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Report from the ACS Council Meeting

The Council of the American Chemical Society met in San Diego, CA on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 from 8:00am until approximately 12:00pm in the Marriott Hall of the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina Hotel.  It opened with a resolution and moment of silence for deceased Councilors, a vote to accept the minutes of the Council meeting held on August 31, 2011, and approval of interim action by the Council Policy Committee to elect Carolyn Ribes as its Vice Chair.  The highlights of the meeting are as follows:

Nominations and Elections

President-Elect: The Committee on Nominations & Elections (N&E) put forth for Council vote four nominees for the office of 2013 ACS President-Elect:  Thomas J. Barton, Luis A. Echegoyen, William A. Lester, Jr., and Barry M. Trost.  The four nominees answered questions at the Town Hall meeting that was held on Sunday, March 25th and each gave a three minute presentation at the Council meeting.  Council voted to select Thomas J. Barton and Luis A. Echegoyen as the final two candidates whose names will appear on the fall ballot.

Other Elections

The Committee on Nominations and Elections announced the list of nominees to represent District I and District V on the Board of Directors for the term 2013-2015.  Nominees for District I include Barbara J. Garrison, Thomas R. Gilbert, Neil D. Jespersen, and Julianne M. D. Smist.  Nominees for District V are John E. Adams, Frank D. Blum, Peter K. Dorhout, and Frankie K. Wood-Black. Ballots have been mailed to Councilors in the two districts.  The final ballots with two candidates for each district will be mailed on or before October 10 to all members in District I and District V for election of a Director from each District.

The Committee on Nominations and Elections also announced the selection of the following candidates for Director-at-Large for a 2013-2015 term: Carol A. Duane, Valerie J. Kuck, Bonnie Lawlor, and Ingrid Montes.  The election of two Directors-at-Large will be conducted in the fall.  Ballots will be mailed to the Council on or before October 10, 2012.

ACS Dues for 2013

Council voted to approve the recommendation from the Committee on Budget and Finance with regard to the 2013 membership dues (an increase of $3.00 - from $148 to $151).  The increases to ACS dues are based upon an escalator defined in the ACS Bylaws (Bylaw XII, Section 3,a).  The dues are calculated by multiplying the base (current) rate “by a factor which is the ratio of the revised Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (Service Category) for the second year previous to the dues year to the value of the index for the third year previous to the dues year, as published by the United States Department of Labor, with the fractional dollar amounts rounded to the nearest whole dollar”.

Base rate 2012: $148.00

Change in the Consumer Price Index, Urban Wage Earners, Services Category:

                        December 2011 CPI-W Services:       262.954

                        December 2010 CPI-W Services:       257.382

                        Change in CPI-W Index:                        2.16%

2013 Dues, fully escalated:       $148.00 x 1.0216 =    $151.20

2013 Dues, Rounded:                                                   $151.00

Report from the Committee on Budget & Finance

Despite the sluggish economy, ACS generated strong operating results in 2011.  Total revenue was $472.0 million, up +1.8% over 2010.  The Net from Operations was $20.9 million, or $7.7 million favorable to budget.  This result was attributable to better-than-expected performance by the ACS Publications Division and careful expense management across the Society.  While operating results were favorable, Unrestricted Net Assets declined from $130.5 million to $102 million.  The decline was primarily due to a sizable accounting charge related to the Society’s closed postretirement benefit plans.  ACS ended the year in compliance with four of the five Board-established financial guidelines.  The slides presented at the meeting can be accessed at: http://portal.acs.org/portal/PublicWebSite/about/governance/committees/budget/CNBP_029717.

Change in Committees

After a regular performance review, the Committee on Committees (ConC) put forth a recommendation for the continuation of Project SEED and Council approved.  The Committee on Project SEED sets policy for all Project SEED programs, including review of Project SEED I and II program applications for student research projects, funding decisions, and Project SEED college scholarship applications.

Approval of Chemical Professional’s Code of Conduct

Council voted to accept the newest edition of the Chemical Professional’s Code of Conduct (last revision was in 2007).  The changes are minor.  A statement that says “comply with safety policies and procedures” has been added to the section on the responsibilities of chemical professionals to their employers.  In the section on responsibilities of chemical professionals to their employees, the wording now reads “respect the professionalism of their subordinates and have concern for their well-being…”  Other minor changes address the environment and respect for colleagues despite their level of education and whether they come from government, academia or industry or from other scientific and engineering disciplines.

Meeting Attendance

As of the evening of Tuesday, March 27th, the spring national meeting had a total of 16,864 attendees as follows:

Regular:           8,933         

Guests:                386

Students:          5,727

Exhibitors:        1,065

Exhibit-only:       753

Spring meeting attendance since 2004 is as follows:

2004: Anaheim, CA:                14,141

2005:  San Diego, CA:              15,385

2006:  Atlanta, GA:                  12,546

2007:  Chicago. IL:                  14,520

2008:  New Orleans, LA:         13,454

2009:  Salt Lake City, UT:        10,668

2010:  San Francisco, CA:        18,076

2011:  Anaheim, CA:                14,047

2012:  San Diego, CA:              16,864 (as of Tuesday, March 27th)

A total of 11,716 papers were presented at the Spring 2012 meeting.

ACS Membership at Record Level

As of December 31, 2011, ACS membership totaled 164,215 - the highest number in ACS history.  The Society lost 23,145 members, but gained 24,249 (16,092 Regular Members and 8,157 Undergraduate Members).  There are 16,500+ student members in 1,000+ student chapters.

Chemistry Job Outlook

It was reported that as of March 1, 2012 the unemployment rate for chemists was 4.6% - the highest in 40 years!  There were 943 job seekers at the job fair held at the conference.  They were competing for 85 positions being offered by 31 employers.  A virtual job fair held earlier attracted 2,673 job seekers and 14 employers. A column on career tips will be included in Chemical & Engineering News beginning in April.

Chemistry Teacher’s Association Approved

The Society Committee on Education supported the recommendations from a task force to create a stand-alone association for chemistry teachers housed within ACS, supported by professional staff and governed by a volunteer board of association members.

Local Sections Reach Milestone Anniversaries

The following Local Sections are celebrating their 100th Anniversary in 2012: Detroit, Lexington, Maine, New Haven, Oregon and Rochester.  The Orange County Local Section is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year.

Petition on Market Data Collection

Council voted to approve a petition related to market tests for data collection. This petition seeks to add a provision to the ACS Constitution and Bylaws to allow for recommended controlled market testing to collect data before the Society changes benefits, dues or membership categories.  The Committee on Budget and Finance could not assess with reasonable accuracy the range of potential costs that would result from the implementation of this petition as they have no idea how many market tests may ultimately be conducted. The petitioners added additional wording that will impose limits on the size and length of tests.  The wording is as follows:

“The Committee on Membership Affairs may conduct membership recruitment and retention market testing of SOCIETY memberships, services, and benefits, including special dues categories, to provide data as the basis for recommendations to the Council.  The number of individuals included in any test related to dues discount shall not exceed a number equal to 10% of the total membership.  Each test shall be limited to three years’ duration unless granted prior approval by Council.  All test results will be reported to Council at least once a year.”

The Board of Directors will vote within 90 days on whether to ratify the approved petition.

Petition to Amend Recorded Vote Request Procedure

Council also voted to approve a change in wording to BYLAW III, Section 4, regarding recorded votes taken at Council meetings.  The wording is as follows:

“Any member of Council may call for a recorded vote on the current action before the Council, other than an election, at any time before voting using a method from which it can be determined how each Councilor voted has commenced.”

This wording was introduced as Council now uses “clickers” for voting.  The computer that totals the votes can list votes by clicker number from which it can be determined how each Councilor voted.  The petition has no impact on the finances of the Society.  The Board of Directors will vote within 90 days on whether to ratify the approved petition.

Petitions for Consideration Only

The following petitions were listed in the Council Agenda Book for consideration only.  They will be voted upon at the 2012 fall meeting in Philadelphia, PA.

Petition on Candidate Comment in C&EN

The wording to BYLAW V, Section13 is recommended to have the following added:

“A candidate for election to the Board of Directors may not publish an ACS Comment in C&EN six months before the ballots are mailed for the corresponding election.”

This is to avoid an unfair campaign advantage to incumbents who may choose to make official statements on their task force or committee activities prior to elections.

Petition on International Chemical Sciences Chapters Funds

The proposed revised wording of BYLAW IX, Section 4, is as follows:
“An International Chemical Sciences Chapter shall receive no allotment of funds from the SOCIETY and shall not be entitled to elected representatives on the Council.  However, the Board of Directors may allocate funds to a Chapter for a specific SOCIETY activity in which participation of the Chapter is deemed necessary for carrying out that SOCIETY activity effectively.”

The financial implications of this petition are still being assessed.

Special Discussion Item

A special discussion item was put on the Council agenda for this meeting.  ACS President Bassam Shakhashiri presented and moderated a discussion on “What is your reaction to the proposed topics for the ACS Climate Science Toolkit?” President Shakhashiri’s working group on ACS Climate Science has developed a preliminary web-based toolkit that ACS members can use as a resource for understanding and communicating basic climate science.  Following the presentation, Councilors engaged in a robust discussion on the proposed toolkit, and offered numerous suggestions for consideration.

ACTIONS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

At this meeting, the ACS Board of Directors considered a number of key strategic issues and responded with several actions.

The Board’s Committees

The Committee on Grants and Awards presented the Board with a screened list of nominees for the 2013 Priestley Medal, Charles Lathrop Parsons Award, and the Award for Volunteer Service to the ACS.  The Board VOTED to approve the screened lists, and will now vote on, and announce, the winners of these three awards after its June meeting.  The Board also VOTED to approve a Society nominee for the National Medal of Science.

On the recommendation of the Committee on Executive Compensation, the Board VOTED to approve several actions relative to compensation for the Society’s executive staff.  The compensation of the Society’s executive staff receives regular review from the Board of Directors.

The Executive Director/CEO Report

The Executive Director/CEO and several of her direct reports updated the Board on the activities of CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service), the ACS Publications Division, and the Society’s General Counsel.

ACS vs. Leadscope Litigation

The General Counsel report included a briefing on the ACS vs. Leadscope litigation.  As previously reported, ACS has appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, and the Court agreed to hear the case.  Briefs have been filed in support of our position by several prestigious organizations, including the Ohio Attorney General, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association and the Ohio State Bar Association.  On September 7, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case, and a link to the arguments can be found on acs.org.  A ruling has not been issued but could come at any time.  A more detailed report appears in the most recent edition of the Councilor Bulletin.  Please contact the Office of the Secretary if you would like a copy. 

Other Society Business

The Board received the following:

A briefing on current virtual and hybrid meeting strategies using the Virtual Career Fair and Virtual Exposition.  A report from the Committee on Professional Training-Committee on Education (CPT-SOCED) Task Force on the American Association of Medical Colleges and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute report Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians, wherein the CPT-SOCED task force is considering the implications of chemistry-related recommendations contained in the report.  And a report from the President-Elect on plans and priorities during her presidential year; and a discussion on presidential succession budgets, particularly in light of increasing international and domestic travel demands.

The Board approved:

The 2015 Pacifichem budget and authorized reimbursement, on a pro rata basis, to the participating ACS Divisions for expenditures in support of the Pacifichem program and activities; changes to Board Regulations regarding the composition of the Planning Committee and the appointment of canvassing and award committees; a proposal to administer and present the AkzoNobel North American Science Award as recommended by the Committee on Grants and Awards; and  proclamations recognizing the 100th Anniversary of the South African Chemical Institute and the 80th anniversary of the Chinese Chemical Society.

The Society’s International Activities and its Open Session

The Board welcomed and received reports from several international guests representing the following scientific societies: the Canadian Society for Chemistry, the German Chemical Society, the Hungarian Chemical Society, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, the Mexican Chemical Society, and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The Board held a lively, well-attended open session which featured a special forum on “The Future of Graduate Education and Research in the Chemical Sciences.”  Members attending this standing-room only session received an overview and update from the chair and executive director of the ACS Presidential Commission on Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences.  The commission is addressing two major questions:  “What are the purposes of graduate education in the chemical sciences?” and “What steps should be taken to ensure that important societal issues, as well as the needs and aspirations of students, are addressed in graduate school?”  Members discussed how the Society might offer greater assistance on this very important and timely topic. 

Additional Information 

The following is a list of URLs and email addresses presented on slides at the Council meeting.  You may find the information noted on these sites helpful.

Safety

safety@acs.org: email address for sharing ideas on “How can ACS best cultivate a culture of safety in US universities and colleges?”

www.acs.org/safety: information on the Committee on Chemical Safety including “Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions”

Employment/Careers

www.acs.org/careers: information on ACS career resources

www.acs.org/ei: information on the ACS Entrepreneurial Initiative (Training and Resources)

Local Section Resources

www.acs.org/getinvolved: grant information, important deadlines, officer resources

www.acs.org/forms: submit annual reports, record meetings, activities and events year round

speakers@acs.org: nominate speakers for the Online Speaker Directory

Other

www.acs.org/strategicplan: information on the new ACS Strategic Plan for 2012 and Beyond

www.acs.org/bulletin5: location of the Society’s governing documents and unit bylaws, and information on the petition process to amend the Society’s governing documents

bylaws@acs.org: email address for questions to the Committee on Constitution and Bylaws

www.acs.org/climatescience: information on the Climate Science Toolkit 

Bonnie Lawlor and Andrea Twiss-Brooks, CINF Councilors