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Let the Celebrations Begin: ASA Enters 175th Year

1 December 2013 159 views No Comment
The ASA will celebrate its 175th anniversary in 2014. In preparation, column “175”—written by members of the ASA’s 175th Anniversary Steering Committee and other ASA members—will chronicle the theme chosen for the celebration, status of preparations, activities to take place, and, best yet, how you can get involved in propelling the ASA toward its bicentennial.

Contributing Editor Ron Wasserstein
Ron Wasserstein is the ASA’s executive director and president of Kappa Mu Epsilon National Mathematics Honor Society. Previously, he was vice president for academic affairs at Washburn University.

The 175th anniversary year of the ASA is almost here. Indeed, if you read to the end of this article, you’ll realize that, technically, it is already here. But we’ll celebrate across the whole 2014 calendar year.

In this last 175 column for 2013, we bring some updates from the 175th Anniversary Steering Committee, including an update on activities for JSM 2014 in Boston, news about historical information that will be available on the ASA website, and a reminder about “future historical information” that you can help create.

Naturally, we start with a party! That’s right, we’re getting ready to party at JSM 2014, and to help with the party spirit, we encourage you to submit videos to “ASA’s Got Talent” for a chance to perform LIVE in Boston at the JSM Tuesday Evening 175th birthday bash! ASA members with statistically themed (loosely interpreted) performances are encouraged to submit a short video, which will be judged by an esteemed panel of ASA members, with notification by February 1 of those selected to perform on stage in Boston. The deadline for submission is January 15, 2014.

We hope all ASA members will join us Tuesday evening for a birthday celebration, featuring heavy hors d’oeuvres and a celebratory toast, along with the chance to vote in person for the ASA’s most talented members!

There will be much more to say about JSM 2014 in future issues of Amstat News. Look for 2014 President Nat Schenker’s column next month, in which he will announce the perfect President’s Invited Address presenter for this historic year.

Of course, not everyone will be able to attend JSM 2014, but we hope the celebration will extend across the association through chapters, sections, and outreach groups. More information about that to come later, too.

On December 1, the official ASA 175th Anniversary website was launched. There, you will find many fun and interesting facts about our past. For example, one may use the “Celebrate the Past” portion of the website to answer interesting questions about the association. Here is one to get you started: Who were the association’s first Fellows?

The correct answer is the first 54 statisticians who joined the society in 1840, including its five founders, because all full members were originally called Fellows.

The first group of 12 ASA statisticians with the honorary title of Fellow was elected by the vote of the Committee on Fellows in 1913. These full members were chosen due to their established reputation in making outstanding contributions in some aspect of statistical work. Five of these Fellows became presidents of the association. The maximum number of possible Fellows was limited to 150. Today, the number of new Fellows to be elected each year shall not exceed one-third of one percent of the membership.

That’s history. Of course, we’re busily making history that will be observed and celebrated in 2039 at the 200th anniversary of the ASA. But you don’t have to wait 25 years to contribute to that celebration. You can do it right now! Go to ASA Members Only and click on the Reverse Time Capsule button.

A time capsule holds artifacts from a specific point in time and is meant to be opened at a later time to give a sense of “what life was like” at the earlier time. The ASA has a time capsule from its 150th anniversary in 1989 that will be opened in 2039 at the 200th anniversary celebration.

But the “reverse time capsule” will contain forecasts of or comments about the future, specifically regarding the year 2039, as viewed from the present perspective. Thus, it will be the present perspective on the future. It isn’t meant to be purely predictive, but it is meant to be great fun.

Click on “numeric forecasts” to make your predictions about specific items. When the reverse time capsule is “opened” in 2039, members with the best guesses will be rewarded with a lifetime membership in the ASA!

Click on “non-numeric forecasts” to submit your written or video predictions about the future of the statistics profession, the future of the ASA, or any other aspect of the future.

Similarly, click on “messages” to submit a written or video message to be read in 2039 by the membership of the American Statistical Association. What would you like future statisticians to know about the status of statistics, or about you, as of the present day?

Yes, the start of 2014 and the 175th anniversary of the ASA are fast approaching. But as noted above, we are already technically in the 175th year of the ASA. The association was founded 174 years ago on November 27, 1839, so we’ve been in our 175th year as of November 27, 2013. Let the celebrations begin!

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