IMPORTANT NOTICES TO MEMBERSElection Results
The total count of ballots was completed on April 3, 2000. Bo Hammer was elected Chair-Elect, Laurie Fathe was elected Vice-Chair, and Mark Sakitt and Steven Smith were elected to the Executive Committee. 475 votes were cast via the web, 102 votes via paper. A comment about the time schedule: Our original plan was to have the election issue of the Newsletter in the hands of readers by late January, and to set the ballot deadline at March 1. As it turned out, the election slate was not received by the Editor until later than planned, and so the Newsletter did not reach readers until late February. (The web ballots were available earlier.) The deadline for voting was then delayed until March 25. Our intention has been to give members at least four weeks to vote after receiving the ballot. In the past we've given even more time. I think the reason for allowing so much voting time is that at one point we received a few (maybe just one) nasty complaints from members who got the Newsletter too late to meet the ballot deadline. In comparison I might note that the Forum on Education gives members only 10 days to vote via the web. They "encourage" you to vote on the web, and while it's possible to submit a paper ballot, I somehow didn't come across any way to do so. The time from the Editor's receiving all election materials to the Newsletter's reaching the reader is about five weeks, including three weeks for third class mail. When time is short we've used first class mail, costing about $1000 extra. This year, as Treasurer, I nixed that.
Michael Sobel, Secretary/Treasurer
Retiring Chair's Statement
It was an honor to serve as the Chair of FPS during the last year, one of the toughest the Forum has faced since its founding. Physics & Society, our newsletter turned almost-journal continued to improve and to feature great articles by distinguished authors; the program committee under Aviva Brecher served up several important sessions in both Minneapolis and Long Beach. The "Pseudoscience" symposium in March may have set an all-time record for attendance at an FPS or any other APS session: more than 2,000 people crowded into the room, even more than turned out for James Randi at the Atlanta meeting. Sid Drell's talk on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and National Security in Long Beach was the best presentation of the case for the CTBT I have heard. Unfortunately the year was marred by the resignation of our tireless and creative Chair Elect Priscilla Auchincloss who found the work load for the Forum on top of her university and family commitments unbearable. That catapulted Vice Chair Aviva Brecher into the number two spot where she had to function as program committee chair but still remained chair of the fellowship committee. In addition, Aviva almost jumped into my job because I had a serious health scare in December, 1999 and came within a day of having to resign. Had I been forced to step down, Aviva would have had to do all three jobs. We must shortly revise our by-laws to provide for ways to fill double vacancies.
At the beginning of the year the FPS finances were in bad shape, and by the end of the year they were in even worse condition. We transferred a substantial fraction of our reserves to APS to bring the fund for the Szilard Lectureship over threshold. That deprived us of the reserves, and also the interest income on the reserves. In addition, the revised dues allocation from APS began to bite, reducing our income. But we continued to outspend the income, and by the end of the APS fiscal year we would have been in danger of having our checks bounce. The major sink for money is, of course, the conventionally printed and distributed Physics and Society which cost very nearly $4000 for each printed and mailed issue. I became famous, or infamous, among my executive committee colleagues for saying "no" to all requests however worthy to spend money, for the simple reason that the treasury was bare. In the hardest decision of my year as FPS Chair I recommended to the Executive Committee that we pare back P&S drastically in order to get into the black and rebuild some reserves. The committee agreed.
With regret I have to tell you that P&S will now publish two 20 page issues a year both in hard copy and on the Web (July and January) and an additional two Web-only issues. The Web has advantages, of course. We can do color, include video files, and generally "print" a very attractive product. In addition, important articles can appear immediately without waiting up to three months for print publication as they do now. The 20 page print issues will be larger than our present 16 page norm, so there will be more to read over the course of the year. This will save FPS about $6,000.
APS has also granted a measure of relief from the dues allocation rules, upping the contribution to Forums by $0.50 per member, a bit more than $2,000 for FPS. Together the two measures will mean that my successors will have some money to work with, and so have the chance to sponsor different kinds of sessions, bring in speakers who could not otherwise attend our meetings and carry through our long-hoped-for resumption of Forum studies. Thanks to all of you for the pleasure of serving as FPS chair! And thanks to all of the officers and committee members as well as the P&S staff who make the Forum function.
Peter Zimmerman Retiring Chair, FPS