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Statistics Department Recognized for Diversity

The American Mathematical Society’s Committee on the Profession designated the Department of Statistics as one of two Mathematics Programs that Make a Difference for 2009. The award recognizes outstanding records in recruiting members of underrepresented groups and mentoring them to successfully complete graduate degrees.

Of 40 statistics faculty, 11 are female, three are African-American and two are Hispanic. In the past 10 years, 15 minority students have received master’s degrees and two have earned doctorates. The department has about 160 graduate students, including nine African-American and four Hispanic students. More than half of the students in the department are female.

NC State has cultivated ties to other institutions, particularly historically black colleges and universities, as well as to organizations such as the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). Co-Director of Graduate Programs Pam Arroway visits small colleges and summer programs to recruit students and to network and maintain strong relationships with their mentors. Faculty advisors work extensively with new students, who are also assigned a more-advanced student who acts as a mentor, or “stat buddy.”

Faculty member Kimberly Weems organizes activities for minority students and meets individually with them to ensure successful progress. Department head Sastry Pantula has twice been selected for a university diversity award. Other department faculty members have received similar recognition, including Weems and Jackie Hughes-Oliver. Graduate student Anthony Franklin received a university diversity award for his support of students and for recruiting new students of all backgrounds.

Statistics has received two National Science Foundation VIGRE grants that helped support minority students. Recently the department received an S-STEM (Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) grant from the NSF to provide scholarships for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with financial need.