Statistics Professor Rayens To Deliver Chellgren Lecture

William Rayens, UK professor of statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, will deliver the annual Chellgren Center Lecture 1 p.m. Friday, April 8, in room 246 of the Whitehall Classroom Building. His lecture is titled "A Comparison of Concrete and Virtual Manipulatives for Learning Statisical Concepts." The lecture is free and open to the UK faculty and anyone who is interested.

This Chellgren Center Lecture series, implemented by the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence, represents an opportunity for the UK community, particularly the faculty, to learn about best practices, key issues and challenges, strategies for improving instruction, and ways in which curricular innovation can enrich the undergraduate mission.

"The Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence Lecture represents the culmination of a significant project directed by each Endowed Chellgren Professor," said Philipp Kraemer, chair of the Chellgren Center and professor of psychology. "These projects vary in topic and scope, but all aim to discover ways in which we can improve teaching. Dr. Rayens’ lecture well represents not only his individual creativity, but also the value of having talented faculty devote their time and energy to improving the undergraduate experience. Dr. Rayens has something to teach us all!"

In the area of statistics education, particularly when the audience is a general education audience, it is common to see instructors use electronic manipulatives to introduce mathematically-heavy concepts that are critical to an understanding of the role statistical science plays in everyday life. Rayens will discuss experiments designed to test whether virtual manipulatives are any better at helping students learn these concepts than concrete alternatives - which has become the inspiration for a completely new general education statistical reasoning course, delivered in an inverted classroom environment.

Rayens, who also serves as assistant provost for general education, is currently one of the Chellgren Endowed Professors, and an integral part of the leadership of the Chellgren Center. His research focuses on exploratory structure-seeking methodologies, and he teaches a variety of courses including graduate service courses in regression, samplied and applied multivariate analysis. He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Chemometrics.

The Chellgren Lecture Series is hosted by the UK Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence, which is an intentional collaboration among prestigious undergraduate programs at the university, including the Discovery Seminar Program, Education Abroad, Office of Undergraduate Research, the Honors Program, Intercollegiate Debate, Living-Learning Communities, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and the Office of External Scholarships.

The center was created in August 2005 with an initial gift of $1.5 million from alumnus Paul Chellgren and his family, with an additional gift of $250,000 in September 2006.  His total commitment of $2.25 million was matched by the state’s Endowment Match Program, creating a $4.5 million endowment for center.

As a UK undergraduate, Chellgren was an Honors Program student and star intercollegiate debater. After earning his MBA from Harvard and a D.D.E. from Oxford University, he began a successful career that culminated with his retirement as chairman and CEO of Ashland Inc. He is currently an operating partner with SPG Partners LLC, a New York City private equity firm. He was inducted into UK’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2000 and the Gatton College of Business and Economics Hall of Fame in 1995, and served on the UK Board of Trustees for 11 years. His commitment to improving and enriching undergraduate education at UK continues to impact thousands of UK students, faculty and staff.

by Jenny Wells