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Business Meeting Covers Much Ground

1 October 2009 No Comment
Edited by Page Moore, Biometrics Section Publications Officer

The Biometrics Section recently held its annual business committee meeting during JSM in Washington, DC. Dan Heitjan, 2009 section chair, welcomed members and guests and introduced Steve Pierson, the ASA’s director of science policy. Pierson described efforts to develop a series of one-page documents for policymakers called “Statistical Significance” that underscore significant contributions statisticians have made in key areas such as health care, economic productivity, and national security. Pierson said he views his role, in part, as educating the ASA membership about ways to influence science policy and invited suggestions for ASA science policy action from section members.

Dues Increase
Daniel Heitjan, 2009 Section Chair
The section’s executive committee voted on August 2 to increase annual dues from $3 to $5. Why raise dues now? Let’s start with a bit of history.

    Although our section is the largest in the ASA, with more than 2,000 paying members, we have traditionally been among the low-dues/low-service sections. In recent years, however, there has been interest in increasing the section’s role in professional outreach.

      In 2003, then Section Chair Dennis Dixon began our membership initiative grants program, which last year distributed $12,000 and is by far the largest item in our budget. We hope to continue this important initiative. We would also like to raise our section’s profile at JSM by holding a morning refreshment event. Of course, we also must periodically raise levels of our young investigator awards, and the prices of traditional budget items (e.g., the executive committee meeting and mixer) do not stand still. Although we have tried to cut costs in other areas (e.g., holding the executive committee meeting offsite), our expenses were so modest before that little is saved.

        If we are to continue our effort to become a more dynamic section, we need to realize more revenue. Raising our dues to $5 will put us in the low to middle range among ASA sections, but will give us another $4,000 to work with. Although nobody likes to ask for more money, particularly in these challenging times, we hope the benefits will be worth the price.

          As always, feel free to share your comments and suggestions with any member of the executive committee or with me by sending an email to dheitjan@upenn.edu.

            Hormuzd Katki issued a call for invited session proposals to be submitted by September 9, noting that the section has four invited session slots and can compete for up to two more. Jerry Heatley reported on the success of this year’s continuing education courses and noted that there is a September 30 deadline for course proposals for next year’s JSM.

            The section recognized the efforts of Heatley as 2009 continuing education chair and Wensheng Guo as 2009 JSM section program chair.

            Past section chair Jeremy Taylor introduced Sonja Greven of The Johns Hopkins University as the winner of the David P. Byar Young Investigator Award and Xiaoxi Zhang of Pfizer as the recipient of the Biometrics Section travel award.

            Bonnie LaFleur described the section’s member initiative program, which made four grants this year with a total budget of $12,000. LaFleur introduced Roslyn Stone of the University of Pittsburgh, who received multiple member initiative awards. She described her group’s work with a local high-school AP Statistics class. The project involved developing take-home materials for students, teachers, and parents to encourage understanding and enthusiasm for statistics as a profession. The section’s support provided a foundation for the group to develop a successful application for National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute funding to broaden dissemination of such materials. Jeremy Taylor paid tribute to the leadership of previous section chair Dennis Dixon, who initiated the section’s member initiative program.

            Treasurer Tom Belin reported that the section started calendar year 2008 with a balance of $35,585.54 and ended the year with $26,081.67. It was noted that while the drawdown was intentional as part of an effort to maintain section funds at reasonable levels (approximately twice annual expenses), such an imbalance could not continue indefinitely. It also was noted that the executive committee voted to raise section dues from $3 to $5; $4,500 would be budgeted for student awards, with the Byar Award winner receiving $1,500 and the remainder being given as travel awards; and that an initiative to provide refreshments and/or coffee between the morning sessions during JSM was being explored.

            Complete minutes of the meeting can be found here.

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