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Herbert Solomon

photo of Herb Solomon

In observance of the 100th anniversary of his birthday, this time capsule entry is made for one of the founding members of the Statistics Department at Stanford, Herb Solomon. Although his tenure here didn't begin until 1959, as the first-ever recipient of a Stanford Statistics PhD, Herb was already making an impact as a course instructor in 1947; the department was officially created in 1948 and his dissertation formed the entire cohort of 1949-50.

When he was eventually lured back to the Farm from Columbia University, Herb was immediately instated as department chair, replacing our founding chairman Al Bowker who had been appointed Dean of Graduate Studies. He served as chair from 1959 to 1964 — during an astounding period of expansion where the number of faculty nearly tripled — and again later from 1985 to 1988. Looking perhaps to the long-term future of our little family, Herb lent his support during this time to help keep Brad Efron from being kicked out of Stanford. (As student editor of the campus humor magazine The Chaparral, Efron had put out an issue on sex and religion that got him suspended for four months.)

During his lifetime, Herb was honored with the ASA's Wilks Medal for his contributions to statistics and the Townsend Harris Medal from City College of New York for his contributions to knowledge. The Secretary of the Navy awarded him the Distinguished Public Service Medal, their highest civilian award, for his research contributions and for his leadership in furthering basic research in the academic community for Navy Department programs. The Statistics Department is proud to recognize and remember our alumnus, leader, and friend in his centennial year.

“The department had a lot of vitality when I arrived. It had profited from government funding for a number of years, which made it possible for us to have PhD graduate students and many visitors. In fact, we always prided ourselves on the number of visitors and the international coloring they provided, both in the academic year and summers. It was hard at one point to go around the world and find someone who had not spent some time at Sequoia Hall.”