A Brief History of the Department

by Professor Emeritus James Holstein (edited by Professor Emeritus Richard Madsen)

In or around 1961, a campus-wide committee decided that a Department of Statistics should be established in Arts & Sciences to serve the statistical needs and education of the campus. To accomplish this, the Dept. of Accounting & Statistics in the School of Business and Public Administration was split with the relevant statistics courses being moved to A&S. Dan Brunk was asked to move back to MU (where he had been a professor of mathematics) from UC Riverside to be the chairman of the new department. He agreed to the move and asked Fred Williams and me to join him in the department. He also recruited Dave Hanson from Sandia Corp.

The first year Dan and Dave were housed in the Engineering Bldg. with mathematics while Fred and I retained our offices in Middlebush. During this period the storeroom on the top floor of the Naval ROTC Bldg. (corner of 5th & Stewart across from the power plant) was remodeled into offices, and we moved in the second year.

Wally Franck , a colleague of Dave's at Sandia, was hired. The next faculty hired included John Hewett, Bill Thompson, and Shri Katti. Later, Gary Krause was hired with his salary being paid by the College of Agriculture.

Dan Brunk wanted a new building to house stat & math. A committee was formed to apply for a matching funds grant from a government agency. Mel George from the Math Department was the chair of the committee. The grant was forthcoming. There were problems with communication with the architect, some delays because of the plans, cost overruns, etc. and the final plans called for more money than was available. The solution was to shrink the building by 10%. I don't recall how Computing got into the act. Perhaps it was thought that a 3-department building with the chair from the Math Dept. would have a better chance of getting the funding.

Interestingly, after well over 30 years in the Math Sciences Building, the Department of Statistics returned to Middlebush which is where Fred and I were first housed when the department began.

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