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January 28, 2008

Albert Hosmer Bowker, former Stanford dean, Department of Statistics founder, dies at 88

Albert Hosmer Bowker, who founded the Department of Statistics and later became dean of graduate studies during his 22 years at Stanford University, died Jan. 20 from pancreatic cancer in a retirement home in Portola Valley, Calif. He was 88.

Bowker worked to raise the bar in statistical research after joining Stanford as an assistant professor of mathematical statistics in 1947. At that time, statisticians contributed valuably to fields like engineering and economics, but they had no department to call their own until Bowker established it in 1948. He acted as head of the Department of Statistics until 1959. Bowker also urged the school to develop the Applied Mathematical and Statistics Laboratory, and directed the lab from 1951 to 1963.

Bowker served as dean of graduate studies from 1958 to 1963. He left Stanford in 1963 to become chancellor of the City University of New York, and later became chancellor of the University of California-Berkeley from 1971 to 1980. In 1998, 50 years after he founded Stanford's Department of Statistics, he told the Stanford News Service, "I am prouder of the formation of this department than anything else I have done."

Bowker was president of the Institute of Mathematical Standards in 1961 and 1962. In 1964, he served as president of the American Statistical Association. He was a member of numerous academic societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Computing Machinery.

Born in Winchendon, Mass., in 1919, Bowker earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at MIT and a doctorate in statistics from Columbia University.

He is survived by a son, Paul Albert Bowker of Cottonwood, Calif.; two daughters, Caroline Anne Bowker Bliss—a Stanford alumna—and Nancy Kathleen Bowker, both of Palo Alto; and five grandchildren. His first wife, Elizabeth Rempfer, is deceased. His second wife, Rosedith Sitgreaves, whom he married in 1964, is also deceased.

A memorial service will be held at the Faculty Club at UC-Berkeley. Details will be announced. In lieu of flowers, Bowker's family suggests donations to the UC Berkeley Foundation (Attention: Vice Chancellor-University Relations, 2080 Addison St., #4200, Berkeley, CA 94720-4200) or to the League to Save Lake Tahoe (955 Emerald Bay Road, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150), with a note that contributions are offered in his memory.

Hayley Rutger is an intern at the Stanford News Service.



Michael Peña, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-4275,


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