Department Name Change

The Department of Applied Physics formally changed its name to the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics.

Columbia University Record
Vol. 23, No. 14, February 6, 1998
"Graduate Program in Communications Approved, Also Name Change for Dept. of Applied Physics"
By Tom Mathewson

At its Jan. 30 meeting the University Senate unanimously approved . . . a change in the name of the Department of Applied Physics, adding the words “and Applied Mathematics.”

Columbia Daily Spectator
February 3, 1998
"New CU masters programs add variety"
By Jessica Jones

. . . The other resolution, which changed the department of appliced physics to the department of applied physics and applied mathematics, was also unanimously approved. Originally applied mathematics functioned as a subdivision of the applied physics department. The recent additionof applied math as a full-fledged department rather than a subdivision of applied physics reflects administrative feeling that applied mathematics is an increasingly important fild of engineering research.

Before the proposal was drafted, the department's faculty unanimously voted in favor of that change that, according to many in the engineering school, aims to combine two of the smaller divisions of the engineering school into a larger and more influential research department.

Columbia Daily Spectator
January 29, 1998
"Senate meeting may herald two academic changes"
By Jessica Jones

On Friday, the University Senate will vote on two resolutions concerning academics.

One resolution proposes to change the Department of Applied Physics in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science to the Department of Applied Physics and Mathematics.

If approved, another resolution will institute a graduate program in communications. The Senate's Education Committee will present both resolutions at the regular monthly meeting of the Senate, a body comprised of over 80 Columbia faculty, administrators, students, and staff.

While both proposals suggest changes within University schools, neither idea is entirely new.

Applied Mathematics now exists as a division of the applied physics department, and the resolution "[recognizes] the increased importance of the applied mathematics division within the department," according to Prof. Gerald Navratil, chair of the applied physics department.

"It's an important field that's been emerging for the past 20 or 30 years," Navratil said.

He cited the use of applied math in such fields as fluid mechanics, atmospheric dynamics, finance, and materials science.

In part, the departmental name change results from the Fu Foundation gift made to SEAS last semester.

The gift targeted applied math as a spending priority along with disciplines such as electrical engineering, computer science, and biomedical engineering.

While the Fu Foundation gift stimulated the department to expand its name, the massive donation will also enable the department to enlarge its faculty.

"Right now we have about three people doing applied math. We're planning to increase that to five or six. In addition, we're planning some joint appointments with the department of mathematics as well as the Earth Institute," Navratil said.

The new faculty members will provide new opportunities for students inside and outside the classroom.

"There will be more faculty teaching the courses students want to take, additional graduate level courses, more research opportunities, and more elective classes," Navratil said.

Both Navratil and Dental and Oral Surgery Dean Letty Moss-Salentijin, also chair of the Education Committee, emphasize that the name change will not detract from the department's activities.

"[The department] used to be applied physics and nuclear engineering, then it was applied physics, and now it's applied physics and applied math . . . (The name change) reflects the evolution of the department," Moss-Salentijin said.

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