The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) is excited to announce Victor Katz as the 2023 recipient of the most prestigious award for distinguished service to mathematics.
Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Distinguished Service Award
This award recognizes service to mathematics that has been widely acknowledged as extraordinarily successful. The contribution of these individuals influences the field of mathematics or mathematical education in a significant and positive way on a national scale. This award consists of a cash prize of $5,000, a citation, and recognition from the American mathematical community.
About This Year’s Recipient
Dr. Victor J. Katz, Professor of Mathematics emeritus at the University of the District of Columbia, was chosen for this award for a variety of reasons, including his sizable service in mathematics for more than 37 years. He is widely recognized as a top scholar in the history of mathematics. We honor him with the 2023 Yueh-Gin Gung and Charles Y. Hu Award, not only for his scholarship but for the way he leveraged this exceptional scholarship in the service of mathematics.
We highlight two distinctive areas of impact: Katz’s work has served a generation of teachers and students by repositioning the role of historical perspectives in mathematics education, revealing the human face of our field. It has also served the larger mathematical community by creating and organizing materials to show that mathematics is a multicultural enterprise that involves all humanity, not just the Men of Mathematics described by E. T. Bell. Katz has trained a generation of mathematicians to teach our history in a rigorous, responsible, and human way. His legacy lives on in Convergence, a journal that he co-founded in 2004.
He earned his BA from Princeton University in 1963 and his PhD from Brandeis University in 1968. Dr. Katz taught at the University of the District of Columbia and its predecessor, Federal City College, for 37 years, with leaves to serve as a Visiting Mathematician at the MAA as well as the Dean of Mathematics at the Ross School. Professor Katz has edited three books for the MAA dealing with the use of the history of mathematics in teaching mathematics and two collections of historical articles taken from journals of the MAA in the past 100 years. The materials from his two NSF-sponsored projects to help college and secondary school teachers learn the history of mathematics were published in 2005 by the MAA as Historical Modules for the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics.
An early sign that Katz was poised to influence a generation is the reception of his text, A History of Mathematics: An Introduction, first published in 1992. This text, written after he had taught the history of mathematics for many years at the University of the District of Columbia, showed the influence of his students, who came from many places around the world. About to appear in its fourth edition, the book won the Watson Davis Prize of the History of Science Society in 1995.
Dr. Katz founded the Institute for the History of Mathematics and Its Use in Teaching (IHMT) with Fred Rickey, funded by an NSF grant initially obtained in 1995. The institute produced several cohorts of teachers trained to develop their own courses on the history of mathematics. While the first rounds of IHMT focused primarily on teaching a history course, Katz’s continued success winning NSF grants expanded the program to include secondary teachers and facilitated bringing historical materials into any mathematics course.
Professor Katz has been married for over 53 years to Dr. Phyllis Katz, who works in science education. Together, they have three adult children and eight grandchildren.
For these reasons, the MAA is delighted and honored to present the Yueh-Gin Gung and Charles Y. Hu Award to Dr. Victor Katz.
The Mathematical Association of America is the world’s largest community of mathematicians, students, and enthusiasts. We accelerate the understanding of our world through mathematics because mathematics drives society and shapes our lives. Learn more at maa.org.