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ACS: Fostering Chemistry And Chemists In Transformative Times

by Madeleine Jacobs, ACS Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
March 8, 2010 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 88, ISSUE 10

Madeleine Jacobs, ACS Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

Each year, I provide a brief update on ACS accomplishments, and I look ahead to the future. ACS ended 2009—one of the most challenging years in memory—with major accomplishments supporting the society’s strategic plan. ACS also ended the year in sound financial condition, with a significant improvement over 2008.

As is appropriate for a 501(c)(3) enterprise whose vision is “Improving people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry,” these accomplishments benefited our members, the worldwide scientific enterprise, and the general public. You will find a list of the 2009 ACS Highlights of Achievements at, organized around the society’s six strategic goals. These are only selected accomplishments because it would be nearly impossible to document all the programs, products, and services delivered by our members, governance, and staff.

Among those accomplishments are: another year of record additions to the Chemical Abstracts Service databases, including the CAS Registry database reaching the milestone of 50 million substance records last September; new functionalities in SciFinder and continued adoption worldwide of SciFinder in academic settings; robust content linking between CAS’s SciFinder and the new ACS Journals Web delivery platform; new journals, including an entire year of Applied Materials & Interfaces and the early launch of ACS Chemical Neuroscience and the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters; ACS eBooks, including more than 1,200 titles published in collaboration with ACS’s technical divisions as part of the ACS Symposium Series; a growth in membership from 154,000 at the end of 2008 to more than 161,000; more career services for members; implementation of the gift of $34 million from the Hach Scientific Foundation to increase the number and quality of high school chemistry teachers; new international collaborations that advance ACS’s global reach; the launch of the Chemistry Ambassadors program to explain the value of chemistry to the general public; and the distribution of $22.1 million (333 grants) by the ACS Petroleum Research Fund.

Financial stability is key to our ongoing ability to deliver on our scientific and charitable mission. I am pleased to report that at the end of February, ACS received an unqualified audit opinion (the highest possible opinion) from its independent auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers. ACS ended 2009 with more than $460 million in revenues, a 1% increase from 2008—the 16th consecutive year in revenue growth. The net from operations was $13.7 million, favorable to the ACS approved budget, and it was the sixth consecutive year of positive operating results. Importantly, our unrestricted net assets (ACS reserves) more than doubled, to $123.9 million in 2009, although this is still well below the level of reserves prior to the recession.

We are well into 2010, and I would like to share what we are emphasizing this year. When people ask me what keeps me up at night, I tell them it is the fragile economy and high unemployment rates that our members and the U.S. in general are experiencing. I have lived through five major recessions in the U.S., and there is nothing more heart-wrenching to me than to talk with talented chemists and chemical engineers who have lost their jobs and wonder what the future holds for them. ACS will continue to focus on the needs of all our members, with a special focus on our unemployed members. In addition, we are actively pursuing opportunities to work with Congress and the Obama Administration to keep valuable jobs in the U.S. and to help our chemists start and be successful in new businesses.

We will continue to emphasize the importance of our indispensable professional and information resources for members and other chemistry-related practitioners through enhancements to SciFinder, new features in C&EN, and new journals, including ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters (now publishing online) as well as a new copublishing agreement with the Division of Chemical Education for the Journal of Chemical Education. This year, we will be introducing a refreshed and enhanced and expanding features in the ACS Network, which has grown to include more than 22,000 people. ACS is also enhancing its national meetings with expanded electronic meeting content and is looking forward to two successful national meetings in 2010 in San Francisco and Boston. We are expecting a record-breaking attendance of more than 20,000 people in San Francisco. We are also undertaking an extensive review of rapidly evolving technology trends and providing recommendations to the ACS Board of Directors on what the society must do to address them.

We are celebrating the 15th anniversary of the ACS Scholars Program (C&EN, Jan. 25, page 3) with a number of important activities and a fund-raising goal of $500,000. University of California, San Diego, chemistry professor and Nobel Laureate Mario Molina and Dow Corning CEO Stephanie A. Burns are honorary cochairs of the ACS Scholars 15th anniversary appeal. I hope every ACS member will consider making a contribution—whatever you can afford—to support this amazing program of scholarships to gifted, underrepresented minorities. It is a program that has changed the face of chemistry. To make a donation, go to

There are many more activities under way in 2010. I welcome your ideas and look forward to hearing from you at As I begin my seventh year as executive director and CEO of ACS and my 20th year as an ACS staff member, I look forward to working with you.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.



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