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Heather Kitada Smalley awarded Renjen Prize for Faculty Excellence

by Marketing & Communications,

Albaugh Assistant Professor of Statistics Heather Kitada Smalley has been named the recipient of the 2022 Renjen Prize for Faculty Excellence. 

heather kitada smalley
Heather Kitada Smalley

Established through a generous gift from Punit and Heather Renjen, the Renjen Prize provides support for scholarly and creative projects and is awarded annually to a faculty member from the College of Arts and Sciences or the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. The award recognizes the accomplishments of faculty members early in their careers, especially those whose work has been widely disseminated and garnered recognition in the public sphere.

An applied statistician, interdisciplinary scholar, and teacher, Smalley views statistics as a vital part of a liberal arts education and has revolutionized the way these courses are taught at Willamette since she started in 2019. 

Her teaching and mentoring ranges widely across the curriculum — from upper and lower level statistics courses for undergraduates, to a graduate course on data visualization and presentation, to senior data science thesis projects. She also has a thriving research program, with a peer-reviewed article coming out each year since she started at Willamette. Her primary focus lies in the area of survey methodology and sampling, and she has a particular interest in questions of data quality and the development of statistical adjustment tools. Her work has broad implications in many areas of public policy, and in addition to her own scholarship she engages in statistical consulting on a wide range of academic and non-academic research topics. 

Over the few years she has been teaching at Willamette, Smalley’s contributions have earned her significant recognition. Initially named the Albaugh Visiting Professor of Statistics in 2019, Smalley was offered a direct appointment to the tenure track in 2021. This year, she has a joint appointment with the Committee of Studies in Computational, Data and Information Sciences and helped build its undergraduate and graduate programs from the ground up. 

About Punit Renjen

Born and raised in India, Punit Renjen is a 1987 graduate of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. Renjen is Deloitte Global CEO and, through a career spanning more than 30 years, has held numerous leadership roles within Deloitte. A former member of the Willamette University Board of Trustees, Renjen is active on a number of boards. He was named among the 100 most influential business leaders who have graduated from schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. 

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