DIFFICULT TIMES, THOUGHTFUL DECISIONS (from C&E News Candidates' Statements)
In the nearly three years since I became a Board member, the difficult economic situation continues to impact our profession. Corporate downsizing remains a concern. Young graduates are having difficulties finding positions. Mid-career chemists are frequently forced into early retirement with limited opportunities to find employment. Academe is suffering from the declining number of students selecting chemistry as their future profession. Federal funding remains under pressure, with declining support for students who are the future of the profession.
The District Director does not have the high visibility of the ACS President; however, the position engenders a critical personal link to the members: to listen to their problems, work with them to develop new approaches, and carry their messages to the Board of Directors, which is the decision-making body for the ACS. These past 2 ½ years on the Board, I visited different local sections, attended the Regional meetings in our District, and attended our caucuses - I heard and acted on your concerns.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” - Mohandas Gandhi.
As my experiences in ACS have shown, I have lost myself in service to ACS and to our Core Values:
* Focus on members,
* Passion for chemistry in the broadest sense,
* Diversity and inclusion.
What should be done? Strategic Plans are worthless unless the members, divisions, and the Local Sections are adapting them in their everyday life. This is the place where the District Director’s role is important. My actions on the Board have concentrated on:
- Transforming the definition of chemistry to encompass its true multidisciplinary nature, including “developing solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges and advancing chemistry as a global multidisciplinary science,”
- Creating a dynamic, integrated portfolio of products and services for members and potential members, and
- Promoting inclusiveness throughout the chemical enterprise.
What have I done? As a member of the ACS leadership during our last Plan implementation, it has been my pleasure to serve to advance the Society – there’s more work to be done. In my first term on the Board, I have gained the trust of my Board colleagues and been elected to serve on the Executive Committee and chair the Professional & Member Relations Committee, which has listened to you and acted to 1) create an innovative virtual job fair for all members seeking employment, whether present at a National meeting or not; 2) offer access to selected National meeting talks and posters online; 3) change the Open Board Meeting by creating a topical listening session for members. I am also chair of a subcommittee on Grants & Awards, which has changed the nomination process and focused on broadening the nomination pool for all awards and collaborated with other groups to enhance our members’ chances of recognition. I will continue to be a catalyst for change in ACS.
We are in this together – I believe this! The ACS is a Society of volunteer professionals regardless their demographics. Our perspectives on moving the Society forward are often a non-linear combination of external influences, professional and personal experiences, and talents. It is the very diversity of chemistry that requires diversity of membership to be successful. We require inclusive leadership perspectives to chart the course and to rally the members in our diverse district.
Gandhi led people by following where they wanted to go – he was the change that he wanted to see in others. Chemistry and chemical professionals are “going” global, and chemists in District V, where I have been living and working since 1979, need to be prepared to operate in a “flat” chemical world addressing diverse global problems. Diversity of thought leads directly to innovation, and chemists are working globally to innovate and step into great opportunities. The ACS must continue to steer the global community by leading the members where they want to go and to thoughtfully change ourselves through training and education the way we expect others to change.
I want to proceed together with members - Locals Sections and Divisions - to reach your goals. If you honor me by electing me to another term as District Director, I will continue to visit the Local Sections, seek out suggestions, propose solutions, and carry your opinion back to the Board of Directors. I possess a diversity of experiences and perspectives within the ACS that provide balance to the leadership of your Society. I respectfully ask for your continued confidence in me to carry out the task.
Peter K. Dorhout – June, 2012