Posted by: Administrator | 19/10/2009

From Penny Davies

I’ll be leaving the LMS Council in November after six years as a Member-at-large, so this is in some sense a “retirement” statement.

I don’t think that it’s relevant or informative to look back to a time when there was less “administration”.  Whether we like it or not, charities are now subject to stringent regulation, and the LMS is very fortunate that it has professional and highly competent staff to produce the detailed annual accounts and reports that are necessary for it to retain charitable status.

One privilege afforded Council members is the opportunity to meet and work with the Society’s employees: I had not previously realised just how much the LMS relies on its dedicated team of excellent staff in all aspects of its operations.  For example, the Society’s publications are providing an increasing share of its income – even during my time on Council, publications staff have been involved in many new initiatives, including several new journals.  Another area that members appear to value highly is the Society’s small grants scheme. I’ve been a member of the (rather curiously named) Programme Committee, which administers these grants, for several years and it has been very rewarding to see the range of mathematics research supported by the LMS.  Of course this committee also relies on a high level of admin support.

But it is clear that the Society’s work on education and research policy are also vitally important: indeed the President Designate, Angus Macintyre, has stated his firm commitment to these issues in his futurelms statement.  Chris Budd’s July Newsletter article describes some of the recent work of the Education Committee in HE and school mathematics, and the LMS is also active in research policy issues, notably through the Council for Mathematical Sciences (CMS).

The LMS is one of the three founder members of the CMS, which is becoming increasingly effective at raising the national profile of the mathematical sciences.  For example, the article www.cms.ac.uk/summaries.html#summer09 describes how CMS lobbying helped secure £500k of “parachute funding” this year from EPSRC for mathematical sciences MSc courses.  One of the current CMS hot topics is responding to HEFCE’s consultation on the REF (future shape of the RAE): few mathematicians are likely to welcome the proposal that 25% of future research funding should be allocated to research that has had demonstrable “economic or social impact” within a 10-15 year time-frame.

Finally, I don’t think that public speculation on the past year’s events (especially by those who have not been directly involved) is particularly helpful.  Differences amongst Council members on the merger issue should not prevent us from working together now or after Nov 20 to do the best job we can for the Society.  Angus and his “team” of Council, committee members and staff will have my very best wishes for the future LMS.

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