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Executive Committee of the American Institute of Physics

Minutes of Meeting

May 12, 1956

Members Present: Frederick Seitz, Chairman; A. V. Astin; S. A. Goudsmit; H. S. Knowles; E. Rodgers; R. A. Sawyer, and M. W. Zemansky who was present after lunch.

AIP Staff Present: H. A. Barton, Wallace Waterfall, E. H. Kone, M. M. Johnson

The Chairman called the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m.

1. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting of March 23, 1956 were approved as circulated.

2. Financial Report – First Quarter 1956

The Secretary distributed copies of the financial report for the first quarter and explained various items. First quarter operations usually show an over-all red figure whereas this quarter showed a black figure of nearly $15,000.00. We are approximately $20,000 better off than we were in the first quarter of last year. An analysis of the situation has indicated that probably $11,000 of the difference is due to faster processing of checks and is therefore not a real gain but we believe we are about $10,000 ahead of our budget for the year. Income from subscriptions, back number sales, publication charges, and advertising are all better than budget for the quarter.

Net income from advertising was budgeted at $73,000 for 1956 and the net income for the first quarter was $27,000.00. Advertising in “Physics Today” was budgeted at 215 pages for the year but there were 97 ½ pages in the first quarter and a total of 183 pages has already been sold for the first half of the year. Crediting the net income from “Physics Today” advertising to the over-all cost of “Physics Today” gives a black figure of $1,873 for the quarter, the first quarter in “Physics Today” history in which the magazine has not cast the Institute anything. Although advertising for the year looks very promising, a fairly large percentage of all advertising (34%) consists of “help wanted” ads and a change in the general economic picture might reduce such advertising suddenly.

Special projects promise to furnish more income than budgeted for 1956. We expected to break even on the 25th Anniversary Celebration but, after all accounts were paid, we found that it left us with a net income of approximately $3,600.00. Royalties on the Second Temperature Symposium volume published by Reinhold are also exceeding expectations.

The Secretary reported that, due largely to the activities of the Chairman, “The Journal of Chemical Physics” page charges were being honored better than last year. The first quarter of this year showed 74% honoring as compared with an average of 68% for last year. The Chairman asked to be kept advised of the situation and asked that the staff study ways of making it still more difficult not to honor page charges.

Attention was called to the fact that “The Review of Scientific Instruments” presents a somewhat disturbing picture. During the first quarter only about one-eighth of the number of text pages budgeted for the year were used by the editor. Both subscriptions and advertising have dropped slightly. The Chairman commented that physics is changing so that physicists now have more money to buy equipment and there is less interest in articles telling about how to improvise and construct apparatus in the laboratory shop. He suggested that RSI might try to obtain review articles on techniques.

3. Real Estate Transactions

The Secretary recalled the action taken at the Governing Board meeting on March 24, 1956, authorizing the sale of the present Institute building for not less than $275,000 and the purchase of the property on East 45th Street for not more than $295,000.00. Immediately thereafter a real estate broker was engaged to finalize the transactions and, in a few weeks’ time, he succeeded in bettering our position by $40,000.00. The present property was sold for $300,000 and the 45th Street property was bought for $280,000.00. The Institute is to take possession of the new property sometime between November 1 and December 27 of this year and we must give possession of our present property by June 1, 1957. This will give us a minimum of five months to remodel the new property and it is believed that should be adequate if planning is done promptly and carefully between now and November 1. An architect has already been engaged is working on plans.

The transaction involved many details which the Secretary reported briefly. Since the Institute is a membership corporation under New York State law, a court order must be obtained before the sale of the present building can be completed (this has since been obtained). Because of the terms of the purchase and sale, there will be a time between December 1 of this year and June 1 of next year when the Institute will have something over $120,000 tied up in the deal. We have enough funds in surplus to handle this or our banker has offered the money on a short term loan. Approximately $250,000 is expected to be needed for remodeling and moving and a fund-raising campaign to obtain that amount was authorized at the last Board meeting.

Mr. Astin raised a question about insurance protection on the present building and recommended that it be adequate to protect against any possible loss before title is transferred to the new owner. The staff promised to investigate. (Insurance coverage subsequently found to be $300,000.00.)

4. Fund-Raising Campaign

The Director reported there had been much discussion about how the fund-raising campaign should be organized and who should be included in the necessary committees. On recommendation of several people, the staff had had several conferences with a professional fund-raising organization but both the staff and representatives of that organization had finally come to the conclusion that we should tackle the job ourselves. The services of such a fund-raising organization would cost somewhere between $25,000 and $50,000 without appreciably reducing the manpower that the Institute would have to supply for the job.

The Director then asked for comments from Committee members on the whole problem and there followed a lengthy discussion in which many suggestions were made and noted by the staff for future guidance. One of the conclusions was that, instead of seeking only $250,000 for a building fund, we should also consider the other immediate needs of the Institute and launch a campaign for larger funds to provide for all these needs. It was agreed that the three most important problems now facing us are: (1) Recruitment of more young people into careers in physics, (2) Expanding the publishing program in the field of physics to provide better coverage for fields not now adequately served, and (3) Adequate housing for the Institute’s future operations. It was agreed that for the building alone we need $250,000 and that for the whole program we should seek a total of $500,000.00.

The Director emphasized the importance of obtaining the services of some well known physicist who would head the drive, help organize the necessary working committees, and help in the preparation and distribution of solicitation and it was the consensus that the most effective time to start would be about the middle of September but that much work would have to be done before then in perfecting the organization and preparing the needed literature. A number of individuals who might be asked to head the drive were suggested for consideration by the Chairman. The Director also reported that, in consultation with the Chairman, a meeting was being planned for June 13 to which a number of prominent industrial research directors were being invited with the intention of telling them about the Institute’s plans for fund raising and obtaining their advice on ways and means.

The subject was left with the understanding that the staff would work along the lines suggested in preparing an appeal and obtaining effective assistance with the hope that a complete program could be prepared and ready for consideration by the Executive Committee at a meeting during the summer.

5. Society of Exploration Geophysicists

The Secretary reported that the Optical Society had formally approved the admission of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) as a Member Society of the Institute on April 4, 1956. At its meeting on April 25, 1956, the American Physical Society considered the matter but postponed action and appointed a committee consisting of Messrs. S. K. Allison, J. Bardeen and A. O. Nier to make a study and submit a recommendation to the Council in November. On May 10, 1956, the Council of the Acoustical Society went on record that it strongly favored approval of SEG membership but, on recommendation of the Secretary to await possible further advice from the Institute, agreed to delay final action until its meeting in June.

The Chairman said that the Physical Society Council seems to be concerned about the admission of SEG because its size would give it large representation on the AIP Board and this might eventually result in a change in the character of the Institute.

Then followed lengthy discussion and the following statements are believed the represent the consensus of Committee members:

  1. The Executive Committee still believe that the admission of SEG is in keeping with the original purposes of the Institute and would react to the benefit of the Institute.
  2. The proposal of SEG membership has brought to light the fact that the bylaw formula covering Member Society representation on the Institute Board is now outdated and should be changed. Representation should be more nearly proportional to the size of the Society but no one Society should dominate the Board regardless of size. A new formula should be worked out by the Director and Secretary and presented for consideration at the next meeting of the Executive Committee.
  3. SEG applied in good faith for membership in the Institute under the provisions of the present bylaws and SEG membership should be acted on by the Member Societies in similar good faith. A bylaw change on Board representation requires the same procedure for adoption as is required for admission of SEG to membership.  Some appropriate bylaw change should be proposed to the Governing Board by the Executive Committee as soon as possible. SEG and the Member Societies should be advised that the bylaw change may soon be formally proposed but the Member Societies should be encouraged to act on the SEG membership application under the provisions of the present bylaws.
  4. Every effort should be made to furnish the Member Societies and any investigating committees which they may appoint with all possible information and assistance to help them arrive at a decision regarding SEG membership. To this end it may be desirable for the Institute to arrange a meeting between members of the SEG Negotiation Committee and representatives of the governing bodies of Member Societies.

6. New Journals

The Chairman reported that President Wigner of the Physical Society was very much concerned about the publishing problems in physics and had appointed a committee of which he and Mr. Goudsmit were members to make a far-reaching study. Communications among members of the committee have brought forth a number of proposals. Several new journals devoted to specific fields such as mathematical physics and fluid physics have been proposed. Others have proposed that physics articles be divided into two types, one type to be articles of moderate length presenting research results representing definite advances in physics of interest to all physicists and the other type being longer articles presenting details of research of importance but of more limited interest. Several journals, particularly for the second type of articles, might be required.

Then followed general discussion in which the Director pointed out that the Institute is very much interested in the thoughts of the Physical Society regarding publications and suggested that the Institute should have a committee of its own working in parallel with the Physical Society committee. Groups of Physical Society members and other have developed interest in starting new journals for special fields of physics and have come to the Institute for advice and cost information. Private publishers have indicated intentions of starting various physics journals and the Institute should try to determine whether such journals will result in long-range good to physics and whether they should be encouraged or discouraged.

After some further discussion it was agreed that it would be well to encourage expressions of opinion on the subject from more physicists and that this might be done by articles in “Physics Today”. It was also agreed that the Institute should appoint a committee to study the publishing problems in physics and the Chairman recommended that Executive Committee members come to the next meeting with suggestions for the membership of such a committee.

7. Appointment of Committees

The Secretary pointed out that, unless specific terms had been set for them at the time of appointment, all committees and representatives were automatically discontinued as of the time of the last Governing Board meeting. On authority granted at the last meeting of the Governing Board, the Executive Committee then proceeded to study the present needs and various appointments were made. Attached to these minutes is a list of committees and representatives appointed for the current year.

The staff was instructed to write letters of appreciation to those who had served as committee members or representatives during the past year.

There was some discussion of student sections in which Mr. Knowles reiterated his opinion that copies of “Physics Today” should be distributed individually to members of student sections rather than mailed in bulk to the secretary of each section. He said the Institute needed to strengthen its ties with students and this would be one way of doing it at no great cost. The staff promised to investigate and take some action.

8. Subscription price on “The Journal of Chemical Physics”

The Secretary pointed out that subscription rates on “The Journal of Chemical Physics” have not been basically changed since 1950 when the present non-member subscription price of $15 was set. Since then costs have increased and the number of pages has been increased from less than 1,700 to an anticipated 2,600 pages in 1956. It was pointed out that, for each $1.00 increase in the subscription price, approximately 200 more pages could be published. After some discussion of the editor’s desire for a larger page budget the following motion was made, seconded and passed without dissenting vote:

MOVED that the annual subscription price for JCP to domestic non-members be increased to $18, effective January 1, 1957, and that subscription prices to others and back number prices be increased proportionately.

9. Election of New Associates

It was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the following organizations be elected Associates of the Institute:

  • Norden-Ketay Corporation
  • Texas Instruments
  • American Viscose Corporation
  • Hewlett-Packard Company
  • Varian Associates
  • Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (replacing Missile Systems Division)

At 12:25 p.m. the meeting adjourned for luncheon and reconvened at 1:45 p.m.

10. Management Survey

The Secretary reported that, although the final report from A. T. Kearney & Company had not yet been received, conversations with their investigators indicated they would recommend a number of changes in our circulation handling procedures and also that they would strongly urge additional administrative personnel for AIP. The Secretary said he and the Director had expected these recommendations and planned to look for a capable young man to take over management of the office. Also it is planned to continue the services of the management consulting firm to assist in putting the new procedures into effect. The Executive Committee voiced no objections to these plans.

The Secretary said the report of the management survey was to be delivered on June 1 and will be presented at the next meeting of the Committee.

11. Teaching of Physics in Secondary Schools

The Secretary called attention to the action taken at the last Board meeting referring this subject to the Executive Committee. The Director said he had talked with Mr. Harry Kelly of the National Science Foundation and with representative of AAPT and that meetings were planned for June 6 and 7 for the purpose of setting up some plans for action. Employment of a full time man to direct the activity will probably be required and substantial funds will be needed. It is hoped that an outline of the program will be ready for presentation at the next Committee meeting.

There followed some discussion in which Mr. Sawyer pointed out that mathematics teaching in high schools is also a serious problem. Mr. Astin called attention to a committee on the training of scientists, recently appointed by President Eisenhower, and said AIP activities should be coordinated with it and efforts of others on this general problem. It was recognized that many proposals are being made and many organizations are interesting themselves in the shortage of scientists and that whatever we do should be carefully planned so as to avoid unfruitful duplication.

12. Next Meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting of the Committee should be held on Saturday, August 11, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:20 p.m.