This era covers the “Renne years” (MSU President Roland R. Renne 1943-1964). It begins during World War II and ends during the turbulent 1960s.
     The Allies invaded Sicily from North Africa in 1943, and invaded France on June 6, 1944, D-Day. The successful, but costly, invasions led to the liberation of Europe from Axis occupation. In 1945, the European members of the Axis surrendered. President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in April, 1945, and VP Harry S. Truman became the 33rd U.S. President. In August, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and three days later, it dropped another on Nagasaki. Japan surrendered. WWII was over. More than four hundred thousand Americans had died in the war that, worldwide, had taken the lives of some sixty million people.
     In the election of 1946 Harry Truman retained the Presidency when he defeated the Republican challenger Tom Dewey. The 1947 National Security Act established the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. The Department of Defense was created. In 1949, the U.S. signed the North Atlantic Treaty, just before the USSR tested its first atomic bomb. College-age Americans were called to military service again when the nation became involved in the Korean War (1950-53). US Army Reserve and Army National Guard infantry soldiers and new inductees were sent to Korea. It has been estimated that, by the time an armistice was negotiated in 1953, the full battle death toll on all sides was more than 1.2 million and the total number of civilian casualties exceeded 2.5 million.
       The National Science Foundation was established in 1950. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided that American state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional, even if the segregated schools are otherwise equal in quality. General Dwight D. Eisenhower defeated Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson in the election of 1952, and again in his reelection bid in 1956. In 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik, the first ever artificial satellite. To win the ”space race,” the U.S. government created the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) and provided support to universities for scientific research and for graduating more students with advanced degrees in science and engineering. In the election of 1960, Democratic Senator John F. Kennedy barely defeated VP Richard M. Nixon. On Nov. 22, 1963, the country was shocked by the assassination of President Kennedy, but its citizens rallied behind VP Lyndon B. Johnson when he assumed the Presidency.
      The end of the war marked the dawn of an age of economic prosperity. In 1944, the G.I. Bill extended to the sixteen million Americans who served in the war a series of benefits, including a free, four-year college education. That bill changed the face of American universities. Academic statisticians received unprecedented support from federal agencies.

      At MSC, greater federal and state support led to a larger campus and academic growth. The 1944 enrollment of 1155 grew to 5250 students in 1964. New construction during this era included the Math-Physics Building (now A. J. M. Johnson Hall), an addition to Linfield Hall, a veterinary science building, new greenhouses, an addition to the Ryon Engineering Laboratories (since replaced by Cobleigh and Barnard Halls), a service shop, a large addition to the Student Union Building, Reid Hall, a new dairy center, Cooley Labs, new dormitories (Langford, Culbertson, and Mullan Halls), and the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. Some of the new buildings are shown in the 1960 photo (below).

placeholder image
Aerial view of MSC from SW 1960

     MSC President Renne was able to secure considerable support for the Montana university system generally, and for MSC specifically, during the 1950s. Renne’s successes and liberal views had rankled the conservative state legislature. In 1960, the Republican Donald G. Nutter was elected Governor and the Nutter administration set out to cut state expenditures for state services, especially those for education, with MSC getting special attention. Nutter put a moratorium on university system construction projects, cut the MSC budget by $1-1.5 million including cutting the research budget completely out of some programs and significantly reducing the budgets for the MAES and Cooperative Extension Service. The assault on education diminished suddenly in January 1962 when Nutter died in a tragic airplane accident and Lieutenant Governor Tim Babcock became Governor. The Nutter administration and the 1961 legislature created possibly the bleakest moment for higher education in Montana!
       MSC President Renne took a leave of absence in February, 1963, for a temporary assignment in the J. F. Kennedy administration. After Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, Renne came back to Montana, resigned his MSC position, and prepared to run for the Montana governorship. During his term, Renne was a political liberal who had to mollify a very conservative legislature in order to acquire funding for MSC. The 1960s brought to U.S. universities vociferous student and faculty unrest, some of which reached the laid-back MSC campus. Issues of censored-speech, academic freedom, and unionization all confronted Renne during his term of service. Renne was criticized by both the left and right wings of the political spectrum, but he strove for a balance that facilitated progress for MSC.


     At the Mathematics Department, William Tallman became the department’s first Professor Emeritus in 1945. The existence of statistics courses at MSU was due to the foresight and persistence of William Tallman. Faculty member Dr. Joe James Livers, who had recently received a PhD in Statistics from the University of Michigan, replaced Tallman as the statistics instructor. In 1947-48, Livers taught the first ever graduate course in statistics at MSC – a year long sequence on Mathematical Statistics. For the 1948-49 catalog, the Math Department was authorized to confer an MS degree. In 1952, Livers left MSC to take a position with Boeing Corporation. Before he left, he crafted three new undergraduate courses that appeared in the 1952-54 course catalog, a statistical methods course, a probability course, and a “special problems in statistics” course.
      The Montana Board of Education permitted the Mathematics Department to reinstate its bachelors, masters, and doctorate degree programs. In doing so, the department included a statistics option at each level. In 1953, the Math Department moved to the new Math-Physics Building. When Prof. Tallman retired in 1945, John W. Hurst became the new Head of the Mathematics Department. He retired from the headship in 1961 and Prof. J. Eldon Whitesitt became the new Head. All the leaders supported the effort to build a statistics program at MSC.
      In the Fall of 1952, newly recruited Dr. Bernard Ostle moved into the leadership of the statistics program in the Math Department; he was responsible for teaching all statistics courses. He added a one credit laboratory component to the elementary statistics and statistical methods courses. The laboratory provided practice in performing statistical calculations with rotary desktop calculators. He added two senior-level courses, on Sampling and on Experimental Design, to the curriculum. By the beginning of the 1955-1956 academic year, a B.S. degree in Mathematics was authorized by the Montana Board of Education and the 1954-56 catalog lists curriculum requirements for a mathematics option and a statistics option. In 1957, Ostle left MSC to take a position at Sandia Corporation. While at MSC, he published the first edition of his popular textbook, Statistics in Research: Basic concepts and techniques for research workers. Also, he created an active Statistical Laboratory that provided consulting and collaboration with campus researchers as well as consulting experience for statistics students.
       To replace Ostle, two statisticians were hired in 1957, Dr. Franklin S. McFeely and Dr. Charles P. Mode. By 1960, they had updated the course offerings to include both new developments in the field and their personal research interests. In addition to teaching, McFeely was responsible for managing MSU’s new digital computer. The Special Topics in Statistics course was replaced by a Genetic Statistics course. Undergraduate courses on Statistical Calculations and Electronic Data Processing were added. The graduate program was expanded to include a sequence on Multivariate Analysis, a sequence on Advanced Probability, and a sequence on Experimental Design/Linear Models Theory. In 1961, the statistician Dr. Charles P. Quesenberry joined the faculty. A graduate sequence on Statistical Inference and revised and extended courses on statistical calculations using the new digital computer appeared in the next course catalog. In 1952, Elementary Statistics was renumbered as 116, replacing 106, the number the course had used since it first appeared in 1948.
       After the department was allowed to renew its degree programs, statistics students began to receive graduate degrees. The first statistician to earn the MS degree was Glenn Ingram in 1954. Later, two other statistics students received MS degrees, Raymond Hitchcock in 1959, and Willis John Alberda in 1963.
      There was a phenomenal increase in the publication of textbooks and reference books on branches of statistics that were created or expanded during WWII. By the 1960s, a comprehensive university statistics curriculum would include probability, mathematical statistics, sampling, design of experiments, linear statistical models, multivariate analysis, and nonparametric methods, and perhaps also some special topics such as quality control, biostatistics, sequential analysis, stochastic processes, or operations research. In 1963, the prevailing short definition of statistics was “theory and methods for data-based decision-making in the face of uncertainty.” High speed computers were developed during WWII and the first commercial computers began to appear on campuses by 1963.
         The Statistics Program at MSU was established during this era. By 1963, the statistics course curriculum provided up-to-date training in statistical theory & methods, a representative spectrum of specialties, and experience with the latest tools for performing statistical calculations. The Statistics Program at MSU as it exists today grew on the foundation built during the 1944-1963 era by its statistics faculty members: Joe J. Livers, Bernard Ostle, Frank McFeely, Charles Mode, and Charles Quesenberry.

Detailed Chronicle of the Statistics Program: 1944-1963

As it did during the Great Depression, MSC skipped Catalog publication during some WWII years. Renne Library’s 1936/37 – 1946/47 bound collection of MSC Catalogs contains an archivist’s handwritten note stating, “Catalogs for 1943/44 and 1945/46 were apparently never published.”

1944-1945 MSC Catalog

The Mathematics Department faculty were Professors W. D. Tallman, J. W. Hurst; Associate Professors F. M. Bull and J. J. Livers and Assistant Professor J. C. C. McKinsey. The only course in statistics was the sequence 407-408-408 Theory of Statistics, taught by J. J. Livers.

W. D. Tallman retired on July 1, 1945
and became the Department’s first Professor Emeritus. The existence of statistics courses at MSU in 1945 is due to the foresight and persistence of William Tallman during his 45 years of dedicated service.

Also in 1945, Assoc. Prof. Joe James Livers received a PhD in Statistics from the Univ. of Michigan.
His dissertation "Use of Partitions in Multivariate Moment Sampling Theory" was supervised by Prof. Paul S. Dwyer.3   Livers was well-qualified to take over the statistics courses after Tallman retired.

John W. Hurst (MSU: 1925-1961) was selected to be the new Head of the Mathematics.
He had taught at MSC since 1925. During the post-war period, the Mathematics Department faculty grew steadily in numbers and in academic preparation.

1946-1947 MSC Catalog

It lists 5 active professors and 4 instructors: Professor J. W. Hurst, Professor Emeritus, W. D. Tallman; Associate Professors F. M. Bull and J. J. Livers; Assistant Professors A. R. Poole and B. H. Arnold; Instructors A. L. Hess, Leroy V. Good, Mrs. Marion Brockmann, and H. M. Schaerf

1947-1948 Catalog

It shows J. J. Livers was a Professor, R. E. Lowney had replaced A. R. Poole in an Asst. Prof. position and there were 8 Instructors:   LeRoy V. Good, Adrien Hess, John E. Laakso, Gladys E. Shoop, Halvor T. Strandrud, William Swartz, J. Eldon Whitesitt, and David F. Delap Sr. who is famous for an early ascent of Grand Teton peak in 1923.4 The undergraduate statistics courses 407-408-408 were taught by Livers.

This Catalog displays the first full set of graduate courses ever offered by the Mathematics Department. It includes an Advanced Mathematical Statistics course:

Majors in the Department of Mathematics may select minors from graduate courses and from courses designated by an asterisk in the following departments: Physics, Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, General Engineering, Economics and Sociology, and Education and Psychology.

501-502-503. Investigations in Mathematics, Thesis. A, W, S. 25 cr. per quarter. Mr. Hurst and staff. On demand.
505-506-507. Advanced Mathematical Statistics. A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3. Prerequisite, 407-408-409. Given on demand. Mr. Livers.
509-510-511. Theory of Functions of a Complex Variable. A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3. Prerequisite, Math. 413. Given on demand. Staff.
513-514-515. Theory of Functions of a Real Variable. A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3. Prerequisite, Math. 413. Given on demand. Staff.
517-518-519. Advanced Algebraic Theory. A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3. Prerequisite, Math. 317. On demand. Staff.
521-522-523. Graduate Seminars. A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3. Given on demand. Mr. Hurst and Staff.
525-526-527. Differential Geometry. A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3 Prerequisites, Math. 203 and Math. 301, 302, 303. Given on demand. Staff.
529-530-531. Advanced Theory of Differential Equations. A, W,S 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3. Prerequisite, Math. 303, or equivalent. Given on demand. Staff.


The first graduate course in Statistics delivered at MSC was taught by Prof. J. J. Livers in 1947.

Positive comments about the value of instruction in statistics are included in a letter from John Hurst to Adrien Hess. Hess has asked Hurst for topics to include when training teachers of mathematics. On November 25, 1947, Hurst wrote, 

“... Statistics— the average high school teacher may have an interest in statistics. If they do, it will work in nicely with their teaching and future planning. The arrangement of data is important. The understanding and working with grades and statistical studies that come up in high school gives the teacher a good chance to show that mathematics is important. The teacher may feel he needs a Master’s degree in education later, and a statistical thesis, to my mind, is apt to prove better for him than most any other kind. Therefore, some statistical training for those who are so inclined would work in as a very healthy part of their training... .”

In 1947 the Mathematics Departmental offices moved temporarily
from the cold two-story Stone Building into cold and equally miserable quarters in the North Barracks. The Stone Building east of Montana Hall was demolished in 1949.

1948-1949 MSC Catalog
This catalog announced that the Department of Mathematics offered a Master of Science degree in Applied Mathematics. The Montana Board of Education received the Department's request for authorization in 1946 and finally approved an MS degree beginning the 1948-1949 academic year. The graduate program was based on the full set of graduate courses established in the previous year. The first MS under the new authorization was awarded in June, 1950, marking the end of a hiatus in the mathematics graduate program that lasted 38 years, 1912 to 1950.

Eleven students received the MS in Applied Mathematics during the period 1950-58.6   The department began growing and changing so rapidly that, from now on,  we will focus on the Statistics Faculty only, and no longer attempt to track all faculty members in the Mathematics Department.  Until the Fall of 1951, the sole active statistician was Professor J. J. Livers, although Assoc. Prof. F. M. Bull (promoted to Professor in 1952) became the Elementary Statistics instructor and Prof. Emeritus W. D. Tallman continued to be listed in the Catalogs.

1949-1950, and 1950-1952 MSC Catalogs
These catalogs list seven Statistics
courses; they will serve as the foundation of statistics instruction at MSC for many years:

Math 106 (L). Elementary Statistics. S. 4 cr. Lect. 3; Lab 1. Prerequisite, Math 104, 105. Assoc. Prof. Bull.
This is an elementary course in Theory of Statistical Analysis.
Math **407-408-409 (U). Mathematical Theory of Statistics. A. W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3,3,3. Prerequisites, Math. 201, 202, 203. Prof. Livers.
Math 505-506-507. Advanced Mathematical Statistics. A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3, 3, 3.
Prerequisites, Math. 407, 408, 409. Given on demand. Prof. Livers.

Descriptions of the upper division courses were not provided. Based on our experience, the description of Math 106 would have recruited more non-mathematical students if Livers had deleted the fearful word “theory” from the description.9

The Department’s MS degree requirements (based on the graduate courses listed in the 1947-48 Catalog) were:

“The Department of Mathematics grants a Master's Degree in Applied Mathematics. In addition to meeting the requirements for admission laid down by the graduate division, the applicant must complete with an average grade of B or better, Math 301, 2, 3 (Differential Equations); any one of Math 314 (Theory of Equations), 317, 318 (Introduction to Algebraic Theory); and six additional upper division quarter credits in Mathematics. Courses obviously equivalent may be substituted. Physics 227 8, 9, 30, or the equivalent, is required of all those not making Statistics their major field of study. The language requirement may be waived for candidates presenting a degree in Engineering. Minors may be taken in the following departments: Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Sociology, Education, and Psychology, and the various departments of Engineering.”

Statistics could be a student’s major field of study for the MS degree in Applied Mathematics, but we don't know the extent to which statistics courses were substituted for the required mathematics courses.

1952-1954 MSC Catalog

The course offerings include three new statistics courses, probably designed by Livers before he left for Boeing.

Math *324 (U) Modern Statistical Analysis. W. 3 cr. Lect. 3. Prerequisite, Math 106. Mr. Livers.
This course will be taught on a more advanced level than Math 106 and will differ from Math 406 and Math 407 in that they assume a knowledge of calculus.
Math *325 (U) Introductory Theory of Probability. 3 cr. Lect. 3. (On demand.) Prerequisite, Math 106. Mr. Livers.
This course deals with those problems in Probability apt to be met with most often in the Biological fields.
Math 326 (U) Special Problems in Statistics. 3 cr. Lect. 3. (On demand). Prerequisite, Math 324. Mr. Livers.
The content of this course will vary somewhat with the needs of the students. It occasionally deals with those phases of the problems the students may be studying in their major fields at the time of taking the course.


In the Fall of 1951, Dr. J. J. Livers left MSC for a position with Boeing Corporation in Seattle.

Beginning in 1952, Dr. Bernard Ostle was hired to move into the leadership of the statistics program. Ostle, formerly Assistant Professor of Statistics at Iowa State, joined the MSC Department of Mathematics as an Associate Professor. Dr. Bernard Ostle (MSU: 1952-1957) received a PhD degree in Statistics from Iowa State University in 1949. Dr. Ostle's dissertation "On Certain Criteria for Optimum Estimation" was supervised by Prof. Oscar Kempthorne. In his 1952-53 report to the MSC President’s Office, Hurst tells of Ostle’s recruitment and work that first year,

“Dr. Ostle was hired to build up a strong teaching and service program in statistics. I have been very much pleased with his grasp of the problem, his sympathy with the various departments who have needed his help and the businesslike arrangements that he has made in getting the work done.”12

Ostle never specifically described the "program in statistics" he wished to build at MSC. But such can be inferred perhaps by his background at ISU ― first from his being an ISU student, ultimately receiving a PhD from ISU, then by being hired into a tenure-tract teaching position at ISU, and possibly most strongly by the influence of Dr. Theodore A. Bancroft, Director of the Statistical Laboratory and Head of the Department of Statistics (academic) at ISU.

In his June, 1955, report to Department Head Hurst, Ostle attached a copy of a Bancroft-authored paper. Ostle wrote "Dr. Bancroft's remarks are, I believe, the best summary available of the situation with which we are concerned. The appended statement also covers the general philosophy of a centralized statistical organization at institutions such as Montana State College." Hurst included  a copy of Bancroft's paper in his 1954-55 Department report to the President's Office.

The Bancroft paper was connected to his participation in a panel discussion concerning the "Development of Statistical Programs" held at the 1953 meeting of the American Statistical Association. Bancroft's paper describes the "Role of a complete Centralized Statistical Organization in a Land-Grant College." (See the Era 4 topic First Statistical Laboratory at MSC: 1950s.) Bancroft recognized that there is no "unique optimum...program for a statistical center" but did identify four important components:

  1. a research and teaching program in statistics per se in order to develop new statistical theory and methodology and train statisticians;
  2. a service teaching program to provide for basic general courses in theory and methods and specialized courses in statistics for students majoring at the undergraduate and graduate levels in some other substantive subject-matter area;
  3. a consulting service program, i.e., recognized and budgeted time for various staff members of the statistical center to consult with research workers on investigations involving the use of statistical theory and methods, and

  4. a computing service for the programming and analysis of data resulting from research.

We presume that Ostle used those components as goals for building MSC's Statistics Program.

placeholder image
Math-Physics Building, early 1950s

In 1953, Departmental offices moved to the new Math-Physics Building (now the AJM Johnson Building),
 which also provided much appreciated new classrooms for many Math Department classes. The new Math-Physics Building was a welcome upgrade for Math; however many math classes continued to meet in the “too-cold and then too-hot,” nominally temporary, WWII buildings until the early 1970s.

In March, 1954, F. M. Bull retired and became the second ever Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at MSC.

1954-1956 MSC catalog
Ostle elevated the three 300-level statistical methods courses to 400-level and added a one-credit lab to two of them. Ostle would teach all the statistics courses, except possibly 106.

Math 106 (L) Elementary Statistics. S. 4 cr. Lect. 3; Lab. 1. Prerequisite, Math 104. Staff.
An introduction to basic concepts: averages, variation, probability statistical inference. Presentation of data. Use of calculating machines.
Math **407-408-409 (U) Mathematical Statistics. A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3, 3, 3. Prerequisite, Math 203. Mr. Ostle.
Emphasis on the mathematical theory underlying statistical methods: probability, population distribution functions and their properties, sampling distributions, orthogonal linear functions, estimation, tests of hypotheses, regression analysis and the analysis of experimental models by least squares.
Math *424-425 (U) Statistical Methods. W, S. 4, 4 cr. Lect. 3, 3; Lab 1, 1. Prerequisite, senior standing or consent of instructor. Mr. Ostle
The role of statistics in research. Introduction to the methods for analyzing data from experiments and surveys.
     (424)Statistical concepts. Analysis of enumeration data; estimation and tests of hypotheses when dealing with measurement data from one or two normal populations; regression with one independent variable; correlation; introduction to analysis of variance.
      (425) Multiple regression; analysis of variance and covariance. recent developments in statistical methodology
Math *426 (U) Special Topics in Statistics. 3 cr. Lect. 3. (On demand)
Prerequisite, Math 425 or concurrent registration. Mr. Ostle.
Math 505-506-507 Advanced Mathematical Statistics. A, W, S. 3, 3, cr. Lect. 3, 3, 3. (On demand.) Prerequisites, Math 409 and Math 412. Mr. Ostle

Note that Ostle defined Math 106 as a standard introduction to statistics and included the use of calculating machines so that students could “learn through doing.” The description of 407-8-9 served for many years. The 424-5 courses became statistical methods courses, an enduring conceptual designation. The statistics curriculum, although limited, was beginning to accommodate recent developments and offer courses similar to those at larger schools. Under Ostle’s guidance, MSC statistics was catching up with the statistics profession.

Beginning with academic year  1955-1956, the Department of Mathematics was authorized by the Montana Board of Education to offer a B.S. degree in Mathematics .In 1956 the Department awarded the first bachelor's degree in mathematics since 1915. The Department finally had recovered its academic place on the campus wherein mathematics and statistics were not only recognized as being valuable to agriculture and engineering, but also as being important distinct disciplines for study and research. There was no immediate flood in enrollment in the new degree program. Ken Bowers listed only seven students receiving a B.S. in Mathematics during the period 1956-1959.15  The Catalog for 1954-1956 announces the new degree and lists curriculum requirements for a mathematics option and a statistics option. The statistics option was designed “to prepare students for (1) graduate study in statistics, and (2) positions as assistants to research workers in business, industry, government, and colleges and universities.”

1956-1958 catalog

Ostle, who had been promoted to Professor, added two additional courses (experimental design and survey design), and included a topics list for the 505-6-7 sequence, and slightly altered the description of the 407-8-9 sequence.

Math *430 Experimental Design. 3 cr. Lect. 3. (On demand.) Prerequisite, Math 425. Mr. Ostle
An introduction to methods of constructing and analyzing designs or experimental investigations: randomized complete block, Latin square, factorial, quasi-factorial, split plot and incomplete block designs, confounding. Missing data problem. Techniques of experimentation
Math *435 Survey Design. 3 cr. Lect. 3. (On demand.) Prerequisite Math 425. Mr. Ostle
An introduction to methods of constructing and analyzing designs for survey investigations: simple random, stratified, multistage and multi-phase sampling designs. Questionnaire construction. Methods of estimation. Techniques of survey investigation
Math 505-506-507 Advanced Mathematical Statistics. A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3, 3, 3. (On demand.)
Prerequisite or concurrent registration, Math 411, 412, 413. Mr. Ostle
Development of distribution theory from the theory of probability, common distribution functions, derivation of sampling distributions with particular attention to normal populations, estimation by maximum likelihood, likelihood-ratio tests of parametric hypotheses, introduction to general theory of linear hypotheses, elements of sequential analysis, distribution-free methods

 In 1957, Bernard Ostle’s employment at MSC ended when he resigned to accept a position at Sandia in Albuquerque as Supervisor of Statistics in the Reliability Department.18  During his time at Montana State, Ostle published the first edition of his textbook Statistics in Research: Basic concepts and techniques for research workers, 1954, Iowa State College Press, 487 pages. His book was well-received. It subsequently went through many editions, became co-authored, was revised to nearly 700 pages, and was translated into various languages.21   

Ostle left a well-organized academic program in statistics that offered bachelor and master’s level degrees. Also, he built a viable functioning Statistical Laboratory that provided an important resource for the MSC research community, potential for employment and valuable learning experiences for statistics students, and collaborative opportunities for faculty and staff in ongoing MSC research. The instructional program and the statistical laboratory were patterned closely after the successful model at Iowa State University.

Two statistics professors were hired in 1957, immediately after Bernard Ostle’s departure.

Dr. Frank S. McFeely (MSU: 1957-1985)  received a PhD in Statistics from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1955. His dissertation was titled "Decision Procedures for the Comparison of Exponential and Geometric Populations." He had two years experience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and was appointed as an Associate Professor. He was to administer the statistics academic program and the Statistical Laboratory as well as take on teaching and consulting duties. In short order, his duties were expanded to include computer installation and management.

Dr. Charles P. Mode (MSU: 1957-1966)  received a PhD in Genetics in 1956 jointly from the University of California at Davis and the University of California at Berkeley. He taught a spectrum of statistics courses in the Department of Mathematics and provided statistical consulting across campus. Because he brought a background in genetic statistics, he also participated in the Genetics Group at Montana State.

Ostle’s courses now fell to McFeely and Mode. These staff changes didn’t make it into the 1958-60 catalog, and first appeared in the 1960-62 catalog.

1958-1960 catalog

The Statistics course offerings were identical to the previous catalog. By the Fall of 1958, the titles of graduate degrees in the department became simply MS in Mathematics and PhD in Mathematics, without “Applied” attached to Mathematics. The degree requirements were unaltered. There were seventeen graduate students that year.24


The 1958 Durham Report (see the section: Annals of MSC 1943–1964) stated that for AY 1957-1958, the Mathematics Department taught the most Student Credit Hours (SCH) of all 36 departments, 11.4% of the total 187,250 SCH at MSC. The cost of instruction per SCH was $5.86 for the Math Department compared the average of $11.34 per SCH for MSC. Thus Mathematics was an under-supported Department (within an under-supported campus), probably because MSC viewed Mathematics as a service unit, not a critical knowledge unit, from 1914 to 1948. However, by the time of the Durham Study, MSC had assigned the Math Department an academic mission that mirrored the typical university math department.

placeholder image
J. Eldon Whitesitt, Dept. Head (1961-66)
1965 photo

In July, 1961, John Hurst resigned his headship and Prof. J. Eldon Whitesitt (Head, 1961–1966) took over the administration of the Mathematics Department. Hurst, as did Tallman, had staunchly supported the statistics program. Hurst's 1960 Math Department Master Plan Report includes, 

“a need for more sections. We currently are teaching ... 60 students in Statistical Methods in two sections; ... The two principal options in the graduate program in mathematics are Mathematics and Statistics. We offer work leading toward the PhD degree in both areas. Of our present graduate enrollment of 27 majors, 20 are in Mathematics and 7 are in Statistics. The offering in Statistics is handicapped at present by a lack of course offerings. We have had to rely on courses designated as Topics in Mathematics to provide the minimum number of credits acceptable for a PhD degree. ... New courses are needed in the graduate division, particularly in statistics, to provide a minimum acceptable offering leading to the PhD degree. We will continue to offer most graduate courses on alternate years to make the most efficient use of staff time. Eventually, the enrollment will reach the point where some of these courses can be offered economically on a yearly basis. Since the program leading to these degrees is new, we have not yet granted any PhD degrees in either option. We expect to grant the first degree in June of 1963. ... The Mathematics Department provides, free of charge, consulting service for several state agencies, primarily on statistical problems. Among those who have made use of this service are the Department of Fish and Game and the Superintendent of Public Instruction....

Montana State College has had an electronic digital computer and associated equipment in operation since September, 1958. The present installation is a 60K IBM 1620 Data Processing System. ... The 1620 is supervised by the Mathematics Department ... The computing facilities are used by many departments for processing data connected with basic research. This service is an essential part of the research program at MSC. Five staff members in the department provide consulting service, at no charge, to other departments as a regular part of their duties. All staff members are available for occasional consultations in their areas of special interest.”


1960-1962 MSC catalog

Assoc. Prof. McFeely and Asst. Prof. Mode were the two statisticians among the nine faculty members in the Math Department.

The new 60k IBM 1620 Model II Data Processing System was available to graduate students and faculty engaged in research. The IBM 1620 was a 2nd generation fully transistorized computer with internal processing speeds of 20 microseconds, making it ten times faster than the IBM 650. It cost about $85,000 at that time.

The Department offered some new courses on statistical and computational topics that matched the research and development interests of the statisticians.  Remaining unchanged among the statistics offerings were: Math 106 Elementary Statistics, Math 407-408-409 Mathematical Statistics, Math 424-425 Statistical Methods, Math 430 Experimental Design, and Math 435 Survey Design. The course Math 426 Special Topics in Statistics was deleted.

Revised course:

Math 505 Theory of Least Squares. (On demand.) 3 cr. Lect. 3.
Prerequisite, Math 316, and 409. Mr. McFeely.
Theory of least-squares estimation in statistics and associated tests of significance, matrices in multiple linear regression, orthogonal polynomials, Markoff Theorem, the singular linear hypothesis.

New courses:

Math 331 Machine Methods of Calculation. A. 3 cr. Lect. 2; Lab. 1
Prerequisite, Math 103. Mr. McFeely
A survey course on the principles of modern calculating machines and their uses in scientific research and business. Keyboard calculators; Display and electronic calculators; punched-card uses and equipment demonstrations and laboratory work.
Math *432-*433 Electronic Processing of Scientific Data. W, S. 3, 3 cr Lect. 2, 2; Lab. 1, 1.
Prerequisite, Math 331. Mr. McFeely
The use of electronic computers in scientific research. Broad design principles of programming; coding; flow charts; scaling; floating point; multiple precision and error analysis. Laboratory in programming.
Math **437 Genetic Statistics. (On demand) 3 cr. Lect. 3. Prerequisite, Math 425 or consent of instructor, Z & E 324. Mr. Mode
The application of the theory of probability and statistics to genetics with particular emphasis on problems which arise in scientific agriculture.
Math 506-507 Theory of Analysis of Variance. (On demand.) 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3, 3. Prerequisite, Math 505. To be taken in sequence. Mr. McFeely.
Estimation and testing of hypotheses for complete blocks designs, variance components estimation, randomization theory of designs, factorials, confounding, incomplete blocks designs, new developments.
Math 537-538-539 Multivariate Statistical Analysis. (On demand.) A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3, 3, 3. Prerequisites, Math 409, Math 316. To be taken in sequence. Mr. McFeely, Mr. Mode
Multivariate normal distribution, estimation of mean vector and covariance matrix, generalized T2-statistics, testing the general linear hypothesis, principal components, canonical correlation, and new developments.
Math 541-542-543 Probability. (On demand) A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3, 3, 3. Prerequisite, Math 203. Mr. Mode and Staff.
Combinatorial analysis, laws of large number, random walk, Markov chain, stochastic processes.

We do not know how often the “on demand” courses on Genetic Statistics, Least Squares, Analysis of Variance, Multivariate Analysis, and Probability were taught during those years.

1962-1964 MSC catalog

There were three statisticians among the fourteen faculty members in the Math Department, Assoc. Profs McFeely & Mode, plus a new hire, Dr. Charles P. Quesenberry (MSU: 1961-1966) who received a PhD degree in Statistics (1960) from the Department of Statistics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Quesenberry's dissertation, "Some Tests For Outliers" was supervised by Dr. Herbert Aron David. McFeely’s link with V.P.I. may have been the catalyst for attracting Quesenberry to MSC.

One noticeable change in the course offerings in the 1962-64 catalog is the designation “on demand” was removed and all courses were assigned specific academic quarters, although some of the more specialized courses were offered only in alternate years. Other changes were:

  • Elementary Statistics was renumbered from 106 to 116. The 106 course first appeared in 1948;
  • the calculation and data processing courses Math 331 and Math 432-433 received new descriptions in response to advances in the field.

Computer calculations would receive much more attention than desk top calculators; computer programming was a key topic, especially Fortran, which was first developed by IBM between 1954 and 1957. By 1960, a version of Fortran was available for the IBM 650 and other IBM models. The instructor of 331, 432, and 433 was “Staff,” not McFeely who taught those courses in previous years, but now McFeely was the instructor for statistics topics at the 4xx and 5xx levels. A new doctorate-level series on statistical theory was offered in this catalog and Quesenberry was the assigned instructor.

Revised courses:

Math 331 Machine Methods of Calculation. A, W. 3 cr. Lect. 2; Lab. 1 Prereq. Math 121, or consent of instructor
An introduction to processing scientific problems through an electronic digital computer system. Punched-cards; functions of peripheral machines; basic machine-language and Fortran programming; use of subroutines, floating decimal numbers. Laboratory in programming and use of peripheral machines.
Math *432 Electronic Processing of Scientific Data. W. 3 cr. Lect. 2; Lab 1. Prerequisite, Math 331. Staff
Continuation of FORTRAN programming; symbolic programming; writing of sub-routines and use of rational approximations; magnetic tape use; number systems, arithmetic, and counters. Laboratory in programming.
Math **433 Techniques for Digital Systems. S. 3 cr. Lect. 2; Lab. 1. Prereq. Math 432, & Math 316 or 416. Staff
Generation of pseudo-random numbers and pseudo-random observations from arbitrary density functions; Monte Carlo methods in multiple numerical integration, matrix inversion, and solution of partial differential equations; construction of compilers; ALGOL and variants; magnetic tape sorting methods. Laboratory in programming.

New course:
Math 549-550-551 Statistical Inference. (Alternate years, be offered 1963-1964). A, W, S. 3, 3, 3 cr. Lect. 3, 3, 3. Prerequisites, Math 408 and consent of instructor. Mr. Quesenberry.

Graduate Degrees Awarded to statisticians: 1944-1963

Four statistics students were awarded MS degrees during this era.

  • Glenn R. Ingram was the first and only statistics graduate student to receive an MS in Applied Mathematics (1954). His thesis, “Distribution of the sample range for parent populations associated with Pearson’s differential equation” was supervised by Dr. Ostle.
  • Raymond Hitchcock received the newly titled MS in Mathematics in 1959, along with three mathematics students. Hitchcock’s thesis, “Characterization and tabulation of a density giving significance levels in variance testing for the bivariate normal case,” was supervised by Dr. Frank McFeely. It discusses the effect of the correlation coefficient on significance levels in testing for homogeneity of variance. The thesis includes numerical analysis techniques, tables, and the machine language programs necessary for IBM 650 calculations (at that time, a compiled program language such as Fortran was not available).
  • Don Owen Loftsgaarden received an MS in Mathematics in Dec. 1992 under the non-thesis plan.
  • Willis John Alberda received an MS in Mathematics in 1963 under the non-thesis plan.

MSU Statistics Program in 1963

Many of the components for a complete Statistics Program at MSU were created during this era. By 1963, the statistics course curriculum provided up-to-date training in statistical theory & methods, a representative spectrum of specialties, and experience with the latest tools for performing statistical calculations.

The Statistics Program at MSU as it exists today grew on the foundation built during the 1944-1963 era by the statistics faculty members Joe James Livers, Bernard Ostle, Franklin McFeely, Charles Mode, and Charles Quesenberry.

Stat Prog at MSC during Era 5
Next topic (Adv in Statistics) during Era 4
Table of Contents

Last revised: 2021-04-18