Department of Statistics Adding Data Science To Its Name

A name change is coming to the Department of Statistics to better reflect its direction moving forward.

Starting May 6, the department will be formally known as the Department of Statistics and Data Science, a nod to its increased focus on training future leaders in the data science field.

With a doctoral program already in place and a dedicated bachelor’s degree in the works, Department Chair Shunpu Zhang, Ph.D., said it’s a move in the right direction.

“The department and really the university is putting a lot of effort into building up our data science authority,” Zhang said. “Every faculty member in the department, including myself, is really excited about this.”

Data scientists, developers and engineers are one of the fastest-growing roles in the U.S., with an estimated 700,000 openings by 2020, according to Forbes. With data growing at a rate of 2.5 quintillion bytes per day, businesses from finance to marketing rely on data scientists to find patterns and behaviors they can use to their advantage.

The Department of Statistics is increasingly tailoring its course offerings to match these workforce demands and hiring faculty that excel in data science. A bachelor’s degree focused exclusively on data science (instead of a track within a major) is in the works through collaboration with mathematics, computer science and industrial engineering.

“Data science is an increasingly attractive and valuable skill set for current students and those preparing to enter the workforce. The name change reflects both the department’s long-standing excellence in data science and its future trajectory,” said College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson, Ph.D.


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