From left, College of Science Dean Cynthia Young stands outside Martin Hall alongside professor Kevin James and Christoph Cox, the newly named acting director of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

College of Science Dean Cynthia Y. Young (left) stands outside Martin Hall alongside professors Kevin James and Christopher Cox, the latter of whom has been named acting director of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.
Image Credit: College of Science

CLEMSON — As a reflection of its growing size and reputation, the Clemson University College of Science’s department of mathematical sciences has officially become the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences effective Oct. 1.

The school will have divisions that will enable it to better harness research expertise in algebra and discrete mathematics, analysis, computational mathematics, operations research, mathematical statistics and probability, and applied statistics and data science.

“Our success has been leading to this for a long time,” said Christopher Cox, former chair of the department and now acting director of the school. “It reached a point where a single department chair was spread too thin with 92 (86 faculty and six staff) direct reports. Under the new structure, the director will have assistance from newly appointed division leaders who will share management responsibilities. This is a very positive development that our faculty initiated more than two years ago when the university was preparing to restructure the colleges.”

Cox will remain at Clemson as acting director of the school until his retirement at the end of this year. A nationwide search for a new director will soon be launched. Professor Kevin James will serve as interim director until the new director comes on board.

“Being a school will elevate how people view us from the outside,” said Cox, who was named interim chair of the department in August 2015 and became permanent chair in January 2017. “This sets the bar higher in terms of broadening the talent pool in our search for a new director.”

This past July, Clemson trustees approved a proposal presented by the College of Science to elevate the department to a school. The new school structure will replace the department chair with a school director who will oversee division leaders assigned to supervise a group of 25 to 35 faculty each.

“We considered separating into two departments, which is the model at most R1 land-grant universities. But the uniqueness at Clemson is that these expertise converge, which helps us accelerate our research discoveries and prepare the next generation of mathematicians, statisticians and data scientists,” said Cynthia Y. Young, dean of the College of Science. “The school structure will enable us to continue to harness the breadth of the department and having division leads will help us strengthen recruitment and development of our faculty talent.”

“A real strength of our program – recognized both internally and externally – is that our students at all degree levels acquire a broad range of understanding in mathematical and statistical sciences along with depth in their chosen specialty,” Cox said. “This helps prepare them for success in a wide variety of jobs, from actuaries in insurance companies to the ‘go-to’ math and stat expert in a government lab or company to a professor in a university. In the end, it all adds up.”