History of the Northeast Section
The 1960's was a period of upheaval and search for direction in education as well as in politics. “New math" was in vogue in the classroom. Students began the decade with slide rules and ended it with hand-held calculators. Graph-theoretic attempts to discover a contradiction to the four-color theorem were in style. The impact of computers in the educational system was just beginning to be felt. In 1963, Walter Feit and John Thompson showed that every noncyclic simple group of odd integer is solvable. That same year, Michael Atiyah and I. M. Singer established the index theorem in K theory, of which the Riemann-Roch theorem is a special case. The Fields Medals that decade went to Lars Hormander, John Milnor, Michael Atiyah, Paul Cohen, Alexander Grothendieck and Stephen Smale.
Throughout the turbulent period the NES/MAA remained stalwart in its direction and purpose. The format at the meetings remained relatively constant, and the attendance at the meetings during that period averaged approximately 100. Meetings were held in almost every New England State (New Hampshire being the exception) and in Canada as well. The historic 1967 spring meeting was held at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.
There were relatively few changes in the Section by-laws during thedecade. In 1960, the by-laws were amended to make the sectional governor a member of the Executive Committee, and to institute a $1 registration fee at the annual meeting if the Executive Committee felt that such a sum was necessary to offset the expenses of a business meeting. In 1967, the Executive Committee was given the authority to award a one-year membership in the Association to individual students in the Northeastern Section ranking highest in the Putnam Mathematical competition. Two years later the first such award was given to S. K. Winkler of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
During the 60's the NES/MAA was guided by some of the most well-known and respected mathematicians in the world. The sectional governors were F. M. Stewart (Brown University), D. E. Richmond (Williams College) Howard Eves (University of Maine) and Grace Bates (Mount Holyoke College.) During this period, the Chair was occupied by John Kemeny (Dartmouth College), H. S. Dorwart (Trinity College), Grace Bates, Hartley Rogers (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Robin Robinson (Dartmouth College), G. L. Spenser (Williams College), W. H. Crawford (Mount Allison University) and Michael Gemignani (Smith College.) The position of secretary-treasurer was held by R. S. Pieters, until he was succeeded in 1965 by George Best, both from Phillips Academy. Furthermore, R. A. Rosenbaum served as Second Vice President of the Association from 1961-63 and from 1965-67. He also served as Editor of the Monthly from 1967-71. Howard Eves and John Kemeny served as Governors-at-Large for the Association, Eves from 1958-60 and Kemeny from 1960-62.
The group of invited speakers during the 60's was exceptionally outstanding. Many of the officers of the Section gave presentations themselves and the list of invited lecturers, who were not officers of the section included: R. H. Bing (President of the Association 1963-64; AMS President, 1977-78), Wistar Comfort, Phil Davis, William Duren, Howard Eves, D. J. Foulis, Vincent Haag, Einar Hille (AMS President 1947-48), G. Hocking, Ken Ireland, Mark Kac (AMS Gibbs Lecturer, 1967; AMS Birkhoff Award, 1978), Shizuo Kakutani, Kenneth O. May (Governor-at-Large of the Association 1964-65), Edwin Moise (President of the Association from 1967-68), J. R. Munkres, Oystein Ore, Gian-Carlo Rota (AMS Steele Award, 1988), Alice Schafer, I. M. Singer (AMS Bocher Memorial Award, 1969), Ernst Snapper, Laurie Snell, Norton Starr, R. J. Walker (Second Vice President of the Association 1967-68). Professors Kemeny, Moise and Walker spoke twice before the Section in the 60's.
The 60's was a time of great hopes and achievements as well as a time of contradictions and bitter disappointments. It gave us the New Frontier, the Great Society, the Vietnam War, the Beetles, Woodstock, the Apollo missions to the moon and probes to the other terrestrial planets. Members of the NES/MAA made notable contributions to the changes that occurred in the decade and helped us usher in the 70's.
J. J. Tattersall