From the Chair-elect, MaryKay Orgill, Fall 2016

MaryKay Orgill

After I received my bachelor’s degree and before starting graduate school, I spent some time living in New York City. I remember seeing an advertisement during the first week I was there. The picture was long, spanning the length of a bus. On the left was a line of yellow rubber duckies, organized neatly in a row. The placement of the ducks became increasingly more random toward the right of the picture. The text that accompanied the picture suggested that, by working with a particular bank, customers could get their ducks back in order.

This advertisement could be an analogy for the practices of the Division. We have an Operations Manual. If you haven’t seen it—or haven’t seen it for a while—you can find it on our Division website ( This document describes our purpose, our official Bylaws, our administrative organization, and our duties and practices. It was established to ensure that the activities of the Division “are satisfactorily planned, coordinated, and completed in a timely manner” (Division of Chemical Education Operations Manual, Introduction). In other words, the document provides a scaffold for organizing the Division.

Over time, though, our practices have drifted from those described in the Operations Manual. In some cases, we have used the expertise of our membership to improve on the practices described in the Manual. In other cases, we have slackened in our observance of the practices described in the Manual. Either way, our practices don’t always match what the Operations Manual says we do as a Division.

Before I was elected, I didn’t know that we had an Operations Manual, and I certainly hadn’t read it, despite having served on multiple Division committees for multiple years. I had no idea that all of my duties as chair-elect (and, eventually, as chair) were described in that document. I learned that we have an Operations Manual when I attended the fiduciary training in San Diego at the Spring 2016 meeting. During that meeting, our moderators made it clear that, legally and ethically, it is important that our practices as a Division match what is described in our Operations Manual. I decided at that point that I should find and read the Operations Manual. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that I had already neglected some of my duties as an elected officer of the Division.

Since that first reading, I have worked with Division secretary-councilor Resa Kelly and councilor Renee Cole to examine the Operations Manual in more detail. Our goal was to identify the specific ways in which our practices had drifted from those described in the Manual. As it turns out, there are a rather large number of differences between what we said we would do and what we actually do. To be the best Division we can be and to serve our membership in the best way we can, we need to get our ducks back in order. We need to align our practices with our documents. Maybe that means changing the Operations Manual to better match our improved practices. Maybe that means changing our practices to better match the Operations Manual. Maybe that means changing both our practices and the Manual. Again, what is important is that we get our ducks back in order.

I invite you to be part of this process. Become familiar with the Operations Manual. Read through it to discover your duties, the duties of others, and the potential ways in which you could contribute to the Division and its activities both now and in the future. Consider the ways in which the Manual or our practices could be improved. You will have opportunities to contribute to the conversation about how to improve our practices and their alignment with our Division document over the next few months. Friday afternoon before the spring meeting in San Francisco, we will have a training/working session focused on our Operations Manual. Our plan is to invite Society experts to give us some background about Operations Manuals and their contents. Those experts will then be available to answer questions as we work in small groups to align our Division document with our practices. Before that training/working session, we will invite the members of ExComm and other interested members of the Division to give feedback about the contents of the Operations Manual in an online format. Please take advantage of these opportunities. By working together, we can improve the Division and the way it functions. We can get our ducks back in order

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