Jason Loeppky, Distinguished Service Award 2021
Jason Loeppky is the recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Service Award from the Statistical Society of Canada (SSC). This award honours an individual who has played an important and substantial role in fostering the growth and success of the Canadian Statistical Sciences community through leadership in the SSC.
Jason grew up in the northern community of Thompson, Manitoba, moving to Guelph, Ontario, for his final years of high school and an undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph. He has lived in British Columbia ever since, obtaining an MSc and PhD from Simon Fraser and completing a postdoc at the University of British Columbia. One publication arising from his PhD is a highly cited Technometrics paper co-authored with Randy Sitter and Boxin Tang, which develops a mechanism for finding optimal statistical designs for estimating interactions of categorical variables. A second Technometrics paper, arising from postdoctoral work and co-authored with Jerome Sacks and William Welch, has nearly 500 citations and considers the problem of sample size calculations for approximating complex computer models. After obtaining a faculty position at the Okanagan campus of UBC in Kelowna, he continued methodological research on design and optimization while collaborating on applied problems in astrophysics and other areas.
Jason Loeppky played a transformational role as the SSC’s Electronic Services Manager, using long-term vision to ensure that SSC’s online presence and electronic capacity would meet current needs with considerable potential for growth as needs evolved. Prior to Loeppky’s term, membership data management relied on manual processing, proprietary software, and contractor support. With the commitment to move to an independent office, it became necessary for SSC to redevelop services. Most members may not realize how much SSC has grown over the years. Manual processing that once worked was no longer sustainable.
Jason devoted countless hours to developing a Constituent Relations Management (CRM) system for the Statistical Society of Canada. He possessed the technical skills that enabled him to understand the developers, and the knowledge of how the organization works, to represent SSC operations to developers. Jason made multiple trips from Kelowna, BC to Ottawa to meet with prospective contractors and subsequently met weekly with developers to develop automation, simplify processes, and improve consistency in workflows.
Major projects were undertaken by Jason during his term as Electronic Services Manager and included: (i) website redesign and deployment, (ii) migration of membership management to an open-source web-based system, (iii) financial processing via the SSC website (including meeting registration, membership payments and donations), and (iv) a new web-based management system for the Annual Meeting, including abstract submission and translation, session scheduling and management, online and printed program information.
Electronic services advancements also included development of new CRM content types, most notably for managing the Statistical Society of Canada’s newsletter, Liaison. This enabled SSC to move from a printed, static newsletter to a format that enabled members to submit articles directly, translators and editors to work with that content, and electronic distribution via email and the website. Substantial annual cost savings have been realized by the Society.
Loeppky served as an ex-officio member of the Census at School Canada Committee. He spearheaded enhancements to the Census at Schools project, which included the large-scale redevelopment of databases from their old technology to Drupal and helped the committee obtain funding for developing Shiny apps. He operated with keen awareness of both SSC’s desire to support statistics education initiatives and fiducial obligations to members and donors to provide good service at minimal cost.
As Electronic Services Manager, Jason brought together external contractors and diverse groups within the SSC as the organization transitioned through the most ambitious and complex electronic services projects undertaken by the SSC in a generation. He did this with good humor and an excellent ability to manage different (and sometimes divergent) views on SSC needs, all while he continued his professorial work at UBC-Okanagan and extensive research activities. Loeppky also served as a member (2007-2009) and Chair (2009-2014) of the Student Travel Grants Committee and Secretary of the Business and Industrial Statistics Section (2013-2016).
Jason Loeppky was appointed as Electronic Services Manager for two terms, but a series of car accidents has left him on long-term disability leave and unable to continue contributing to the statistical community. Jason continues to live in Kelowna with his wife and daughter, and remains a supportive and always-cheerful friend to many in our Society. His substantial, intense, and constructive contributions to SSC during the 2.5 years he was most active are exceptional. The results have transformed the Statistical Society of Canada as an organization.
The citation for the award reads:
“To Jason Loeppky, for his tireless efforts as SSC’s Electronic Services Manager during a period of unprecedented development, including upgrading SSC’s website and dynamically linking it with a new CRM system for managing administrative data and critically supporting the Annual Meeting and Liaison newsletter; for enhancement and advocacy of the Census at School Canada program; for invaluable contributions to the development of an independent SSC office; and for his continuous tenure of service to SSC for the period of 2007-2018.”