As I thought about this, my last newsletter article as your Member at Large, I was reminded of the admiration I have felt over the last six years for all of the officers and committee chairs associated with the Division of Chemical Education. The work of the Division is vital to the success of chemical education and those of us who practice it, and yet there is little or no professional reward for taking it on. The sad reality is that in most chemistry departments, service is considered a third class activity, a line in a year-end review that has little or no effect on its outcome. Yet I witnessed folks devoting enormous amounts of time and energy seeing to it that the jobs got done. And not just jobs that constituted “business as usual”. In the last six years, boards of the Division, the Exams Institute and the Journal of Chemical Education have instituted major reforms that have professionalized their accounting and business functions, and streamlined their services. These vital reforms, made necessary by their impressive fiscal successes, were undertaken by individuals with little or no business expertise, who took the time to consult with professionals so that the accounts could be put on a sound financial footing. Sad as I will be to leave this post, I’m proud to have made a small contribution to these efforts.
I’m also happy to report that the new business division of the Exams Institute is now functioning from its permanent venue in Colorado. The remaining inventory was transferred from Iowa State this summer, and Tom Holme has completed his stint as Associate Director. We are so very sorry to see him go. The on-line operations of the institute are also located in the Colorado facility and continue to be overseen by Julie Adams, our Business Operations Manager. We are evaluating a new on-line service provider, ExcelSoft-SARAS, with whom a license agreement for the creation of a pilot phase has been executed. The pilot, using a “lock-down browser”, will provide practice and placement tests. In addition to the “lock-down browser”, the new provider offers a significant increase in capacity. It is my hope that this change will pave the way to a significant increase in on-line testing offered by the Institute, with a concurrent emphasis on creating exams that utilize the significant advantages offered by web-based exams over multiple choice black and white paper exams.
The Executive Committee of the Division has been involved in a number of initiatives. A Fiduciary Workshop held at the Spring Meeting in San Diego drew 23 Chem Ed participants. The third such workshop held by the Division, the gathering focused on the fiduciary responsibility of the Executive Committee and the need to pass knowledge forward to new ExComm members. Efforts to professionalize all of the Chem Ed divisions involved hiring Kollath CPA to advise us in our financial dealings. Efforts to consolidate all business with the Division under one email address and one postal address have not yet come to fruition. Nevertheless, these efforts by the Division ensure that attending to our financial responsibilities will continue to be a priority. A second important initiative involves the Division’s sponsorship of the Pimentel Award. Although we currently cosponsor the award with Cengage Publishing, Cengage has indicated that, as of 2021, they will no longer continue their co-sponsorship. The Division is has decided to continue to co-sponsor the award until 2021, then consider the possibility to permanently endow the award in 2022. Cathy Middlecamp, the current president of the Division, will bring more information about this choice to the Fall meeting in August. Also at this meeting, we will consider the final report on restructuring the organization of the BCCE conferences by Cheryl Frech, who reported at the San Diego meeting that a group consisting of herself, Irv Levy and Anna Wilson was charged with looking at the organization of the Biennial conferences. They prepared a white paper with 4 to 5 suggestions for the operations of the Biennial Conferences. Two were put into place: 1) Work with ACS to use the MAPS system for abstract submission at future BCCEs. 2) Use the Division’s website as the host website for the BCCEs. Heather Johnson will develop a template for the 2018 BCCE. Frech reported that there were several BCCE management pieces that were still in discussion with the BCC and they expected to have a full and final report at the fall national meeting. The other major initiative I think it’s important to highlight is the effort to develop Record Retention Policies and Procedures that will ensure that sensitive information shared among the ExComm and Board members will be handled appropriately.