Advanced Summer Program for students age 11-14
who show high promise and love mathematics

Program Directors

Stephen Maurer – Professor of Mathematics, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

Prof Maurer is most visible to MathPath students and their families for what he does on the academic side: publicize the program to potential students, write and score the Qualifying Test, admit applicants, determine financial aid, answer correspondence from families and the public during the off-season, coordinate and announce the course offerings, assign classes to rooms, arrange student academic schedules, obtain and organize feedback on all students that is used in the evaluation letters, and teach various courses – see his entry in the faculty biographies.

Less visible are all the other things he does as executive director and chairman of the board of directors of the MathPath nonprofit corporation. He negotiates with potential host institutions, works closely with the chosen institution before arrival, interfaces with professional advisors (legal, accounting and insurance), applies for and administers grants, publicizes MathPath in the mathematics community, applies for necessary visas for foreign staff, leads the yearly donation campaign, buys stores and ships supplies, writes and updates the webpages, including the Pre-Session Briefing and travel information, collects and organizes the various medical, dietary and other information families submit, maintains records so that we may keep in touch with alumni, and makes use of his wide contacts in the mathematics community to identify and recruit the best new talent to teach and lead MathPath into the future.

Prof Maurer (known to students as Mr M) works very closely all year with the Site Director Kip Sumner (below) to make MathPath the best summer math program for middle school age kids anywhere. Other members of the senior staff also play crucial roles all year, especially the Treasurer, John Howe, and board member Al Lippert.

Prof Maurer first came to MathPath at the direct invitation of Dr Thomas, in 2003, for 3 weeks, as a proofs and math writing instructor. He proceeded to make such a pest of himself, suggesting other people to hire and ways to change the program, that Dr Thomas eventually threw up his hands, first making Maurer Academic Director in 2006, then chairman of the board in 2007. Upon Dr Thomas' taking emeritus status, Prof Maurer became Executive Director in September 2014.

Note: The above paragraphs describe everything Prof. Maurer is responsible for, and did well at the top of his form. Unfortunately, in the last year he has been much slowed down by a particularly difficult form of Parkinson's disease, and so he has been delegating more responsibilities.

Crispin Sumner – retired in 2016 from Red Cross Nordic United World College, Flekke, Norway

Mr Sumner, universally known as Kip, is in charge of everything when MathPath is in session outside academics. He assigns students and staff to dorm rooms, assigns students to counselors, and runs orientations for counselors before students arrive. He meets nightly with all the counselors and, if there are behavioral problems, meets with students involved and talks to their parents when the situation is serious. He in in charge of rental cars and vans and personally goes out to acquire most of the supplies needed during the program. He organizes all the daily free time activities and all the program trips. He hires the nurse and oversees the protocols for urgent and emergency medical care. Once the summer session starts, he is the chief liaison with the host institution summer conference staff, dealing with myriad issues such as special dietary needs, dining hall crowding, lost keys, and broken lanyards. He works with Prof Maurer in making Math Conferencing Time work optimally, by suggesting rooms to use and tweaks in the schedule. He orchestrates the writing of the end-of-session summary letters, writing the common material and editing the personalized paragraphs drafted by counselors. In the off season he participates in site selection decisions, hires all the counselors, and coordinates with Prof Maurer and the other senior staff on all major decisions other than purely academic ones.

But perhaps he is best known among students for handing out the mail once a day and making announcements twice a day, while fending off wise-guy questions and correcting like bad student like grammar, as well as being the perennial doubles pool co-champion. Or maybe he is best known for his portrayal of a English school headmaster in the yearly talent show, a headmaster who is – well, you have to see it.

In all of the above, Kip functions tirelessly despite long hours, has extremely good judgment, is great at helping the counselors grow by giving them responsibilities, and is firm and clear while maintaining a great sense of humor. It is in part because of him that students find MathPath so much fun.

Starting in 2014, Kip has also taught a course in advanced graph theory – see his faculty biography entry.

George R. Thomas

Prof. Thomas is one of the most experienced in the world in organizing and running summer programs for students showing high promise in mathematics.

He coined the rhyme

"A mathematician is cautious
In the presence of the obvious"

that appeared from 1993 to 2003 in the logo of the Canada/USA Mathcamp, a leading program for gifted high school students. The rhyme summarizes his vision of the habit that needs to be inculcated early in students in working out mathematics proofs. He stresses to students that "mathematics is the language of form." He believes that a summer program for gifted young students is necessary:

"In providing a summer program for the highly gifted, one is not depriving the youngster of a normal childhood. Rather, such a student, possessing a higher mental faculty, is strong in several areas of learning, including mathematics, has the capacity to absorb at a faster rate, and needs to be challenged, provided with the fundamental concepts, and encouraged to form proper habits, social and academic. The student, faced with the higher expectation at the intensive summer program, will rise to meet it."
See Prof. Thomas' views on mathematics education in America's schools.

Page last updated February 10, 2017
Copyright 2001–   MathPath
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