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A Pat on the Back for Our Longtime Members

1 August 2010 No Comment
Sastry Pantula

Sastry Pantula

By the time you read this, I hope we will have had another successful JSM and our members will have enjoyed the beautiful location, hospitality, exchange of ideas, networking, and mentoring at various levels. Thank you for your participation, and thanks to all members and staff involved in making it a great success.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the longtime members of our association. When I read through the list (see April 2010 (PDF) issue of Amstat News) of these members, I am always impressed. Here is the “who’s who” of our profession and, in particular, our association. They have a lot to be proud of, both personally and professionally. This list includes ASA presidents, vice presidents, board members, and executive directors, as well as many award winners.

Some have served (or are serving) in leadership positions in our chapters and sections. Others volunteer on various committees and task forces. We are enjoying the fruits of their continued labor to promote the practice and profession of statistics.

A quick look at the list of longtime members will tell you it consists of a diverse group of people representing all of our sectors, genders, and backgrounds. We celebrate the diversity of our association.

There is not enough room in this column to name the individual contributions of all our longtime members, so I simply say thank you again for all you have done in the past and for your continued support. You are role models for many of us. Our association thrives on volunteers such as you, who have set a good example for future longtime members. Thank you also for your support of the ASA’s development. I appreciate hearing from you on a regular basis, and your seasoned advice has been priceless.

My upbringing tells me we should take care of our elders, who have given us so much and continue to be the force behind many of our successes. The ASA provides certain benefits to our longtime members, including the opportunity to become a life member starting at age 50.

It is nice to hear stories and historical perspectives during the longtime members’ reception at JSM. Career paths of many of these members, published at times in Amstat News, are beneficial to our newer and future longtime members. I am sure each of us knows at least one longtime member, so please take a few minutes to thank them for their service to our association. Also, each of us knows a younger member who may be looking for a mentor. Please make time to connect these younger members with longtime members. There is a rich pool of experience to draw from. Our retired faculty members, for example, have been a great support and inspiration to me.

At JSM, we honored a number of new ASA Fellows. Congratulations! Your professional achievements and service to our association are admirable. I urge you to continue your ASA membership and service. I would love to see you become life members.

As past president Fritz Scheuren passionately did a few years ago, I ask that Fellows who have allowed their memberships to lapse renew them soon. My understanding is that about 400 out of more than 2,000 current ASA Fellows have forgotten to renew their memberships. I know you are proud to be an ASA Fellow, and we are proud of you being a part of our association. Welcome back!

Statistical Literacy

At the recent International Conference on Teaching Statistics, I heard several good talks regarding the importance of appropriate statistical literacy and training of journalists, scientists, lawyers, policymakers, and others. One speaker suggested an important role for us to play is that of umpire.

As Stan Young at the National Institute of Statistical Sciences put it, there is a breed of “science crooks” who are deliberately misusing statistical methods for short-term gains. Of course, many are facing long-term negative effects now, whether it is in health, finance, or the environmental and engineering fields. In most of the cases, the damage is irreparable. In the process, however, the statistical profession’s positive contributions and innovations are being overshadowed, leaving the public skeptical about science in general.

I continue to urge that we do an outstanding job of educating the public through our one-shot introductory courses, by publishing articles in other fields about the proper use of statistical methods, and by writing letters to the editor whenever it is appropriate. Silence on the misuse of statistics may be interpreted as condoning it. I know our members are doing an outstanding job to help advance science and discovery; we have a lot to be proud of.

Moving On

As you may know, I will be moving to my new position at the National Science Foundation as the division director of the Division of Mathematical Sciences in September. I will continue in my role as ASA president for the rest of this year and serve my term on the ASA Board in 2011 as past president. I will be moving to Arlington, Virginia, and won’t be far from the ASA office, in Alexandria. I look forward to working with the mathematical and statistical sciences communities, and I appreciate your continued support. Thank you!

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