The university of Poona started teaching the M.Sc. (statistics) course in the session 1953-54,after the appointment of Professor V.S.Huzurbazar as Professor of mathematics and statistics.Professor Huzurbazar came to the university of Poona with high reputation .He had a Ph.D.degree from Cambridge University under the guidance of Professor H.Jeffreys, F.R.S.He had taught in the university of Gauhati and Lucknow before joining Pune. The Department was initially situated in the Main building of the university, the erstwhile Governor?s residence of Bombay presidency. Soon, it was moved to a quadrangle which Originally was the kitchen and the cooks? residence attached to the Government House along with the physics, Geography and other Departments consisted of Professor Huzurbazar, a clerk and a peon. The peon also looked after the laboratory consisting of hand operated Brunswing / Facit machines. However, the Department was fortunate to have visiting teachers Of the caliber of Professor V.M.Dandekar, Professor A.R.Kamat and other from sister institute in Pune. Soon more permanent appointments were made. V.P.Bhapkar and S.R.Adke were the first to join after passing their M.Sc. (statistics) degree from Bombay, in 1953 and 1955 respectively.
The Department attracted a very good lot of students right from the beginning .The very first batch had K.Joag-Dev, G.P.Patil, S.Sukhatme(Chivate) and others in it. The second batch had B.Chandorkar,Janardan Deshpande, S.W.Dharmadhikari, K.S.R.Rao and J.V.Tatke among others .The fact that the Department attracted so many talented and highly motivated students right from the beginning, clearly indicated that such a course was needed at Pune.
The course consisted of basic principles of Probability, Statistical Inference, Design of Experiments, Sampling Theory, Multivariate Analysis and Practicals based on them. There was shortage of textbooks: only books by Cramer, Feller, Kendall, Cochran, Cochran and Cox, and Anderson being available. C.R.Rao?s book Biometric Research came at about this time. Fisher?s books were available but were beyond the grasp of the students due to unfamiliarity with the nuances of the English language among other things. Professor Huzurbazar used to give extremely well prepared notes on inference, Professor M.C.Chakrabarti?s notes on Design given to the Bombay university students, were used here also, through Bhapkar and Adke. Both of theses notes contained material not available in any textbook. Professor Chakrabarti, Professor N.M.Bhatt from Baroda, Professor S.S.Shrikhande from Nagpur and others used to come as external examiners for the practical examination.
By and by, the Department grew; more positions were created which were taken up by
S.W.Dharmadhikari, D.V.Gokhale, B.Raja Rao, R.K.Herlekar, D.N.Shanbhag, A.V.Kharshikar, S.S.Deo and others. B.Raja Rao has the distinction of being the first to be awarded the Ph.D. degree in statistics by the university of Poona, to be followed by B.K.Kale, P.S.Swamy, S.R.Adke, S.A.Doss, and others under Professor Huzurbazar. The Department acquired massive data processing machinery in this period, besides going in for more modern version of Facit manual electrical calculators. Perhaps the Hollerith data processing machinery was never really utilized to its capability.
A big event in the life of Department was the move in 1962 to its new elegant building (later named as ?Wrangler Paranjapye Ganit ani Sankhyashastra Bhavan?).
In the meanwhile, Bhapkar had come back from the university of North Carolina with a Ph.D.Under Professor S.N.Roy. Adke too had worked for two years under Professor P.A.P.Moran and P.Moyal in Australia. Dharmadhikari and Gokhale went to the university of California and Herlekar to the university of London respectively for their doctorates.
Right from early days, theDepartment had good fortunate of visits by eminent statisticians and other scientist like Fisher, Neyman, Herold and Bertha Jeffreys, Yates, S.N.Roy, C.R.Rao, P.V.Sukhatme, C.V.Raman and others. Such lectures to the students and faculty used to be highlights of an academic session.
Professor Huzurbazar was very active in the academic forum of the country. The university of Cambridge had awarded him the Adam?s Prize in 1961 and the Government of India awarded him Padma Bhushan in 1974. He was on various committees of the UGC, CSIR and other national bodies, besides being associated with many other universities. Because of his high visibility and activity, the Department also benefited .The UGC instituted the special Assistance programme in the Department in 1972. It was the first such programme in any statistics Department in the country. The continuation of this programme through three phases led to substantial expansion in the faculty positions. These were taken up by S.R.Paranjape, G.B.Marathe, S.Kunte, M.S.Prasad, M.B.Rajarshi, A.P.Gore, B.K.Kale, A.D.Dharmadhikari, U.V.Naik-Nimbalkar, and J.V.Deshpande, others in the subsequent years.
About 1975-76, research activities in the Department started getting focused around The interests of Adke and Kale. The courses were modernized. Measure theory, probability and inference based on these, became the central topics in the syllabus.
With the help of special Assistance, a Departmental Library was established. It could subscribe to several new journals and acquire advanced books, which could not be bought for the Jayakar Library, due to shortage of funds. The era of electronic calculators also arrived about the same time. The old-time manual facit calculators were phased out and replaced by modern, fast, electrically / battery operated sleek electronic calculators in the student practical which have now largely given way to PCs.
In 1975, a new M.Sc. programme in Biometry was introduced to promote interdisciplinary training. The extra positions sanctioned by the UGC were useful for the extra teaching load. Students with batcher?s degree in biology / mathematics / statistics were admitted in to this programme. In the first year of programme, different courses were given theses three groups to bring them to similar level for exposure in biology, mathematics, and statistics. This ambitious effort faded gradually for various reasons.
In 1976, Professor V.S.Huzurbazar left for Canada on leave and retired in 1979 while still on leave. Professor S.R.Adke took up the challenge of acting Headship in 1976 and became the permanent head in 1979. Professor Huzurbazar visited the Department in 1985 and passed away in 1991 in U.S.A.
Computers: Around 1985, India entered the new era of tabletop computers (PC), when the government allowed import of such equipments. This changed the environment in which statisticians operated, to a great extent. The Department made all efforts to take advantage of new situation. Machines were acquired step-by-step, resources permitting. Teachers, office staff and students slowly increased their level of skills. Programming and use of computers were introduced progressively in successive revisions of syllabi. Today, the Department has PC, XT, AT, 386 and 486 machines, in all about 25. Two courses depending heavily on these machines and several other courses requiring students to use PC?s to a varying degree, are now a part of syllabus .It can be said with confidence that a typical student gets considerable amount of hands on experience in statistical computing, which helps in the current job market. This trend of increasing role of computers in teaching and research is sure to continue.
System of pre-requisite Courses: Right from its inception, the Department has sought to keep the syllabus up to-date. The structure of the M.Sc. programming underwent two major changes. In 1969, the semester system was introduced. It has functioned satisfactorily ever since .In 1983, another feature associated with the semester system as is practised in North America, namely a system of prerequisite courses was adopted. This requires that on failing, students repeat (attend classes take internal examinations etc.) courses, which are prerequisite for other courses. One must sit through the course again and not just take the examination again. This system is found to be in the interest of students in the long run, even though it tends to extend the time taken to complete the M.Sc. programme. This system which is unique in this University is now well established and accepted by students.
Academic autonomy: Such innovation could be introduced because of the general decentralized academic system in the University. In 1983, academic autonomy was granted to this Department along with the few others on the campus. The Departments now runs the examinations of the students entirely in an autonomous manner. Each teacher sets his\her own question papers and can also adopt innovative methods for teaching and internal assessment. The traditional distinction between theory papers and practicals has also become fuzzy. Now it is allowable to have a part of final examination in the form of traditional theory question- answer and the remaining part, as numerical or computer work.To maintain the integrity and quality of the examination system, the Department has adopted the practice of inviting three of four seniors outside academicians in statistics, to scrutinize question papers set by teachers. The papers are discussed together and suitable modifications are incorporated. These external moderators also comments upon the general patterns and syllabus. Such comments are given careful consideration and due changes are made in teaching. This combines advantages of an internal examination with benefits of continuous external peer review.