The Statistics Division of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) selected Dr. James J. Cochran as the recipient of the 2023 William G. Hunter Award.

The William G. Hunter award was established by the statistics division in 1987 to recognize the many contributions of its founding chair to promoting the use of applied statistics and statistical thinking. The attributes that characterize Dr. Hunter’s career—consultant, educator for practitioners, communicator, and integrator of statistical thinking into other disciplines—are used to help decide the recipient.


I am deeply honored to receive the American Society for Quality’s 2023 William G. Hunter Award. This is particularly meaningful to me because this award was established over thirty years ago to recognize the many contributions Dr. Hunter made through promoting statistical thinking and the use of applied statistics in an amazingly wide variety of roles - as a hands-on consultant, zealous educator and developer of educational programs, practical communicator, integrator of statistical thinking into other disciplines, and implementor of innovative and novel applied statistical methods in practice.

photo of Dr. James J. Cochran

It is also meaningful because of the distinguished, accomplished, highly regarded recipients who previously received this award. Dr. Hunter continues to have profound impact on our discipline and on my career - in service, in teaching, and in research. Dr. Hunter has influenced me by example, primarily through his vision and efforts to improve the lives of others by applying our discipline to complex and consequential problems.

Doing More with Less in the Public Sector: A Progress Report from Madison, Wisconsin, which Dr. Hunter coauthored with Jan O'Neill and Carol Wallen in 1986, and Quality in the Community: One City's Experience, which Dr. Hunter coauthored with Dr. George Box, Laurel W. Joiner, Sue Rohan, and F. Joseph Sensenbrenner in 1989, predate and presage by decades the formation of organizations such as the ASA’s Statistics Without Borders and INFORMS’ Pro Bono Analytics initiative.

Of course, Dr. Hunter has also influenced me through Statistics for Experimenters, which he coauthored with Dr. Box and Dr. Stuart Hunter, and its predecessor, the technical report 101 Ways to Design an Experiment, or Some Ideas About Teaching Design of Experiments. The exposition in each is simple, clear, meticulous, elegant, and practical without sacrificing correctness or completeness, and these publications altered the way I think about communicating statistical ideas and statistical results with students, clients, the media, and even colleagues. Statistics for Experimenters still resonates with me, and it establishes a standard which I continue to strive to achieve.

I did not have the privilege of meeting or taking a class from Dr. Hunter, so I cannot speak from experience, but from the writings of Dr. Hunter I have read, the comments I have heard colleagues make about him, the interviews with him I have watched online, and my dinner with his son Justin last night.  What a real treat it is, not just to receive this award but to receive it in Raleigh and be able to have dinner with his son who lives just down the road is a tremendous gift.

I have inferred from all of these contacts and readings that a quotation from his citation for Fellowship in the American Statistical Association neatly summarizes Dr. Hunter’s professional identity: “…for a unique ability to combine statistical research and consulting responsibilities into enthusiastic and memorable teaching, for efforts to enhance statistical programs in developing countries, and for many contributions to the profession.”

This is a legacy to which all statisticians should aspire, and it is a legacy that our discipline and the ASQ have happily not forgotten. I wish I could express my gratitude to Dr. Hunter in person. In reading observations made about Dr. Hunter by previous recipients of this award, I was pleased to see that they uniformly recognize and share the joy he drew from statistics and his passion for the discipline; it is comforting to find that Dr. Hunter and I have that in common.

I also found that Dr. Hunter and I share concern for the quality of life, statistical capacity, and development of statistics communities in smaller and less wealthy nations. Dr. Hunter and I also feel strongly that statistics is the embodiment of the scientific method and is therefore the foundation of all other sciences. I owe a great debt to our discipline, too.

Statistics has provided me with incredible opportunities to:

  • work on fascinating problems in a wide range of disciplines, the solutions of which have real consequences for people in need;
  • engage with intelligent, clever, kind, generous colleagues around the world who have also become dear friends;
  • interact with energetic, enthusiastic, curious, bright students at all levels with a wide range of academic interests;
  • travel to and experience captivating places and cultures around the world; and
  • study and better understand a discipline that continues to engross, confound, and fascinate me.

Today and every day, I am thankful that I found statistics and that statistics found me.

I thank my good friend and colleague Dr. Jason Parton, Associate Professor of Statistics and Director of the University of Alabama’s Institute for Data and Analytics, for nominating me for this award. I also thank the 2023 William G. Hunter Award Committee – Dr. Michael Joner, Dr. Teri Utlaut, Dr. Joanne Wendelberger, and committee chair Dr. Bill Rodebaugh – for selecting me to receive this recognition.

Finally, I thank my dissertation co-advisors, Dr. Marty Levy and Dr. Jeff Camm, for giving me a strong academic foundation and being good colleagues, collaborators, and friends throughout my academic career, my many coauthors and collaborators for what they have taught me; and my wife Teresa for her kindness and generosity, and for supporting and indulging my professional endeavors far more than I have a right to expect or hope for. Thank you and have a good afternoon!


          -- Dr. James J. Cochran



Dr. James J. Cochran's research focuses on problems at the interface of statistics and operations research, and he has taught a wide variety of statistics and operations courses from the introductory undergraduate level through Ph.D. seminars. Dr. Cochran was a founding co-chair of Statistics without Borders and a member of the founding committee for INFORMS Pro Bono Analytics initiative.

Dr. Cochran has delivered keynote addresses to conferences in twenty-five nations. In 2008 Dr. Cochran received the INFORMS Prize for the Teaching of OR/MS Practice, in 2010 he received the Mu Sigma Rho Statistical Education Award, and in 2011 he was named a Fellow of the American Statistical Association. In 2014 he received the American Statistical Association’s Founders Award, in 2015 he received the Karl E. Peace Award for outstanding statistical contributions to the betterment of society, and in 2017 he received the American Statistical Association’s Waller Distinguished Teaching Career Award and was named a Fellow of INFORMS. In 2018 he received the INFORMS President’s Award, and in 2019 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Cincinnati.