Associate professor of mathematics at Fairfield University to head nationwide mathematics honor society

The National Honorary Mathematics Society, Pi Mu Epsilon, has elected Joan Weiss, D.A., associate professor of mathematics at Fairfield University, to head its organization.

Dr. Weiss, a Fairfield resident, will serve as president-elect for three years, then serve a three-year term as president.

Pi Mu Epsilon was founded in 1914 at Syracuse University and now has about 300 chapters nationwide. The organization acknowledges outstanding achievement in mathematics for undergraduates. Fairfield University established the third Connecticut chapter in 1986 under the direction of Edward J. O'Neill, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics at Fairfield. Dr. O'Neill quickly turned the reins over to Dr. Weiss, then a new hire in Fairfield University's math department. Connecticut currently has four chapters of the organization.

Under Dr. Weiss' direction, the Pi Mu Epsilon Connecticut Gamma chapter has brought mathematical speakers to the university, participated in math bowl competitions, invited panels of math-major graduates to provide insights to up and coming students and hosted review sessions for the comprehensive examination that all math majors at Fairfield University must take.

"Joan Weiss has been highly active in this organization both at the national and local level," said Chris Bernhardt, Ph.D. and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Fairfield University. "We are very lucky to have someone like Joan on our faculty, and it is gratifying to see her work receiving national recognition."

As head of the nationwide organization, Dr. Weiss will recruit new chapters and organize summer meetings of the organization - at which students and faculty make presentations on research - among other duties.

"It's quite an honor to be president-elect of an organization that acknowledges student achievement in math and encourages student research and participation in mathematical activities," Dr. Weiss said.

Undergraduates in their sophomore year must have a math grade point average of 4.0 and be in the top quarter of their class to gain entry to Pi Mu Epsilon. Junior and senior year students must have a 3.0 math GPA and be in the top third of their graduating class to be eligible for membership. Fairfield University, which averages 25 to 30 math majors per class, consistently inducts 10 to 15 undergraduates per class, Dr. Weiss estimated.

"Fairfield is proud that Professor Weiss has been selected to lead Pi Mu Epsilon," said Dr. Timothy Law Snyder, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Fairfield University. "Her long-standing dedication to the learning of mathematics will work well in an organization that has dedicated itself to promoting scholarly activities for students of mathematics."

Lauren Sarrey, a Fairfield University senior and student president of Pi Mu Epsilon Connecticut Gamma, said the organization helps undergraduate math majors get a better awareness of society.

Sarrey first learned about Pi Mu Epsilon in her sophomore year when one of her classmates was inducted. "Since then I really strived to become apart of the elite honor society," Sarrey said.

The organization lets math majors meet new people with the same interest and adds another dimension to life at Fairfield, Sarrey said. "It is a great way to get recognized among your professors and peers and of course, it's a nice pat on the back!" Sarrey said.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647,

Posted on September 15, 2002

Vol. 35, No. 62