May 23, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 18

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    Wirszup lauded for work in mathematics

    University's School Mathematics Project among achievements Izaak Wirszup, Professor Emeritus in Mathematics and co-founder of the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, has received the Lifetime Achievement Medal for Leadership, Teaching and Service in Mathematics Education from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

    The award was presented to Wirszup at the association's annual meeting in San Diego in recognition of his work establishing UCSMP and his research on Soviet mathematics education.

    Wirszup has published 66 books of adapted translations from Russian, covering topics in mathematics, mathematics education and research in the psychology of learning and teaching mathematics.

    Wirszup was instrumental in calling public attention to the vast gaps between American and Soviet expectations for mathematics achievement among schoolchildren. In 1979, as director of the Survey of Recent East European Mathematical Literature, he sent a report to the National Science Foundation comparing U.S. and Soviet science and mathematics education. The report reached President Carter, whose administration initiated a re-evaluation of the adequacy of American schools as a result.

    UCSMP was established in 1983, with funding from the Amoco Foundation, as a response to Wirszup's calls for improvements in American mathematics instruction. It has since grown to become the nation's largest university-based curriculum project for kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics, with more than 3 million students using its elementary and secondary textbooks and other materials. UCSMP also produces packages to help prepare teachers to become more adept at teaching mathematics.

    As Director of the UCSMP Resource Development Component, Wirszup has overseen the collection of texts and teaching materials from many countries. The materials are available in the International Mathematics Education Resource Center on campus and consulted by mathematics educators from around the world.

    Wirszup has been on the Chicago faculty since 1949. He received his Ph.D. from the University in 1955.