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2012: A Year Of Challenges For The American Chemical Society

by Madeleine Jacobs, ACS Executive Director And Chief Executive Officer
March 18, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 11

Credit: Peter Cutts Photography
ACS CEO and Executive Director Madeleine Jacobs
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

Despite the continuing challenges of the global economy, ACS concluded a highly successful year with a long list of mission-driven accomplishments that moved the chemistry enterprise forward. I invite you to read my report to the ACS membership, “2012 Highlights of ACS Achievements,” at

The selected accomplishments in that report were achieved through a robust partnership among ACS members, governance, and staff. I hope you will find them of interest and feel a sense of pride in what your professional society is doing to support the four ACS strategic goals—provide indispensable information, advance members’ careers, improve chemistry education, and communicate chemistry’s value to the public and policymakers (

Among our many accomplishments, you will find the following highlights:

◾ Despite continuing layoffs in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors, ACS ended the year with more than 163,000 members. This was a slight decline from last year’s 164,000 members, although the society recruited many new members, including students.

◾ ACS expanded its suite of career services and launched a model Online Job Club to help our members find jobs and an Entrepreneurial Initiative to provide training and resources for budding entrepreneurs.

◾ Chemical Abstracts Service built databases at a record rate. The CAS Registry alone totaled more than 70 million small molecules at the end of 2012. Along with the other databases underpinning SciFinder, CAS expanded its reputation as the global authority of chemical information.

◾ Readers downloaded more than 80 million of ACS Publications’ journal articles, which garnered more than 2 million total annual citations. ACS journals posted a number-one ranking in either impact factor and/or total citations in 16 categories.

◾ More than 14,600 members signed up for ACS Publications’ new program of member benefits, taking advantage of one of four different ways to economically access journals, archives, and e-book collections.

◾ ACS drew more than 30,000 people to its national meetings in San Diego and Philadelphia and won the prestigious 2012 Green Leader Award from the Professional Convention Management Association for “greening” its meetings.

◾ The Petroleum Research Fund provided more than $16 million to support 178 grants in basic research and advanced education in petroleum and related fields.

◾ ACS organized the 44th International Chemistry Olympiad, with 283 students from 72 countries and more than 600 participants overall. Dow Chemical was the sole financial sponsor of this extraordinary event, hosted at the University of Maryland.

◾ ACS’s Science & the Congress Project held 15 science and technology policy discussions with congressional staff and Washington, D.C.-based leaders. More than 1,500 people attended these events, a 27% increase from 2011.

◾ Settlement was reached on the long-running legal dispute ACS v. Leadscope Inc. On Sept. 18, 2012, the Supreme Court of Ohio overturned more than half of the initial judgment against ACS; the remaining litigation was settled by both parties.

◾ For the ninth consecutive year, ACS had a positive net contribution from operations. Final audited results show that the society generated $20.2 million from core operations, which is $4.3 million favorable to the approved budget, on total revenues of $490.7 million (an increase of 3.9% from 2011). Our independent auditor, KPMG, has issued an unqualified opinion on the society’s financial statements. An unqualified or “clean” opinion is the most favorable outcome that can be achieved. You can read the ACS 2012 Consolidated Financial Statements at

Even though 2012 was a solid year for ACS, there are unfinished tasks and continuing challenges that require our attention and focus.

First and foremost, the global economy will continue to be volatile as well as sluggish in 2013. The year began with layoffs from two large chemical companies—not a good omen. Academic chemistry departments continue to be under budgetary stress. The continuing bitter partisan divide between Congress and the executive branch has the potential to be extremely disruptive. Sequestration took effect on March 1, with as-yet-unknown effects on research and development funding. The next critical deadline is March 27, when the current six-month continuing resolution for fiscal 2013 runs out; if Congress doesn’t act, the federal government could shut down. And on May 14, the current legislation involving the debt ceiling expires.

One observer noted recently that Congress is “lurching from one deadline to the next.” Fortunately, ACS does not operate in crisis mode, but the actions of the government will certainly affect ACS in a negative way because government sequestration will affect our members and other constituencies.

As we look at the past and to the future, ACS has shown that it has been smart and insightful in identifying and responding to important trends and developments. It has created programs to address these challenges. As ACS members, we can be proud that the ACS Board of Directors has had the foresight to identify and support these activities quickly and in a sustainable way. And I thank all of you for your support of ACS, its programs, and the chemistry enterprise. I look forward to continuing to serve you in 2013.



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