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Purdue ASA Student Chapter Members Excel at Leadership Challenge


Writer(s): Will Eagan and Holly Graef

Former American Statistical Association (ASA) President Dr. Lisa LaVange crafted several initiatives in 2018 with a strong desire to promote leadership within the field of statistics. One of those initiatives was a leadership competition that challenged participants to develop ideas for growing and sustaining the ASA’s membership. Dr. LaVange encouraged students at different institutions to form teams, and with her encouragement, Purdue joined the competition. At the event kick-off at the 2018 JSM in Vancouver, past ASA President Dr. Barry Nussbaum was named the coach of the Purdue team.

The Purdue team was composed of three Ph.D. candidates, Will Eagan, Evidence Matangi, and Sophie Sun (now a graduate), an alumna named Maggie Christy who is pursuing a M.S. in Biostatistics at IUPUI, and the final member was Tyler Netherly, an undergraduate in statistics and current president of the Purdue ASA Student Chapter. Eagan and Christy both served previously as president of the Purdue chapter.

Purdue’s team was the only one to represent statistics students at all three degree levels, had students from three different continents, and was the most gender balanced team. The other two teams were comprised of students from Vanderbilt and North Carolina State University. Each team worked with their coaches for months and participated in a series of professional development webinars.

ASA Board Meeting

The final three teams were each allowed to fly out one member to present their team’s ideas to the ASA Board of Directors at their April meeting in Washington, D.C. Evidence Matangi presented for the Purdue team and rose to the challenge. By many accounts he made a wonderful presentation that made Dr. Nussbaum and the ASA Board of Directors proud. 

The Purdue team presented four proposals to the ASA Board of Directors:

1. International chapters for countries outside of USA and Canada-similar to the student chapters programs

According to ASA data, roughly one third of ASA members are not located within the United States. We can help maintain populations that come to the U.S. and Canada for graduate school and retain them as members even after they leave their academic institutions in the U.S. and Canada. We could also help stimulate more support and roles for ASA in other countries. These chapters may be in one country or a collection of several neighboring countries. The competitive advantage is this will help the ASA retain many international statisticians who join the ASA as students but leave the United States and Canada to further their careers. Additionally, these members provide ASA with a global perspective and extend its global influence.

2. Restrictive Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) limited membership

To prevent those that only join a professional statistical organization for reduced JSM membership from leaving the ASA to join another organization with a cheaper membership fee. ASA can try to encourage those with restrictive JSM limited to upgrade to regular membership. This will prevent ASA from losing a class of members to co-sponsoring organizations with lower membership fees.

3. Corporate/academic department membership

This is a great idea for maintaining those members who are no longer students, and now work in industry. It ties in nicely with other current ASA initiatives designed to attract and maintain those in industry such as the accreditations ( i.e. GStat and PStat) along with the industry-focused Conference on Statistical Practice (CSP). The competitive advantage is that ASA membership becomes part of serving as a statistician for a company. It also offers a great way to showcase both the accreditation process and CSP; something smaller statistical organizations based in North America cannot provide.

4.Attractive webinar to encourage members to renew

To stimulate membership retention, ASA could make a very attractive webinar available to those who renew on time.

The ASA Board was so impressed with the presentations of all three teams that they declared everyone a winner. Each participant was awarded three years of ASA membership and a $500 travel scholarship to attend the ASA meeting of their choice.

Congrats to the Purdue team for their great work!

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