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ASA at 175 - Selecting ASA Fellows

By Ronald Wasserstein - April 14, 2014


One of the most distinguished awards given to ASA members is the designation “ASA Fellow.” As I write, the ASA Committee on Fellows is meeting downstairs in the ASA HQ in Alexandria, VA, to finalize the selection of 2014 Fellows.  Committee members have been working hard over the past six weeks to review and rate 119 nomination packets, and now they must whittle the list down to at most 63 people.

According to the ASA By-Laws (Article I, part 5), “By the honorary title of Fellow, the Association recognizes full members of established reputation who have made outstanding contributions in some aspect of statistical work.”  The criteria for selection is succinctly stated in the same portion of the By-Laws: “In selecting Fellows, the Committee on Fellows shall evaluate the candidate's contribution to the advancement of statistics, giving due weight to publications, the position held by the candidate in the organization in which the individual is employed, activities in the Association, membership and attainments in other societies, and other professional activities. The case for each candidate shall be judged individually, with no one of these criteria governing selection to the exclusion of the others.”

The By-Laws also limit the number of new Fellows elected each year to at most one-third of one percent of the membership.  Since the ASA’s membership has grown to just over 19,000, the Committee on Fellows can select up to 63 people this year.

The deliberations of the Committee are thoughtful and thorough.  They are also confidential, so please don’t ask members of the Fellows Committee to tell you how close an unsuccessful nominee was to being selected, or how the nomination could have been improved.  They will not be able to comment. 

However, the details of how to nominate your colleagues, and how to do so well, are readily available.  If you haven’t seen it already, take a look at the helpful article on this topic in the December 2013 Amstat News.  One piece of advice the committee members can share is that no nomination packet is perfect – there is always room for improvement.  If your nominee is not selected for 2014, re-nominating them next year will almost surely result in a stronger nomination.

The Committee will finalize its selections today.  All nominators will be notified tomorrow (Tuesday, April 15) whether their nominees were successful or not.  On Friday (April 18), new Fellows will be notified directly by email with congratulations and instructions on materials needed for the awards ceremony and for publicity.  A press release and web announcement listing new Fellows will appear close to JSM, and the Fellows will be recognized at the President’s Address and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, August 5, at JSM in Boston.

The recognition of outstanding colleagues is one of the important things professional associations do.  Recognition of Fellows and other award winners begins with people who care enough about their colleagues (and their profession) to take the time to nominate them.  If you know someone deserving of an ASA award, look for the opportunity to nominate them for one.  There may be no better way to express your admiration of and support for your colleagues.

In 2014, the American Statistical Association is celebrating its 175th anniversary.  Over the course of this year, this blog will highlight aspects of that celebration, and look broadly at the ASA and its activities.  Please contact ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein (ron@amstat.org) if you would like to post an entry to this blog.

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