Department Finds Breathing Room at HAAS

September,  2006

"We're bursting at the seams," states Mary Ellen Bock, Head and Professor of Statistics. The department has seen extensive growth recently, doubling the number of faculty in the last five years and doubling the number of graduate students in the last seven years. In recent years, the department has housed graduate students in the Physics and Chemistry buildings due to lack of space in the MATH building. To relieve some of the space issues, about one third of the department's faculty and staff is in the process of moving to HAAS, formerly known as the Computer Science building and prior to that the Memorial Gymnasium. The opportunity to move into the HAAS building has come about because most of the Department of Computer Sciences has moved to the new Lawson building.

The Department of Statistics will occupy some of the first and second floors in the HAAS building, all of the fifth floor in MATH, and some of the ground and second floors in MATH. The department's main office no longer resides on the fifth floor of the MATH building where it has been for the last thirty-nine years. The main office and graduate office can now be found on the first floor in the HAAS building. Norma Lucas, Assistant to the Head, who has worked for the Department of Statistics for thirty-six years, has moved out of her office of thirty-five years in MATH to HAAS. While she has been comfortable at MATH, she is looking forward to the new setting over at HAAS. There are pros and cons in the move to HAAS noted Assistant Professor Bowei Xi, "The offices are much bigger [in HAAS], but the windows are much smaller."

In addition to the moves to HAAS, many moves are taking place within the MATH building. The department will no longer have offices on the fourth or the tenth floors of the MATH building. Approximately seventy-five percent of the department's faculty and staff and a little over sixty-five percent of the graduate students will have moved their office either to HAAS or within the MATH building. Emeritus Professor David S. Moore notes, "This is the first major reshuffle of the Department of Statistics since the opening of the MATH building in 1967 when the Statistics department occupied the fifth floor." Prior to moving into the MATH building, the Statistical Laboratory was housed on the second floor of the Engineering Administration building on campus.

The reorganization allows many faculty and graduate students with similar research interests to have offices in close proximity to each other, helping to facilitate collaborative research. "Many research efforts start with corridor discussions, so I expect it to be a positive change," says Assistant Professor Guy Lebanon.

The HAAS building is named in honor of Felix Haas. He is the Arthur G. Hansen Professor Emeritus of Mathematics who served as head of the Division of Mathematical Sciences in 1961, dean of the School of Science from 1962-1974 and provost from 1974-1986. Up until last year, he regularly taught math classes at Purdue. When Haas came to Purdue, the Division of Mathematical Sciences consisted of the mathematics department and an organization called the statistical laboratory, which was in charge of the university's data processing. Based on Haas's recommendation the Mathematical Sciences division was reorganized in 1963 to contain three teaching departments: computer science, mathematics and statistics, as well as two service organizations, the statistical laboratory and the newly created Purdue Computing Center. In 1968, due to the efforts of Professor Shanti S. Gupta, the Department of Statistics was made an independent entity with its own budget and Gupta was appointed head of the department.