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For President-Elect: Mary Virginia Orna

by Mary Virginia Orna
September 7, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 36

Mary Virginia Orna

New York Section. College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, N.Y.

Born: 1934

Academic record: Chestnut Hill College, B.S., 1955; Fordham University, M.S., 1958, Ph.D., 1962; Catholic University of America, M.A., 1967

Honors: ACS Award for Volunteer Service, 2009; Henry Hill Award, ACS Division of Professional Relations, 2008; John A. Timm Award, New England Association of Chemistry Teachers, 2007; Distinguished Scientist Award, Westchester Chemical Society, ACS New York Section, 2004; George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education, ACS, 1999; Visiting Scientist Award, ACS Western Connecticut Section, 1996; Norris Award, ACS Northeastern Section, 1996; Fulbright Senior Scholar for Israel, 1994; Merck Innovation Award, 1989; CASE New York State Professor of the Year Award, 1989; CASE National Gold Medalist, 1989; CMA Catalyst Award, 1984

Professional positions (for past 10 years): College of New Rochelle, professor, 1966 to date; Chemical Heritage Foundation, director of educational services, 1996–2000, Chemical Heritage Magazine, editor, 1996–2000

Service in ACS national offices: Council Policy Committee, 2008–10; Committee on Committees, 2002–07; Committee on Nominations & Elections, 1996–2001, vice chair, 2000; Committee on Divisional Activities, 1993–95; Society Committee on Education, committee associate, 1994–96; Committee on Meetings & Expositions, committee associate, 1992; Journal of Chemical Education, publishing coordinator, 2002–07; ad hoc Committee on National Historic Chemical Landmarks, 2000–02

Service in ACS offices: Member of ACS since 1967. Division of History of Chemistry: councilor, 1991–2011; chair, 1998, 1983–84; chair-elect, 1997, 1982–83; treasurer, 1989–90; Awards Committee, chair, 1989; Program Committee, chair, 1984–88. Philadelphia Section: director, 1999–2001. Division of Chemical Education: chair, 1998; chair-elect, 1997; treasurer, 1985–96; Nominations Committee, chair, 1981–83; Examinations Institute, Board of Trustees, 1983–2002. New York Section: Education Committee, 1989–91

Member: National Science Teachers Association, New England Association of Chemistry Teachers, Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works, History of Science Society. ACS Divisions: Chemical Education, Chemical Information, and History of Chemistry

Related activities: Committee on Meetings & Expositions, program coordination conference adviser, 1989–98; Journal of Chemical Education, feature editor, 1980–90; 14th Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, program chair, 1996; Hebrew University of Jerusalem, visiting professor, 1994–95; Shenkar College of Textile Technology, visiting professor, 1994–95; Weizmann Institute of Science, visiting lecturer, 1994–95; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, visiting IPA research scientist, 1987–88; National Institutes of Health, extramural associate, 1984; New York University National Science Foundation, fellow, 1978; University of California, Los Angeles, visiting professor, 1977; principal investigator on "ChemSource: A Support Strategy for Pre-Service and Inservice Chemistry Teachers," and numerous other grants; ACS Tour Speaker; organizer of numerous symposia for ACS meetings and biennial conferences of the Division of Chemical Education; author of two books, editor of eight volumes, including two ACS volumes, more than 60 papers, book chapters, and encyclopedia articles


Orna's Statement



What will I accomplish as ACS president? The following "I" statements outline critical issues that must be addressed in these challenging times:

INDIVIDUALS. The ultimate goal of our activities is to promote chemistry as a key component to improve everyone's life—worldwide. However, humans, not computers, do chemistry. ACS is a membership organization. Our guiding principle, in whatever ACS intends to accomplish, is to keep ACS members' best interests in mind. That is, we must consider how each decision will affect individual members.

INSPIRATION. "Improving people's lives through the transforming power of chemistry" is ACS's inspiring vision, stimulating high-level and purposeful actions, prompting the development of innovative ideas, and building pride in membership in a society that places this vision before all members. Many other entities have goals to benefit the world, but the ACS president, together with her staff and the members, can best unleash the power and insights of chemistry in focused efforts to benefit all.

INNOVATION. Scientific progress, coupled with imagination and innovation, is the only factor that can activate the economy again. Innovation arises from the creativity of thousands of chemist members of ACS, a force that must be empowered by research dollars. I pledge during my presidency that I will energetically advocate for enhanced research funding in budgets of all federally funded sectors.

INDUSTRY. Innovation arises from academic and industrial research, but industry plays a crucial role in ensuring that innovations are practical and profitable. Sixty percent of ACS's members work in industry. These members need the society's support more than ever in light of the current critical economic situation. It is difficult to remain creative when facing threats of job loss and downsizing. I will collaborate with industrial representatives to identify effective solutions to pressing chemically related problems within business and industry.

INCLUSION. ACS is a membership organization that values diversity. Advancing a program of inclusion involves ensuring that all support systems are readily available to individuals who need such support. My presidential activities will focus on benefiting all ACS members from young chemistry students to the most respected Nobel Laureates.

INFORMATION. Information is the 21st-century commodity that enables businesses and industries to flourish, scientific theories to develop and advance, and researchers to instantly communicate worldwide; it is undoubtedly the most important asset and resource that modern science and technology have generated. It is clearly among the most valuable benefits we can provide to ACS members. New information can be readily transmitted, transformed, and alas, pirated: Intellectual property developed through research and creativity is threatened by those who flout international law. The line where intellectual-property rights of one entity begin and those of another end can sometimes become blurred. We must be acutely aware of the critical transformational juncture between information and knowledge so we can build and maintain competitive advantages in varied sectors of the chemical enterprise. I pledge to work on developing strategies that will enable individual members and businesses to address this growing challenge.

INTELLIGENCE. In the past, the chemical enterprise largely depended upon material and energy resources to build and maintain its competitive advantage. Now, we must realize that our greatest asset for accomplishing this is the cadre of intelligent and superbly educated chemists and engineers who can take new technologies to higher levels. I will diligently work to improve chemical education at every level so that this competitive advantage continues to be realized.

INTERNATIONAL. Chemistry does not respect national borders. As president of the world's largest chemical society, I will collaborate with every cooperating international professional chemistry organization to promote chemistry's advancement and convey its vital importance for all people. The coming International Year of Chemistry in 2011 presents particularly attractive opportunities for this to be addressed.

INTERDISCIPLINARY. The boundaries separating various physical science disciplines are quickly becoming nearly indistinguishable. We must approach all related disciplines as closely interacting, collaborating partners. What is rapidly emerging is the green edge of innovative thought, accompanied by conversations that provoke new thinking about models and structures.

IN CONCLUSION: This statement cannot convey a full description of the assiduous efforts I will undertake if elected. Please visit for more complete descriptions of my critical thinking regarding these challenging times. Write or call me with questions and suggestions. I pledge to work with everyone. I am determined to be fully responsive, hardworking, and committed. I would be honored to receive your vote and trust so that I can work toward improving your status, the chemical enterprise, and its enhanced benefits.


ACS Elections: Candidates' Election Statements And Backgrounds



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