Meyer Dwass was born on April 9, 1923 in New Haven, Connecticut. He served in the European Theater of Operations with the US Army from 1943 to 1946. Awarded a B.A. from George Washington University in 1948, he received his M.A. from Columbia University the next year and his Ph.D. in 1952 from the University of North Carolina. He married Shirley Labowitz in 1949 and they eventually had four children: Golda, Emily, Michael, and Claudia. Dwass, a mathematical statistician interested in applied probabilities, was a professor at Northwestern and Chair of the Department of Statistics.
Dwass served as a mathematical statistician for the US Census Bureau while finishing his doctoral work, then took a position in 1952 as Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Northwestern University. After spending the 1955-1956 academic year as a visiting research associate at Stanford (he would return in the same capacity during the summer of 1962), he was promoted to Associate Professor at Northwestern in 1957. He accepted an appointment as Professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Minnesota in 1961-1962 but returned to Evanston the following year and spent the rest of his academic career at Northwestern. He was named Director of the Northwestern University Center for Statistics and Probability in 1976 and Chair of the Mathematics Department in 1978. Other visiting appointments included Technion in 1966, Hebrew University in 1971-1972, and Dartmouth in 1973.
His professional areas of interest were mathematical statistics and applied probability, specifically in non-parametric statistics, poisson process, linear models, and statistical pedagogy. He was an early champion of using the computer in teaching statistics, commenting in 1976 on the difficulty of securing an adequate interactive computer laboratory for classes. After his retirement, he donated his statistical reference library to the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
Dwass's wife died in 1994. Meyer Dwass died on July 15, 1996, at the age of 73 and was buried in Workmen's Circle Cemetery-Menorah Gardens in Broadview, Illinois.