PAMS announces full funding of endowed professorship

R. A. Fisher (PHOTO courtesy NCSU Archives)

The College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences has completed the funding of an endowed professorship in honor of Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher. The R.A. Fisher Distinguished Professorship will support a full professor in the Department of Statistics at NC State.

PAMS Associate Dean for Advancement Anita Stallings announced the completion of the campaign last month at the 2012 Joint Statistical Meetings in San Diego.

The professorship was made possible by a unique matching system that allowed donors to establish the $1 million endowment for only $333,000.

“The remaining two-thirds came from an anonymous challenge gift and from the Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund, a matching program funded by the North Carolina state legislature,” Stallings explained.

According to Statistics Department Head Montserrat Fuentes, finishing this endowment has been a true team effort, with alumni leading the charge all the way. The effort was led early on by Ji Zhang and Bob Starbuck. Zhang was the 2006 recipient of the PAMS Medal of Achievement. Starbuck is a former member of the PAMS Foundation Board. Martha Gardner, the 2011 Medal of Achievement recipient, helped secure the final gifts.

In all, more than 50 alumni and friends contributed.

“We have many successful alumni across the country and around the world,” Fuentes said. “I think a lot of them felt a great sense of pride in making this professorship a reality.”

Why are professorships important?

Named professorships are crucial for attracting and retaining outstanding faculty who, in turn, attract top students at the graduate and undergraduate level. The Fisher Professorship is the third such professorship in the Department of Statistics. The others are the J. Stuart Hunter Distinguished Professorship and the Gertrude M. Cox Distinguished Professorship. These professorships were established in 2007 by a gift from J. Stuart “Stu” Hunter, professor emeritus at Princeton University and an NC State alumnus.

For more information on establishing a professorship – or an endowment of any kind – please contact the PAMS Advancement Office at or 919-515-3462.

Who was R. A. Fisher?

One of the leading scientists of the 20th century and a father of modern statistical science, Fisher visited what was then North Carolina State College as a faculty member for the 1946 summer session at the invitation of Gertrude M. Cox. Cox, herself a pioneer in the statistical sciences, founded NC State’s Department of Statistics in 1941 and was instrumental in the establishment of the UNC Institute of Statistics and Research Triangle Institute.