Report of the ACS Executive Director to the ACS Council | Chemical & Engineering News
ACS Comments
Issue Date: March 19, 2007

Report of the ACS Executive Director to the ACS Council

Department: ACS News

In the December 2006 Councilor Bulletin, I provided a three-year perspective on some of the society's accomplishments, including the development of a new ACS vision and strategic plan; progress on contingency planning, governance review, and program review; and several 2006 accomplishments.

In putting together this council report, I collated more than 20 pages of notable accomplishments in 2006—and that was only a partial list! These accomplishments, which make ACS the envy of scientific societies worldwide, are achieved through your efforts and those of thousands of other dedicated member volunteers, supported by the ACS staff. These accomplishments are also possible because of the strong financial performance of the society.

Our 2006 net contribution from operations was $11.7 million versus an approved budget of $4.3 million. Final audited results will be announced by the Committee on Budget & Finance Chair, Dennis Chamot, in Chicago. Early results suggest the society had a record year in terms of financial performance.

Because of space limitations, this council report is highly selective and focuses on just a few notable highlights in 2006 not mentioned in the December update.

Let me start with something near and dear to all of us: membership. ACS ended 2006 with an unaudited year-end number of 160,491, up from 158,423. This was a record-breaking year, and our retention rate continues to remain stable, with an unaudited percentage of nearly 92%. This marks the second year in a row that membership has increased, after a three-year slide. We owe a tremendous debt to councilors, to our "Member-Get-A-Member" campaign, to a nonmember ACS journal author initiative, and to our Membership Division for this outstanding result.

Also, to better serve our members, ACS career programs were reformatted and restructured to broaden their reach and scope. More than 6,000 members were served in 2006 through career management and development programming at national, regional, and local section meetings, including colleges and universities.

ACS continues to work with its scientific partners to ensure that we are a welcoming home for all scientists who work in chemistry. ACS worked with the Materials Research Society and the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers to produce a multidisciplinary workshop, "Organic Microelectronics." In addition, preparations were made for a 2007 meeting on the subject of chemistry in cancer research, which is being organized with the American Association for Cancer Research.

BiotechExchange.org is a new website and Internet community space for scientists and students interested in the biotechnology and bio-based materials industries. ACS launched the site in December 2006 to provide a forum to share information, identify opportunities, and seek collaborations with fellow scientists and industry professionals. The site offers the tools of social publishing and is the first of its kind provided by ACS.

The ACS Member Insurance Program celebrated its 40th anniversary this year and has proven to be a reliable and valuable ACS member benefit. New products and features adopted in 2006 include a health insurance brokerage service to help members identify a health insurance plan and provider that meets their specific needs and Inflation Guard, a new optional feature of the term-life policy.

Responding to members' wishes that ACS reach out to more audiences with its positive messages about chemistry, the Office of Communications prepared and received funding for the first-ever ACS-wide Communications Strategic Plan, which will begin implementation in 2007. The plan will raise the visibility of society programs, products, and resources to members, potential members, and other target groups through use of consistent and audience-researched messages and images.

Speaking of communications, the Secretary's Office developed a new publication—Committee News—to provide useful information for council and board committee chairs and staff liaisons. Four issues were distributed in 2006. Also, the Secretary's office created a technology position to help the council and the board make more use of technology in completing their business. This staff member assists the Committee on Committees with its website, the Council Policy Committee with its new councilor Listserv, and the Committee on Nominations & Elections with election/technology issues.

The image of chemistry and our nation's competitiveness remain high on our members' minds. The Office of Legislative & Government Affairs (OLGA) established a leadership role for ACS on Capitol Hill as the premier lead scientific society working to craft and pass meaningful legislation to spur U.S. innovation and global competitiveness. ACS members helped encourage President Bush to include these themes in the 2006 State of the Union address, which led to the introduction of the American Competitiveness Initiative. This is a 10-year initiative with the goal of providing a total of $50 billion to increase funding for research and $86 billion for research and development tax incentives.

OLGA also worked with ACS governance to expand greatly the Legislative Action Network (LAN), achieving a 16% growth in new members, bringing the total number of members to nearly 12,500. In 2006, LAN members generated close to 11,000 letters to their elected leaders on key ACS priorities. OLGA worked extensively with local sections to establish Government Affairs Committees. By the end of 2006, 42 local sections had committees working to activate volunteers as "Advocates for Science."

ACS led the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Education coalition, which is widely credited with helping bring STEM education to the forefront in the 109th Congress. Through the coalition as well as Science & the Congress briefings, testimony before the National Science Board, and congressional staff tours of a model science high school, ACS has earned a reputation among policymakers as a leading source of expertise on STEM education policy.

Our members care deeply about education. Fortunately, our Education Division is making major strides. Filling our pipeline of chemistry students is important, and the Students Affiliates now number around 10,000. Approximately 1,875 undergraduate students attended the 231st ACS national meeting in Atlanta. More than 920 research and 100 Student Affiliates Chapter posters were presented.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded almost $2.2 million for the development of the Chemical Education Digital Library (ChemEdDLib), a joint project of the ACS, the Journal of Chemical Education, and Carnegie Mellon University. The ACS portion of this grant is more than $459,000. Upon completion of the three-year grant, the ChemEdDLib will be the online resource for chemical education. This will help position ACS as the first place to come for information on chemical education.

NSF also awarded a second grant of $98,180 to ACS for the "Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute (PASI) on Sustainability & Green Chemistry" to be held this year in Mexico City. The proposal that secured this grant was a collaborative effort between the Education Division and the ACS Green Chemistry Institute.

The ACS Green Chemistry Institute continues to thrive, with special progress in the area of outreach to the pharmaceutical industry through its Pharmaceutical Roundtable. The 4th Annual Summer School on Green Chemistry and the 10th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference were great successes based on the technical offerings, the attendance, and the financial performance (including outside grants, sponsorships, and exposition).

To ensure that our undergraduates are receiving an education in chemistry that is relevant to our changing times, the Committee on Professional Training (CPT) is revising the guidelines for ACS-approved undergraduate programs. A summary of the proposed guidelines is available on the CPT website at chemistry.org/education/cpt. Draft guidelines are expected to be released prior to the Chicago national meeting.

ACS continued to expand its partnerships around the world. ACS and India's Council of Scientific & Industrial Research sponsored a three-day conference in Pune and a one-and-one-half day symposium in Hyderabad, India. The events attracted more than 1,000 participants, including more than 300 students. To build further partnerships with national chemical societies in Europe, the first symposium jointly sponsored by ACS, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the German Chemical Society—"Transatlantic Frontiers of Chemistry"???convened more than 100 early—career scientists, observers from industry, and society representatives.

Many of the accomplishments described here would not be possible without the Web. Indeed, everything ACS does today revolves around the Web. In 2006, the ACS made enormous progress in implementing the Web Presence Strategy as approved by the board of directors in 2005. The Web Presence central team is now fully staffed with Web professionals in information architecture, Web content, Web design, product management, user testing, and program management. All ACS operating units have Web teams.

In June, ACS selected the Stellent Content Management System as the core enterprise platform for the new website. In November, the central team created a roadmap to unite the many intersecting projects of the initiative. Before the year ended, the information architects and business units completed, documented, and tested the layout (called "wireframes") and global navigation for the new website.

In Chicago, Web Presence will focus on the theme of "Findability." At our booth in the exposition hall, we will demonstrate a new, global navigation scheme for the new ACS website and present the roadmap for upcoming website improvements. There will be an activity based on the theme, and participants will be entered to win a Global Positioning Device system.

Also in Chicago, our test lab will feature a one-on-one usability test of a new search interface. We will hold focus groups about e-commerce and survey and test possible design concepts. Online, Web visitors will be able to experience the ACS national meeting through the online booth schedule, blogs, the Chicago national meeting wiki, and updates from meeting events. Please plan to stop by!

The Web Presence team works closely with Washington IT on all aspects of the reinvention. Washington IT is also working on infrastructure upgrades across the society, including an improved interface for the online membership application. In 2006, approximately 7,200 new-member applications were received via the Web. This represents more than 42% of the total new-member applications for this period.

Washington IT also improved the ability of ACS journal publications to sustain a disaster. This was a complex project that included establishing a second data center away from ACS headquarters, extending the ACS network to connect the co-location facility to all ACS facilities, and implementing a second storage area network configured to automatically replicate journal content. ACS is investing in technology with the intention of building a resilient, reliable, and security-oriented infrastructure with our members and other users in mind.

Our publishing units rely on technology investments such as these to put them at the cutting edge of their fields. Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) and the ACS Publications Division???whose net revenues support the vast majority of our programs for members and the chemistry enterprise???had highly successful years, from both financial and programmatic viewpoints.

Nowhere are technology and innovation on better display at ACS than at the Columbus, Ohio, home of CAS, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2007 with a wide array of events and activities. CAS's state-of-the-art data center and 1,300 employees are focused on creating and delivering the most complete and effective digital information environment for scientific research and discovery.

For the first time in a single year, CAS scientists indexed more than 1 million documents. In all, CAS document records now amount to more than 25 million. During the same period, more than 3 million organic and inorganic substance records were added to the CAS Registry database, for a total of more than 30 million substance records.

Building upon its leadership in intellectual property information, CAS introduced several patent-related enhancements. CAS completed its implementation of International Patent Classification reform enacted by the World Intellectual Property Organization. This helps users search patent information more effectively across countries. In addition, CAS processing improvements are now making China's patent records available in the CA/CAplus databases more than 100 days sooner than competitors.

CAS is addressing the growing interest in biology-based synthesis by making access to information on enzymatic reactions and other biotransformations easy to find through its SciFinder research tool. CAS reaction information extends back to 1840 and among the more than 11.5 million reaction records are thousands for biotransformations. In addition, CAS literature databases reference a wealth of research on biological processes relating to drugs, food, materials and energy, among other applications.

The efforts of scientists throughout the world are used much more actively now in CAS's editorial process. Operational relations have been established with several new firms in India and China, in addition to the editorial efforts that have been carried on by colleagues in Japan and Germany.

Having begun to add citations in 2000, CAS now has surpassed 160 million record citations from 5.6 million indexed patent and journal publications. These citations, among several applications, are used for linking CAS records to the original literature in widely used ChemPort feature.

With the release of SciFinder 2007 in fourth-quarter 2006, researchers found it easier to fine-tune their answer sets for chemistry-related literature, substances, and reactions. Other features of SciFinder 2007 included the capability to export commercial chemical records from CHEMCATS into Excel for easy sorting and manipulation of these records in spreadsheets.

SciFinder Scholar was installed at more than 1,300 universities worldwide in 53 countries by year-end 2006. This represents 12.5% growth in the number of schools over the previous year. The majority of the growth in 2006 can be attributed to the introduction of the Universal Share Programs that make SciFinder Scholar more affordable for schools for which the master's and bachelor's are the highest chemistry-related degrees awarded.

CAS and its STN partner FIZ Karlsruhe introduced an enhanced version of STN AnaVist analysis and visualization software, which continued to grow in popularity. The software was also introduced in Japan in 2006. Favorable reviews of STN AnaVist were published in Online and World Patent Information.

In 2006, the Publications Division launched a new journal, ACS Chemical Biology. This monthly journal delivers original research articles and reviews along with innovative content such as spotlights of current research in chemical biology, profiles of experts, points of view, and ahead-of-the-curve perspectives from up-and-coming faculty. The journal website is updated weekly with new content and features a community focus that encourages biologists and chemists to engage in discussions with their peers.

The peer-reviewed journals of the ACS rank number one in citations and/or ISI Impact Factor in the seven ISI core chemistry categories, as well as seven additional ISI categories ranging from agriculture to polymer science and the new category of nanoscience and nanotechnology. A major marketing outreach campaign was initiated to communicate this new data about the continued leadership of ACS journals.

To provide world-class support to ACS authors, editorial offices, and reviewers, ACS began the process of replacing its current manuscript review system. The new system, named Paragon Plus, will enable better management capabilities of the growing article submissions that most ACS journals are experiencing. In 2006, eight journals were converted to the new system; we'll convert the remainder in 2007.

The Publications Division implemented??two major new initiatives??to broaden access to ACS journal content:

First, ACS AuthorChoice gives authors the option of sponsoring immediate open access to their research articles by paying a one-time fee. Significant discounts are given to contributing authors who are ACS members and/or who are affiliated with an ACS subscribing institution.

Second, ACS Articles on Request is an expansion of publications' author-directed links policy that previously allowed up to 50 complimentary accesses to an article after its publication. The new policy??now allows authors of articles published from 1996 through the present??to provide unlimited access to interested readers via these links after 12 months.

C&EN, the ACS official organ, launched a redesign in October. The new look is contemporary and bold, conveying the dynamism of the chemical enterprise while maintaining the fundamental seriousness of C&EN as the premier newsmagazine of the chemical world. A major change on the cover is the adoption of "C&EN" as the official logo, intended to project a clear, strong brand identity.

Although the Publications Division and CAS provide strong net revenues, ACS is also committed to diversifying its revenue base. The New Business Development Department obtained approval from the ACS Board for two new ventures that further the ACS mission and have the potential to be financially self-sustaining. One of the ventures, named ChemInsight and scheduled for launch in March, allows ACS members to apply their skills and knowledge outside of their principal occupations and earn additional income. The second venture can help in the creation of new jobs and investment in the chemical enterprise, creating a stronger relationship between universities and industry.

The Continuing Education & ACS ProSpectives Department had an exceptional year in 2006 in each of its three programs: Short Courses, ProSpectives Conferences, and Online Courses. The department educated more than 3,000 professionals in the chemical sciences, representing an increase of more than 20% over 2005. In addition, the department delivered strong operating results.

In 2006, the society received gifts and pledges exceeding $3.0 million in support of society programs. This total represents the highest level of annual donor support ever received by ACS. The majority of gifts are aimed at supporting ACS Scholars, Project SEED, teacher training, and green chemistry.

In summary, 2006 was a great year for ACS. We began 2007 with a new staff alignment to more optimally support the ACS Strategic Plan. In that realignment, our Research Grants Office (which includes the Petroleum Research Fund) has been elevated to a direct report to me, and the Membership Division has been expanded with the addition of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute and the Office of International Activities. It has been renamed the "Division of Membership & Scientific Advancement," to emphasize the importance that ACS scientific activities play in enabling scientific progress, thereby fulfilling the ACS vision, "Improving people's lives through the transforming power of chemistry."

We have a new vision, a new strategic directions document, and great enthusiasm from our members! I look forward to seeing you in Chicago and working with each of you in 2007.

 
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