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Meeting Conflict

August 15, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 33

William Oliver’s ACS Comment states that “the 2013 fall meeting occurs on Sept. 8–12, directly after Rosh Hashanah. ACS members observing this holiday may be affected if they serve on governance committees that meet before the start of the national meeting. M&E [the ACS Committee on Meetings & Expositions] regrets this conflict and is concerned with the impact this will have on its members” (C&EN, July 25, page 46). Furthermore, Dr. Oliver states that changing the meeting date is impossible because holding the meeting in August would put too much stress on those individuals who have to comply with programming deadlines since the spring meeting in 2013 will be held in April. Moving the date earlier in September would conflict with Labor Day, and later would conflict with Yom Kippur.

The fact is that M&E was quite aware of the conflict with Rosh Hashanah when they booked this date in 2003 and could have avoided the conflict at that time by setting both 2013 meetings a month earlier. It is unconscionable that M&E refuses to reschedule the fall 2013 meeting at this time. The so-called stress that would be put on the programming activities is extremely minor compared with the insensitive stance of M&E in knowing that ACS members of the Jewish faith will not be able to participate in the governance activities for which they were selected by both the members of ACS and the members of the presidential succession.

By Herb Golinkin
Naperville, Ill

William Oliver responds:

Let me acknowledge that M&E erred in picking the dates for the 2013 meeting. As I indicated in my Comment, we deeply regret this error.

I cannot speak for the members of M&E who picked those dates, since that occurred in 2003 before any of the current members began their terms. It seems likely to me that M&E members looked at the dates for Rosh Hashanah, looked at the dates for the meeting (which officially starts on Sunday), and thought there was plenty of time for members to travel, without taking into account the committees that meet earlier. Obviously, this was an oversight, but no one on the current committee was aware of the problem until it was called to my attention a few weeks ago.

Dr. Golinkin takes the current M&E committee to task for refusing to reschedule the meeting at this time. With all of the contracts having been signed and other arrangements having been made, it would cost ACS several million dollars to reschedule, even if it were possible to do so. I believe we have no option but to hold the meeting as scheduled.

It is not within M&E’s authority to schedule committee meetings, but it is my hope that, being aware of the problem, committees that meet early and have members who are affected can change their meeting schedules to accommodate their members of all faiths. That is the primary reason I mentioned it in my Comment—to give such committees notice of the problem.

I do not believe it is fair to call M&E “insensitive” to the problem or to members of Dr. Golinkin’s faith. It was a subject of my Comment precisely because the opposite is true.

By William R. Oliver


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