A major addition

We at the Record commend the Committee on Education Policy (CEP) and the faculty for approving a statistics major at the College. According to careful research conducted by the CEP and the math and statistics department, there is significant student interest in this major. This is true particularly of students within the math department, which in itself makes up about 10 percent of each graduating class. While the new statistics major will certainly overlap with the existing courses and professors in the math department, separating the two majors will offer considerable benefits. For one, a statistics major will allow students who are primarily interested in statistics – which is a useful interdisciplinary study – to avoid math major requirements that they do not wish to take. Second, it will provide a collection of statistics courses that allow students to progress through the courses in a logical progression, building on previous knowledge. The pre-existing statistics program at the College helps make the shift to a new major easier and less expensive. We at the Record applaud the administration for using resources that are already in place and for considering student interest in academic programming.

When discussing the creation of a statistics major, the faculty and CEP questioned whether such a major was too pre-professional to meld with the liberal arts modus operandi, which mirrors a similar conversation sparked by the creation of the public health concentration. There is a compelling argument that a major in statistics could be seen as merely a pragmatic portion of a math major, leaving it without the theoretical background that make many of the majors at the College so challenging and thought-provoking. On the other hand, making statistics a major could help the department avoid such a conundrum by encouraging a carefully constructed trajectory that specifically seeks to insight theoretical debate about unresolved statistical concepts. The statistics major can and should have a much broader conception of the field than it would if it were merely offering classes that supplemented students in the pursuit of other fields, such as courses like the psychology department’s “Experimentation and Statistics.”

We at the Record also want to highlight that a statistic major is innovative on the College’s part, as many of our peer institutions do not have a similar offering. The College already boasts one of the nation’s top math programs, and a statistic major will make the College more appealing to prospective students with interests in that field.