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ACS Senior Chemists Committee: Continuing our progress

by Thomas R. Beattie, Chair, Senior Chemists Committee
October 7, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 40


Photo of Tom Beattie.
Credit: Courtesy of Tom Beattie

Immediately after the conclusion of the ACS Council meeting at the ACS national meeting in Boston in August, the Senior Chemists Committee convened a facilitated strategic planning retreat follow-up meeting. Fifteen current members and associates, as well as the chair, staff liaison, and two moderators, reviewed our committee’s progress over the past three years and explored whether we needed to modify the committee’s vision, mission, and goals. They also discussed what new programs should be added to serve ACS’s senior chemists and other constituencies. The following are the newly established vision, mission, and goals for 2019 through 2022.

Vision: Improve lives using the knowledge and experience of senior chemists.

ACS senior chemists will continue to see two- way communication with the committee.

Mission: Address community needs and ambitions by utilizing senior chemists’ knowledge and experience.

Goals: (1) Develop avenues to expand communications and promotions to enhance awareness of senior chemists’ activities. (2) Increase the number of senior chemist groups in local sections. (3) Engage with community groups that benefit from senior chemists’ expertise.

The newly created vision, mission, and goals are remarkably similar to those developed in December 2015. It was satisfying to see that our efforts since then were appropriately targeted and that the committee’s work has resulted in maximum impact on senior chemists’ engagement.

ACS senior chemists will continue to see two-way communication with the committee via the senior chemists group on the ACS Network, the “Newsletter for Senior Chemists,” and the new senior chemists website on The “Newsletter for Senior Chemists,” which is emailed to more than 40,000 ACS members aged 50 and older, increased its distribution frequency in 2018 to three times a year. We continue to see open rates, or the percentage of recipients who open the email newsletter, of around 28%. Our new website has been viewed by more than 1,000 members, with 52 downloads to date of our Senior Chemists Committee starter kit. Our presence on the ACS Network continues to grow, and we have a chat group of more than 250 members who post articles, questions, and observations.

We will continue to encourage senior participation by offering mini-grants for ACS local sections to create and promote activities. For example, the committee sponsors two annual ChemLuminary Awards for local sections that provide opportunities for seniors to get involved. One award is for innovative first-time activities, and the other award is for continued activities. Our program to award 70-year member service certificates at local section 50- and 60-year celebrations annually has been well received, judging from the many positive comments, so we will continue that program.

The ACS Leadership Institute, held annually in January, is an excellent contact point for connecting with younger ACS leaders in development. In January 2018, the Senior Chemists Committee made a presentation during the Regional Meeting Planners track at the institute to illustrate how planning for senior activities can enhance regional meeting programs and attendance. In 2019, we hope to make a similar presentation during the Local Section Officers track.


Although we have helped grow the number of ACS local sections with active senior subcommittees to 32, and 65 senior chemist events were noted in the 2017 local section annual reports, we feel strongly that local sections could do more with their senior members. In 2019, the committee will launch an initiative in which Senior Chemists Committee members will visit local sections that do not have a senior chemists committee to share information on how to host successful senior events and how to start a senior chemists committee within their local sections.

At the ACS national meeting in Boston in August, we conducted a pilot program that provided a new format in which seniors could network with students and young professionals. We expected 40–50 attendees and were delighted when 80 participated. An expanded program will be offered during the 2019 ACS national meetings in Orlando and San Diego. In addition, our booth in the expo hall at the ACS national meeting has been a great place to connect with seniors, call attention to the committee’s activities, provide handouts, and answer questions. Our partnerships with other groups to sponsor symposia will continue and expand. And our popular Tuesday morning breakfast for seniors will continue.

In conclusion, since the creation of the committee on Jan. 1, 2013, it has been a productive, wide-ranging committee of energetic members who enjoy their roles as ACS senior chemists and value the opportunities the committee has created to benefit other ACS senior chemists, our younger ACS colleagues, and the communities in which they live. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions regarding what the committee has done and is planning to do, please contact me at

Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.


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