About Mathematics Endowment Fund

What is the Mathematics Endowment Fund?

The Mathematics Endowment Fund (MEF) is an income-generating fund that finances projects for the academic betterment of mathematics undergraduate students at the University of Waterloo. The projects that MEF typically finances are student or faculty projects of an educational nature, those that provide necessary teaching resources and laboratory equipment, and/or those that improve the student learning facilities.

Thanks to contributions primarily from undergraduates, MEF has been able to fund an increasing number of projects to enhance the student experience. See our termly posts for a highlight of what was funded each term! As the fund continues to grow, we will be able to fund larger projects whose impact will be felt by everyone who studies mathematics at Waterloo.

Where does the money come from?

The major source of contributions is the refundable Student Endowment Fund amount contributed by undergraduate math students with tuition each term. The amount $31.42 was chosen as it is both affordable and has some mathematical reference (10π). Contributions are also made through the Pink Tie Pledge for graduating students. Donations are charitable and a receipt can be downloaded from Quest.

Why do we need MEF?

We need MEF to fund projects for undergraduate students. In recent years, government cutbacks have affected university programs everywhere: certain courses are no longer offered, there are fewer and less qualified TAs, failing equipment, and increasingly limited resources. Tuition, user fees, and government transfers no longer adequately fund all of the projects necessary to maintain the current high standards of education. MEF affords students the opportunity to decided which projects are funded, and to what extent.

The Waterloo Engineering Endowment Foundation (WEEF) was the first faculty to organize an endowment fund in 1991. By collecting $75 per term from each student they have been able to raise a fund that now totals over $7 million.

The endowment fund at Harvard University now has over $29 billion. The Mathematics Endowment Fund principal reached $3 million in May 2007.

Who decides how the money is spent?

All math undergraduate students and faculty can submit proposals to MEF, which are reviewed by the MEF Funding Council. The Funding Council is comprised of undergraduate students (2 per department), a faculty representative from each department, and 2 alumni who are recommended by the Dean of Math. The Funding Council then passes their recommendation to the MEF Board of Directors who make the final decision on which proposals receive funding.

How can I help MEF?

There are many ways to help MEF. The easiest method is to continue contributing money each term. Other important ways you can help MEF are to:

  • Volunteer and become part of the Funding Council (see announcements for availability),
  • Submit a proposal for a project that benefits undergraduate mathematics,
  • Become a MEF director (see announcements for availability), and/or
  • Apply to be the executive director of MEF (see announcements for availability).