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2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award: John Sall

The recipient of the college’s 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award, which honors alumni whose exceptional achievements in business, education, research or public service have brought honor and distinction to the college, is John Sall.

Sall is a legendary figure in the fields of statistics and software development. He is co-founder and executive vice president of SAS, the analytics software company headquartered in Cary that’s been so successful over the past 40 years that it really needs no further description. When the company launched in 1976, he was designing, developing and documenting many of the earliest analytical procedures while also leading research and development efforts.

Sall directs the company’s JMP (pronounced “jump”) business division, which creates interactive and highly visual statistical discovery software for engineers and scientists. JMP was originally an acronym for “John’s Macintosh Project.” It dates to the late 1980s, when Sall noticed a niche to fill for researchers and engineers whose jobs didn’t revolve solely around statistical analysis. He remains the primary architect for JMP software.

Sall is a fellow in the American Statistical Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and his passion for global conservation has led him to serve on boards at the World Wildlife Fund and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

At NC State, he studied graduate-level statistics and has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the university; faculty in our Department of Statistics often say that Sall is one of their own. He has also served on the board of trustees and, along with his wife, Ginger, has generously supported college and university initiatives.