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ACS News

April 17, 2006
Volume 84, Number 16
pp. 43-44

ACS Governance Actions In Atlanta

Linda Raber

At its meeting in Atlanta, the ACS Council selected candidates for national offices, raised member dues, and heard reports from various committees. It also engaged in a lively conversation about changing the requirements for membership in the society.

As at every spring national meeting, councilors voted on candidates for the upcoming fall elections of society officials. The four candidates for 2007 president-elect who were put forward by the Committee on Nominations & Elections (N&E) were Bruce E. Bursten, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Richard Eisenberg, Tracy H. Harris Professor of Chemistry at the University of Rochester; Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, professor of chemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Matthew V. Tirrell, dean of the College of Engineering and professor of chemical engineering and materials and biomolecular science and engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Each of the nominees was introduced to the council and gave a brief oral statement. Councilors then chose Bursten and Shakhashiri to vie in this fall's election for the three-year presidential succession, 2007 to 2009. According to N&E Chair Barbara A. Sawrey, petition candidates are expected for this election, so the slate will not be finalized until after the July 15 deadline for petitions.

The council also learned that Thomas R. Gilbert, professor of chemistry at Northeastern University, Boston, and Anne T. O'Brien, Wyeth-Ayerst Research (retired, incumbent), have been chosen to vie for a seat on the board from District I and that John E. Adams, professor of chemistry at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and Judith L. Benham, business director, Industrial Services & Solutions Division, 3M Co. (incumbent), will run for a seat from District V in this fall's election.

Also, candidates for directors-at-large were presented to the council; they are William H. (Jack) Breazeale Jr., professor of chemistry and department chair, Francis Marion University, Florence, S.C. (retired); Dennis Chamot, associate executive director, Division of Engineering & Physical Sciences, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. (incumbent); Peter K. Dorhout, professor of chemistry and associate dean for research and graduate education, Colorado State University, Fort Collins; Paul R. Jones, professor of chemistry, University of North Texas, Denton; Valerie J. Kuck, visiting professor in the chemistry department and the Center for Women's Studies, Seton Hall University, South Orange, N.J.; and Dorothy J. Phillips, director, clinical marketing, Waters Corp., Milford, Mass. Three directors' seats will be filled by vote of councilors this fall.

In other actions, the council approved an increase in ACS member dues for 2007 from $127 to $132. The board of directors reduced the assessment for local section and division funding from $8.00 to $4.00 for 2007. James Burke, chair of the ACS Board, told councilors that the assessment, which was intended to be temporary, will end with the 2007 assessment.

The Committee on Budget & Finance reported that 2005 was a good year financially for the society. ACS ended the year with a net from operations of $11.6 million on revenues of $429 million and expenses of $417 million. This was $9.11 million better than had been budgeted. According to the committee, the favorable variance was primarily attributable to higher-than-budgeted print and electronic services revenue and investment income, as well as from expense savings from staff vacancies and reductions in information technology spending. ACS also realized $21.0 million of investment gains, bringing unrestricted net assets (excluding the Member Insurance Program and the Petroleum Research Fund) to $211 million. The society ended the year in full compliance with the board-established financial guidelines.

Acting under delegated authority, the Board Committee on Grants & Awards voted to accept the recommendations of the ACS Petroleum Research Fund Advisory Board for funding grants totaling $15.2 million.

ACS membership numbers reversed a three-year downward trend that the society experienced over the 2002-04 period. The 2005 year-end membership of 158,422 reflects an increase of 294 members from the year-end 2004 count. The 2005 retention rate was 92.4% of members in good standing.

The council's special discussion item at this meeting dealt with ACS membership requirements. Immediate Past-President William F. Carroll introduced the discussion by telling councilors that various task forces, including the Board-Presidential Task Force on Multidisciplinarity, have recommended relaxing ACS membership admission standards. The question put to councilors was: "Should the requirements for membership in ACS be made less restrictive, made more restrictive, or stay the same?" Councilors lined up at microphones to get their opinions on the record.

Morton Z. Hoffman, councilor for the Northeastern Section, said that opening up the doors of membership to everyone who wants to be a member would be "liberating." And, he said, it would reflect that "ACS is a society about chemistry that is not limited to chemists."

ACS Director-at-Large Dennis Chamot believes ACS "shouldn't admit just anybody." He is in favor of widening membership criteria but thinks ACS would lose credibility if it became a general-interest society.

The discussion then turned toward the status of students in the society. Some councilors, including Yorke Rhodes of the New York Section, are in favor of making students full—not student or affiliate—members of the society. "They are frequently the most active members," he said.

S. K. Airee of the Kentucky Lake Section said that ACS student affiliates (undergraduates majoring in chemistry or a related science) don't need to be made full members. He noted that student affiliates have their own structures—student affiliate chapters. Full membership would allow undergraduates to be elected to local sections as officers and affect other elections. He believes undergraduates should receive more benefits from the society, however.

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