The IMS has a number of awards and special lectures associated with the names of individuals. Some are named by the IMS to honor and recognize an individual’s contributions to statistics and probability, while others are supported by donors to honor a particular designee. In this document, we use the term honoree to refer to either case. In the unusual situation that a question is raised about the propriety of keeping the name of the honoree, the IMS will use the following policy and process. It is based on the American Statistical Association’s Policy and Process for Renaming an Award or Scholarship as well as the Stanford University’s Principles and Procedures for Renaming Buildings and Other Features, https://campusnames.stanford.edu/renaming-principles.
Policy and Procedure
The IMS is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. The IMS will consider renaming awards or lectures when there is evidence that retaining the name is inconsistent with the IMS’s mission and values or is potentially damaging to its reputation. The IMS recognizes that such a renaming can also have negative consequences and should be undertaken only when warranted. We recognize that:
- Historical evidence is typically complex and often ambiguous.
- Today’s decisions on naming and renaming may become controversial in the future. Some deference to earlier decision-makers should be given, just as today’s decision-makers would hope for in the future.
- Any honoree may have a history that some members of our diverse community may find objectionable. The proper investigation of renaming requests, and the possible responsible responses, should be done with great care.
Any request for re-naming should be submitted to the IMS President who will bring the request to the IMS Executive Committee for initial consideration. Conditional on approval by the Executive Committee, the request will then be considered by the IMS Council. Such a request should describe:
- the specific act(s) or behavior(s) by the honoree that violate the IMS’s mission and values;
- the sources of the evidence of that act or behavior;
- the nature, depth, and extent of the harm that the continued use of the name may inflict on the IMS’s integrity, mission, and communities.
If the IMS Council decides that an examination of the requested renaming is warranted, then the President may appoint a select committee of IMS members to fully investigate the complaint especially as it pertains to the following criteria. If deemed necessary, an external entity that is adept at investigating such complaints may be commissioned by IMS.
The following criteria will be used to decide if an award or lecture is to be renamed:
- Centrality of the person’s offensive behavior to their life as a whole. The case for renaming is strongest when the honoree’s offensive behavior is inextricably connected with their public and professional persona. The case for renaming is weaker when the honoree’s offensive behavior, though publicly known, is not a central part of their public persona-especially when the behavior was conventional at the time of the behavior or initial naming, and when, despite the objectionable behavior, other aspects of the person’s life and work are especially praiseworthy.
- Harmful impact of the honoree’s behavior. The case for renaming the award or lecture is strong to the extent that retaining a name creates an environment that impairs the full involvement of a particular gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, or other group protected by U.S. law or IMS policy, in IMS activities. The case is also strong in the case of fraudulent or criminal activities.
- Strength and clarity of the historical evidence. The case for renaming is strongest when evidence of the honoree’s wrongful behavior is clear and unambiguous and is weakest when the evidence is scant or ambiguous.
- Prior consideration of the issues. The case for renaming is more compelling when the honoree’s offensive conduct came to light after the naming, or when the issue was not the subject of earlier deliberation. The case for renaming is weaker when the IMS addressed the behavior at the time of the naming and nonetheless decided to honor the person, or when the IMS has already considered and rejected an earlier request for renaming.