Message from the Chair, George Bodner, Fall 2012

The Other 90%

A significant amount of attention has recently been paid to a metaphor introduced in a 2006 documentary entitled The One Percent, which focused on the wealth gap between the very wealthy and the rest of society. I’d like to devote this column to a metaphor discussed at the ACS Leadership Institute held in Fort Worth in January that is known as “the other 90%.” The basis for this discussion was the observation that about 10% of the ACS membership attends one or more of the national meetings each year. Division officers were therefore asked to reflect on the question: What does your division do to meet the needs of the other 90%?

I believe DivCHED provides a useful model of how ACS divisions can meet the needs of “the other 90%.” Consider the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, for example. The 2012 BCCE (www.2012bcce.com) will bring together almost three times as many individuals, giving almost three times as many presentations, as the CHED sessions at a typical national meeting. It also provides a platform for three-hour workshops that can probe topics in greater depth than the sessions at a typical ACS meeting. Members of the Division also benefit from the long-term efforts devoted to the Journal of Chemical Education, which will celebrate its 90th anniversary next year, and from the work of the ACS Division of Chemical Education Examinations Institute that plays an important role in developing ways to measure learning in the chemistry classroom.
I would like to use this opportunity marking the halfway point in my term as Chair of DivCHED to reflect on efforts to meet the needs of different constituencies within the diverse membership of the Division. In previous newsletters, I noted the role that the representatives of the Division and ACS staff have played in the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that are being built on a report from the National Research Council entitled Framework for K-12 Science Education. The review period for the first draft of the NGSS is now closed, and the NGSS writing team is considering the tens of thousands of comments collected during the review period. A revised draft of the NGSS will be released in Fall 2012 for further comment.

In this newsletter, it is a pleasure to announce the creation of an ACS Two-Year College Advisory Board (TYCAB), which will meet for the first time this summer. The TYCAB is the result of recommendations from the SOCED Task Force on Two-Year College Activities. Members of the TYCAB include representatives from both two-year and four-year institutions; from both DivCHED and the CHED Committee on Chemistry in the Two-Year College; and from both the ACS Committee on Professional Training and the ACS Committee on Minority Affairs.

A less well-recognized vehicle for meeting the needs of DivCHED members is by providing them with a mechanism for being actively involved in the Society. Several years ago, I noted that roughly 25% of the individuals who participated at the ACS Council meetings that year were members of the Division. As a member of the Grants and Awards subcommittee of the ACS Board of Directors, I recently had the opportunity to look at the list of individuals selected as Fellows of the American Chemical Society for 2012. As noted on the ACS website: “ACS Fellows are selected on the basis of documented excellence and leadership in BOTH of two areas: (1) science, the profession, education, and/or management, AND (2) volunteer service in the ACS Community.” The role that DivCHED members play in volunteer service to their profession can be seen by comparing three percentages. Only 0.4% of the 164,000 members of the ACS have been selected to be ACS Fellows; slightly more than 3% of ACS members are also members of DivCHED; and yet 13.0% of the ACS Fellows selected since the program was created in 2008 are dues-paying members of the Division.

As Chair of the Division, I can take comfort in the knowledge that members of DivCHED play an active role in the Society. When I look at the demographic reports provided by the Society, I can take pride in the fact that members of the Division represent 56 different countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The good news is that almost 25% of our members are in their 2nd through 5th year of membership. But there are disturbing trends in these data. Only one-third of the members who join the Division renew their membership for a second year, and there is a gradual decrease in the percentage of Division members with years of service for the first few years. I would therefore like to encourage as many longstanding members of the Division as possible to help new members recognize the value of remaining a member of the Division.

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