Anticipating the Year 2000: Howard Nielson, BYU, and Statistics | BYU Studies

Anticipating the Year 2000: Howard Nielson, BYU, and Statistics

Anticipating the Year 2000: Howard Nielson, BYU, and Statistics
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Anticipating the Year 2000: Howard Nielson, BYU, and Statistics

Natalie J. Blades
G. Bruce Schaalje

In the 1950s, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considered creating BYU satellite campuses around the western United States and asked BYU President Ernest Wilkinson to recommend locations. At the same time, Stanford researcher Howard Nielson created a careful projection of future demand for wood in America that drew much attention. Wilkinson hired Nielson to create a projection of future growth of the Church and demand for a BYU education. Upon learning that Nielson was a member of the Church, Wilkinson invited him to join the faculty of BYU, and the BYU Department of Statistics was created. This article provides an interesting look at an important Church membership projection and how it affected BYU's history.