Grant funds Math and Science

Audrey Menninga

The math and computer science department has received a new donation that will help bring visiting speakers to NMU’s campus next month.

The Kiltinen’s Mathematics and Computer Science Idea Endowment contribution comes from retired professor John Kiltinen and his wife, Pauline. They have pledged $100,000 to the endowment, which is to be paid out over 10 years.

Endowments are typically not available for immediate use. The money sits in a fund and earns interest before students and faculty can access it. To provide learning opportunities to students now, the Kiltinen’s have agreed to donate an annual gift that will end up equaling $10,000 over the next five years.

Kiltinen devoted 36 years of his 40 year teaching career to NMU. He has published 22 papers and also published a book toward the end of his teaching career in 2003. He still currently plays a role with NMU as part of the Colloquium and Seminar committee of the mathematics and computer science department.

Kiltinen has high hopes for the new award.

“The objective is to try and make some funds available so that ideas don’t die before they have a chance to develop from the question of where is the money going to come from,” said Kiltinen.

He wants to give people the opportunity to think creatively without having to worry about the finances. Kiltinen was especially concerned about giving students the opportunity to get hands-on experience that is difficult to come by in a classroom.

J.D. Phillips, the head of the mathematics and computer science department, is also excited about the new endowment.

“It’s a very generous gift that the department is pleased and honored to have,” said Phillips.

According to Phillips, there are already plans to use some of the money.  The department plans to bring in two fairly well-known speakers, Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor, who is traveling from Paris, to the Upper Peninsula Zonal Meeting of the Mathematical Association of America, which  will place at NMU this October.

Phillips also says that this endowment will not just be centered around students; faculty has access to this fund as well.

“It’s just for funding any good idea that somebody has that in principle would benefit students, so I could easily envision this being granted to a faculty member that would ultimately benefit students,” said Phillips.

Mary Crampton, a development officer in the NMU Foundation offices, is in charge of helping the Kiltinens set up their endowment. She helps to keep the couple in contact with what’s happening at NMU.

“They had philosophic ideas, and it was up to me to steer them in the direction that would make them happy,” said Crampton. “It’s an opportunity there for students.”

Crampton said that Kiltinen wanted to focus on keeping the endowment qualifications general so that there was a broader view on the ideas that could be submitted. If a student or faculty member has an idea that would be a helpful learning experience, Kiltinen didn’t want others to suffer because the school could not afford to support them.

So far, the requirements to apply for the fund have not been  worked out yet. Phillips said that there may not be any actual process for applying—the department committee and people in the department keep an eye out for any good opportunities.