W. James "Jim'' Lewis has received the 2015 AMS Award for Impact on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics for his career-long advocacy of the idea that mathematics research and education go hand in hand.
As department chair at University of Nebraska-Lincoln for 15 years, he created an atmosphere of commitment to teaching that established the department as a national model among mathematics departments in research universities where both teaching and research are highly valued, integrated, and rewarded. Lewis has taken on numerous national leadership roles that shaped the mathematical education of teachers across the country. He served as chair of the steering committee for The Mathematical Education of Teachers (MET1) and chaired the writing team for its recent update (MET2). Both are documents that lay out guidelines for what pre-college teachers of mathematics should know and make a substantive and compelling case that mathematicians can and must be involved in the process by which future teachers obtain this knowledge. These documents have had a transformational effect on the efforts to mathematically educate teachers.
Lewis has worked directly with pre-college teachers at both the pre-service and in-service levels. He has created sustainable programs whereby others can continue this work and has worked at the national level to provide guidance to the mathematics profession in this area. He has also made contributions to mathematics education outside of the mathematical education of teachers, creating a replicable culture in which research and education are integrated and valued, enhancing the first-year mathematics experience for college students, and nurturing the next generation of mathematicians who see education as an integral part of what they do.
Lewis is the Aaron Douglas Professor of Mathematics and director of the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is currently on leave from that position to serve as deputy assistant director for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Lewis's outstanding work has been a significant factor in the several major awards his department has received. Lewis himself has also received many awards, among them the 2015 Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics, the most prestigious award for service given by the MAA, as well as several awards from his university. He has been elected to UNL's Academy of Distinguished Teachers; in 2010 he was the Carnegie Foundation's Nebraska Professor of the Year; and he has received the UNL Chancellor's Commission on the Status of Women Award for his support of opportunities for women in the mathematical sciences; and the university's Louise Pound-George Howard Distinguished Career Award. Lewis has also served on many boards and committees at the national level.
The Award for Impact on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics was established by the AMS Committee on Education (COE) in 2013. The endowment fund that supports the award was established in 2012 by a contribution from Kenneth I. and Mary Lou Gross in honor of their daughters Laura and Karen.
"It is quite an honor to receive this award. It is even more special because Ken Gross is both a friend and a mentor. Indeed, his advice contributed significantly to what we have been able to do here in Nebraska with respect to the mathematical education of teachers."
Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, today the American Mathematical Society fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and to everyday life.