The recipient of the 2010 William G. Hunter Award is Tom Nolan. The Statistics Division of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) established the Hunter Award in 1987 in memory of the Division's founding chair to promote, encourage and acknowledge outstanding accomplishments during a career in the broad field of applied statistics. The attributes that characterize Bill Hunter's career - consultant, educator for practitioners, communicator, and integrator of statistical thinking into other disciplines - are used to help decide the recipient.
Acceptance speech by Tom Nolan, 2010
Thanks to the selection committee for choosing me for this award in honor of William Hunter and to Davis Balestracci for taking the time to put together the materials for my nomination. I especially want to thank a statistician whom I have never met and whose name I do not know. Let me explain. In 1972 I was finishing a master's degree in statistics and looking for a job. I saw an advertisement for a position in the statistics group at the Agriculture Marketing Service in the US Department of Agriculture. I applied for the job, got an interview, and shortly after received a letter that someone else had been chosen and had accepted the position. Oh well. About two weeks later I received a phone call asking if I was still interested in the position because the person they hired had changed his mind about taking the job. I gladly accepted and became part of the statistics group of AMS.
The group was headed by Richard Bartlett a graduate of Virginia Tech. Dick had established a culture in the group that aligned well with the culture that Bill Hunter promoted at Wisconsin. We were a service organization whose mission was to use applied statistics to make the program divisions more effective. Dick also promoted a culture of learning and collaboration. Being part of the group introduced me to the world of statisticians working in government and industry who embodied Bill Hunterâ€™s attributes, people such as Brian Joiner, Gerry Hahn, and Ron Snee who have received the Hunter Award. This was a very good start. I was lucky. Two members of that group Lloyd Provost and Ron Moen are presently colleagues of mine in API, a 38 year relationship that began at USDA because someone turned down the job that I filled.
Since then I have worked in many different industries applying statistical methods to the improvement of quality and productivity. To be effective in a variety of settings I have relied on three building blocks for statistical thinking that I offer to you for your consideration.
There will always be tremendous opportunities for statisticians who are willing to follow the lead of William Hunter to be service oriented and be willing to collaborate effectively with other disciplines to solve the complex problems of the day.
Finally one request, if anyone here turned down a job in the statistics group at the US Department of Agriculture in 1972, please come forward and introduce yourself. I would like to thank you in person.