President's message


Welcome to the Statistical Society of Canada’s new website! Its unveiling happens to coincide with the beginning of my term as president, but I can’t take any credit for it. The numerous leadership decisions, along with some challenging discussions, were handled exceptionally well by my presidential predecessors. They, and the people who actually got the website up and running, deserve all the credit. I can't improve on then President Brian Allen's words of thanks in the announcement of the new website: "The initial look and feel of the new website was ably guided by the ad hoc Website Redevelopment Committee, chaired by Peter Macdonald, and by the Electronic Services Manager, Russ Steele. More recently, the implementation has been superbly managed by the ad hoc Electronic Services Development Committee, chaired by Jason Loeppky. The Society owes a great vote of thanks to these individuals!" I will add that the days leading up to the unveiling of the new site involved a great deal of feverish activity by several people. I want to thank both Jason and Larysa Valachko, our hardworking executive assistant, for this final push.
July 1 is our Society's New Year’s Day and the new year ushers in many changes in membership at all levels. Brian Allen is now our Past President and John Petkau leaves the executive committee following his three-year presidential cycle. I have learned a great deal from Brian and John about the ins and outs of the SSC and will continue to rely on them for advice. Because of his deep knowledge of the functioning of our society, John's departure leaves a void. Fortunately, the new president elect, Hugh Chipman, has a great deal of SSC experience (unlike me a year ago!), so the transition has been very smooth. Jean-François Plante, who has been an exceptional Publications Officer, ends his term in that position. One of the surprises for me as president-elect was to discover the number of areas that the publications officer role touches, and I was very impressed with Jean-François' adeptness at juggling the many issues that came his way. He will be missed, but his replacement, Dave Campbell, has already shown that he will rise to the challenge.
By the time you read this, I hope to have completed the task of filling the many positions that became vacant on July 1. Like previous presidents of our society, I've been gratified by the willingness, even enthusiasm, of the people who have been asked to serve on committees. It is due to the generosity of these many volunteers that the SSC is such a vibrant organization.
The annual meeting at Brock University in St. Catharines, with its rich and varied program, was a great success. Thanks are due to Program Chair Ed Susko, Local Arrangements Chair John Yuen and their teams for this achievement. Plans are well under way for next year's edition, which will be held at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg from June 11 to 14. Erica Moodie from McGill is the Program Chair and Alex Leblanc from the University of Manitoba is the Local Arrangements Chair. In addition to the usual good reasons for attending the annual meeting we can add another: the Statistics Department, the first such department in Canada, will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary.
At Brock, I had the pleasure to participate in the fourth annual Student Conference, which took place the day before the main SSC event. The conference was ably organized by Caitlin Daly, Nathalie Moon and their team of volunteers. Plans for next year's conference, henceforth called the Canadian Statistics Student Conference (CSSC), have already begun. The organizing committee is headed by Kuan Liu and Osvaldo Espin-Garcia, both from the University of Toronto.
For the past year or so, you've been hearing about our Society's first fundraising campaign. The first phase of the campaign, the Presidents' Matching Fund, ended just before the annual meeting in St. Catharines, and the chair of the Fundraising Committee, Christian Léger, announced the results at the banquet. The results were very impressive indeed, with 90 percent of living past and current SSC presidents contributing, for a total of $30,500. This is the amount that SSC members will attempt to match (or even surpass!) in the second phase, which will coincide with the membership renewal process. Rather than reiterate the importance of fundraising for a society such as ours, I encourage you to read Christian's short article in the May issue (page 14) of Liaison, as well as his article in the August issue.
Having a Society that is financially sound is important. Having a funding mechanism that is independent of the "base funding" provided by membership dues will allow us to devote some of our resources to endeavors that help society in general and strengthen our Society's place in it. Canadians have never been more educated about the importance of statistics. Perhaps there is no better illustration of this than the outcry that followed the cancellation of the mandatory long-form census in 2010. To me, this is an indication that people realize the value of statistically sound information. We, as a Society of statisticians, should view this as an opportunity and a challenge. Let's take advantage of this opportunity, as individuals and as an organization, to promote the role of statistics. I know many SSC members feel the same way: when the Fundraising Committee asked for project ideas that people felt were worthy of funding, many proposals centred on the promotion of statistics to educators, to the next generation of statisticians and to the general public. This is a good sign! Let’s keep the momentum going.
[A longer version of this message is available in the August 2016 issue of Liaison.]

Jack Gambino