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Department History


Founding of the Department of Mathematical Statistics, with Harold Hotelling as the first department chair (1946-1952). The founding faculty of the department also include Pao-Lu Hsu, William G. Madow, Edward Paulson, and Herbert Robbins.
With the departure of Pao-Lu Hsu, William G. Madow, Edward Paulson by 1948, Raj Chandra Bose, Samarenda Nath Roy, and Wassily Hoeffding join the department.


The professors of the Department of Statistics in the early 1960s: Hotelling, Nicholson, Johnson, Hoeffding, Bose, Roy.

The department awards its first PhD degrees; one is to George E. Nicholson, Jr. who joins the faculty at the same time and later serves as the department chair (1952-1971).
Walter L. Smith, Norman L. Johnson, Indra M. Chakravarti, M. Ross Leadbetter join the department amongst others.
1960s – 1970s
Expansion period. The faculty size expands significantly. The department serves an increasing number of students in its undergraduate courses. In 1966, it becomes part of the College of Arts and Sciences.
A free-standing “Curriculum in Operations Research” is established in the college, becoming the Department of Operations Research soon after. F. Jerome Gould, Jon Tolle, David Rubin, John P. Evans, George Fishman and others were instrumental in launching and running the program.
1980s – 1990s
The Center for Stochastic Processes, operating with the joint effort of Stamatis Cambanis, Ross Leadbetter, and Gopinath Kallianpur, expands significantly Statistics Department’s activities, hosting numerous visitors (15 per year on average), producing hundreds of technical reports, and having a weekly seminar.
Merger of the Departments of Statistics and Operations Research into a single department (STOR). Vidyadhar Kulkarni serves as its first chair (2003-2009).
2000s – 2010s
With the efforts of three local universities (Duke, NCSU, UNC) and the support from NSF, the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) is established in the Research Triangle Park. Steve Marron serves as one of the founding Associate Directors of SAMSI (2002-2004), and Richard Smith as its Director from 2010-2017.


D.G. Kelly “University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) Department of Statistics and Operations Research” In: A. Agresti, X. Meng (eds) “Strength in Numbers: The Rising of Academic Statistics Departments in the U.S.” Springer, New York, NY (2012).