MEDIA RELEASE — February 26, 2009

Canadian Mathematical Society

February 26, 2009

Bill Sands receives the
2008 Graham Wright Award for Distinguished Service

OTTAWA, Ontario — Dr. Bill Sands, of the University of Calgary, is the recipient of the Canadian Mathematical Society's 2008 Graham Wright Award for Distinguished Service.

The CMS created a Distinguished Service Award in 1995 to recognize individuals who have made sustained and significant contributions to the Canadian mathematical community, and in particular, to the Canadian Mathematical Society. In 2008, the award was renamed the Graham Wright Award for Distinguished Service in honour of Dr. Graham Wright of the University of Ottawa, who for over 30 years has served with distinction as the Society's Executive Director and Secretary.

Dr. Bill Sands has helped guide and nurture the CMS's International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) program. The IMO is the world championship of high school mathematics competitions, standing at the pinnacle of a pyramid of regional and national mathematics competitions. Each summer, following a rigorous training and selection process, the CMS sponsors a team of 6 students to travel abroad to the IMO, where they compete with students from nearly 100 other countries. The CMS's training and selection process relies on the support of the CMS's sponsors and on the work of volunteers from across the Canadian mathematical community. But the development and success of this program would not have been possible without the coordination and leadership of Dr. Sands.

Dr. Sands chaired the Society’s IMO Committee from 1998 to 2008. During that time he has trained virtually all of Canada's “Mathletes”, both directly as a coach and by helping organize both the summer and winter training session the CMS mounts for IMO-level students. Many volunteers support the competitions program at the CMS, but Dr. Sands has been the consistent figure behind the scenes, ensuring that each team Canada sends abroad receives outstanding preparation and training. In 2007, he headed up the Canadian delegation as Team Leader at the 48th IMO in Hanoi, where Canada finished 27th out of 93 countries. He has also coordinated Canadian participation in the Asia-Pacific Mathematics Olympiad, an event important in the selection process of the Canadian IMO team. He has served the CMS in numerous other capacities, including the regular organization of Math Camps at the University of Calgary, and as a long-time contributor to the CMS's mathematical problem-solving journal CRUX with MAYHEM. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of this journal from 1986 to 1995.

On the local level, Dr. Sands has been a member of the Committee for the Alberta High School Mathematics Contests since 1983, and since 1984, he and Dr. Robert Woodrow have been conducting Wednesday evening enrichment problem sessions for high school students. Dr. Sands’ commitment to the nurturing of young minds has constantly increased. Since 1982 he has helped run the Calgary Junior Mathematics Contest. Dr. Sands has also been involved in the Tournament of the Towns Contest and, in 2001 he received the University of Calgary, Faculty of Science Award for Excellence (Community Outreach).

Dr. Sands received his B.Sc., Master and Doctorate degrees from the University of Manitoba, and he joined the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Calgary in 1979. Dr. Sands conducts research in combinatorial mathematics, studying graphs and partial orders.

The 2008 Graham Wright Award for Distinguished Service was awarded to Dr. Sands at the CMS Winter Meeting in Ottawa on December 6, 2008.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Graham P. Wright
Executive Director
Canadian Mathematical Society
Tel: (613) 733-2662
or Dr. Anthony Lau
Canadian Mathematical Society
Tel: (780) 492-0398