State of the Department
Little did I know, upon reading Peter Bickel's welcoming message in the first StatistiCal News last year, that I would be the one responsible for welcoming you to the second issue. Somehow it happened that I started serving a three-year term as Chair in July 1997.
In the last issue, Peter Bickel reported the good news that the department tied with Stanford for first place in the National Research Council's 1995 rankings of statistics departments at US research universities. In recent news closer to home, the campus surveyed all Ph.D. recipients for the last five years to evaluate their experience in five categories (quality of graduate-level courses, level of financial support, guidance, relationship with thesis advisor, assistance with finding job), and I am pleased to say that our department ranked fourth out of 80 departments on overall score.
On the faculty side, we have just hired Michael Jordan, that is, Professor Michael Jordan from MIT, as a joint appointment with Computer Science. Michael works on large-scale data analysis using graphical models. He will arrive in Berkeley in Fall 1998. David Donoho has resigned in order to work full-time at Stanford, though we hope and expect to see him often in Evans Hall.
Among the events of the last year covered in this issue is the celebration of Erich Lehmann's 80th birthday which occurred in November 1997. Many colleagues, collaborators, and former students attended a special lecture and dinner. In his honor, the department has established the Erich Lehmann Fund to enrich the academic experience of our graduate students.
Unfortunately, our physical situation is not as good as our intellectual one. A campus-wide seismic review based on what scientists learned from the Northridge and Kobe quakes has resulted in the downgrading of Evans Hall to "poor" condition vis-à-vis quake resilience. While the campus hopes to rectify this condition within the next decade, we can still hope to someday see the department move to a more architecturally distinguished building.
"May you live in interesting times" is said to be an ancient curse, and an obvious feature of modern times is the ongoing computer revolution, from growth of the Internet to the spread of cheap and powerful PCs. For research, this growth is a blessing. However when applied to teaching introductory courses, a recent faculty discussion revealed a wide range of opinions, from "computers are a distraction from learning basic concepts" to Philip Stark's development of a web-based course (a brief description is included in this issue). I would be interested to hear from any readers who have had positive experiences in integrating computing into introductory level courses.
Another feature of modern times, which may surprise older alumni, is that that University of California now receives only 38% of its funding from the State of California.
At the department level, comparatively small donations can be non-bureaucratically put to good use and have a large impact on the intellectual life of the department. Our neighbors in the Physics department receive about $40,000 each year from their alumni and friends. With the launching of our own first appeal, I hope our community will be as generous.
We always enjoy seeing our alumni when you have a chance to visit. For short visits we can invariably find you a desk without hassle (please notify Debbie Haaxman at telephone number (510) 643-6132); for longer visits the procedure is described on our web site. For our occasional large events, it is not always practical to invite alumni individually, but all who are interested are always welcome. Our events calendar is listed on-line on our department web site.
We hope you like the new Statistics Department logo on the cover. It was designed by John Rice and his graphically talented wife, Diane, and chosen as the winner by popular vote in our logo contest.
Awards and Honors
Thank You to Our Friends