Provost's committee examining state of statistics on campus
A small faculty committee convened by Provost Billy Frye and chaired by
Betz Halloran, associate professor of biostatistics, is looking to improve
Emory's research environment by assessing the level of statistical expertise
that exists and making recommendations on how Emory should move forward
in that area.
"I created the group because the interest and expertise in and the
need for statistical capability is scattered throughout the campus, and
before we can make an intelligent decision about whether we ought to change
anything, for example, invest in more faculty or create some kind of center
to pull it all together, we need to know both what our current strengths
are, and what our needs are," said Frye.
Halloran said that a good foundation in statistics and biostatistics could
strengthen the overall research capacity at Emory. "We're looking at
four points," said Halloran. "First, statistics as scholarly work,
that is research and the Ph.D. program. Second, the creative interaction
of statistics with applied science. Third, the bread and butter statistical
consulting that needs to go on to advise faculty on statistical analysis
of their research. And fourth, the teaching of statistics."
Halloran said the group likely will be bringing in at least one consultant,
and possibly more, next semester to advise Emory on how to develop statistics
at Emory. "Statistics is a hidden cost of doing research; Emory's trying
to recruit good researchers and it must have this basic support," said
Halloran. "Support for statistics is a fundamental decision that Emory
must make to strengthen the research enterprise and the intellectual atmosphere
of the University," she added.
Dwight Duffus, professor and chair of mathematics and computer science;
William Eley, associate professor of epidemology; Susan Frost, vice provost
for institutional planning and research; Dennis Liotta, vice president for
research; Howard Rollins, professor of psychology; and Doug Wallace, Woodruff
professor of molecular genetics, are serving on the committee. They are
interested in hearing from faculty who are concerned with this issue.
Frye said the state of statistics is a typical case of the fragmentation
and lack of community that comes from the autonomy and isolation of Emory.
"Greater awareness of and collaboration with one another should be
a consequence of the study," said Frye.
"Statistics of high quality, in both application and original scholarship,
is a vital tool to excellent research in many fields," Frye continued.
"Thus, while we can look at academic statistics as a field in its own
right, it is also an essential part of the teaching and research infrastructure
that any great university must attend to. This study is intended to bring
that fact to the fore in such a manner that we can more confidently determine
whether there is more that we ought to be doing in this regard."
to the November 18, 1996 contents page