As recent, current, and future chairs of the American Statistical Association (ASA) Section on Statistics and Data Science Education, we have sent the following letter to Ron Wasserstein (Executive Director of ASA) and Bhramar Mukherjee (COPSS Chair) and requested that they share it with the COPSS Executive Committee.

12 June 2020

To the COPSS Executive Committee,

As recent, current, and future chairs of the American Statistical Association’s (ASA) Section on Statistics and Data Science Education, we support the proposal to rename the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) Fisher Lecture and Award. We see ourselves, first and foremost, as educators, and there is no doubt in our minds that representation matters. Celebrating Fisher in this way ignores significant and problematic aspects of his work and statistics in general and hence contributes to creating an unwelcoming and uninviting community, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

We would like to tell our students that we are proud members of the ASA, an association that when called to action decided to act and be on the right side of history. An association that wants to signal to all future statisticians and data scientists that we welcome you no matter who you are. We strongly believe that the ASA can do this while still honoring the work of all past presenters and award recipients. Ron Wasserstein said in a recent email, “The ASA is committed to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This is an important and timely opportunity for the ASA to show this commitment through its engagement with the other four associations that comprise COPSS. Ron’s email says “We can do much that is well within our reach.” We urge the COPSS leadership to move expeditiously to rename the Fisher Lecture and Award.


Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel (2018-2020)
Beth Chance (2017-2019)
Jo Hardin (2020-2022)
Nicholas Horton (2015-2017)
Rebecca Nugent (2021-2023)
Michael Posner (2019-2021)
Paul Roback (2016-2018)

For context, please see the work of Daniela Witten [thread] and Maryclare Griffin [thread].

The COPSS leadership has requested feedback on renaming this prestigious lecture and award via this form. We invite all members of the statistics and data science communities to voice their opinions directly to the committee by 15 June 2020. You can also participate in the petition to Rename The Fisher Lecture after David Blackwell here.