David Binder, Distinguished Service Award 2011
Distinguished Service Award
The 2011 SSC Distinguished Service Award is conferred to David A. Binder, retired Director General of the Methodology Branch at Statistics Canada. The announcement was made at the Society’s Annual Meeting held in Wolfville, NS on June 12-15. The distinction is awarded to an SSC member who has made substantial contributions to the running or welfare of the SSC, over a period of several years. The award is intended to reward devotion and service to statistics in Canada, as shown by exceptional service to the SSC.
Born in the United Kingdom to war refugees from Austria and Czechoslovakia, David and his family immigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto when he was two years old. David remained in Toronto until he graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc, specializing in mathematics, statistics and economics. After taking some graduate courses in mathematical statistics as a part-time student at Carleton University, David moved to London, England where he earned a Ph.D. in statistics from Imperial College of Science & Technology in 1977. His Ph.D. research was supervised by David R. Cox and Ann F. S. Mitchell.
David’s affiliation with Statistics Canada began in 1971 as a Survey Methodologist. Over the years, David moved up the ranks at Statistics Canada, culminating his career as the Director General of the Methodology Branch. This Branch had responsibility for providing statistical services to programs throughout the bureau, and for conducting research into state-of-the-art survey methods. He interrupted his career for three years (1973-6) to pursue post-graduate studies at the University of London in the United Kingdom, and later for two years (1979-81) to hold a teaching and research position at the University of Ottawa in the Faculty of Administration. During the four months prior to his retirement in 2004, David was a Senior Advisor to an Assistant Chief Statistician at Statistics Canada.
In spite of his demanding responsibilities at Statistics Canada, David found time to contribute generously to professional work, particularly for the Statistical Society of Canada. Over the years, David has served on a host of SSC committees and chaired many of the key ones, including the Elections, Awards, Membership, and Regional and Society Co-operation Committees. He also represented Ontario for four years on the Society’s Board of Directors. In 2004, David was elected president of the SSC, serving as President-Elect (2004-05), President (2005-06) and Past-President (2006-07). He was then appointed as the first Executive Director of the Society for the period 2007-10.
David’s cumulative rich experience, his wide network of contacts, his farsightedness and ability to negotiate have all served the Society well over the years. He is a devoted member of the SSC who works hard either at the front lines, or in the background, to achieve the Society’s mission and to advance its influence beyond traditional boundaries. For many years, David was the voice of the SSC before the American Statistical Association. As SSC Representative in the ASA Committee on Meetings, David was very effective in speaking for the SSC during the drafting of the new contract among the sponsoring societies of the Joint Statistical Meetings. In the ASA, he also served as Chair of the Survey Research Methods Section, and member of the Joint Statistical Meetings Advisory Committee, Council of Sections, ASA Census Advisory Committee of the US Bureau of the Census, and ASA Expert Panel to Review the Current Employment Statistics Survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He has also served on panels to review statistical frameworks for the European Commission.
Tangible examples of David’s deeds in the SSC abound. He led the SSC in challenging discussions on accreditation, on management of the SSC office and initiated discussions on how to engage young statisticians in the functioning of the Society. He was passionate about such engagement and viewed it as critical that the Society held the needs of young statisticians as prime concern. During his presidency, he implemented the AStat program and the accreditation of university courses, after much debate on the Board of Directors. David supervised the creation of the Probability Section and played a major role in the introduction of new awards, most notably the Award for Impact of Applied and Collaborative Work, developing the award’s terms of reference and chairing its first selection committee. David worked closely with the Program Secretary and the Program Chair to regularize the SSC protocols for running Annual Meetings. He strongly supported collaborative research initiatives undertaken by NPCDS.
Also during David’s presidency, an office transition took place, with the SSC contracting the services of the Canadian Mathematical Society’s office. David was key in helping the staff understand the particulars of SSC operations, the philosophy of our Society, the management of our meetings, and the role of committees and the Executive. He was absolutely instrumental in streamlining the Society’s day-to-day management and in providing needed stability at a time of major change. It then became apparent that David was going to be the most effective person in the SSC to assume the Executive Director’s job. Those who have observed David’s work in the SSC know that he is undaunted by difficult or challenging tasks and always rises to the occasion.
David A. Binder is an accomplished researcher who has made significant contributions in survey methodology and applications. He has published over 35 refereed research articles, over 40 publications in conference proceedings and over 15 reports and other publications. His articles have appeared in top journals, including Biometrika, Journal of the American Statistical Association, Survey Methodology and The Canadian Journal of Statistics. He served as Associate Editor for Survey Methodology and The Canadian Journal of Statistics, and has edited several conference proceedings. David served in NSERC’s Statistical Sciences Grant Selection Committee. His statistical leadership and research contributions have been recognized with Elected Membership in the International Statistical Institute and Fellowship in the American Statistical Association.
David lives in Ottawa with Marilyn, his wife of nearly forty years. They have a daughter working in Vancouver in the technology sector, whose passions include spoken-word poetry and the ukulele. David’s hobbies include playing competitive bridge, reading recently published award-winning novels, and even continuing to read the statistical journals.
David first joined the SSC in the early 80’s. He said, “I joined the SSC because at that time there were not enough non-academic statisticians in the Society who could influence its direction and goals”. He found his work as a volunteer in the Society very rewarding. “I was continuously energized in my work with the SSC because I got to work closely with so many highly motivated and competent professionals.”
The citation for the award reads:
“To David A. Binder, for exceptionally devoted and highly effective service to the SSC, as representative internationally, as President and member of the Executive Committee, and Executive Director of the Society for the period 2004-2010; for career-long leadership in support of research and learning in statistical science in Canada.”