Issue Date: September 7, 2009
For District V Director: Peter K. Dorhout
Peter K. Dorhout
Colorado Section. Colorado State University (CSU), Fort Collins
Academic record: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, B.S., 1985; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Ph.D., 1989
Honors: ACS Colorado Local Section Service Award, 2004; ExxonMobil Faculty Fellowship in Solid State Chemistry, ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry, 1996; Distinguished Service Award, Colorado School of Public Health, 2008; Distinguished Service Award, Office of International Activities, Colorado State University, 2008; Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, Colorado State University, . . .
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DIFFICULT TIMES, THOUGHTFUL DECISIONS (Read more online at home.comcast.net/~pdorhout.)
The difficult economic situation impacts the chemistry profession. Downsizing is a concern of many of our members. Young graduates are having difficulties finding positions, and midcareer chemists are frequently forced into early retirement with limited opportunities to find employment. Academe is suffering from the declining number of students selecting chemistry as their future profession.
My life philosophy is personified in a Mahatma Gandhi quotation: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." A district director does not have the high visibility of the ACS president, but the position engenders a critical personal link to the members: to listen to their problems, to work with them to develop new approaches, and to carry their messages to the ACS Board of Directors, which is the decision-making body for the society. As my experiences in ACS have shown, I have lost myself in service to ACS.
ACS developed a Strategic Plan that establishes its core values:
- Focus on members
- Passion for chemistry in the broadest sense
- Diversity and inclusion
What should be done? Strategic plans are worthless unless the members, divisions, and local sections are adapting them in everyday life. This is where the district director's role is important. Some of my actions will be concentrated on:
- Transforming the definition of chemistry to encompass its true multidisciplinary nature, including "developing solutions for today's and tomorrow's challenges and advancing chemistry as a global multidisciplinary science," as stated in the ACS Core Values
- Creating a dynamic, integrated portfolio of products and services for members and potential members
- Promoting inclusiveness throughout the chemical enterprise
My experience. As a member of the ACS leadership during the last plan implementation, it has been my pleasure to have participated in advancing the society—but there's more work to be done. I served on the Younger Chemists Committee and chaired the Graduate Education Advisory Board, so I have an understanding of what our young members want. I have been active in my local section for many years, serving as chair and councilor. I am involved in three divisions and have served as a divisional councilor. I chair the International Activities Committee, am familiar with globalization, and I coordinate ACS activities worldwide. My professional, scientific, and educational experiences provide a global perspective on challenges for ACS. Whether it has been working with former weapons scientists in Russia as part of a nonproliferation program; developing graduate student research exchange programs in Egypt, China, and Mexico; or serving as a collaborator at Los Alamos National Laboratory or as a co-op student at DuPont, I have been, and will continue to be, a catalyst for change in chemistry.
We are in this together. ACS is a society of volunteer professionals regardless of their demographic classes. The members' perspectives on moving the society forward are often a nonlinear combination of external influences, professional and personal experiences, and talents. It is the very diversity of chemistry that requires diversity of membership to be successful. We require inclusive leadership perspectives to chart the course and to rally the members in our diverse district.
Gandhi led people by following where his people wanted to go—he was the change that he wanted to see in others. Chemistry and chemical professionals are "going global," and chemists in District V, where I have been living and working since 1979, need to be prepared to operate in a "flat" chemical world with diverse global problems. Whether those are problems with infectious diseases or energy, international teams of chemists, biologists, and engineers are joining forces—a diversity of thought—to solve them. John Gardner referred to these global challenges as "a series of great opportunities disguised as insoluble problems." Diversity of thought leads directly to innovation, and chemists are working globally to innovate and step into great opportunities. ACS must continue to serve and lead the global community by leading its members where they want to go and thoughtfully changing them through training and education the way others are expected to change.
I want to move forward—together with members, local sections, and divisions—to reach our goals. If you honor me by electing me as district director, I will visit the local sections, seek out suggestions, propose activities, and carry your opinion back to the board of directors. I possess a diversity of experiences and perspectives from serving ACS that provides balance to the leadership of the society. I respectfully ask for your confidence in me to carry out the task.
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