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March 26, 2001
Volume 79, Number 13

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For the American Chemical Society, our 125th Anniversary is a wonderful time to look back at the journey we've taken and to find pointed reminders of how far we have come.

I first became involved in the Society in 1967, almost a decade before ACS's centennial. When I was a Ph.D. student, my adviser suggested I present results of my dissertation research at a national meeting. The same adviser was serving as a division program chair and encouraged me to assume this responsibility. I began my ACS service in program planning in what is now known as the Division of Environmental Chemistry. I'm happy to say I have been involved with ACS committees, divisions, the council, and the board ever since.

Looking back over those almost 35 years, I am struck by the tremendous improvement in the quality of every one of the ACS programs I've come to know firsthand. I tell friends that the changes I've experienced have been like moving from a kiddie car to a luxury sedan. Moreover, these improvements have been due to a remarkably creative partnership that connects the divisions and local sections, the volunteer leaders of the Society, and the professional staff.

Let me cite just a few examples. When I first became active in ACS, the Society's government affairs effort was in its infancy. It was only in 1965 that then-president Charles C. Price proposed to the board of directors that ACS form a committee to work actively on issues of public policy related to chemistry. Today, of course, our Office of Legislative & Government Affairs is one of the most sophisticated programs in Washington, D.C. It not only lets Congress and the Administration know the views of the chemistry profession, but also ensures that ACS members stay up to date and involved in public policy.

At the time of the 100th anniversary of ACS, we had 27 technical divisions. Today there are 33 divisions, plus four secretariats. More impressive than this growth in numbers, however, have been the steps the Society has taken in the past 25 years--most recently through the Committee on Divisional Activities--to provide training and other assistance to division leaders. The professionalism and effectiveness of the divisions have been greatly enhanced and are the envy of other scientific associations.

Similarly, while growth in the number of local sections since the late 1960s has been relatively modest, the Office of Local Section Activities now provides a level of support far beyond what local sections enjoyed when I first joined ACS. This support ranges from leadership conferences and the speaker service to support services for local section officers; newsletters; websites; and assistance in reaching out to the public, the media, and local government officials.

The Society's professional development programs have really taken off since I attended my first national meeting. ACS inaugurated its first targeted continuing education programs in 1965, when it introduced ACS short courses. Today, ACS offers virtually everything chemists need to succeed as professionals--courses, workshops, an online job bank, employment clearinghouses at national and regional meetings, and much more.

There are, of course, many other examples, because ACS has changed dramatically from top to bottom and from coast to coast and beyond. And there is plenty of credit to go around. One key to the creative partnership that I referred to above has been the ACS staff. Since 1983, Executive Director John K Crum has offered tremendous leadership in identifying very talented people who are willing to be creative, bringing them into the organization, and allowing them to innovate and lead.

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At the same time, ACS has attracted high-quality presidents and board members, who have articulated a clear vision of a better Society and put programs in place to attain the goals. I want to especially salute our current board. Our directors are competent, skilled, experienced leaders fully committed to the Society and to the needs and concerns of our members. It is an honor and a privilege to be one of their colleagues and to be part of your governance at this time of great celebration. And the members, especially in the sections and divisions and at national and regional meetings, have encouraged ACS staff and officers to move the Society forward and pitched in enthusiastically to help.

As it celebrates its 125th Anniversary, and makes its way into the 21st century, ACS can look back with pride on the foundation it has built and look forward with confidence that its best is yet to come.


Copyright © 2001 American Chemical Society

Celebrating 125 years of Chemistry

Happy Birthday ACS!

Attila E. Pavlath, ACS President

Nina I. McClelland, ACS Board of Directors, Chair

John K. Crum, ACS Executive Diretor

ACS History
Society Reaches 125th Birthday
Anniversary serves as a milestone to commemorate ACS's contributions to the advancement of chemistry and society

Important Chemical And Related Events

ACS Today
ACS At 125: A Chemist's Place
The American Chemical Society offers its members an extraordinary array of products and services

ACS Contacts
Get in Touch with ACS

2001 American Chemicals Society Board of Directors

ACS Publication
The Society's 34 journals and magazines cover all areas of chemical research

C&EN features the thoughts and aspirations of 171 young chemists, chemical engineers, and business leaders, who collectively describe a vibrant and challenging future for the chemical enterprise.

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