College creates endowed professorship in statistics

Publication Date

The College has created an endowed professorship in statistics that will support the school’s approach to interdisciplinary learning.

The “Donald C. Brate ’45-Stanley G. Peschel ’52 Professorship in Statistics” is funded through the estates of two longtime Union benefactors.

Brate studied electrical engineering at Union. He retired in 1981 as a system analyst with General Electric in Syracuse. He joined GE’s Test Program in Schenectady after graduation and spent most of the following 33 years designing and developing underwater acoustic equipment for the U.S. Navy. He funded a number of initiatives at the College, including the Donald C. Brate Scholarship for engineering students.” He died in 2005.

Peschel, who also studied electrical engineering, was founder and CEO of High Voltage Inc. and Hipotronics, designers and manufacturers of high voltage test equipment. An earlier gift from Peschel helped establish the Stanley G. Peschel Computer Center, which was dedicated in 1975. Peschel died in 2002.

“We greatly appreciate both of these gifts,” said Union President Stephen C. Ainlay. “The revolution in computational power has prompted the production of enormous amounts of data.”

With the increasing quantification in a wide range of fields including biology, economics, geology, sociology, ecology, psychology, history, political science and computer science, the reliance on statistics is burgeoning, Ainlay noted. “Union must add a full-time statistician to its faculty if we are to prepare our students effectively to take part in this revolution and to remain competitive among our peer institutions.”

Therese A. McCarty, the Stephen J. and Diane K. Ciesinski Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, said the new professor will have access to Union’s recently acquired IBM cluster computer, currently the largest computer of its kind at any liberal arts college in the country. The computational power of this computer will expand opportunities for complex statistical analysis across disciplines, enabling more extensive student and faculty research projects that, in turn, will enhance classroom instruction.

“Filling this position will expand and improve student and faculty scholarship, bolster interdisciplinary collaboration and ensure that our students acquire the requisite breadth and depth of knowledge and practice that the 21st century demands of them,” said McCarty.

Alan Taylor, chair of the Department of Mathematics and the Marie Louise Bailey Professor of Mathematics, described the new position as “an extremely important addition to the department, and one that has the potential to enhance faculty and student efforts in virtually every department and program at the College.”

A national search for this new scholar will begin shortly and the person is expected to begin at Union next fall.

The naming of this professorship comes during the College’s $250 million You are Union campaign, which has raised more than $225 million to date and will be completed in 2012.