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Message from the Outgoing Chair

1 December 2009 816 views No Comment
Tom Loughin, SPES Chair, Kansas State University

Tom Loughin

I have mixed feelings as I write this note in late September, realizing my term as chair is almost up. Chairing this section has been a lot of work: It seems every week has brought projects to be organized, tasks to be taken care of, requests to be made or handled, or discussions to lead or follow. So, on the one hand, it will be nice to not have as many responsibilities. On the other hand, I feel as if­—with apologies to The Carpenters—“I’ve Only Just Begun.”

The section officers worked hard this year, investigating a number of potential initiatives that would provide even more value to SPES members. We have some ideas ready to go and will be rolling them out soon. Others need further development and will take longer to get started. I want to highlight some of the activities in which SPES has engaged in the past year, as well as some of what you can expect in 2010.

The Spring Research Conference was in a suburb of Vancouver this year and attracted a good crowd, despite the distance and expense for some. Boxin Tang superbly organized the conference and a special celebration for Jeff Wu, and many participants made time to visit some of the scenic wonders in the area (something I highly recommend for those going to JSM 2010). Good news for students who want to attend next year’s SRC: Scholarship amounts will increase in 2010 to help make the conference more affordable for students presenting research. Additionally, SPES will sponsor students’ ASA memberships the year they receive a scholarship.

JSM 2009 set an attendance record, and SPES had a strong presence there. Jeff Luner and George Ostrouchov put together an excellent program, featuring 14 sessions of talks, a poster competition, and six roundtables. Our Continuing Education entries, assembled by Tena Katsaounis, were well received. In particular, John Cornell and Greg Piepel won the Excellence-in-CE Award for JSM 2009 based on attendee feedback for their course, “Methods for Designing and Analyzing Mixture Experiments.” And the mixer … well, it was a blast as always, although I still don’t have a doughboy (but you should have seen Jen Van Mullekom in her stripey new overalls).

At the Fall Technical Conference this year, Cheryl Dingus represented us well on the program committee, helping to assemble an interesting conference. SPES organized an invited session on variable selection, featuring Hugh Chipman and Chris Nachtsheim. We also sponsored a short course by Bobby Mee and hosted a luncheon talk by ASA President Sally Morton.

In other conference news, SPES will be cosponsoring the International Society for Business and Industrial Statistics (ISBIS) biannual conference, to be held in Slovenia, July 5–9, 2010. In particular, if you’d like to organize a session of invited talks for SPES, let me know before the end of 2009. (Unfortunately, neither SPES nor ISBIS can provide travel funds for speakers.)

Our Marquardt Memorial Industrial Speakers Program continues to be popular. I highly recommend academic and industrial statisticians look into it as a way to better educate the next crop of statisticians and to build relationships that may yield future returns. Starting in 2010, we will offer a number of free ASA and SPES memberships for students at institutions that host Marquardt speakers. SPES also will help defray the costs of social functions, such as pizza parties, to give students and the visiting speaker a greater opportunity to interact.

This past year saw a rise in nonconference networking opportunities, as SPES developed a LinkedIn group (thanks to Fred Hulting) and the ASA rolled out their new social networking tool, the ASA Community. I encourage you to use these tools as you see fit to develop relationships and discuss issues with people who share common interests. (Note: If you are a joint SPES/QP member and logged into the ASA Community early, you may have found that your SPES community was limited to other joint members. The ASA technical staff have fixed this bug, so you should now have access to all members of both SPES and QP.)

The reality of being chair, or any other officer, is that it is much like being in a relay race. Just as I had the baton smoothly passed to me by Bill Notz, who got it from Jen Van Mullekom, I will hand it off soon to Russ Lenth, who will pass it to Phil Scinto. This is good news for all of us, because Russ and Phil are both excellent people who have served the profession often and well. They come from different backgrounds and will bring diverse experiences and perspectives into the leadership of SPES. I look forward to working with both of them next year (and then watching them both work from a safe distance).

While I’m on the subject of officers, I want to heartily thank those who served with me this year. Special personal thanks go to Bill Notz, who endured frequent contacts from me early in my term as I worked to get my bearings.

Bill, along with every other officer, does this job on a volunteer basis. All of the officers I’ve known are attentive to the requirements of their positions, and many willingly take on extra responsibilities as issues come up that don’t fall naturally into someone’s job description. If you like what we’ve been doing for you, check out the officer list here and zip one of us a note of thanks. If you don’t like what we’ve been doing for you, zip me a note at tloughin@sfu.ca and suggest what we could do better. We’re here for you, after all, and all of us would like to make this section serve its members in the best way possible. Better still, volunteer to serve the section in some capacity. We are always looking to inject fresh ideas into the section executive team and have lots of roles that can be filled, from entry-level to leadership.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve the section. I wish you all the best of luck in 2010.

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