From the Chair, MaryKay Orgill, Fall 2017

MaryKay OrgillReinvent? No. Reflect, Revise, and Refine!

Reinvent /rēin’vent/ (verb) change (something) so much that it appears to be entirely new.
Reflect /re’flekt/ (verb) think deeply or carefully about.
Revise /re’vīz/ (verb) reconsider and alter (something) in the light of further evidence.
Refine /re’fīn/ (verb) improve (something) by making small changes, in particular make (an idea, theory, or method) more subtle and accurate.

(All definitions here came from Google Dictionary.)

We are a volunteer organization, no doubt about it. None of us gets paid for what we do in the ACS Division of Chemical Education. We are members of the Division because we believe we can and should make a difference in the lives of our colleagues and students who are teaching and learning chemistry.

If you read any of the research about volunteer organizations, you’ll find out that a lot of them fail or at least fail to make progress. Why? They depend on the time and talents of people who already have busy lives. For that reason (and others), their leadership changes often. As a consequence, one of two things usually happens: (1) the organization gets stuck in doing things “the way they have always been done” because the leadership doesn’t have enough time to both learn their jobs and encourage and support change before a new leadership group comes in or (2) the organization is constantly reinventing itself because there isn’t well-established institutional memory to remind the organization of what they have already accomplished and how they can build on that foundation.

Since becoming a member of the Division’s Chair Succession almost two years ago, I have been inspired by the volunteer members of the Division that have allowed us to not fall into the rut of reinventing ourselves, but to reflect on, revise, and refine the mission and activities of the Division.

There is no way that I can appropriately recognize all of the individuals and committees that are growing and improving the Division in small, but important ways; but let me mention some of them here.

Jennifer Lewis and the Committee on Personnel and Nominations constantly seek to bring in well-qualified candidates for our election slates. They also find great ways to bring new blood into our committees.

Many committee chairs, like Michelle Head, Rachel Morgan Theall, and Jo King, have taken advantage of virtual meeting capabilities to expand both their reach and their members’ abilities to participate.

The Biennial Conference Committee (BCC), under the leadership of Dan Sykes, is developing a 5-year strategic plan and new materials and procedures to guide the recruitment and training of new BCCE chairs. John Michael Sophos has joined the BCC as their Meeting Planning Partner and is already working with both the BCC and the 2020 BCCE Organizing Team.

Jordan Harshman, one of the co-chairs of our Younger Chemistry Education Scholars committee, has acted as our resident parliamentarian during Executive Committee meetings.

Cathy Middlecamp, David Licata, Rick Moog, Julie Adams, and Anna Wilson have been diligently working on a plan to hire a business manager for the Division. They have also started a meaningful discussion about the purposes and procedures of the Division’s Finance Committee.

Previous members of our Executive Committee, including Renee Cole, Resa Kelley, Tom Holme, and George Bodner, met with current members of the committee this spring to revise our Division bylaws.

There are two other stalwarts that should be recognized for their long-term commitments to refining the Division and its members:

Heather Johnson, our Executive Assistant, cheerfully and ably, takes care of many of the details involved in the day-to-day running of our Division and its meetings. Her efforts free the rest of us to focus on other tasks.

Anna Wilson. What can I say here? Anna has been the Treasurer of the Division for the past 17 years. SEVENTEEN years. I was still a graduate student when she started her tenure in this position! Clearly, Anna has given a significant amount of service during this period as she has taken care of our Division finances in a period of great growth. She has decided that this will be her last year as our treasurer, and she will be missed. I know that, personally, I will miss her encouragement. I have known very few people with her ability to constantly and quietly encourage and applaud the efforts of those around her. Thank you, Anna.

Honestly, I could go on and on about the number of great things that these folks and so many others do willingly and voluntarily to refine the Division and the ways that it serves its membership and its stakeholders. I am honored to serve with such amazing people. Thank you. Each of you, listed or not, inspires me.

MaryKay Orgill
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
2017 DivCHED Chair

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