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NC State Statistics Department Marks 65th Anniversary

Almost 100 alumni, faculty and friends gathered for a brunch on Oct. 14 to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the NC State Department of Statistics. Held at the Embassy Suites in Cary, N.C., the brunch was preceded by a poster session that highlighted the department’s history and current research.

Also on display was a model and floor plans for a new Mathematics and Statistics Building. A groundbreaking ceremony for this new building was held Oct. 13 on the NC State campus.

Daniel L. Solomon, dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and former department head, greeted participants with a humorous, poetic tribute to the department’s history, accomplishments and Medicare eligibility.

Solomon also mentioned the department’s recent rise in national rankings. According to the National Science Foundation, NC State ranks fourth in total research and development expenditures, and sixth in federally financed research and development expenditures in the mathematical and statistical sciences.

A more formal look back at the department’s history was presented by Larry A. Nelson, a former faculty member and now assistant dean for international programs in the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He recalled stories about the department’s founder, Gertrude Cox.

Sastry G. Pantula, department head, then recognized various alumni for their professional achievements and ongoing involvement with the department.

“We are very, very proud of you for all of your successes and for the outstanding recognition you continue to bring to our department,” Pantula said. “Our alumni are Fellows of ASA and IMS, members of the National Academy, authors of well-known books, deans, and are successful in the pharmaceutical and computational fields, and in government.”

He cited that the department has awarded at least 441 BS, 712 MS and 545 Ph.D. degrees, and counting.

Pantula also recognized several attendees who had received advanced degrees in the department.

The two oldest were Jeanne Freeman Williams, who was one of the first Masters graduates, and Al Finkner, who received his Ph.D. in 1950.

The audience also heard a review of current activities and the future direction for the department. Pantula highlighted the department’s success with the NSF-funded VIGRE program, and its receipt of the university’s Teaching and Learning Excellence Award. He also noted the department’s role in establishing three key research organizations in the Research Triangle area: the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, Research Triangle Institute and the NSF-funded Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute.

“We have a great department and it is getting better every day,” Pantula said. “And it is always great to hear stories from the past. Like a good wine, they keep getting better.”

The brunch was held in conjunction with the Alumni & Friends Weekend presented by the NC State College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.