15th Anniversary of Accreditation by the SSC
The year 2018 marks the 15th anniversary of accreditation by the Statistical Society of Canada. The country has a long statistical tradition. The first census was held over the winter of 1665–66 under the direction of Jean Talon, Intendent of what was then New France. With few statisticians over the centuries, the numbers of statisticians in Canada slowly began to increase in the 1950’s. “Statistics ’71 Canada” in Montréal was the first large statistics conference in Canada organized by Canadians. A letter patent was issued on 20 July 1972 by the federal government for the Statistical Science Association of Canada (Association Canadienne de science statistique), which by a change of name in January 1978 became the present Statistical Society of Canada (Société statistique du Canada)—known by the abbreviation SSC .
In Canada, the first society to offer accreditation of statisticians was the Association des statisticiennes et statisticiens du Québec (ASSQ) , which received its letters patent from the Province du Québec on 12 May 1995. To be accredited as a Stat.ASSQ, an applicant must have completed a baccalaureate in Statistics, or the equivalent, with 24 credit hours in Statistics or Probability, or at least a baccalaureate degree with the equivalent of formal academic training in Statistics obtained through work experience.
Accreditation was a topic for discussion at the October 1999 meeting of the SSC Board of Directors. Accreditation was then discussed at the Annual General Meeting of the Society in June 2000. At its October 2001 meeting, the Board approved “the process and direction taken by the Accreditation Implementation Committee.” In June 2002, the Committee on Professional Development and the Accreditation Implementation Committee merged to form what is now known as the Accreditation Committee.
At the October 2003 meeting of the Board, Dr. Kenneth McCrae was moved as the first Professional Statistician and the fee structure was approved. The applications to register the certification marks P.Stat. (Professional Statistician) and A.Stat. (Associate Statistician) were filed on 19 December 2003. Registration of both certification marks was granted on 25 July 2006. Any one of these dates can be observed as the inception of accreditation of individuals by the Society.
The A.Stat. certification mark is granted on application to an individual who has completed the equivalent of a baccalaureate degree with the equivalent of a Major in Statistics and the equivalent of a Minor in a discipline other than Statistics or Pure Mathematics. The P.Stat. certification mark is granted after a further six years of mentored professional development. The Engineering profession in Canada provided the model for this structure.
On 16 October 2005, the Board of Directors voted in favour of a motion “to have accredited university programs in Canada.” A single committee, the Accreditation Committee, is responsible for accrediting individuals and postsecondary programs at the undergraduate level. The SSC does not actually accredit postsecondary degree programs in the usual sense. Instead, accredited postsecondary institutions offer an accredited list of courses to the national standard set by the SSC. This is independent of governance structures for degree programs at postsecondary institutions in Canada. Indeed, a Major in Statistics at an institution may not include all courses on the accredited list. But a student graduating with a Major in Statistics and desiring to meet the national standard for accreditation as an A.Stat. must fulfill the requirements on the course list.
As of 31 March 2018, there are 222 active accredited members (149 P.Stat.’s and 73 A.Stat.’s) and 17 postsecondary institutions offering accredited undergraduate programs in Statistics in Canada.
As part of the start of celebrations to mark the 15th anniversary of accreditation of statisticians by the Society, the Accreditation Committee is sponsoring a session on mentoring open to all at the Annual Meeting of the Society in June 2018 in Montréal. The keynote address for this session will be given by David Morganstein and this will be followed by a panel discussion.
Mr. Morganstein is a Vice President at Westat, Inc., and the Director of Statistical Staff, which consists of seventy MSc and PhD statisticians. A senior statistician with more than forty-five years of experience, his areas of expertise include the design and application of sample surveys, systems of evaluation, quality control, statistical analysis, estimation, and quantification. He is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and was President in 2015. He is an elected member of the International Statistics Institute and previously chaired its Ethics Committee when it revised the ISI Declaration on Professional Ethics. Mr. Morganstein continues to serve on the ISI Ethics Advisory Board. He obtained a B.ASc. degree in Electrical Engineering at Purdue University and an MA in Statistics from the University of Michigan.
The title for Mr. Morganstein’s presentation is “Mentoring - Paying it Forward.” As Peter Drucker has said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” As statisticians, we are often trying to predict the future. In the case of what our profession will look like, we are urged to create the future we think will best serve us and our society. One way we can shape the future we envision is to work with young statisticians, students and recent graduates, and as their mentors help them in their professional development. Are we prepared to do this? Many academic statisticians with doctoral students are. Government and private industry statisticians may have little or no such experience. What does good mentoring look like and how can we better prepare ourselves for the challenge?
All are invited to this keynote address and what is expected to be a fulsome panel discussion afterwards.
- David R. Bellhouse and Christian Genest (1999). A History of the Statistical Society of Canada: The Formative Years. Statistical Science, 14(1):80-125.
- Louis-Paul Rivest and Susana Rubin-Bleuer (2005). Accreditation of Professional Statisticians in Canada. Proceedings of the International Statistical Institute, 55th Session.
Kevin Keen, University of Northern British Columbia