Professor recognized for diversity initiatives in Department of Mathematics graduate programs
Monday, December 9, 2013
Image of Philip Kutzko
Philip Kutzko. Photo by Tom Jorgensen

Philip Kutzko, professor of mathematics at the University of Iowa, is receiving the 2014 American Mathematical Society (AMS) Award for Distinguished Public Service.

Presented every two years by the American Mathematical Society, the award is given to a research mathematician who has made a distinguished contribution to the mathematics profession during the preceding five years. The prize will be awarded on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore.

Kutzko was chosen "for his leadership of a national effort to increase the number of doctoral degrees in the mathematical sciences earned by students from underrepresented groups." He is one of several faculty in the Department of Mathematics—a unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences—who in 1995 worked to increase minority representation in its graduate program.

In this role, Kutzko has served as director of the department’s Sloan Foundation Minority Scholarship Program. As a result of this departmental effort, more than 25 U.S. citizens of minority backgrounds have earned doctorates in mathematics at the UI since 2001.

Kutzko and colleagues from mathematics and statistics departments at the three Iowa Regents universities also founded the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences. Kutzko has served as its director since its founding and has written the proposals to the National Science Foundation through which the alliance is funded. The alliance has enlisted 26 graduate programs, a larger number of undergraduate programs, more than 900 students, and 250 faculty mentors from 90 colleges and universities around the U.S.

Kutzko and the department have been honored before for initiatives to bring diversity to the department’s graduate program, and by extension the field of mathematics. In 2005, the department earned nationwide recognition when it received one of 14 2004 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, presented at the White House in Washington, D.C. Supported and administered by the National Science Foundation, the award was the only one of its kind presented to an academic department in 2005. The department won the award for its work with U.S. minority graduate students.

In 2006, the department won a prestigious five-year, $3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to help train high-quality U.S. mathematicians. Called VIGRE (Vertical Integration of Research and Education), the project is one of only three such grants awarded annually across the country.

Also in 2006, Kutzko won the "Faculty Mentor of the Year" Award from the Southern Regional Education Board-Alliances for Graduate Education in the Professoriate Doctoral Scholars Program. In 2008, the department received the AMS Award for Exemplary Program or Achievement by a Mathematics Department.

Kutzko’s area of research is representation theory of p-adic groups with applications to the local Langlands program. He has continued to maintain his research program throughout his many years working on behalf of doctoral students from underrepresented backgrounds. Three of his advisees, all of them from minority backgrounds, received their doctoratesunder his direction in 2012, when a record-high seven minority doctoral candidates overall earned their doctoral degrees in the department.