Committee Meeting Minutes for 1992

Minutes of the Meeting held at the University of Strathclyde in Forbes Hall Meeting Room on Tuesday 7th April 1992.

Present: Professor D.A. Brannan (Open, LMS Nominee), Dr G.R. Burton (Bath), Professor J.H. Davenport (Bath), Dr A. Gardiner (Birmingham), Professor M.N. Huxley (Cardiff), Dr A.C. McBride (Strathclyde), Professor C.St.J.A. Nash-Williams (Reading, Chairman), Dr P.E. Newstead (Liverpool), Dr A.R. Pears (KCL, LMS Nominee), Dr R.G.E. Pinch (Cambridge), Dr E.F. Robertson (St. Andrews, EMS Nominee), Dr D.L. Salinger (Leeds), Dr E.J. Scourfield (RHBNC), Dr G.C. Smith (Bath), Dr R.J. Steiner (Glasgow, EMS Nominee), Dr D.S.G. Stirling (Reading), Professor D.A.R. Wallace (Strathclyde).
  1. The meeting opened at 9.05. The minutes of the Committee meeting at Bath on 26th March 1991 were approved.
  2. Matters Arising.
    (Minute 4) (Liability of conference organisers for damage)
    Professor Davenport reported that he had investigated the matter and liability depended on the detail of the contract with the university concerned. Professor Wallace said that in Strathclyde the university assumed a small amount of damage would occur from time to time and allowed for it in the charge made. He said the incident which had occurred at East Anglia was the subject of conflicting evidence and we would have to write it off, although it might not have come to this if the individual concerned had responded to letters in reasonable time. For the future, organisers should check the details of the contract and, if the need arose, pursue any cases fairly rapidly.

    (Minute 6(i)) (Request from publisher for list of members' names and addresses)
    This was up to local organisers, as the AGM had not seemed greatly concerned. We should insist that publishers used it only for their own purposes and did not pass it on.

    (Minute 6(iii)) (Archives)
    Professor Davenport reported that the Contemporary Scientific Archives at Bath had, on investigation, proved inappropriate. In accordance with the wishes of the AGM, it was agreed that the BMC archives be housed with the LMS collection in University College, London, and that an initial approach should be made through the LMS.
    [Action: DSGS]
  3. Registration Fees Policy
    Recent policy had been to charge the morning speakers the registration fees and for accommodation. Although this had been the usual (but not universal) policy in the past, Dr McBride said he felt it inappropriate. There was a debate on this issue and it was decided that invited speakers should not pay the registration fee but should be asked to pay for accommodation (and travel). Local organisers should use their discretion in special cases (e.g. retired speakers).
  4. Professor Wallace asked if the committee wished to apply the new rule retrospectively to this year's speakers. It was decided not to, and leave matters as they stood for this year's speakers.
  5. Venues of Future BMCs
    The next four are:
    • 1993 Reading
    • 1994 Cardiff
    • 1995 Heriot-Watt
    • 1996 UMIST
  6. We should approach Warwick as a possible venue for 1997.
    [Action: C-NW]
  7. Potential Speakers
    (i) Evening Speakers, 1993:
    Professors Babai, Effros and Lang had been invited and had accepted.

    (ii) Morning Speakers, 1993:
    Professor Nash-Williams read out a list proposed by Dr Hilton (of Reading). It was held that we should adhere to the usual convention of not inviting members of the committee and that both Professors Benjamin and Crighton would give too much applied mathematics.
    There then followed a general discussion on what we should seek to achieve. Dr Gardiner said we needed to enliven the meetings and all agreed that something to arrest the slow decline in numbers was important (see later). Professor Davenport suggested that we concentrated too much on research at the expense of teaching.

    It was agreed that we should ensure that there was a fair selection of women speakers (e.g. S. Rees of Newcastle), and some were added to the list. Professor Brannan pointed out that the proposed speakers should include at least one complex analyst and suggested J.B. Twomey or F. Holland (both of Cork). It was agreed that a broad spread of topics should continue to be represented. Other specific proposals included J.W.S. Cassels and F. Smithies.
    [Action: READING]

    (iii) Evening Speakers, 1994:
    Three specific suggestions were made: R. Askey (Numerical Analysis), Joan Birman (Braid Groups), J. Neubuser (Groups). It was remitted to the organisers at Cardiff to consider these and any other suggestions which seem appropriate.
    [Action: CARDIFF]

    (iv) Future Morning Speakers:
    It was decided that in future we should invite written suggestions in advance from the previous year's committee so that longer thought could be given to the matter.
    [Action: READING]

    A number of names were added to the list of potential speakers.
  8. Format of Future Colloquia
    In the light of the gradual decline in the numbers attending the BMC there was a discussion of how we might arrest this trend. The departure of many participants on the Thursday afternoon was noted and it was felt that we should bring forward the main speaker, for example to 2.00, or abandon the afternoon activities. Another suggestion was to provide a speaker for the Monday evening so that the Colloquium got off to a good start; certainly there should be some organised activity on the Monday.

    E. Robertson suggested that we try to re-invigorate the splinter groups. To do this we might try sending the splinter group organisers the list of participants (so far as then known) in advance and ask them to try to drum up some speakers.

    A. Gardiner asked what happened to the guidelines for speakers which used to exist; it was agreed that some were needed.

    There were various suggestions for providing a good, lively forum on education (including Professor Noble of Save British Science, a politician, a UFC representative).

    It was also agreed that we should try to draw to the attention of all academic staff the usefulness of the BMC (and the splinter groups) for postgraduate students. Information about the programme (ideally an exciting one) should be disseminated as widely as possible, not only to universities and polytechnics, members of the EMS and LMS but perhaps relevant parts of industry and computer science departments.
  9. Thanks were expressed to the organisers at Strathclyde for their smooth handling of the 1992 colloquium and the meeting then closed at 10.45.
David Stirling