John R. Tucker
National Research Council
Welcome to this public symposium on modern interdisciplinary university statistics education (MIUSE). I am the National Research Council (NRC) program officer for the Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, CATS, which organized this event.
The purpose of the MIUSE project is to identify the features needed in upper-level undergraduate and post-baccalaureate statistical sciences education to educate highly qualified professional statisticians for teaching, research, business, and industry, and to indicate how those features can best be incorporated into statistics programs. Support for this project has been provided by the National Science Foundation.
The idea for the project originated in 1991 in discussions by CATS about what it viewed as the most important needs in the statistics community. CATS believed strongly that a high priority should be put on completely rethinking the statistics major's educational program from the upper-undergraduate level through the postdoctoral experience. Subsequent discussions with statisticians on the NRC's Board on Mathematical Sciences and the Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications, with prominent members of the statistics community, and with federal statisticians reinforced this view.
This symposium is intended to commence a national dialogue and examination within the nation's academic statistics communities of what modernization and change are needed. It is hoped that it will be a first step in what will necessarily be a gradual but essential period of discussion, experimentation, reevaluation, and feedback that leads to general consensus on what are the best ways to accomplish those changes that are needed, and what ought to be the minimum requirements for the diverse spectrum of modern statistics programs.
Ultimately, formal recommendations and a capstone report may result, but that is not the goal for today and tomorrow. This symposium starts the process by raising issues and concerns, providing a forum for the expression of ideas and possibilities, and sparking a nationwide examination through discussions of experiences and presentations of examples of what approaches could succeed in efforts to incorporate interdisciplinary training into upper-undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral programs, to bring the graduate curriculum up to date, to improve apprentice programs for graduate and postdoctoral students, and to reward faculty mentors for such activity.