Volume 24, Number 4, October 1995


Minutes of the Forum's Executive Committee Meeting

We met at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington DC on 20 April 1995. Attendees: Anthony V. Nero (chair), Alvin M. Saperstein (chair-elect), Ed Gerjuoy (vice-chair), Caroline Herzenberg (secretary/treasurer), Art Hobson (newsletter editor), Dietrich Schroeer (councillor-elect), Barrett Ripin (APS), Margaret Vassilikos (APS), and executive committee members Lisbeth Gronlund, Tina Kaarsberg, Robert Lempert, Marc Sher, and Gerald Epstein. Executive committee members absent: Barbara Levi, Marc Ross, Jill Wittels.

Distributions and circulations: FPS committee membership and address listing for 1995/6, agenda for executive committee meeting, sign-in sheet, revised minutes of the April 1994 executive committee meeting, election report, treasurer's reports (overview, cumulative treasurer's report for 1991-1994, preliminary projected treasurer's report 1 July 1994 to 30 June 1995, preliminary proposed budget 1 July 1995 to 30 June 1996), bylaws, notes for the new secretary/treasurer, APS key contact list, newsletter report, membership flyer.

The Forum on Physics and Society executive committee meeting was called to order at 8:08 am by Nero. He handed out copies of the agenda and indicated that minor issues would be taken up first and then major issues, with discussion limited so as to finish by 11 am.

Copies of the revised minutes for the 1994 executive committee meeting and additional items had been distributed. The minutes were adopted.

Nero gave a brief annual chair's report. Efforts noted during the year included trying to establish better communications, budget issues, and cooperation among forums.

Nero and Herzenberg reported the results of the recent election. Elected were John Ahearne vice-chair, Michael I. Sobel secretary/treasurer, Dietrich Schroeer Forum councillor, and Laurie Fathe and Daniel M. Kammen executive committee. There was discussion of the small number of ballots returned. Sher suggested consideration of electronic balloting.

Saperstein reported the results of the fellowship committee for last year including the names of and citations for the new Fellows. These results were reported in the March issue of Physics & Society.

Saperstein reported on the program committee, with input from Nero and Kaarsberg. They reported that FPS had an impressive appearance at both the March and April APS meetings, with exceptionally good attendance at the symposia at the March meeting. Art Hobson requested manuscripts from the March meeting for the newsletter. A good summary listing of the March and April meetings symposia was presented in the FPS flyer prepared by Gronlund and included in the registration packets.

Gronlund gave the membership committee report and indicated she would be resigning as chair. She requested that someone else get out a sheet for the meeting next year, similar to the flyer she prepared for the March and April APS meetings this year. It was agreed that her successor as membership chair should continue the handout sheet.

There was discussion of the new APS membership renewal forms, which, it appears, will not track each APS member's membership in forums. In addition, there will be a new charge of $6 per forum past the first two selected. Concern was expressed that FPS membership could drop appreciably, causing significant income reduction.

The editorial report on the FPS newsletter, Physics & Society, was given by Hobson. He had already informed executive committee members that a new editor needs to be identified. However, he indicated that he will continue as editor for another year and will help the new editor during the transition period.

Since she was unable to attend this meeting, Levi had faxed the Councillor's report to Nero, who presented it. Some items were from the last APS Council meeting, and some from the agenda for the coming meeting. Items included a POPA statement that is to be voted on by the APS Council; the fact that the Physics Planning Committee is trying to involve physicists on spending issues and may ask APS members to speak to their Washington representatives; and a three-prong program of cooperation between APS and the Chinese Physical Society. Bill 314 (which prohibits profanity or obscenity on the Internet) was reported to be of concern, particularly to the APS committee on the international freedom of scientists. With reference to the text of a proposed motion from CIFS that Saperstein had emailed to the executive committee, this was concurred with and forwarded to the APS Council.

Nero reported that the centennial meeting celebrating APS's 100th anniversary will be held in Atlanta, and an FPS centennial representative was discussed. Levi had proposed Heinz Barschall, and said Barschall indicated that he is willing to serve. Saperstein moved that we accept Barschall as centennial representative, the motion was seconded and unanimously accepted.

We discussed "electrification of FPS." Sher described the new FPS home page, which includes a list of officers and information on internet conferences. He indicated that potential members can join FPS on the Web now. Kaarsberg, Lempert and Nero presented information on internet conferences and open forums. Lempert and Kaarsberg are finishing essays and shopping around for a panel; they focused on setting priorities. Nero reported that the APS is moving along on a membership directory, but indicated that it will be a year before it is fully accessible, and fully capable and searchable. We discussed contacting the membership by email. It was reported that about 60% of the APS membership has email. Barrie Ripin is to contact all electronically-contactable members of all forums regarding membership renewal in the forums, since the new APS renewal form has no carryover of Forum memberships.

Gerjuoy reported on the Fellowship committee. He indicated that four applications were in with two more in process, and that APS had sent out email regarding the nomination of new Fellows but that nothing had come of it.

The first major issue tackled was budgets. Herzenberg presented the treasurer's reports and budget projections. This including a comparison over the previous three years, a projected budget for the year ending this July, and a projected budget for the following year. Nero summarized that this year we are close to balance, and that next year's budget is a projection of this year's mode of operation to next year with reduced newsletter costs. Hobson discussed newsletter costs, and indicated that we will be sticking with 16 pages per issue as cheaper than 12 or 20 pages, and that we are going back from a 7 day foreign mailing service to an 8 to 21 day service to save money. There had been concern about delays in receipt of ballots in the election issue, but it appeared that would not be a problem next year, as next year's "April" meeting will be held in May. Hobson will inquire further into time delays in APS getting out the newsletter. Regarding travel costs, Schroeer indicated that FPS has always operated at the present level, paying costs for about one person per meeting. Nero indicated that, with the new formula, FPS will have an increase in budget if the membership remains stable. Hobson estimated that FPS will make about $0.50 per new member at the margin.

Ripin had arrived, and we discussed the new APS membership renewal forms that no longer explicitly indicate a members' current affiliation with forums, so that affiliation with any forums will have to be specifically requested rather than continued. There was concern by several attendees about loss of membership in the forums, as each forum will be starting again from zero membership. Ripin indicated that they could provide a list of non-renewers for followup. Nero indicated that FPS will need a new chair of the membership committee to track the question, get information on what is happening, and get out a follow-up letter. Epstein will take over as chair of the membership committee.

There was further discussion of the newsletter. Epstein suggested that POPA might put out Physics & Society. Gerjuoy said that the various forums might want to combine their newsletters.

Hobson suggested that FPS maintain a reserve of about $10,000 for possible future studies. Saperstein indicated that if FPS wants to do a study, we can request the funds from the APS. Schroeer affirmed that we should have such a reserve for studies and also for short courses. In that way the Forum could proceed with a study without having to wait for APS funds, with the expectation that funds would be forthcoming.

It was suggested that we will need a review in the early fall of our financial status. Nero indicated that an electronic meeting is planned for September, to find out about expenditures and FPS membership renewals.

Another topic was cooperation with other forums. Nero and Herzenberg reported on the meeting the preceding day with officers of the other forums. Major topics included better communication between officers and help for officers. A major decision was that program chairs of all the forums would work together as a committee. There had been general approval of preparing a summary of all the forum sessions to be sent out in advance by email, as we did this year.

As program chair, Gerjuoy had been attending the APS program committee which had been scheduled on the same morning as our executive committee meeting. This dealt with the next "April" meeting, to be held in Indianapolis in May. Gerjuoy reported that there will be a reduction in fees to encourage teachers to come to that meeting, and that it will be held over a weekend. Ripin noted that joint APS/AAPT membership will be available at 50% off this coming year. Gerjuoy said that at the program committee meeting that morning he learned that the AAPT did not use up all of its session allocation. Gerjuoy suggested putting some information in The Physics Teacher, and Hobson suggested the AAPT Announcer, to ask people to generate ideas for symposia. Schroeer suggested that we could provide the information in a letter to the editor. The consensus seemed to be that we will make individual contact with the AAPT to share allotments in joint sessions.

Kaarsberg suggested attention to various other issues, including national budget cuts in science and scientific hot topics that FPS should address and that we could use to energize other subunits. Nero suggests that we all agree that these are important issues, and suggested that it would be useful to have a round-table discussion of them on email. Kaarsberg will start this with a page of issues to circulate on email.

Nero and Saperstein are going to work on the committee issue, particularly identifying members for committees, two weeks after this executive committee meeting; Saperstein requested all executive committee members to communicate suggestions to him.

The issue of careers came up next. It was suggested that the new Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics forum will play a big role in the future, but right now is just getting organized. It was noted that the conference of physics department chairs is scheduled in two weeks. Nero nominated Jill Wittels to attend the chairs' meeting, and the executive committee concurred; Saperstein will be backup. Saperstein and Kaarsberg mentioned plans to move forward on educating faculty in preparing students for alternative careers; they plan to take advantage of Sunday evening at the March APS meeting for forums to arrange a symposium in this area. They suggest dropping use of the term "alternative careers."

Ripin noted that there is planning for a special issue of APS News, with a pull-out section devoted to jobs and careers; provocative articles are needed. Nero noted that we have no data on the fate of postdocs; he and Millie Dresselhaus will set up an email survey on this. We will need some points of contact in the faculties of physics departments with respect to careers. Gerjuoy suggested that POPA should consider this issue. Nero suggested that we should develop a speakers' list in the area of careers. Gronlund indicated that an FPS colloquium speakers' list with a more general focus had already been started, but that the response was too small to justify moving ahead with it now. Potential speakers would have to be contacted directly and asked to join the list. Kaarsberg will take on the speakers list. There was further discussion as to whether the speakers' list about careers should be part of a broader-based speakers list.

The meeting adjourned at 11:00 am.

C. Herzenberg