Washington State University’s Department of Statistics has merged into the Department of Mathematics as part of the university’s budget-reduction process.
Professor Michael Jacroux, former chair of the Department of Statistics, said he found out about the merger last spring.
“It wasn’t our first choice for what to happen to us,” Jacroux said. “On the other hand, it was almost inevitable because we were a very small unit and people were retiring, and we were losing positions and they weren’t being replaced because of budget cuts.”
Statistics Professor Venkata Jandhyala said the merger was necessary for the department.
“We were small and, given the personnel, we were not able to be an independent department anymore,” Jandhyala said.
Jacroux said the merger has caused little disruption in the department.
“There were some changes in terms of services we used to offer to the university,” Jacroux said. “For example, statistical consulting is no longer really offered to students and faculty.”
Jacroux said statistical consulting is when the Department of Statistics helps a graduate student or faculty member analyze research data they have collected. Now, they will have to find outside sources to help, Jacroux said. This could affect the speed at which the data is analyzed.
“It could affect quality of research in some cases,” Jacroux said.
Daryll DeWald, dean of the College of Sciences, said the statistical consulting will be reduced but not eliminated, and could ultimately help research activities.
“I don’t know if there will be any formalized statistical consulting like there has been in the past, but I would encourage informal statistical consulting,” DeWald said.
Jacroux said a positive result of the merger is the establishment of a doctoral program in statistics within the Department of Mathematics. He said he hopes the program will become available to students next fall.
DeWald said the doctoral degree would officially be a degree in mathematics with an emphasis in statistics.
“I think that would be a very marketable degree in a number of ways,” DeWald said.
Jacroux said the merger has not had any effect on students.
“The students that are currently enrolled in the program will just continue to work on their degrees as they would have done,” he said.
No staff or faculty lost their positions as a result of the merger, Jacroux said.
Jandhyala said the merger probably prevented the department from having to cut positions.
“If we did not merge, given the scenarios, we probably didn’t have much of an option because we were kind of small,” Jandhyala said.
He said so far things in the former Department of Statistics have continued normally.
“The hope is that whatever we have been doing, we will continue,” he said.
DeWald said the merger is part of three consolidations within the College of Sciences. The other mergers include the consolidation of the College of Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts, which will begin next fall, and the combination of the Department of Natural Resource Sciences and the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences into the School for the Environment, which began in January, DeWald said.
“We feel that we have a responsibility to the students’ and to tax payers to do our best and operate efficiently as we can,” he said.