REVISED, June 3, 1996
The American Physical Society FORUM ON PHYSICS AND SOCIETY Executive Committee Meeting
May 4, 1996
Westin Hotel, Indianapolis, Indiana
Attending: Alvin Saperstein (chair), Ed Gerjuoy (chair-elect), John Ahearne (vice-chair) Michael Sobel (secretary/treasurer), J.D. Garcia (incoming member-at-large), Dave Hafemeister (POPA chair), Art Hobson (past newsletter editor), Daniel Kammen (member-at-large), Barbara Levi (past forum councillor), Tony Nero (past chair), Dietrich Schroeer (forum councillor), Marc Sher (member-at-large)
Thee meeting was called to order at 1:35 PM by Al Saperstein.
Copies of the minutes of the 1995 executive committee meeting were distributed and were approved.
The election report was distributed by Mike Sobel. In the recent election, William Colglazier was elected vice-chair, and J.D. Garcia and Duncan Moore were elected to the executive committee. Although a problem had arisen because Colglazier's membership in APS had lapsed, he subsequently re-joined APS and the Forum. The executive committee therefore accepted the election results.
Dietrich Schroeer submitted a report on the work of the
nominating committee, discussing why the slate was submitted late and with too few nominees, and offering recommendations. FPS is now competing with POPA and other foruias for a small pool of active people. The nominating committee should get a good start before the summer. Ed Gerjuoy suggested that members of the nominating committee be given a time-line for the nomination process. Tony Nero suggested that Forum members be requested via e-iaail to propose nominees, as well as to propose fellows and session topics for meetings.
Dave Hafemeister reported that POPA is re-considering its role in APS. It has not sponsored a major research study in 9 years, and funding for such is not likely to be available. POPA has sponsored smaller studies which are largely evaluations of the literature by one individual, such as the recent reports on electromagnetic radiation and on the helium supply.
Hafemeister and Schroeer proposed that Forum sponsor a short course on "Military Technologies in the Post Cold-War World". This would be held around the time of the Washington meeting in April 1997, and would lead to a book based on the talks. They requested a "loan" of $1,000 for planning this course, expecting that the program would probably break even. There was some concern that, because the APS meeting will run over a weekend, the short course might have to be held on weekdays, leading to reduced attendance. After further discussion, the committee approved the request by a vote of 6 to 1.
For the fellowship committee, John Ahearne reported that 5 candidates are being proposed, although application forms are not all complete yet. He suggested we give more thought to looking beyond those with whom people work regularly.
A discussion followed concerning the awards sponsored by the Forum, including the matter of expenses for travel and for certificates. This year, for the first time, APS billed the Forum for the cost of certificates for the Szilard Award ($236 each). We co-sponsor the Nicholson Award, which "recognizes the humanitarian aspects of physics and physicists", with the Plasma Physics Division. The executive committee agreed to continue to co-sponsor the award, but Ed Gerjuoy will talk with the Plasma Physics Division about possible overlaps with the Forum and Szilard Awards, and about funding for travel and certificates.
Some comments were made about appropriate use of electronic communication. Messages delivered to the entire Forum membership should be relatively rare. Messages delivered to the executive committee should be prioritized as either "for your information" or "action required". Al Saperstein had been asked by a member of another forum to transmit a message with some political content to all FPS meabers, and he asked the executive committee's advice. The committee decided that in general we should not accede to such requests, and that we would not in the present case.
The editorial board of Physics and Society had proposed a new editorial staff, and the proposal was approved by the executive committee via e-mail prior to this meeting. The staff is: Al Saperstein, editor-in-chief; Art Hobson, book-review editor; Lee Sorrell, article editor; Jeff Marque, news editor.
Marc Sher reported that the newsletter in now on the world-wide-web. Visitors can call up not only newsletter articles, but also items referred to in articles, including government documents. The hard copy will continue to be sent, but starting with the October 1996 issue, an electronic version will be produced An e-mail notice will be sent to all Forum members giving three options for receiving the newsletter electronically: (1) a postscript version will be mailed every quarter, (2) a PDF version will be mailed every quarter, or (3) the table of contents will be mailed along with the web address. In the last case, the member can download postscript or PDF versions of the newsletter, or just read the web version. It was moved, seconded, and approved that we thank Marc for his work on this.
For the program committee, Ed Gerjuoy reported that the sessions at the St. Louis meeting and at this meeting went well and were well-attended, and also that the contributed paper sessions went well. The committee agreed that we should continue to arrange contributed sessions, and Tony Nero will work on this. There was some discussion of the pros and cons of holding APS meetings at less-than-major cities like Indianapolis. The possibility was raised of sponsoring sessions at APS meetings other than the two spring meetings, and the program committee will look into it.
Mike Sobel presented a budget report, with final transactions for fiscal year 1995, and projected transactions for fiscal 1996. FY 1995 showed a net gain of $5,341, because the cost of the July 1995 newsletter was charged to FY 1996, and because projected expenses for the spring 1995 meetings did not materialize. The FY 1996 budget projects a small surplus, but income from the spring 1996 meetings is not yet known. The committee agreed to retain the surplus.
For the membership committee, Bob Ehrlich submitted a written report. The committee e-mailed a promotional letter to Forum members, asking them to forward it to colleagues. A request to the APS to transmit the letter to the entire membership was turned down. Current Forum membership is 4,142.
Al Saperstein had appointed three ad hoc committees at the beginning of his term: environment and energy; jobs and careers; and public attitudes towards science. Reports were that not much was done by these committees. Forum members, however, have worked substantially on questions of jobs and education, and worked with other forums and with APS, AlP, and AAPT to identify where action was required. Forum members have organized sessions, and have worked to develop a tutorial for faculty on how they can help students better prepare for diverse careers, as well as help locate specific job opportunities.
Barry Ripin stopped by the meeting at 5:30. He reported that the next APS billing WILL have a listing of current unit membership. This should avoid the loss of enrollment that occurred after the last billing.
The report of the Forum Councillor is contained primarily in Barbara Levi's article in the April 1996 Newsletter. The question of the relation between the Forum and POPA was raised. Dave Hafemeister noted that many of the POPA members are people who have been active in the Forum. We will recommend that there be a Forum liaison to POPA. Hafemeister will recommend that a Forum member who is already on POPA be appointed liaison.
As for relations with other forums, the committee voted to continue the practice of compiling a joint program of titles and papers for all invited sessions of all the Forums, and e-mailing this well before the spring meetings to the joint membership of all forums. As before, Tony Nero agreed to take care of this.
As incoming chair, Ed Gerjuoy brought up the question of the purpose of the annual business meeting, since there seems to be little interest among the membership. At some APS units there is considerable interest and attendance, but at others there is not. The meeting, however, may be required by the APS Constitution One suggestion was to schedule the business meeting prior to the Forum awards session, or between two Forum sessions.
Gerjuoy said that new committee members have not yet been selected, and there have been no volunteers in response to his message in the last newsletter. He urged outgoing of ficers and committee chairs to prepare an advisory report for their successors, with a copy to the Secretary/Treasurer. Thus a file of useful and often hard-to-obtain information would be available to incoming chairs and officers.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:00 PM.
Michael T. Sobel