Biennial Conference Committee Report, Fall 2010

The BCCE That Just Happened–Deep in the Heart of Texas

We all expected Texas to be hot, but an entire week of near 40 °C temperatures? That was a bit much, but it was about the only sandspur in what was an outstanding Biennial Conference. Texas hospitality was much in evidence, and local folklore and tradition were dished out in Texas-sized helpings. Who would have ever known that so much protocol was involved in simply wearing (or not wearing) a hat?

It will take a while for Diana Mason and her folks at the University of North Texas to sort out all the finances, but most indicators are positive. Including the 65 or so exhibitors, more than 1230 people attended the conference. Kudos are due to Diana and the entire organizing committee, which included Amina El-Ashmawy and Maria Oliver-Hoyo, as Program Co-Chairs, Tyson Miller for General Papers, Thomas Jose and Susan Shih for 2YC3, Bettyann Howson, Diane Krone, and Jo King for Pre-College, Jeff Hepburn and Mark Freilich for Posters, Cheryl Frech for Plenary Speakers, Vickie Williamson for Exhibits, Bill Deese for Workshops, Deborah Koeck for Li’l Wranglers, John Gelder for Abstracts Submission, and Christina Mewhinney for Technical Stuff. UNT staff also provided the organizers with invaluable assistance. Both the number of exhibitors and the number of chemistry educators exceeded expectations (and budget projections). The 99 workshops and 787 papers and posters submitted were certainly a powerful draw. Fundraising was particularly challenging in these tough financial times, but several supporters of the Biennial Conferences continued to underwrite big chunks of conference expense. Hayden-McNeil, Vernier, ChemSource, Educational Innovations, the Dallas-Fort Worth ACS Local Section, and nine other donors all pitched in to help defray conference expenses and provide amenities for participants. Our hats are off to the 2010 BCCE organizers. (After all, it’s the Code of the West to tip your hat in respect.)

The 2012 BCCE at Penn State

The Biennial Conference Committee had a few anxious moments here. After all the falderal surrounding approval of the Memorandum of Understanding with Penn State, the General Chair, Karl Mueller, went off to take a job at Pacific Northwest Laboratory. Then the Program Chair, Jennifer Lewis, had to resign as a consequence of her new administrative responsibilities at the University of South Florida. Happily, Dan Sykes agreed to step into the General Chair position. Dan had already done most of the work dealing with local arrangements, shepherding the MOU through the Penn State system, and developing the conference budget. The BCC unanimously approved his appointment as General Chair. The Committee also approved the appointment of Sheryl Rummel, also of Penn State, as Vice-General Chair.

Dan nominated Mary Kay Orgill of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas to be one of the Program Chairs for the conference. Kent Crippen, also of UNLV, agreed to serve as a Program Co-Chair along with Mary Kay. The BCC unanimously approved their appointments as Program Co-Chairs.

The Penn State BCCE now has a logo, a web site, and a Facebook presence. And they’re looking for friends. My, how things have changed! They’re already working on obtaining Plenary Speakers, and on fundraising. The Penn State folks have an interesting plan to encourage exhibitors to each sponsor a high-school teacher as part of their commitment to the conference. The conference organizers also plan to encourage Local ACS Sections to sponsor teachers. And, they expect to award CEU credits for participating teachers! These certainly sound like powerful incentives! And they’re consistent with the “Education for Everyone” conference theme. Hold the dates of July 29 through August 2, 2012 for the Penn State BCCE. The call for symposium proposals is scheduled for August 2011, and the call for abstracts will be made during the Spring of 2012. Kate Reck serves as the BCC Liaison to the Penn State BCCE.

The 2014 BCCE at Grand Valley State

Sherril Soman, the 2014 BCCE General Chair, has added Sandi Bacon and Mary Ann Sheline (both of GVSU) to the Organizing Committee, and both attended the 2010 BCCE in Denton. Julie Henderleiter is solo as Program Chair at this moment, but–in keeping with recent practice– the BCC expects to soon appoint (or approve) a second person to share those responsibilities. The job has simply become too large for one person. Steve Weitstock serves as the BCC Liaison to the GVSU BCCE, and he was certainly busy providing wise counsel at the Denton meeting. Steve will also visit the GVSU campus this fall at the behest of the Biennial Conference Committee.

The GVSU folks are well ahead on preparing for the conference. The BCC is generally happy with the MOA and budget that Sherril and her colleagues have prepared, and the committee expects to have it ready for review by ACS legal counsel shortly after the Boston ACS meeting. The GVSU Organizing Committee has local housekeeping duties well under control (meeting room and housing reservations, a conference account with the University, designing a conference logo, etc.) The conference theme is “Greener on the Grand.” Catchy. The conference dates are set for August 3 through August 7, 2014.

The 2016 BCCE

Despite the large number of apparently interested schools that expressed initial interest in hosting the 2016 Biennial, only one formal offer-to-host was actually received by the BCC. Happily, that offer came from an institution with strong long-standing commitments to chemical education, so the BCC is moving ahead with discussions with the University of Northern Colorado as the likely site. Two BCC members will conduct a site visit this October, to determine whether the University has both the facilities and the institutional commitment to guarantee a successful Biennial. If Northern Colorado is chosen as the site for the 2016 BCCE, Richard Schwenz will serve as General Chair. The tentative dates are July 31 through August 4, 2016.

Other Committee Actions

The BCC approved a 20% discount on registration fees for retired college faculty over the age of 65 and for high school teachers. The Committee also approved a 40% discount for students and retired high school teachers. Both registration fee reductions are contingent on determination that the negative budget impact would not threaten future conference budgets. Initial data from the Denton BCCE suggests that the impact would be negligible.

For all future Biennial Conferences, the BCC will appoint three members to review income and expense statements for all external (non-university) accounts used by BCCE organizers. That review will be for the purpose of protecting the conference organizers from any possible suggestion of financial irregularities.

The BCC has approved a policy statement to guide future BCCE General Chairs in determining what perquisites should be made available to members of their organizing committees and other key personnel. Here is the text of that statement:

The General Chair of a particular BCCE has discretion in providing key personnel of the Organizing Committee certain perquisites at their conference. These may include waiver of the registration fee; reimbursement of lodging, travel, and meal expense; and conference promotional items. Those expenses to the conference shall be built into the conference budget.

The next meeting of the Biennial Conference Committee is scheduled for Sunday, March 27, 2011 from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. in Anaheim, California. Respectfully submitted,

I. Dwaine Eubanks

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