Louise Hay Award

2018 Winner: Kristin Umland


In recognition of her leadership and contributions advancing large-scale improvement in mathematics education, the AWM presents the 2018 Louise Hay Award to Dr. Kristin Umland.  Dr. Umland’s work has exemplified a passion for engaging learners in worthwhile mathematics while seeking to enhance and support their instruction.  She has revamped mathematics courses for non-mathematics majors and for prospective teachers, led collaborative professional development projects for K-12 teachers in New Mexico, and investigated the impact of Math Teachers’ Circles.

Recently Dr. Umland has been instrumental in the development of Illustrative Mathematics, a heavily used, online mathematics resource that advances improvement in mathematics education through a rich, coherent collection of over 1,200 vetted instructional tasks, as well as assessment items, lesson plans, and professional development modules. Because she is responsible for content development, Dr. Umland regularly oversees a professional community of hundreds of educators who serve as editors and reviewers while deepening their knowledge of mathematics as they create, discuss, and use tasks.

Dr. Umland has effectively bridged the domains of mathematics, education, and policy as evidenced by the many workshops and sessions that she has organized for national meetings, bringing together veteran and emerging scholars from the fields of mathematics and mathematics education. Characterized by her nominators “as a mathematician, an educator, a project manager, a seeker and developer of talent, [and a] moderator,” Dr. Kristin Umland exemplifies the tradition of Louise Hay and is richly deserving of the 2018 Louise Hay Award.

Response from Kristin Umland:

Louise Hay was the Head of the Department of Mathematics at UIC from 1979 to 1989, the year she died; I began my PhD program there three years later. While I never knew her, I benefitted from her legacy. I want to share three illustrations of the spirit of the department that she helped shape.

During my first semester of graduate school, Bhama Srinivasan asked me why I hadn’t yet signed up for the second semester of her algebra course. I told her it was because I had spent all of the money I had saved on tuition for the first semester; she was surprised that I didn’t have funding. Immediately, she helped secure me a teaching assistantship, and I was able to sign up for the second term–and continue on to finish graduate school.

Judith Baxter was hugely influential on my growth as a teacher. Her energy and enthusiasm for supporting graduate students in their teaching and academic goals was boundless. Early in my teaching career, I supervised other instructors and TAs in my new department; Judy was my role model.

I would not have been able to accomplish what I have to date without the unwavering support of my PhD advisor, Stephen Smith. He represents the ideal qualities of an academic and professional mentor: someone who pushes you to do your best, helps you to achieve your most ambitious goals, and values and celebrates your accomplishments in any area of mathematical work that you choose.