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What Do You Do as ASA President? 2011 Initiatives

1 March 2011 No Comment
Nancy Geller


After being elected, the president-elect proposes an annual operating plan for his (her) presidential year. The plan consists of a number of initiatives (usually three) that will define some of the accomplishments (s)he hopes to achieve as ASA president. Initiatives are discussed, refined, and approved by the board of directors. Prior to approval, the president-elect appoints a workgroup chair and members of the workgroup to carry out each of the initiatives. A budget for each is needed, perhaps for travel or awards, and that requires early planning. Chairing a workgroup entails a lot of responsibility, even with a great workgroup and the able assistance of ASA staff.

For the past three years, the initiatives have been tied to the current ASA strategic plan, which was approved in 2008. The strategic plan sets out eight areas of importance to the association: membership growth, public awareness, visibility and impact in policy-making, meetings, publications and information needs, education, financial status, and organizational efficiency. Although there is provision for updating the strategic plan annually, the eight areas continue to remain highly relevant. As a result, the ASA presidents have related their initiatives to one of these areas of importance.

For 2011, there are three initiatives, one pertaining to education, one to organizational efficiency, and one to public awareness.

The 2011 education initiative will lay the groundwork for a Summer Institute in Statistics (SIS) for undergraduates. It is based on the Summer Institute for Training in Biostatistics (SIBS), which is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health. This program funds summer programs that provide a memorable five- to seven-week experience for the students who participate. A large proportion of these students go on to study graduate biostatistics or a related field.

The goal of SIS is to provide a similar pipeline for other fields of application of statistics, such as economics, psychometrics, or engineering. Designing solicitation for the program and identifying sources of funding are the major workgroup tasks. Pam Arroway (who served on the 2010 Council of Sections Governing Board and is involved in SIBS) chairs this workgroup, with Jessica Utts (Council of Sections representative to the ASA Board) as vice chair.

In last month’s column, I wrote about some of the achievements of the Leadership Support Council (LSC) in its first year. The 2011 organizational efficiency initiative will prepare guidance for the functioning of the LSC based on the first year’s experience. For example, timing of meetings, committee appointments, and communication with committee chairs will be more clearly specified. The goal is to make the LSC function in an efficient manner. This workgroup consists of several current members of the LSC. Janet Buckingham (vice chair of the Professional Issues and Visibility Council) is the chair, and Christy Chuang-Stein (chair of the Membership Council and ASA vice president) is vice chair.

The 2011 public awareness initiative is a fun one, officially called the 2011 ASA “Promoting the Practice and Profession of Statistics” Video Competition, but known affectionately as “the YouTube initiative.” The goal of this initiative is to portray statistics and statisticians in a positive light during a short film (and we are hoping some of them will go viral). Entries will be judged on quality of statistical content and entertainment value. Click here for sample videos, actually made by members of the workgroup (and therefore not eligible for prizes), and the rules. The deadline is July 15, and we will announce the winners and show at least the winning entries at JSM.

Tom Short (Council of Chapters representative to the ASA Board of Directors) chairs this workgroup. Click here for the complete list of members.

In closing, I note that you will soon have the opportunity to cast your vote for the 2012 president-elect and other ASA officers. See “ASA Board of Directors Candidates” for details and look for your ballot in your email or postal mail box.

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