International Association of Mathematical Physics

News Bulletin April 2007

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  2. Events in Uppsala

  3. New members

  4. Conference announcements

  5. New journal

  1. IAMP Statutes and By-Laws has been amended. The General Assembly meeting in Rio endorsed the proposal to make small amendments in our basic documents with the aim to make our decision mechanisms appropriate for the age of electronic communications. To summarize the proposed changes, the "postal ballots" was replaced simply by "ballots" which are according to the new Article 14 "conducted electronically or by other means decided by the Executive Committee", and periods prescribed for the appropriate acts were adjusted to the fact that the world is much faster than it used to be three decades ago. The postal ballot was kept for a single occassion, namely the dissolution of the Association. The full amended text can be found here, and both the original and amended texts are posted in the purpose statement at the IAMP web page.

    By the existing rules such a decision must be taken by a postal ballot; let us recall that the Statutes state

    21. Voting rights are reserved for Ordinary Members who paid up the annual dues. Each paid-up Ordinary Member is entitled to one vote both at the voting of a meeting of the General Assembly and at a postal ballot of the General Assembly.

    and the By-Laws requires specifically that

    5. A postal ballot of the General Assembly is valid if valid votes from at least half of the paid-up Ordinary Members are cast. If a postal ballot of the General Assembly becomes invalid due to an insufficient number of valid with any number of votes, a second postal ballot on the same items can, at the discretion of the Executive Committee, be conducted within one year from the deadline date of the first postal ballot. This second postal ballot is valid with any number of votes, except for the postal ballot on the amendment of the Statutes, on the amendment of the By-Laws, or on the dissolution of the Association.

    The authors of the originally Statutes rightly wanted to make them safe against hasty changes and included the emphasised clauses. The present ballot showed, however, that the hurdle was indeed difficult to scale even in the situation where there was little doubt of what the members wished. A summary of the voting should start with thanks to all the good citizens who voted promptly and without reminders (after these, some did it for the second or even third time). Reminders, though, were necessary and the deadline had to be extended. At the final stage we had to resort to personal invitations. It was an exciting exercise to write to hosts of friends, but not something one would like to repeat often, and some prominent strong characters did not yield even to such a targeted campaign.

    On April 25 finally the decisive votes arrived making the count 179 valid votes out of 356 eligible members (we notice, sadly, that indeed a large number of us are in arrears, and the Executive Committee turns blind eye on Article 11(c) of the Statutes - this one did not change). What is important, the ballot is valid with the following result: 177 of the valid votes, i.e. 98.88% approve the proposed amendments (countries where this is considered an insufficient result are fortunately very few nowadays), and hence these are adopted. The fact that the will of the membership is clear is seen also from the fact that all the 37 invalid votes (most belonged to people in arrears, some of them were anonymous, again duplicates and even a triplicate occured) which arrived were in favour of the change.

    And finally, an important remark. Some of you used instead of your name or membership number on the ballot form your personal ID which opens access to your data in the membership list. This code is meant as strictly personal and giving it away you risk a misuse, for instance, that somebody will pay your dues.

    A postscript: Before this bulletin was made ready to publish, other three votes in favour of the amendments arrived, hence the change has been approved by an absolute majority of eligible members.

  2. Disturbing events at the Uppsala University. On Thursday, February 8, 2007, two tenured professors at the Department of Mathematics of the said university, Oleg Viro and Burglind Juhl-Joericke, were called in for interviews in connection with an investigation carried out by the university administration relating to an ongoing difficulty at their department. Instead of being interviewed, they were presented with an ultimatum: either to resign voluntarily and to receive damages approximately equivalent to salaries for three years or to face the due process of a dishonourable discharge. The Rector of the University did not present any explicit charges in public to justify the rather extreme measures. In the situation when they were not given a chance to defend themselves, they finally signed their resignations after the rector�s strong demand under conditions which seemingly gave them no choice.

    Numerous colleagues, including prominent members of the IAMP and other distinguished mathematicians, have since protested against the treatment of Professors Viro and Juhl-Joericke by Uppsala University and demanded a thorough investigation of the case. The forced resignation of two senior professors is unprecedented, in the free world at least, and raises questions about preservation of core values like academic freedom. Those who want to learn more about the matter are invited to see the press release of the European Mathematical Society which is accompanied by a variety of relevant documents.

  3. New members: The following colleagues recently joined the Association

     Philippe Briet
     Universite du Sud Toulon Var, France
     Walid K. Abou Salem
     University of Toronto, Canada

  4. Conference announcements

  5. New journal