom. The recordings of all our town hall meetings are available on the department’s channel on Illinois Media Space at

COVID-19 Briefing Series

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is hosting a series of online COVID-19 Briefings. During these live-streamed briefings campus leaders and subject experts will present the latest information on a specific topic related to the university’s responses to COVID-19. Additionally, during some briefings, members of the Chancellor’s COVID-19 committees will provide updates on their committee’s work.
Learn more →

Seminar & Event Calendar

View all the upcoming seminars, colloquia, and events hosted by the department at Virtual event? View the weekly calendar of meeting coordinates.

University of Illinois Calendars

View a variety of Illinois event, academic, and programming calendars at


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