50th Anniversary of the Department of Statistics

Dr. Jim Neill

On October 10, 2009, the department held an open house in its Dickens Hall offices and a banquet in the K-State Alumni center, celebrating its 50 years as a Department of Statistics.

The department officially came into being by declaration of the Kansas Board of Regents on July 1, 1959, with Dr. Holly Fryer as department head, and a faculty of five, which included Dr. Fryer, Dr. Robert Cochran, Dr. Arlin Feyerherm, Dr. Gary Krause, and Dr. Stanley Wearden.

Of course, Dr. Fryer's leadership in the establishment of the department is well-known. He was the first statistician hired into the university in 1940, and in 1946, he was named the Director of the newly established Statistical Laboratory. As the demand for statistical expertise grew over the years, Dr. Fryer and his colleagues lobbied with the deans of the colleges of Arts & Sciences and Agriculture and the university president to establish a separate department. On March 25, 1959, the Board of Regents authorized a separate Department of Statistics (all the faculty members had been assigned to the Department of Mathematics up to that point in time) to begin operation on July 1 of that year.

We will not write an extended history of the department here. Those who are interested may wish to read a copy of Dr. Fryer's extensive manuscript on the history of the department. A concise version of the history is also available on this web site.

The department made special effort to invite the members of the original faculty to attend the anniversary celebration. We were honored with the presence and a few remarks from Dr. Arlin Feyerherm, now living in the Kansas City area, and Dr. Robert Cochran, who resides in Laramie, Wyoming. Mrs. Beth Fryer and Mrs. LaVonia Dayton, wives of Holly Fryer and Art Dayton, the first two department heads were also present for the festivities and to renew old acquaintances. A good number of current faculty, former faculty and graduates of the department participated in the event as well.

The program opened with a welcome and perspectives given by the current department head, Jim Neill. John Boyer presented a short history of the department and listed some of its accomplishments and those of people who taught or were educated within it. The department then introduced the 2009-2010 winners of departmental scholarships and described new scholarships and gifts which well enhance the department's ability to serve students. Several letters of congratulations from campus administrators were read. Then a time for remembrances, reminiscences and stories was provided, with a number of those present making remarks about how the department or individuals within the department had influenced their lives. Photographs were taken of various groups (scholarship recipients, all faculty, former department heads, etc.). Finally a time for just visiting and getting reacquainted was enjoyed by all.

A quick summary of the accomplishments of individuals associated with the department would likely include the following:

  • 16 individuals have been named Fellow of the American Statistical Association.
  • 5 individuals have been named Founders Award winners by ASA (the highest award for service to the association and the discipline).
  • Dennis Cook, who got his Ph.D. in the department, was recently chosen to deliver the R.A. Fisher lecture at the joint meetings (one of the most prestigious honors for research bestowed by the association).
  • Ron Iman, who earned his Ph.D. in the department, and Sallie Keller-McNulty, former faculty member, have served as President of the ASA in 1994 and 2006, respectively.
  • Ray Waller, former faculty member, and Ron Wasserstein, Ph.D. graduate, have served as Executive Director of ASA.

Some photographs taken on the occasion accompany this article. We hope you find them interesting.

 

Faculty, Past and Present  

faculty photo

Top row: 
Dallas Johnson, George Milliken, John Boyer, Mike Rubison, Jim Neill, Ray Waller

Middle row: 
Paul Nelson, Arlin Feyerherm, Suzanne Dubnicka, Ken Kemp, James Higgins

Bottom row: 
Juan Du, Haiyan Wang, Robert Cochran, Leigh Murray, Weixin Yao, Gary Gadbury