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Comment: 9 years goes by fast, 2015–23

by Paul W. Jagodzinski, chair, ACS Board of Directors
December 16, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 41


Paul W. Jagodzinski.
Credit: Courtesy of DS Photo
Paul W. Jagodzinski

American Chemical Society members inherited a society from our predecessors that was in an enviable position compared with other professional societies worldwide, and we have a solemn responsibility to support its noble purpose as stated in ACS’s mission, vision, and core values. We also have a responsibility to recruit and support the next generation of members and leaders and to deliver to them a society that is vibrant, growing, and more impactful than the ACS that our predecessors delivered to us.

As I come to the end of my time on the ACS Board of Directors, I have been reflecting on what the board and ACS have accomplished during the past 9 years to ensure that ACS is positioned for the future. The board is made up of 16 members, each of whom brings different ACS experiences and professional expertise. The ACS Board is diverse in all aspects, and this diversity brings strength that is essential to leading ACS. Our work is a group effort: the board acts collectively, while various board members lead different initiatives and address a mix of challenges.

In the future, the board will be increasingly expected to make decisions relating to social issues.

Some of our collective accomplishments during the past 9 years include the following:

The board added “respect” and “equity” to the diversity and inclusion core value, creating “diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect” (DEIR). The Office of DEIR was also created.

The board approved four strategic initiatives committing a total of $50 million over 5 years: CAS Accelerating Life Sciences Growth, Accelerating Digital Research Data Products, the ACS Campaign for a Sustainable Future, and Fostering a Skilled Technical Workforce.

The board hired and elected two new CEOs and two new people for the roles of treasurer and chief financial officer.

The board hired for the positions of president of Publications, senior vice president of Communications and Marketing, and executive vice president of Human Resources.

ChronosHub was acquired to improve our ACS Publications author experience.

The board ratified the Petition to Add International Representation to the Board of Directors, which was initiated by the board, supported by the council, and ratified by members.

The board, along with the council, approved changes harmonizing and standardizing all society committees as to their terms, size, makeup, and other characteristics.

The board, along with the council, approved a major overhaul and simplification of ACS governing documents—the most significant change in those documents since the 1940s.

The society experienced record financial performance.

The board approved the establishment of the ACS Prism Award to recognize a public figure or prominent leader in their field who has a background in chemistry but is working in a different field or is not a practicing chemist.

The American Association of Chemistry Teachers, a new organization sponsored by ACS, was officially launched in 2015.

The first Atlantic Basin Conference on Chemistry was held in Mexico in 2018. ACS is one of the seven founding societies.

The board, council, and executive leadership team revised our 140-year-old membership model to better align membership and fees with programs, products, and services.

The board helped ACS successfully navigate the pandemic, including providing onetime funds to local sections and divisions and embracing hybrid meetings.

The board approved the ACS Institute after significant work by one of its committees and many member volunteers and staff.

The board voted on the recommendation of the Committee on Budget and Finance to view, from a financial perspective, ACS spring and fall meetings as strategic investments in science and members.

These are just some of the significant accomplishments of the board, council, and committees during the past 9 years. In the future, the board will be increasingly expected to make decisions relating to social issues. These issues can be complex, and a process is in place to determine when a statement is warranted. All statements by ACS require that the events have a direct impact on ACS, its members, or the chemistry enterprise.

I encourage those of you with leadership skills who can function at an appropriate level of oversight—neither ground level nor the 100,000 ft level—to consider running for the board. You need to be comfortable making key strategic decisions, ensuring that ACS is managed well, overseeing large and complex financial portfolios, and working in a complex shared governance structure. This work involves significant responsibility and time but is personally and professionally rewarding. It assumes that you can make decisions on the basis of what is best for ACS, not one constituency or program. We need future board members who are driven to deliver to the next generation of members a society that is stronger than the one we inherited.

I will continue to be an ACS volunteer and look forward to interacting with other volunteers in meaningful ways in the future.

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



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