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The ASA in Their Words

1 January 2014 304 views One Comment
This year marks the ASA’s 175th birthday. To celebrate, the 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.

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 celebration of the ASA’s 175th anniversary is under way! To help us launch this yearlong celebration, members of the 175th Anniversary Steering Committee thought it fitting to look to some of the societies that have been partners with the ASA throughout some of its ventures. After all, these organizations have played and continue to play a key role in the success of the ASA. We asked them to say a few words about the ASA and its relationship to their respective organizations in light of this important milestone for our association.

We turn first to the societies with whom we have collaborated for many years on the Joint Statistical Meetings.

Dan Heitjan, 2013 president of the Eastern North America Region (ENAR) of the International Biometric Society, reflected on the impact of the ASA-ENAR partnership. “ENAR’s partnership with ASA is so transparent that I often find myself having to remind people that we are not the same organization,” Dan wrote. “This is a good thing, because the point of our relationship is to create a greater statistical profession—a community of scientists united by a common interest in the efficient collection and honest interpretation of data. Our jointly organized meetings—ENAR each spring and JSM each summer—are only the most visible symbols of that relationship. On behalf of ENAR and all its members, I congratulate ASA on its 175th anniversary, and wish it many more.”

On the other side of the country, Brad Biggerstaff, 2013 WNAR president, noted, “A close and collaborative tie between the ASA and the Western North American Region of the International Biometric Society greatly benefits WNAR/IBS, many of whose members are also ASA members. The JSMs are the most obvious collaboration directly benefitting members of both societies, while a lasting and important collaboration between the IBS and ASA is the joint publication of JABES, providing members working in these areas of application an internationally recognized, top-flight journal. The COPSS awards recognize the accomplishments of the brightest of our discipline, and the WNAR membership cherishes its voice in making these selections.”

Michael Evans, Statistical Society of Canada (SSC) president, offered the following: “The SSC is proud of its association with the American Statistical Association. There is no question that the SSC has benefited immensely from its close relationship with the world’s leading professional statistical association. We consider the ASA as a standard that we try to emulate in serving our members and developing the profession of statistics in Canada.

“The SSC began its operations in 1977, and so we are quite young by comparison. Our relatively short history has been marked by many cooperative efforts with the ASA, most notably the Joint Statistical Meetings and the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies. These partnerships add significance to the SSC as the primary professional statistical organization in Canada.

“On a personal level, the ASA has always impressed me as an inclusive organization genuinely concerned with the advancement of statistics and the professional development of its members. The SSC congratulates the ASA on its very successful first 175 years. We look forward to the continuing leadership of the ASA and our joint work!”

Bin Yu, president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS), wrote, “IMS would like to warmly congratulate ASA for its 175 years of excellent professional organization and service to the statistics community. IMS is pleased to have successfully partnered with ASA on many important endeavors of IMS, such as JSM, COPSS awards and committees, Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics, Spring Research Conference on Statistics, Current Index to Statistics, and statistics surveys. It is exciting to add to this long list of collaborations a new and significant project: the International Prize in Statistics Foundation.” (Editor’s note: Amstat News will carry more information about this in a future issue.)

Several other societies have recently joined as JSM special partners and work with the ASA on other collaborations, as well. Some of them sent along birthday greetings:

Ming-Hui Chen, president of the International Chinese Statistical Association (ICSA), observed: “ASA is one of the oldest and leading statistical societies in the world, and the ICSA has been growing rapidly over recent years, with a large overlap in membership with the ASA. ICSA was officially founded at the 1987 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) in San Francisco, California. ICSA’s partnership with ASA traced back to 1998, when the ICSA 1999 president and an ASA executive initiated discussion on more collaborations between ASA and ICSA at the 1998 JSM in Dallas.

“The collaborations between ASA and ICSA cover a broad range of activities from the society level to ASA sections and local chapters, including the partnership for the annual JSM with designated ICSA invited sessions, ICSA’s support to various COPSS activities, and ASA’s co-sponsorship of ICSA’s International Statistical Conferences and Applied Statistics Symposiums. ASA officers, including presidents and executive directors, have attended and frequently delivered keynote lectures at ICSA events. Over the years, both societies have benefited from the successful partnership. Most recently, ASA and ICSA have jointly and timely established the Lingzi Lu Memorial Award, which is the first of its kind to honor a master’s-level applied statistician.”

Cyrus Mehta, president of the International Indian Statistical Association (IISA), said his organization has received considerable support from the ASA. He noted the ASA’s leadership in helping the IISA become a JSM special partner and an important contributor to the scientific program at JSM. Mehta also said: “ASA helps us in other ways as well, including placement of important IISA announcements in Amstat News and on STATtr@k, co-sponsoring IISA conferences, and providing valuable financial support to enable students and young researchers to attend these conferences. In turn, the ASA benefits from its association with IISA by receiving assistance in its mission of outreach to developing countries. We have supported the Future of the Statistical Sciences Workshop, the capstone event for the International Year of Statistics, through promotion in our newsletter and through a financial contribution. We congratulate the ASA as it celebrates its 175th anniversary and are happy to be part of the celebration.”

The president of the Korean International Statistical Society (KISS), Dongseok Choi, wrote: “Congratulations on the ASA’s 175th anniversary! The Korean International Statistical Society is very excited to celebrate such a significant year together. KISS was founded in 2010 and became a special partner of the Joint Statistical Meetings in 2013. Participating in JSM is of upmost priority and importance to the KISS, since it has greatly enhanced its interactions with the ASA and other statistical societies. Such a partnership enhances the scientific content of JSM, helps generate new ideas, and fosters collaborations between the KISS and other statistical societies. It has also attracted more statisticians in Korea to travel abroad to learn about forefront developments in statistics and science, exchange ideas, and be more involved with other professional societies. We believe that this joint venture will bring many other mutually beneficial additions into the international statistical community in coming years. We look forward to celebrating the ASA’s 175th anniversary together in 2014!”

The ASA is not the oldest statistical society in the world. In 2014, the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) will celebrate its 180th anniversary and also become a special JSM partner. RSS President John Pullinger wrote, “The ASA and the RSS have a great deal in common. The International Year of Statistics in 2013 has helped grow our relationship to the benefit of the profession of statistics and the discipline of statistics. As the ASA starts its 175th anniversary year, it is timely to look back at what our founders were thinking. Their thoughts were all about how statistics can be used to help make the world a better place. In our new data economies, those that get stats will get on; those that do not will get left behind. Through the International Year of Statistics, the ASA, the RSS, and professional and learned societies for statistics around the world have rediscovered our roots and are showing the world how we make an impact. By sharing ideas, energy, and commitment, we can only grow stronger.”

To top off these anniversary reflections, we go to Vijay Nair, president of the International Statistical Institute (ISI), who wrote: “On behalf of ISI members from around the globe, I am pleased to extend our congratulations to the ASA on the occasion of its 175th birthday! Our collaboration on the International Year of Statistics, joint with other statistical societies, has been a resounding success. One of the ISI’s recent thrusts is statistical capacity building, which includes bridging the developing and developed worlds of statistics. I hope that the ASA and its 18,000 members can partner with the ISI and sister statistical organizations in this endeavor. (Please see the ISI website for information about capacity building activities.) Over the years, the ASA has played a huge role in promoting the profession and the careers of statisticians. ASA members can be very proud of its accomplishments, even as we ponder where our profession will be in another 175 years!”

The ASA is grateful to these partners and other societies and organizations with which we collaborate. We all share the conviction that sound practice of statistics leads to better informed decisions and improved human welfare. Thanks in no small part to the contributions of these partners, the ASA continues its 175-year journey to promote the practice and profession of statistics.

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One Comment »

  • Gideon Bahn from VA said:

    Congratulations ASA! It is great to be a member, being a part of this influential organazation, learning a lot and hoping to contribute a little, especially for the health of our veterans who have given their lives not only for this nation but for the world.