Farewell to PIMS

As you can see all my family is here today. But you may not know why?
They wanted to make sure that I am really quitting. Joseph is expecting me to play Lego with him. This is Mathematics Daddy!
Mireille is hoping that I can do something about her (B) in English, still not suspecting that her English is already better than mine.
However, Michelle came here seeking assurances that once the new director is announced, the Board would make sure that he is not criticizing Harry Potter in the media.
And the truth about Louise is that she is dreading it. Imagine all this energy now totally re-focused on gardening, dish-washing and answering the kids phone.

Four years ago, I took my daughters to the first PIMS Elementary Math Contest held here in Buchanan. Klaus Hoecksmann was trying to shout instructions to the 300 plus kids (5-7 graders) and their parents. Then he asked, what is the organization behind this event? They all shouted PIMS. Then he asked: What does PIMS stand for? And my daughter Michelle looked at me and said: Well that’s easy. Even I know that!
Well Michelle, I have news for you. There is much more to know about PIMS.

PIMS is a community spirit that arose in defiance against outdated beliefs, and often flawed perceptions about mathematical research and education. PIMS is this dramatic change in attitude and this new state of mind of the Canadian mathematical community. PIMS is about thinking big, about thinking globally, about being a major partner in the country’s global R&D effort, and PIMS is about Canada playing a leading role on the international level.

PIMS is the mass movement that dragged NSERC and others into the 21st century, PIMS is the community that shocked and awed Ottawa with hundreds of defiant e-mail messages when the bureaucrats didn’t see the storm of change and innovation coming.

PIMS is about the early believers, Ed Perkins (Uncle Ed), Arvind Gupta, Claude Laflamme, Nicole Tomczak-Yaegermann, Reinhard Illner, Robert Miura… the pioneers who gave selflessly when the light was not in sight and the dark tunnel was too long to bear.

PIMS reflects the excellence of our world class researchers managing its scientific panels: David Boyd, Gordon Slade, Bob Moody, David Brydges, Ian Putnam, Bob Russell, and Hugh Williams among many others…

PIMS is about the dedication of Heather Jenkins and Klaus Hoeksmann developing the poster campaigns for the Vancouver buses (now in SF), the efforts of Joshua Keshet for the Elemetary math contests, those of Wieslaw Kracewicz and his colleagues on PITS, those of Malgozata Dubiel for the “Changing the culture” conferences, those of David Leeming for the math evenings, and those of Ted Lewis and Jim Muldowney for the math fairs and Math mania.

PIMS is the commitment of Anthony Peirce, Bernie Schizgal and Manfred
Trummer to the Senior undergrad modeling camps. It is the volunteer work of Rachel Kuske, Chris Bose, Ian Frigaard, Randy Leveque and so many others for the Industrial problem solving workshops.

The PIMS story has also been written by the organisers of thematic programs who brought the scientific world to our door: Ed Perkins, Martin Barlow, Changfeng Gui, Gordon Semenoff, Arturo Pianzola, Bryant Moody, Nicole Tomczak, Pavol Hell, Gunther Uhlmann and so many others

PIMS is about the selfless efforts of Gary Margrave, Mark Lewis, Chen Greif, and Bruce Sutherland who developed the international summer schools not only for our graduate students but for the world’s students.

PIMS is about the spirit of collaborations between our departments and institutes: Uli Haussmann, George Bluman, Brian Marcus and Rabab Ward at UBC, Sherm and Akbar at UA, Alistair Lachlan at SFU and John Philips and Nigel Horspool at U. Victoria…among others.

PIMS is also about breaking geographic barriers with the support of so many great friends and outstanding scientists from UW: Chris Burdzy, Doug Lind, Tatiana Toro, Gunther Uhlman, Ron Irvine, Selim Tuncel and of course Don Marshall who started it all and who is with us here today.

PIMS is about the positive energy and generosity of Ken Foxcroft, and Hugh Morris and others in the private sector who honoured us and stimulated us with their continuous support.

PIMS lives by the efforts of its staff: a great and loyal bunch who are extremely committed to the vision. Sandy, Andrea, Clarina, Fanny, Shervin, Marian and Shirley. The BIRS staff: Andrea, Amanda, and Brent.
The MITACS staff so ably represented by the great Olga Stachova. And we shall not forget the early support from the staff at Math: Mary-Margaret and Ann Artuso: Do you remember Ann the horrible and forgettable transcripts that Ed used to ask from you? I never did that to my staff.

PIMS is about the leadership of Arvind Gupta first as PIMS Deputy director and now as leader of the MITACS network. It is about the diligent work of Alan Macworth on the MITACS research management committee, about Leah Keshet, Uli Haussmann, Brian Wetton, Ruben Zamar, Raymond Ng, Marty Puterman, Binay Battacharya, Mike Kouritzin, Michael Lamoureux and Richard Cleve who are aptly leading their challenging MITACS team projects.

PIMS tells us a bit more about our universities and their leaders like Dick Peter and Barry McBride who gave senior administrators a good name and whose example we are determined to follow. Dick: Let me tell you here and in public. The U of A has not been the same since you stepped down from the Deanship there. And Barry, let me tell you here and in public. We are dreading the moment you will be leaving us because UBC will never be the same without your leadership.

Let me conclude with a special tribute to 3 very special human beings who’ve had a tremendous impact on my own professional and personal life: Ed Perkins, Arvind Gupta, and Bob Moody. Now without treasures like this, neither PIMS, nor MITACS nor BIRS would have ever become the great institutions they are today. Leadership, Commitment, Integrity and above all Generosity. They gave their time and they gave their best. They gave me friendship and comfort. I couldn’t have asked for a better deal from the providence.

Let me also say that the last 7 years should be remembered as a period where the community learned to look outward with confidence, to put forward bold visions and to lead. But allow me to give our young generation a healthy dose of paranoia. The hard earned gains of the last few years need to be protected. So, we need you, all of you, young colleagues to be vigilant, to step forward to positions of leadership, to stop those tempted to turn back the clock, and to keep the dream alive for our discipline, and for Canada’s future.

Thank you all. My life has been greatly enriched by your presence and by your friendships.

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