In a busy meeting on April 18, APS Council did more than just approve the addendum to the climate change statement. Among other highlights of the meeting, they approved an amendment to the APS Constitution that would, if adopted, create 4 International Councilors. They also approved an expansion and renovation of the APS editorial office building in Ridge, New York, that would add more than 50% to the current space.
Last year, the APS Committee on International Scientific Affairs (CISA) recommended the creation of International Councillors, noting that 21% of APS membership resides outside the US (this rises to about 25% if one looks at the non-student component of membership). APS Director of International Affairs Amy Flatten developed this idea in a Back Page in the January APS News. The matter was referred to the APS Constitution and Bylaws Committee, chaired by Jeff Urbach of Georgetown. They recommended eliminating the current International Councilor, who serves a 2-year term, and replacing 4 of the 8 General Councilors with International Councilors, who would be required to come from outside the US. These new International Councilors would serve 4-year terms; each year, the APS membership would elect one International Councilor and one General Councilor, instead of the 2 General Councilors that they now elect. The APS Nominating Committee would be responsible for recruiting candidates for International Councilor, paying due attention to geographic diversity.
Urbach said that this arrangement is preferable to simply instructing the nominating committee to include international candidates among those running for General Councilor, because people tend to vote for candidates they are familiar with, thereby giving the domestic nominees an a priori advantage that would preclude the election of an appropriate number of international representatives.
Now that Council has passed this amendment, the text will be printed in a forthcoming issue of APS News, and will appear on the ballot for the Society election this summer. If approved by two-thirds of those voting, the amendment will become part of the APS Constitution.
The Ridge expansion is motivated by the inexorable rise in the number of manuscripts submitted to APS journals, which is now running in excess of 3% per year. The current space is inadequate to house the personnel needed to process the manuscripts and manage the editorial process. Because the facility is located in the Long Island pine barrens, the footprint of the building cannot be arbitrarily extended. Consequently, the plan is to add 18,000 square feet by building a second storey. Careful scheduling will allow this construction to take place while work goes on in the building, without need for temporary relocation to another site.
In addition to the expansion, APS President Curtis Callan remarked that it is also important to renovate and redesign the entire space. He pointed out that the nature of scholarly publishing is changing rapidly, and that APS has to be on the leading edge of these developments. This requires a staff with an increased level of sophistication, which calls for an improved working environment that is not predicated on the old paper-based model of journal publication.
A project management firm and an architectural firm have been engaged, and, in the wake of Council approval, bids for construction are set to go out in June. If all goes as anticipated, construction will start in the late summer of 2010 and will be completed sometime in 2011.
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