New Normal Now / Connected Community Always

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One month ago I was visiting with statistical colleagues from around the world the vibrant city that never sleeps, New York City. Today, the streets of this city are empty, and, like most of you, I’m working from home with daily videoconferences to interact on projects. 

ISI continues to work hard with activities related to planning WSC 2021, determining WSC 2023 location options, investigating enhancements to our web presence and supporting activities of our community during these uncertain and evolving times. I thank our permanent office staff for their hard work supporting us from their homes.

Last month, we had an ISI Council call where we had updates about the International Year of Women in Statistics and Data Science: Happy 200th Birthday Florence Nightingale from ISI Councillor Jessica Utts and about the Working Group on Data Science from IASC President and Council Member Juergen Symanzik. I am very grateful to these leaders and members of these workgroups for their efforts on behalf of ISI.

In addition to these reports, the Council discussed ideas for recruiting new members, both regular and elected, and for recruiting sponsors. One task that ISI and in fact all professional societies need to address is why join a professional society when most if not all of the benefits of a society are available online. Bob Rodriguez, ISI Elected Member and former ASA President, made the distinction between values and benefits. The tangible benefits of journal access are not as important now as during the days when you only received publications by post. The values of membership continue – connection, community and impact.

ISI has given me much. It has made the world, particularly the statistical world, feel more connected. Interacting with statisticians from around the world and who work in areas and associations that differ from mine has expanded my thinking about our discipline. I have connections to colleagues and communities around the world that I would not have known otherwise. Ironically, this includes colleagues in my own country! Our voices together will have more impact than our separate voices. ISI can be a voice to promote our discipline to the next generation of statisticians and can be an advocate for the legitimate practice of statistics around the world. I am a proud member of my national statistical society, and I am delighted to engage as a world citizen in the ISI.

I am encouraged by individuals and organizations around the world who are supporting their colleagues with their generous sharing of resources. Publishers are making available research work related to COVID-19, and newspapers are removing coverage from behind firewalls to provide up-to-date stories about the pandemic. As part of my continuing professional education, I recently participated in a 4+ hour 2-part YouTube webinar related to ggplot2 and extensions that Thomas Lin Pedersen (@thomasp85) taught, and I am participating in two courses related to programming. I encourage all of you to use these days of social distancing to find opportunities to growth professionally and personally.

Let me close by expressing gratitude to those health care workers and public health leaders who are working to lessen the suffering of those impacted by this pandemic, and I weep for those workers who have lost jobs or been furloughed during these uncertain days. I hope that these workers, you and your family will stay healthy. I look to the near future when we will be able to shake hands and warmly welcome each other again.

John Bailer (@john_bailer)
ISI President
06 April 2020


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