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October 30, 2000
Volume 78, Number 44
CENEAR 78 44 p.67
ISSN 0009-2347

What Do ACS Members Want?

If you have an e-mail address recorded with ACS, you are about to receive an important message from me. I need you to help carry out what may be ACS's largest attempt yet to determine what the membership wants from its society. If your e-mail address is not in our files, or if you do not use e-mail, do not despair--read on for ways to add your voice to this endeavor.

Since 1947, the society has conducted many surveys on the subject of what the members want ACS to do. But while the results have been conclusive, activity to follow up on these requests was usually slow and minimal.

Attila E. Pavlath
ACS President-Elect
A chief obstacle has been the leadership's fear that those who participate in surveys may not really represent the views of the "silent majority." The leadership has been left to wonder: Is silence an indication of satisfaction? Or does silence actually reflect members' frustration over the society's failure to respond to critiques with effective changes?

In the past, the technology was inadequate or too costly to answer these questions reliably enough to calm the fears of ACS governance. But now, the electronic age has changed the ways of polling. If political pollsters can ascertain the actions of tens of millions of voters based on the responses of a thousand, then we should be able figure out the wishes of 160,000 ACS members based on a few thousand responses. I am engaging the help of experts to make sure that our polling process will provide reliable and statistically significant results--results that will spur important actions and changes needed for ACS to celebrate our 125th anniversary and enter the new millennium.

I currently have access to the e-mail addresses of about one-fourth of the membership. Each of those members will receive a short, one-time message asking whether the member is willing to participate in this polling venture during the next few months. I realize that nowadays we all receive numerous unwanted e-mail messages; therefore, only those who respond positively will be involved in the multistep polling process. I hope the whole operation will be finished before the end of the year, giving us a clear vision about the wishes of the membership.

Do you have an e-mail address that is not in our files? If you have never received an e-mail message from ACS, it means we do not have it. In that case, if you want to participate, please send your e-mail address to me at, together with your membership number (from your C&EN mailing label) or your name and address. Your e-mail address will be entered in a confidential database serving only the polling process. I assure you that it will not be entered in the large ACS database and will not be used for any other purposes.

If you are an ACS member but do not have an e-mail address, you can still participate through letter ballot. Please send your name and address to me at Attila Pavlath, WRRC, 800 Buchanan St., Albany, CA 94710. Letter ballot will be slower and somewhat more complicated, but I do not want to exclude anyone who is willing to and interested in participating just because of lack of Internet access.

All responses, whether by electronic or postal mail, will be handled in a confidential way. Outside of me and a small group of discreet staff members, no one will have access to individual responses. So, please respond favorably. Help shape ACS in the ways that will serve you best. After all, it is your society.

Information on a contest for the slogan for ACS's 125th anniversary is on page 34. The winner will be my guest at the ACS national meeting in San Diego in April 2001.

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