Thompson: Your success is society’s success

Despite a somewhat overwhelming future, remember the world needs you to stay connected and address its challenges, Mary Thompson told graduates at the Wednesday afternoon session of Western’s 307th Convocation.

“As a pre-Boomer myself, I am conscious things are somewhat tougher for your generation starting out than for mine,” she said. “But as you look to the future, if there is some uncertainty, I hope you remember Canada and the rest of the world are full of needs and society has a vested interest in your success in your life goals.”

Thompson spoke to graduates from the faculties of Science and Social Science at the Wednesday, June 15, afternoon session of Western’s 307th Convocation.

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Western conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD), upon Thompson in recognition of her as one of Canada’s most distinguished statisticians.

In 2010, the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies awarded Thompson the Elizabeth L. Scott Award citing her outstanding contributions in research, teaching and service that inspire women statisticians. She is one of only 12 people who have received this award since its inception – and the only Canadian.

Her other significant awards include the Gold Medal and the Lise Manchester Award from the Statistical Society of Canada, the Waksberg Award (the highest award worldwide given to those working in survey methodology) and being named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Institute of Mathematical Statistics and American Statistical Association.

Throughout her academic career, Thompson has supervised many doctoral candidates, including four who have won the Pierre Robillard Award from the Statistical Society of Canada, an award given to the best PhD thesis defended at a Canadian university in fields covered by The Canadian Journal of Statistics.

Thompson is the current Director of the ITC Data Management Centre at the University of Waterloo, supporting objectives to evaluate the impact of tobacco control policies of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“To serve the public good – a fundamental value integral to our mission – is so clearly imbibed in the fabric of Mary Thompson’s actions throughout her career,” Western Science Dean Charmaine Dean said in her citation.

She added that Thompson is known for her tireless efforts to raise the status of women in academia by encouraging women at all levels to seek careers in statistics, acting as an exemplary role model for many female graduate students in her department.

“Her leadership, to minimize gender-based inequalities in employment, has served to encourage, inspire and guide the next generation of researchers and leaders in our community,” Dean said. “What defines Mary Thompson is she quietly gets things done – many things, especially important things – and they are all done well at the highest level.”