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For Director-At-Large: Robert L. Lichter

by Robert L. Lichter
September 6, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 36


Robert L. Lichter

Northeastern Section. Merrimack Consultants, Great Barrington, Mass. (retired)

Academic record: Harvard University, A.B. cum laude, 1962; University of Wisconsin, Ph.D., 1967

Honors: ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, 2010; ACS Fellow, 2009; fellow, Association for Women in Science, 2004; fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 1995; Sigma Xi; American Council on Education Leadership Training Fellowship, 1983; National Science Foundation Science Faculty Professional Development Award, 1981; National Research Council Travel Awards, 1975, 1977; National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship at Braunschweig University of Technology, Germany, 1967–68; NIH Predoctoral Fellowships, 1962–66

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Merrimack Consultants, principal and cofounder, 2002 to date; Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation, executive director, 1989–2002

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Science, 1997–2002, committee associate, 1996, consultant, 2003; Committee on Minority Affairs, 1999–2006, committee associate, 1997–98; Committee on Budget & Finance, 2006–11, vice chair, 2009, committee associate, 2005, Advisory Committee, 2008–10, 2006; Program Review Advisory Group, 2008–10; Chemical & Engineering News Advisory Board, 1998–2006; Board ad hoc Implementation Project on Minorities in Academia, chair, 2003–06; ACS Graduate Education Advisory Board, 2002–06; ACS Development Advisory Board, 2008–10; Canvassing Committee for ACS Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution, 1997–99, chair, 1999; Percy Julian Task Force, 2006–09

Service in ACS offices: Member of ACS since 1962. Northeastern Section: councilor, 2008–13. Georgia Section: chair, 2005; chair-elect, 2004. North Jersey Section: Analytical Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Topical Group, chair, 1982–83

Member: AAAS. ACS Divisions: Organic Chemistry, Chemical Education

Related activities: AAAS, Section on Chemistry, retiring chair, 2002–03, chair, 2001–02, chair-elect, 2000–01, secretary, 2004–09; Sigma Xi, Public Understanding of Science Committee, 2004–05; New York Academy of Sciences, Committee on Science Education, 1991–95, chair, 1994–95, vice chair, 1993–94; National Conferences on Undergraduate Research, Board of Governors, 1992–98, chair, 1994–96; Gordon Research Conference on Innovations in College Chemistry Teaching, chair, January 2001, vice chair, June 1999; National Research Council Chemical Sciences Roundtable, 1996–2000, Steering Committee, 1996–99; New York Hall of Science, Board of Trustees Advisory Council, 1994–96, 1998–2002; member or chair of more than 15 external advisory or visiting committees on behalf of academic institutions, NSF, and other organizations; member of more than 20 review panels for NSF, NIH, and the National Research Council; NSF Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science & Engineering, member, 2003–06, chair, 2005, vice chair, 2004; NSF Advisory Committee on GPRA Performance Assessment, member, 2006–08; NSF Advisory Committee on Environmental Research & Education, member, 2003–06; Concepts in Magnetic Resonance, editor, 1989–94; Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry, editorial board, 1983–87; NSF, senior scientist consultant, 2009; Massachusetts Academy of Sciences, Board of Governors, chair, 2009; State University of New York, Stony Brook, vice provost for research and graduate studies, 1986–89; Research Corporation, program officer, 1983–86; Sandoz Pharmaceutical, Exxon Research & Engineering Co., visiting scientist, 1981–82; Experimental NMR Conferences, Executive Committee, 1979–85, treasurer, 1981–85; City University of New York, Hunter College, chemistry professor, 1970–83, chemistry department chair, 1977–82; California Institute of Technology, research associate, 1968–70; Berkshire Bach Society, Board of Directors, 2008 to date; published 38 research articles, three monographs, one book chapter, as well as many articles and book chapters on education and policy

Lichter’s Statement

The beauteous characteristic of ACS is that its priorities are shaped by the interests and engagement of its members, who are its strength. My operating principle is that all of ACS—the board, council, divisions, and local sections—must participate in setting the society’s directions and priorities. Ensuing strategic decisions and resulting programs must be made in sound, thoughtful, and fiscally responsible ways, with appropriate but not endless study, reflection, and analysis.

The resulting consensus-building and membership participation strengthen our society and advance our profession. If elected director-at-large, I will work closely with the council, our outstanding professional staff, and all units of membership to widen the portal to and from the world of chemistry that ACS represents. This will allow the society to embrace, engage, and serve a vibrant and increasingly diverse membership, profession, and larger society.

From my 40 years of experience as a university professor, senior administrator, and head of a major private foundation, as well as my service in larger scientific, educational, and policy venues, I offer experience, commitment, and integrity.

Experience and Commitment.As an active ACS member for almost 50 years, a councilor, and a participant in numerous ACS committees and other national and international activities (see biographical sketch), I understand well how ACS functions. I continue to serve on the Society Committee on Budget & Finance (B&F), including as vice chair for a term; as a member of both the B&F Advisory Subcommittee and the Program Review Advisory Group (PRAG); and as chair of the Program Funding Request (PFR) subcommittee. That ACS has not been immune to the economic recession requires B&F, PRAG, and PFR to execute their responsibilities with utmost seriousness to establish effective cost-saving and revenue-generating measures without compromising ACS’s mission and goals. I am privileged to be part of that process and believe that I contribute to constructive outcomes.

I also serve on the ACS Development Advisory Board, which advises the ACS Development Office on fund-raising strategies. And I continue to be involved with the ACS Scholars Program, even after ending six years of service on the subcommittee of the Committee on Minority Affairs that exercises oversight of the Scholars Program.

For the future, I continue to believe that developing the next generation of chemists is of paramount importance to all of us. My own experience, that of others, and some research evidence reinforces the notion that student participation in actual research at the earliest possible stages is one of the most effective ways to attract youngsters to the sciences. ACS must enhance its role in facilitating these opportunities for precollege students, undergraduates in two- and four-year colleges, and middle and high school teachers. Available evidence, including a 2009 comprehensive research article in Science (2009, 326, 440), demonstrates that precollege students whose teachers participate in research do better in science than those who have teachers who do not.

The chemical workforce and its leadership are made up of people with all levels of education. But education is more than technical and research training. Advancement in one’s workplace and in the profession requires a variety of skills in management, communication, ethics, and business—all in an increasingly global context. These are vital if chemical scientists are to exploit the array of career opportunities open to them—whether in industry, academia, nonprofit organizations, or other areas—and eventually move into leadership positions. ACS’s Leadership Institute has already demonstrated great success in enabling the society to fulfill that leadership preparation role. The Department of Professional Education, particularly as it explores development of both synchronous and asynchronous online offerings, shows every indication that it will be a significant resource to ACS members, even in tight economic times.

The eminent U.S. historian Manning Marable has observed, “Without diversity there can be no excellence; without excellence there can be no diversity.” Maintaining scientific leadership and attaining the consequent economic and societal strength absolutely requires opening pathways to achievement and excellence that capture and develop talent from an array of people who embrace all demographics: economic, ethnic/racial, gender, and disability status. Doing so is one of ACS’s core values and has been one of mine since my student days.

Integrity. I am unwaveringly committed to the concept that professionals must act with the highest levels of integrity. Any compromise of principles of openness, fairness, honesty, respect, or ethics serves only to weaken our enterprise. ACS must continue to lead in ensuring that these principles remain steadfastly followed.

I am proud of ACS’s accomplishments and would be honored as a director to help shape ACS’s continuing policy and programs in these and other domains.


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