AAPSS Remembers Fellow Stephen Fienberg


Fellow Stephen Fienberg (1942-2016)

Fellow Stephen Fienberg, University Professor of Statistics and Social Science at Carnegie Melon University (CMU), passed away in Pittsburgh on December 14, 2016 at the age of 74 after a battle with cancer.

Fienberg was an internationally acclaimed statistician known for developing and using statistical applications to influence science and public policy in many areas including law, education, census taking, and criminal justice.  He joined Carnegie Mellon in 1980 after previous positions at the University of Chicago and University of Minnesota.  He was chair of CMU’s Department of Statistics from 1981 to 1984, where he was instrumental in moving it from a freestanding department into the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.  From 1987 to 1991, he served as dean of the college.

Among his many professional achievements were cowriting Who Counts? The Politics of Census-Taking in Contemporary America, becoming a member of the National Academy of Science, serving as the only statistician on the National Commission of Forensic Science, serving on the Standing Committee of the American Opportunity Study, and advising 43 PhD students who wrote their dissertations under his direction.

“Steve Fienberg was a pioneering social statistician who made seminal contributions in particular statistical methods and gave the social science community a deeper understanding of how statistics could become a generator of interdisciplinary work,” said Academy Executive Director Thomas Kesckemethy.  “The AAPSS has been extraordinarily proud to claim him as a Fellow, and regularly benefitted from his contributions.”

Fienberg was also active in the Pittsburgh community and served in various roles for the boards of the Hillel Foundation-Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, and Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Fienberg received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and statistics from the University of Toronto and his master’s degree and doctorate in statistics from Harvard University. He is survived by his wife, Joyce, and their two sons, Anthony and Howard, a brother, Lorne, and six grandchildren.