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This Is Our Time: Promoting the Practice and Profession of Statistics

1 December 2023 795 views No Comment
Photo shows 2023 ASA President Dionne Price, a black woman smiling professionally in a headshot

Dionne Price

“The phrase ‘timing is everything’ rings true for the American Statistical Association (ASA), which was formed in November 1839 in Boston—a city that was burgeoning with educational and technical professional opportunities.”

This sentence begins the history section of the About page of our website. The phrase certainly resonates with me, as I am extremely fortunate and grateful to have served as the ASA president at this dynamic time in our history. In my mind, we are in a time in which statistics and data science are needed more than ever to solve complex issues facing society. It is a time for science, collaboration, communication, education, and our leadership. In this, my final column, I want to share some reflections on my time as your president.

First and foremost, the timing of my presidential year afforded me the privilege of working with incredibly dedicated colleagues on the ASA Board of Directors. Given the complexities of our world, I anticipated there would be challenging issues requiring deliberation and thought. Regardless of the issue, discussion among the board members always recognized the value of differing viewpoints and a commitment to action that benefitted our association.

My experiences this year have renewed my belief in the power of mentorship, as I have appreciated the guidance and support offered by my board colleagues. I end my presidential year with a renewed commitment to mentoring emerging leaders of our profession. I am grateful to my colleagues and to you for your continued dedication.

In my first column, I shared that the ASA mission would be my guide. Focusing on the mission, I put forward three initiatives: StatsForward; communication; and developing articulation agreements for two-year colleges. I selected these initiatives fully recognizing this year would be just the beginning. I am pleased we have made progress on all these initiatives. Of course, there remains work to be done.

As I write, the inaugural StatsForward cohort is completing a leadership development curriculum. Looking to 2024, they will continue to develop their leadership skills, engage with ASA leadership, and work together on a capstone project. Many of you have reached out with offers to help as we develop this important program. During this start-up phase, our energies have been focused on developing the curriculum, but we will need your help as we move forward. In my new role as past president, I will continue to work with the cohort and be involved with recruiting and selecting the second cohort, so I will be reaching out to you.

One of my early presentations as ASA president was the keynote address for the 2023 Conference on Statistical Practice. In September, I participated in the ASA Biopharmaceutical Section Regulatory-Industry Statistics Workshop. In between, I have participated in many meetings and webinars, shared updates on LinkedIn, and been delighted by the updates provided in the Chapter Chatter e-newsletter.

I chose to focus on communication as one of my initiatives because the communication landscape is so dynamic, and we want to ensure our membership and beyond are aware of the awesome work, opportunities, and activities underway. This is an initiative that will be ongoing. I will continue to be part of the work to guarantee we continue to embrace communication opportunities to strengthen our community and raise public awareness of the impact of our profession.

Ensuring the future of our profession is one of our strategic themes. According to an analysis by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College Columbia University, 8.9 million students were enrolled at community colleges in the 2020–2021 academic year. My final initiative has been to support a seamless transition for two-year college students to four-year colleges.

Articulation agreements can be influential in ensuring best practices in teaching introductory statistics and data science. Course-to-course agreements guide whether a course offered at the two-year college will transfer to the four-year institution and fulfill degree and prerequisite requirements. A working group plans to write a white paper or similar document to offer guidance in creating and reviewing these documents, specifically addressing the essential curriculum for introductory statistics. This is a challenging initiative since the coordination of public higher education varies from state to state, but I am committed to supporting this critical effort.

Serving as your ASA president has been an enriching and deeply meaningful experience. I have learned much from all of you about our scientific endeavors, what matters to you as a body, and areas in which we need to focus on moving forward. I am proud of what we have accomplished thus far, and I look forward to all that is to come for our profession.

The conclusion of my service is marked by a deep sense of gratitude to all of you who make up the ASA community. Although my time as president is coming to an end, it is not the end of my commitment to promoting the practice and profession of statistics. This is our time for impact and influence for the greater good.

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