From the Chair, Cathy Middlecamp, Spring 2016

Cathy Middlecamp

Go Greyhound!
Cathy Middlecamp, Chair 2016

Some of you may remember the jingle from the 1950s, “Go Greyhound … and Leave the Driving to Us.” Catchy.  To the point.  I still remember the tune (happy to hum it for you).   

As one who hates driving for hour after hour on interstate highways, the message resonated with me.  Let professionals drive the bus so that the passengers are able to do what they do best, sit back, relax, go places and get together with family and friends.

As members of the Division of Chemical Education, what do we do best?

Driving commercial buses would not be first on the list. Many of us DO have special expertise in one field or another; for example, photography and cooking come to mind.  However, most of us don’t photograph gala events or serve meals to hundreds of people on a regular basis.  Rather, we rely on the talents of others to meet our social and professional needs.  

So what DO we do best?  We are good chemists, good colleagues, good teachers, and many of us good friends.  We teach, we run programs, we research the learning process, and we design all sorts of things to engage our students in learning.  We are great at what we do!  With old and newer colleagues, together we volunteer our time and talents for our students, for our institutions, and for our professional societies like the ACS.

Perhaps we are not as good at sitting back and relaxing as we might like.  We are busy people! Over the years, Lucy Eubanks (thank you former CHED chair and editor-in-chief) has often reminded me “Sit back and smell the roses.”  To the extent that we can leave some of the driving to others, we can do just that.

As members of the Division of Chemical Education, who can help us with the driving?

Professionals other than chemists!  In the past year as I have served as your chair-elect, I have been struck by a trend of increasing professionalism in our Division.  We are becoming more professional in just about everything we do.  The idea of better utilizing the talents of non-chemist professionals is now sweeping across all of our committee and board work.  This is freeing us – the chemists and teachers that we are – to spend our time focused more productively on all-things-chemistry. 

In one sense, this is nothing new. For example, those at the Journal of Chemical Education (thank you Editor Norb Pienta & team of associate editors) do not print mailing labels and place one on each issue of the Journal of Chemical Education.  Similarly, they do not collect checks from subscribers and enter each one into a ledger sheet.  Rather, they hire professionals to perform tasks such as these.  They have done so for years.

Other changes are more recent, though. One was made in February by those at the helm of the BCCE (thank you BCC co-chairs Bill Harwood and Sherril Soman).  No longer will BCCE organizers build and maintain a software system for accepting BCCE abstracts, organizing the symposia, and publishing the program.  Rather, starting in 2018, the BCCE meeting chairs (thank you general chair Steve Wietstock and program chair Cate Reck) will be using the ACS MAPS system, receiving full support and technical assistance from the ACS team run by LaTrease Garrison, the ACS Director of Administrative & Programmatic Technologies.  Thank you, LaTrease!

Similarly, we in CHED (thank you Heather Johnson) are now setting our sights to offer higher tech web platforms to meet the needs of those in our Division.  By the end of 2016, we hope that there will be no need for any of us to spend our time wrangling with a local campus or software company to host a web site.  As an example, keep an eye out for the 2018 BCCE web site that will be hosted by our very own Division.  Heather is turning the wheels as you are reading this. Those on the Biennial Conference Committee should be able to report the details later in 2016. 

One final story.  Some may have read my piece last year in the CHED Newsletter, A Parliamentarian: Never Leave Home without One:

“Really? A parliamentarian?
Yes.  I believe we in DivCHED would benefit from the expertise of a parliamentarian.
 I’ve come to this conclusion for several reasons, including:

  1. A parliamentarian knows Robert’s Rules of Order. 
  2. I don’t know Robert’s Rules of Order.  I suppose I could fake it, though.”

In spite of several attempts, I’ve failed to find a parliamentarian for the upcoming San Diego meeting.  If any of you have any leads for me and our future chairs (who might equally be dreading the day when we need to call the Executive Committee meeting to order without being parliamentary experts), please drop me a line.  I would be extremely happy to sit back and enjoy presiding over the meeting while somebody else drove the parliamentary bus.

Thanks for reading.  Go Greyhound.  And go CHED!

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