Posted by: Administrator | 13/10/2009

Colva Roney-Dougal: Election Statement

As one of the candidates for election to Council as Member-at-Large, I would like to describe what I see as the key issues facing the LMS over the next year or two.

I was asked to stand by the Nominations Committee, and almost immediately agreed. I am aware that the position will be more difficult than normal but feel that potentially this is a very exciting time to be on Council, as the LMS now urgently needs to reach out to its membership and determine what role it should play in the future.

I see the key strengths of the Society as being in its publications and its awarding of small grants. Representing mathematics to government and other bodies is obviously of vital importance, but I am not convinced that this should be our main task. For this reason I voted against the merger, as it seemed to emphasise influence over excellence.

I have some understanding of the current financial and legal situation of learned societies and academic publishers, having recently spent three years on the General Council of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society. Whilst there are undoubtedly risks to future income, and contingency plans should be made for reduced earnings, I would strongly resist drastic cuts to the grant-awarding budget whilst the future is more uncertain than definitively bad.

One thing that the LMS does less well at present is engaging with younger mathematicians – I am often surprised by how few PhD students bother to join. Improving the website and email communications would help, as would making their tone less formal. Significant increases in membership might follow from a wider range of lectures aimed at younger members. Running more competitions would be a cheap advertising tool, as winning poster competitions and the like can be invaluable when applying for that crucial first job.

As an adopted Scot I’m aware of the importance of regional events. The Society does an acceptable job in this regard at present, mostly by supporting other workshops and lectures, but I would guess that natural inertia will always tend to pull the focus back to London in the absence of determined regional input.

During the recent turmoil it has become apparent that there is a great deal of goodwill for the LMS, combined with a surprising amount of apathy. I see the principal job of Member-at-Large to be giving energy, enthusiasm and ideas to the Council, and I will talk as widely as possible with mathematicians to make this so!

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