CENTREFOLD

 

Brian Hayman retires at the end of 1988 as Professor and Head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Massey University. After 25 years at the helm, it is difficult to avoid the trite comment that his going signifies the end of an era. He was given three lecturers and a junior lecturer to build a department but he will leave a double department of 2 professors, 3 readers, 16 lecturers and senior lecturers and 4 junior lecturers.

On his appointment, he was enjoined "to develop applicable areas of mathematics" and the most obvious area he tackled was that of statistics. At a time when traditional applied mathematics was taught at other New Zealand universities, Brian introduced a course in statistics at first year which led to other courses resulting in a statistics major and then graduate courses. It was in keeping with this philosophy that the first year course was modified to be a service course to all faculties within the university. Appointments of staff in statistics followed until the department became equally balanced between mathematics and statistics.

Applicable areas of mathematics were encouraged by the appointment of lecturers in computer science, numerical analysis, optimisation, mathematics education and so on. An operations research option was developed with the Faculty of Technology.

Of course, tensions arose at times with those in the department who did not fully accept Professor Hayman's general philosophy or actions in regard to specific courses. Some staff felt that he declared an analysis-shooting season almost on an annual basis. It was not just that analysis did not fit easily into an "applicable area", but that students tended to find the subject difficult which could lead to a higher than usual failure or drop-out rate. Brian had a genuine concern for the welfare of students and he would often recall with horror how, in his early years at Massey, some departments would treat students in cavalier fashion resulting in unacceptable failure rates. Over the years, tensions in the department tended to abate as the two separate sections were given more autonomy. We felt that Brian was becoming more mellow with time but perhaps history will show that the department changed at least as much as he did. Professor Hayman took very seriously his role in the university community. He was zealous in preparing and studying documents for committee meetings and attempted to be scrupulously honest in his dealing with other departments. In no way an empire builder nor political in any devious sense, he asked only for what he thought was reasonable and saw no merit in the common practice of innating figures in anticipation of cutbacks.

Professor Hayman is justifiably proud of his input into the Extramural Studies Committee of which he was chairman. For the most part the department supported his views on extramural study even though it did result in extra work, particularly as the department was in the forefront of this method of teaching. It seems fitting that, as he leaves the department, a new Diploma in Applied Statistics is getting underway. Being a completely extramural diploma with a practical bias, it epitomizes the best of what Brian has striven to achieve and, what is more, it promises to be a very popular course. An extramural masterate in mathematics is also being offered to cater for a different market.

Brian is looking forward to his retirement. With a small farm to care for and other interests, he will not be bored. Although he is very modest about his own achievements, he should look back with pride to the impeccable qualifications he brought to his position at Massey. After outstanding academic success at school and university, including a First Class degree at Cambridge and a Ph.D.\ in Population Genetics at Birmingham University, he published many articles which have been widely cited. On returning to New Zealand, he became statistical consultant to DSIR, and unofficially to the College, at Lincoln. During his eight years there he discovered the joy of applying his training to the real world. He soon realised that statisticians were in short supply in New Zealand so that, on taking up the Chair at Massey, he placed emphasis on training statisticians and not on his own personal research although he kept up with reading in many areas. We should also mention that he has always been a keen supporter of the annual New Zealand Statistical Association Conference.

In the years to come, I have no doubt that he will look back with a wry smile at changes which have occurred in mathematics departments at other New Zealand universities as statistics courses have grown in number, many having an applied approach similar to those at Massey. This trend could be viewed as vindication of Brian's philosophy and efforts in his twenty-five years at Massey.

We wish him well in many enjoyable and productive years of retirement.

R J Brook

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