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May 13, 2009

Alicia Carriquiry

Statistics faculty member Alicia Carriquiry works on settling in to her new Snedecor Hall office. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Symposium celebrates Stat Lab anniversary and Snedecor renovation

by Anne Krapfl

Statistics department faculty, staff and graduate students returned to Snedecor Hall last week following a 16-month transformation of the building's interior.

Gone are the tile walls, dead-end hallways and dark interior spaces. In their place are state-of-the-art computer labs, classrooms and conference rooms, restrooms for men and women on each floor, and work spaces for 45 faculty or visiting scholars and 100 graduate students that make maximum use of natural light. Snedecor has new heating, cooling and electrical systems, and new windows, roof and plumbing. It has one less stairwell (two instead of three) and a new elevator in a new location.

"We think it's wonderful," said Ken Koehler, chair of the statistics department. "This is going to make a huge difference in our recruitment of graduate students and faculty.

"This building was a challenge, but the architects did a really nice job, particularly in using affordable materials in innovative ways."

Building dedication and anniversary symposium

Snedecor Hall will be rededicated during a 4 p.m. ribbon cutting and reception Wednesday, June 3. The university community is invited.

The ceremony is part of a three-day symposium (June 3-5) planned to celebrate the renovated home of the statistics department as well as the 75th anniversary of the Statistical Laboratory. Iowa State leaders established the lab in 1933, bringing together people trained in statistical theory and application to work on the real-world problems in faculty research. It was the first research and consulting center of its type in the nation. An early focus was on agriculture data analysis -- and that continues. The lab's work now also includes statistical applications in social, physical, engineering and biological sciences for clients around the world.

The lab actually predates the statistics department by 15 years, but since the creation of the department, the chair always has led the two units concurrently.

The anniversary symposium includes six plenary presentations and five breakout sessions led by invited presenter teams from across the country. It will be held in Howe Hall. A full schedule is online. Registration, $200 ($100 for students), includes snacks, lunches and a Thursday evening banquet at the Hotel at Gateway Center. An optional, 9-hole golf outing at Veenker golf course is planned for Friday, with a 2 p.m. shotgun start.

Honoring a previous leader

Statistics professor Dean Isaacson retires from Iowa State May 15 after nearly 41 years on the faculty. He arrived in the fall of 1968 with a new Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Isaacson served as department chair and director of the Statistical Laboratory from 1984 to 2002, and as director of graduate studies for the department since 1984.

His colleagues will honor him with a roast during the symposium's Thursday banquet. Tickets for the banquet only are $35 and may be purchased online at the symposium registration site.


"This is going to make a huge difference in our recruitment of graduate students and faculty."

Ken Koehler

Kun Liang

Graduate student Kun Liang sets up his work station.

Graduate student work areas are in the interior of each floor.

A second-floor reading room doubles as a faculty lounge.

Extensive use of glass lets exterior light reach interior spaces.

Photos by Bob Elbert.