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For District II Director: George M. Bodner

September 16, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 37

Credit: Courtesy of George M. Bodner
Photo of George M. Bodner.
Credit: Courtesy of George M. Bodner

Purdue Section. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

Academic record: State University of New York, Buffalo, B.S., 1969; Indiana University, Ph.D., 1972

Honors: James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry, ACS Northeastern Section, 2010; Royal Society of Chemistry Fellow, 2010; ACS Fellow, 2009; Pimentel Award in Chemical Education, ACS, 2003; Nyholm Medal, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2003; Clifford C. Furnas Distinguished Alumni Award, the University at Buffalo, 2003; Transylvania University, distinguished professor, May 1989; Chemical Manufacturers Association Catalyst Award in Chemical Education, 1989; Xi’an Jiaotung University, distinguished professor, November 1985; NASA, predoctoral fellow, 1969–72; NSF, predoctoral fellow, 1968; Sigma Xi; Phi Lambda Upsilon

Professional positions (for past 10 years): Purdue University, Arthur E. Kelly Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Education & Engineering

Service in ACS national offices: District II, Board of Directors, director, 2011–13; councilor ex officio, 2011–13; Board Committee on Grants & Awards, 2011–13; Board Committee on Public Affairs & Public Relations, 2011–13; Committee on Ethics, 2009–11, committee associate, 2007–08; Committee on Publications, 2000–08, committee associate, 1999; Society Committee on Education, committee associate, 1993; Committee on Divisional Activities, 1987–92, committee associate, 1986

Service in ACS offices:Chemical Education Division: immediate past-chair, 2013, chair, 2012, chair-elect, 2011. Purdue Section: councilor, 1985–2010, chair, 1983, chair-elect, 1982, vice chair, 1981, secretary-treasurer, 1978–81. Great Lakes Regional Meeting: chair, 1985; Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, cochair, 1988, treasurer and exhibits chair, 2006

Member: Member of ACS since 1969. American Association for the Advancement of Science; Royal Society of Chemistry; National Association for Research in Science Teaching; Association for Science Teacher Education; Phi Lambda Upsilon; Sigma Xi. ACS Division: Chemical Education

Related activities:Chemistry Education Research & Practice, associate editor, 2004– ; Journal of Science Teacher Education, associate editor, 2006–10; Journal of Research in Science Teaching, associate editor, 1993–98; organized and/or chaired more than 25 symposia at ACS meetings; program chair for chemical education for the 201st ACS meeting (Atlanta, 1991), 233rd ACS meeting (Chicago, 2007), and 241st ACS meeting (Anaheim, 2011); published 135 papers and 25 books; presented 485 papers at technical conferences and more than 550 invited lectures, including almost 200 talks at ACS local section meetings


Three years ago, I began my position statement with a quote from Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” Little did I know how perceptive this quote would be for my three years on the ACS Board of Directors.

I still believe it is the best of times for ACS. I have worked more closely with ACS staff in the past three years than ever before, and I have been constantly impressed by their exceptional levels of competence and commitment to the society.

Within the context of the Dickens quote, I would like to bring your attention to a series of Gallup polls that have been conducted every five years from 1985 through 2010. It is interesting to note that the results of this poll have stayed virtually constant for 25 years! Every time the poll has been taken since 1985, only about 20% of those polled would grade the nation’s public schools as A or B. But 50% grade their local schools as A or B, and 75% grade their children’s schools as A or B. Isn’t it interesting that so many people who have a negative opinion about our K–12 educational system are convinced that the schools their children attend are the exception to this trend?

In spite of all the negative publicity given to our nation’s schools, there are good signs for what is now called P–16—preschool through bachelor’s degree—education in STEM disciplines. The percentage of high school students taking chemistry, for example, has increased from only 32% in 1982 to 66% in 2005. In recent years, CPT has noted record numbers of bachelor’s degrees in chemistry, an all-time high in graduate enrollment, and remarkable progress toward gender equity in graduate programs.

It is also important for us to recognize actions taken by ACS that should help the U.S. educate the next generation. As I have noted (C&EN, Dec. 12, 2011, page 32), ACS was involved in the development of the Next Generation Science Standards, released in January. In recent years, the ACS education office has fostered the creation of high school chemistry clubs. It has also established a network of ACS Science Coaches—chemistry professionals who share their expertise and enthusiasm for science with elementary, middle, and high school teachers. It has also increased efforts to work with the two-year college community, including the creation of a Two-Year College Advisory Board—of which I am a member. Efforts are now under way to strengthen the relationship between ACS and K–12 teachers of chemistry.

In some ways, it is easy to claim we are in the worst of times. Unemployment figures for chemists have reached new highs of about 4%. Those who might focus on jobs lost among chemistry professionals, however, may not be familiar with the content of a recent ACS Webinar. Let’s look at several important quotes from that presentation: First, “The largest predictor of unemployment is level of education.” Then, “High school graduates and below have suffered the brunt of the recession.” And, “People with bachelor’s degrees and higher have been relatively ‘insulated’ from … the full effects of the recession.” In the “worst of times,” it is therefore particularly important to continue to foster higher education.

As Yogi Berra is claimed to have said, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” Regardless of whether recent jobs lost in the chemical profession are permanent or transitory, ACS both can and will focus its efforts on helping members build successful careers. Recent efforts of this kind include the chemical entrepreneurship initiative, webinars and sessions at ACS meetings to help members understand nontraditional career paths, and the creation of a strong program of professional development materials.

Three years ago, I referred to comments by Joe Francisco about the importance of being competitive in the global marketplace (C&EN, Jan. 4, 2010, page 2). Being competitive, however necessary, is not sufficient to meet global challenges. I am therefore pleased to note that the board of directors has been working with staff in the past few years to understand and then pursue opportunities to increase the society’s global presence.

I would like to thank members of District II for having faith in my ability to represent them as a member of the board of directors. I hope to have the opportunity to continue working with the board on the issues the society faces in the next few years.


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