There are three overlapping aspects to the department's mission: teaching, research, and service.
The department teaches statistics to non-majors; educates statistics majors to pursue graduate study or careers in statistics, educates graduate students in the statistics profession, and trains working professionals in the D.C. area.
Statistical reasoning plays an increasingly important role in developing and analyzing programs related to the health, safety, economic prosperity, social justice, and general quality of life of modern societies. Statistical principles are critical to the collection of valid data and statistical and statistical analysis is critical to interpretation of the resulting data. The department aims to teach basic statistical principles to students in order that they may function as informed citizens and be able to read and understand statistical arguments in the literature of their own specialty.
For many students, and in particular for majors, a deeper understanding of the theoretical foundation of statistics is essential; the theoretical training is complemented by the development of advanced training in modern data-analytic skills and develops a conceptual understanding of the foundations and methodology of statistics. The goals of the graduate program embrace both the preparation of statisticians to work in industry or government and the training of researchers within statistics and from many related fields in the methodology of statistics.
The research program of the department is dedicated to the development and application of statistical methods useful in a variety of areas. We believe that a healthy research program includes both problem-driven research and basic research of general interest. The research program is the foundation for the training of PhD students in the department; the presence of these students greatly enriches the research enterprise. The research program also provides many opportunities for interaction with scientists and policy-makers in the Washington statistical community. Faculty and graduate student activities may include collaborative research, sabbatical or other leaves spent at a government agency, or participation in local seminars and conferences.
The service mission of the department is multifaceted. In addition to the teaching service already mentioned, it includes service to the Washington scientific and administrative agencies and to the profession as a whole, on the local, national and international levels. This service takes many forms, including editorial and administrative service in professional associations, and providing appropriate advice and consultation. As a university located in a geographical area with a very large concentration of statisticians, the Department of Statistics has opportunities to serve the general public and the profession in many ways, and it takes this responsibility seriously.