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APS membership has climbed to a new record high of 45,519 as of January 2006, up from 43,462 in 2005.
Some of that increase can be attributed to a large number of new student members. In 2005, 2773 students joined, taking advantage of the free trial membership available to new student members from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. After the free trial year, the student membership rate is $27. In addition to new graduate student members, many undergraduates join APS through the Society of Physics Students.
Another source of new members in 2005 came from the Division of Fluid Dynamics, which has made it easy for meeting attendees to join APS and the Division when registering for the DFD meeting, with a nonmember meeting registration fee that included a one-year APS/DFD membership. (This is not the case for the March and April meetings, where membership dues and meeting registration are separate fees). At the November 2004 DFD meeting, 381 physicists joined APS and DFD, and another 467 joined at the November 2005 meeting.
Membership has increased fairly steadily over the years since the Society formed in 1899 with just 59 members.
The APS Membership Department is always working to recruit new members and retain current members. In the past there have occasionally been special membership drives and special promotions. Most recently, the membership department has concentrated on improving correspondence with members.
“Since the Centennial we’ve focused a lot on communicating,” said Trish Lettieri, APS Director of Membership. For instance, new members now receive a message reminding them of the benefits of membership. The department is also dedicated to retaining members, including contacting those whose membership is about to lapse. Membership retention is quite high, typically around 90% for regular members, said Lettieri.
Communication with members may also help foster a sense of community. When surveyed, APS members say that other than receiving Physics Today, their top reason for being APS members is to “be part of the physics community,” according to Lettieri.
Membership dues are currently $109 for regular members, and are increasing slowly with inflation, in order to avoid the large increases that have happened at times in the past, said Lettieri.
Slightly more than 20% of members are international, and that percentage has been holding steady over recent years.
The membership department made some improvements in 2005. For instance, it is now possible to join APS online. New member benefits that were added include a book discount through Elsevier, and a member article pack that enables members to download 20 articles from Physical Review journals for $50. This mainly benefits industrial members, who make up about 25% of APS members, and who, unlike academics, often don’t have access to a library subscription to the journal. A summary of member benefits can be found at the membership website, www.aps.org/membership/.
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