I am writing concerning an important matter that is likely to be of particular interest to our US-based membership, and that may also be of interest to other IMS members.

The Director of the Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) at the US National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Sastry Pantula, has proposed changing the name of the Division to the Division of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. I have posted a letter from Dr. Pantula, which includes his explanation of the proposal and rationale for it. The letter is addressed to a subcommittee of NSF’s Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee (MPSAC), which has asked various professional societies to collect and provide them with feedback on the proposal. You can view this letter here: http://imstat.org/pantulaletter10_6_11.pdf

After learning of this proposal, and while waiting for a statement from the DMS Director to accompany a call for comment from our membership-at-large, the IMS Presidents (current, past and elect) have received comments from some members who have heard about the proposal. It is apparent from these comments that there is a variety of opinions amongst our membership, involving a range of levels of support or concern.

To gain a good impression of the views of all interested members, and in order to provide the requested feedback to the NSF MPSAC, I am writing to encourage your discussion and commentary on the proposal. Please submit your views and comments on or before November 30, 2011, to dmsnamechange@imstat.org

It is planned to have a small committee of former IMS Presidents to review the comments received and to prepare a summary of the comments. This summary will be forwarded to the NSF MPSAC and posted on the IMS web page. The summary will not reveal the identities of respondents. However, it will be helpful to the committee if, in writing a comment, members indicate their role as an NSF DMS stakeholder.

The IMS looks forward to receiving your input on this important topic.

Yours sincerely,

Ruth Williams
President, Institute of Mathematical Statistics