Sally posthumously wins inaugural mathematics award

The American Mathematical Society awarded Sally with its inaugural Award for Impact on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics.

By Darien Ahn

The late mathematics professor Paul Sally, Jr. was posthumously awarded the inaugural American Mathematical Society (AMS) Award for Impact on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics, the AMS announced on Thursday. Sally was notified of the honor shortly before he passed away in December.

The award honors “significant contributions of lasting value to mathematics education,” according to the AMS website. It prioritizes work with teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade to enhance their impact on achievement and contributions to improve mathematics education in the first two years of college.

Sally taught for nearly 50 years, and in addition to serving as director of undergraduate studies for the University of Chicago’s mathematics department, he authored a number of research papers and books in the field of harmonic analysis. He also established a number of programs targeted towards teachers and students in kindergarten through grade 12, notably Seminars for Elementary Specialists and Mathematics Educators, a first-of-its-kind program for elementary school teachers from Chicago Public Schools, and the Young Scholars Program for talented high school students from underprivileged backgrounds.

“Paul was an excellent mathematician and legendary for his contributions to mathematics education,” Professor Shmuel Weinberger, chair of the mathematics department, wrote in an e-mail. “He felt that problems worth doing are larger than one person or one lifetime, and so he has served as a model to generations of mathematicians.”