History

| Prior to 1960s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990 | 2000s | 2010s |

The Department of Statistics at Purdue was formed in 1963 as part of what was then the Division of Mathematical Sciences and became an independent entity within the College of Science in 1968. Prior to 1963, statistics and probability courses at Purdue were taught within the Department of Mathematics mainly by professors associated with the Statistical Laboratory which ceased to exist in 1966. Until the early 1970s, the department's graduate programs and teaching were part of or closely intertwined with those of the Department of Mathematics. Ph.D. students majoring in statistics were required to take the Mathematics Department Ph.D. Qualifying Exam and promotions for junior faculty in statistics were processed through the Department of Mathematics.

The growth of the Department of Statistics has been intimately tied with the leadership of its first department head, Shanti S. Gupta. He headed the Department from its inception until he stepped down as head in 1995. Professor Gupta received his Ph.D. in theoretical statistics from the University of North Carolina in 1956 and worked in Bell Telephone Laboratories. In 1962 he was hired in the Purdue Department of Mathematics and Statistics in anticipation that his theoretical and practical experience would promote the growth of statistics at Purdue. It was largely through his efforts that the department was made an independent entity within the College of Science. This was critical to the growth of statistics and probability at Purdue.

When Professor Gupta stepped down in 1995, Professor Mary Ellen Bock became the second head of the department and the first female department head in the College of Science. Building on the solid foundation established by Professor Gupta, Professor Bock further helped to develop statistics and probability at Purdue. During the 1990s a growing importance of data in industry and government emerged. The ability to analyze data became a highly sought after skill. To meet this demand, the department added research and courses in areas of application such as bioinformatics, genomics, massive data, machine learning, visualization, and computational finance. The increasing importance of statistics in interdisciplinary fields has led to departmental faculty hires with appointments in Agronomy, Biology, Computer Science, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Forestry and Natural Resources, and Mathematics. Today's Purdue Statistics students find positions in a wide variety of industries. In addition to expanding the research scope of the department, Professor Bock's leadership has seen the size of the department double, both in the number of faculty and the number of students.