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There’s Strength in Numbers

1 December 2009 1,096 views No Comment
Sally Morton

Sally Morton

One trip overseas; two conference invitations; three presidential initiatives; four American Statistical Association Board meetings; eight president’s columns; nine days at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Washington, DC; about 10 visits to federal agencies; numerous letters signed regarding federal appointments, funding, and policy issues; 32 presidential address minutes; 57 new ASA Fellows; approximately 170 committee appointments; 6,804 attendees at JSM (a new record); and lessons learned too many to count. Just a few statistics to sum up a year as president of the American Statistical Association. And in the end, the realization that the president is just one of 18,000 members and staff who form, energize, and lead the association. It has been an honor to serve as president.

In three Amstat News columns this year, I asked the 2009 presidential initiative working groups to report on their progress. The Financial Status group reported in June; the Organizational Efficiency of Committees group reported in September; and the Meetings group reported in November. All three initiatives were motivated by the ASA strategic plan. Members will see the working group recommendations being put into practice in the coming year as the association more rigorously considers its spending policy and reserves, committees form into councils for increased effectiveness and communication, and the new Statistical Practice Conference is advertised. I thank the members of all the working groups for their contributions in moving the association forward.

A voluntary accreditation program was approved in 2009 and is under way with the formation of an Accreditation Implementation Committee, chaired by Iain Johnstone. Reaching out to underserved groups in the association is a challenge identified in the ASA strategic plan. The new program is a way to provide additional services to some members, and 41% of members surveyed about voluntary accreditation indicated they would apply for this distinction. Accreditation Implementation Committee members will provide recommendations by April on how to launch and operate the program.

During 2009, the science policy program was active on many fronts under the able leadership of Steve Pierson, the ASA’s director of science policy. On behalf of our association, I have written letters of support for a number of government nominees, stressed the importance of funding at a variety of agencies, and voiced the importance of statistics and statisticians. Our purpose is to increase the participation and visibility of statistics and the ASA in policy. Many members, who are experts in particular policy areas, have advised the ASA and me during the year, and I am grateful for their help. With transparent self-promotion, I’ll also add that readers interested in the interplay between statistics and policy are encouraged to learn more about a new journal titled Statistics, Politics, and Policy. This electronic journal will study how good statistical thinking informs matters of public policy and politics.

I’d like to say thank you to our 2008 president, Tony Lachenbruch; the ASA staff and board; and especially Ron Wasserstein, the ASA’s executive director. I am the first president who has served as president-elect, president, and past president during Ron’s tenure. I can only say, “Ron, things are looking up,” as I pass the baton to Sastry Pantula, the 2010 president. We are indeed fortunate to have him as our leader in the coming year.

And, finally, I’d like to thank all the members who volunteer day in and day out to keep the American Statistical Association the vibrant professional body it is. It has been a pleasure and delight to serve as your president. Thank you.

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