Boyd Harshbarger, 92
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 32 - June 4, 1998
Boyd Harshbarger, founder of the Statistical Laboratory (1947) and the Department of Statistics (1949), died May 20, at the age of 92.
His career at Virginia Tech began in 1931. He was the head of the Department of Statistics (one of the oldest in the U.S.) from 1949 to 1972, and was named professor emeritus in 1976.
Harshbarger received his bachelor's degree from Bridgewater College, an M.A. in mathematics from the University of Illinois, an M.S. from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D. in statistics from George Washington University. He received many honors in recognition of his services to the statistics profession and to the sciences in general. In addition to receiving an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, he was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), of the American Statistical Association (ASA), of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS), and of the Virginia Academy of Science.
In the AAAS Harshbarger was president of the Section on State Academies (1950). He was a member of the ASA council at various times, 1964 chair of the ASA Committee of Fellows, and collaborating editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association (JASA). He was a charter member of the Biometric Society and president of the Eastern North American Region (ENAR) (1956-58), and he has served on various committees of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. In the Virginia Academy of Science, Harshbarger served as president (1949-50), founder and editor (1950-55) of the Virginia Journal of Science, chairman of the Finance Committee (1958-63), member of the Research Committee (1964-65), member of Council.
He was honored in VAS with the J. Shelton Horsley Research Award (1946), with the Ivey F. Lewis Distinguished Service Award (1966), and with honorary life membership. Harshbarger organized the Statistics Section of the Virginia Academy of Science and served as its secretary (1945-46), vice-chair (1947), and the chair (1948).
Harshbarger was chair (1961-62) of the Committee on Statistics of the Southern Regional Education Board, president (1962-64) of the national Council for Research in Education, and president (1950) of the VPI chapter of Sigma Xi. In 1954, Harshbarger organized and supervised the first Regional Statistical Summer Session at VPI, bringing together scientists from five continents and students from 35 states of the US.
Harshbarger influenced many students and colleagues with his enthusiasm for and vision of statistics. His memory will be honored by the Boyd Harshbarger Graduate Study Scholarship (contributions may be sent to the Office of University Development, c/o Harshbarger Scholarship, Pack Building (0336), Blacksburg, VA 24061).