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Until We Meet Again …

1 December 2010 1,475 views No Comment
Sastry Pantula


“We don’t say goodbye, we say visit us again or until we meet again,” my mother used to say when we were kids (only a few decades ago). Well, maybe it was more than a few decades ago.

I can’t believe how time has flown by; it’s already time to pass on the baton (or gavel) to Nancy Geller. I have truly enjoyed the honor of serving you and our great association. The ASA is a great association because of its members, who are dedicated and continuously promoting the practice and profession of statistics, unselfishly.

The ASA has a strategic plan that is actually followed, and we assess our progress on the various items regularly. I have benefited from having such a plan, which helped formulate my mantra: GIVE to ASA.

I feel proud of our workgroups’ progress on the Growth, Impact, Visibility, and Education aspects of our strategic plan. Regardless of the significant amount of progress made, however, one must admit that chanting such a mantra has the subliminal effect of increasing our fundraising efforts! I am impressed that many of the suggestions from these groups have been implemented already (including the tagline that is catching on) and that there are plans in place for the ASA’s staff to carry out.

This year has seen many other significant advances within the ASA:

  • JSM taking place in the beautiful city of Vancouver, which brought a good bit of publicity to our profession
  • Progress on accreditation
  • Celebration of the first World Statistics Day
  • Amstat News becoming colorful, with quality information for all ages
  • A partnership with the Royal Statistical Society on Significance
  • Statisticians appearing in the news regularly and having a positive effect on innovation
  • Statistical literacy and common core standards getting attention throughout the country
  • Science policy progress on Capitol Hill
  • New and improved journals that are easy to access
  • A delegation heading to China

The success of our association depends on ASA staff, the executive director, ASA board members, and countless volunteers. We are in great hands, and the best is yet to come!

Hang in There

To all those undergraduates going to graduate school, graduate students starting new jobs, and mid-career folks (like me) moving up north: Hang in there! I joined the Indian Statistical Institute and moved more than 450 miles from home when I was just 17. I didn’t speak the local language and became homesick within a week or so. I was ready to go home when one of my Telugu-speaking seniors asked me, “How crazy can you be for thinking about leaving? You are one of the 25 students selected from all over India to get the best education for free.” I am glad I stayed and developed a support group I could count on.

Five years later, I landed in Ames, Iowa. I was homesick again and wanted to go home in spite of the hospitality offered by professors (Malay Ghosh and Wayne Fuller), who took me into their homes, and classmates (Yasuo Amemiya, Rachel Harter, and Sallie Keller), who made an extra effort to include me. When I wrote to my mother that I wanted to return to India as soon as possible, she sent a packet of cooked food and a letter with a story in it:

One day, a genie got stuck in a bottle and couldn’t get out. The genie promised that if someone released her from the bottle, she would give that person $1,000. A week went by and no one released her. The genie then promised that if someone released her from the bottle, she would give that person a million dollars. A month went by and no one released her. So, the genie promised that if someone released her then, she would grant that person three wishes. A year went by and no one released her. Finally, the genie said, “If someone releases me now, I will kill that person!”

That was about three decades ago, and my mother still calls me every weekend and asks me to come and visit her in India. C’est la vie!

I have strong continued support from my friends at North Carolina State University, who allowed me to move up north temporarily. In Washington, DC, I am finding lots of new (and old) friends in the statistical, mathematical, and computational sciences (SMACS). It is certainly an exciting time to be here, and I am confident that our profession has a bright future. Thank you for all you do.

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