Executive Committee of the American Institute of Physics
Minutes of Meeting
October 26, 1956
Members Present: Frederick Seitz, Chairman; A. V. Astin; E. Rodgers; R. A. Sawyer; M. W. Zemansky
Members Absent: S. A. Goudsmit; H. S. Knowles
AIP Staff Present:
H. A. Barton; W. Waterfall; M. M. Johnson
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 8:40 a.m.
The minutes of the meeting of August 11, 1956, were approved as circulated.
2. Progress on New Building
The Secretary explained in some detail the progress to date in preparing the remodeling of the new building. Preliminary plans have now been filed with the New York City Building Department and architects and engineers are now working on details. A contract has been signed with the Otis Elevator Company for a new elevator costing approximately $27,000.00. After considerable investigation, James E. Mitchell and Son, Builders, are about to be selected as the general contractor on the basis of cost plus a fixed fee of $15,000.00. Preliminary cost estimates for the entire job ran to as much as $300,000 and trimming is now being done to bring the job down to the budgeted figure. This is a customary procedure and we have confidence that we can get a very acceptable job within our price limits. We are encouraged by the fact that the engineers tell us the existing oil fired steam boiler will probably be adequate. Latest indications are that we will not get possession of the building until about January 1 and that just fits with our program of starting demolition in the elevator shaft on January 2.
In response to a question, the Secretary said that he understood the remodeling done by IBM on the fourth floor had cost between $15,000 and $20,000.00. The fourth floor is only three-quarters the size of the other floors and the remodeling involved only new floor and ceiling tile, new light fixtures, a relatively small number of partitions, and a unit air conditioner. Our remodeling job involves an entirely new plumbing, heating and electrical layout, new elevator and steel stairs, in addition to the floors, ceilings and partitions. The initial estimate for the mechanical equipment alone was $142,000 although we are positive we can cut this considerably.
3. Fund Raising Campaign
The Director pointed out that the first article concerning the fund raising campaign has appeared in the October issue of “Physics Today”. He said that the brochure for members had just come from the press and he displayed an advance copy. These brochures were to be mailed to all AIP members over the coming weekend and would be accompanied by a statement signed by the Presidents of all Member Societies, a short note signed by Chairman Seitz, a pledge card and return envelope. The industry brochure is to be slightly different and should be ready in about a week. It is to be mailed along with a letter from Paul Klopsteg to the presidents of a large list of corporations which should contribute. Copies of Mr. Klopsteg’s letter will be sent to various key people in the corporations and arrangements are being made by Mr. Klopsteg to have these letters followed up by personal contacts from various friends of AIP. Certain large corporations are being approached directly by Messrs. Kelly, Suits and Foote as indicated at the last meeting.
The Director said that a setup had been made within the Institute offices for handling all of the mailing of brochures and letters and for the accounting operations needed to handle contributions and billing on pledges. Close liaison will be maintained between our office and Mr. Klopsteg’s headquarters in Illinois during the fund raising drive.
In response to a question about the size of individual contributions necessary to meet the total goal, the Director gave the following figures. The goal for industry will be met if each employer contributes $60 per physicist employed. Since physicists may not always be classified as such, another figure which may be useful is $6 per professional person employed. Another basis on which contributions might be sought is $3 per million of sales. Any of these would lead to the $350,000 which we hope to obtain from industry and which Mr. Mervin Kelly has said is a reasonable amount for physics to request of industry. As for AIP members, we can reach our $150,000 goal with an average contribution of $10 per member. Of course, many will not contribute so the average contribution should be considerably higher. The average contribution to the fund with which we purchased the present building was approximately $35.00.
Then followed general discussion of various means of following up our fund raising literature to produce the best results. The Chairman suggested that “Physics Today” should be used regularly for this purpose during the next few months as well as to give members of the Institute news about progress on the new building. Members need to know more about details of Institute activities and “Physics Today” is the ideal medium for this.
4. Appointment of Committee to Handle Oklahoma Symposium
The Chairman referred to action taken at the last meeting regarding Institute sponsorship of an Oklahoma symposium. He said he was soon to discuss the matter with Mr. Mervin Kelly and with Mr. Webb of Oklahoma and would be glad to have any suggestions about topics for the symposium. Several suggestions were made in a discussion which followed. Cooperation of other organizations may be desirable and the choice of topics will be influenced by the participants. The Chairman said he would appoint the committee to handle the program after his meeting with Messrs. Kelly and Webb.
5. AIP Pension Plan
The Secretary pointed out that the action recorded in the minutes of the last meeting did not exactly correspond with the action taken at that time because the Institute’s attorney had recommended that the Executive Committee take final action in approving the new pension plan rather than delegate complete authority to the Pension Administrative Committee which was established. He had therefore revised the motion accordingly.
The Secretary said that the amount of work necessary in preparing a new plan made it impossible to put it into effect before December 1. Therefore the Institute had paid premiums for an additional three months on all the insurance policies involved in the existing plan with the expectation that the new plan could be completed within that time. Part of the delay is due to the fact that the new plan must be approved by the Internal Revenue Department and also to the fact that the details of the new plan must be explained to all Institute employees and their approval obtained for the change.
The new plan involves cashing in all of our present insurance policies (approximately $50,000) and turning the funds over to Bankers Trust Company who will act as trustee and invest the funds in conservative securities. Contributions to this fund from the Institute and from employees will continue at a rate calculated to be sufficient to pay the same monthly pension benefits to employees as provided under the existing pension plan. There will be a second part to the new plan which will involve a trusteed fund to which the Institute will contribute an additional five per cent of salaries. The total cost of both parts of the new pension plan will be not more than fifty per cent greater than the cost of the Institute’s present pension plan and this is in line with the previously expressed wishes of the Executive Committee. The new plan includes a group life insurance policy which does not provide as much insurance as under the existing plan but it is believed the be adequate.
The Secretary explained that pension benefits to employees under the new plan are expected to be from twenty-five per cent to one hundred per cent better than under the present plan. The older employees, such as the Director and Secretary, are benefitted least by the new plan but the newer and younger employees have a great deal to gain if they continue to retirement age. Most of the Institute’s present employees and all new employees have Social Security coverage in addition to the Institute’s pension plan.
The Secretary said that the Pension Administrative Committee would continue with its work and submit complete details of the new plan to the Executive Committee before requesting final action.
6. Improvement of Physics Teaching
The director reviewed the activities in this field as reported at previous meetings. He reported that the National Science Foundation had apparently changed its mind about wanting the Institute to set up some arrangement for the evaluation of the NSF Teacher Improvement Program and the $35,000 grant requested from NSF for this purpose would therefore not be forthcoming. Evidently it is the intention of NSF to arrange for such evaluation by means other than contract with scientific societies. Also the Institute has received word that NSF is not disposed to grant the $35,000 requested by the Institute on behalf of AAPT for the support of a Visiting Lecturer Program. Information received indicates that NSF feels that the latter program is more costly than anticipated although we had thought that a general understanding on this matter had been reached earlier at a conference attended by Messrs. Harry Kelly, Walter Michels and AIP officers.
Then followed some discussion of NSF grants and contracts. Of the grants requested of NSF by the Institute, most have been at the urging of NSF and the Institute if proud of its performance on the grants already made. It was the consensus that the Institute should cooperate fully with NSF by undertaking all reasonable requests but it is hoped we may have a better understanding of the wishes of NSF in the future so that we will not be put to the trouble and expense of preparing requests for grants which are not acceptable.
The Director pointed out that, in view of such projects as discussed above, he had been authorized to employ a special staff man for a period of one year at a total cost to the Institute not to exceed $20,000 including salary and all expenses. Although NSF support for part of this expenditure now appears somewhat uncertain, the Director pointed out that the problem of doing something about improving physics teaching still remains and the Institute has a responsibility to help solve this problem. In conformity with the action taken at the last meeting, an effort had been made to locate a suitable staff man and J. Ross Heverley was suggested as the best candidate interviewed to date by the Institute staff. Dr. Heverley’s qualifications were discussed by the Committee as was also the wisdom of employing a staff man for this purpose in view of recent developments. It was the consensus of the Committee that the Director should proceed on the directive given at the last meeting and employ a staff man for a period of one year. The selection of the proper man was left to the Director.
7. Status of SEG Membership Application
The Chairman reviewed what had taken place since the last meeting of the Executive Committee. The special committee appointed by the President of APS to investigate the desirability of SEG membership in the Institute had reported favorably to the Physical Society Council but the Council had decided to defer action until at least the Washington meeting next spring. It is understood that AAPT will not act before January and will probably wait for Physical Society action. In the meantime, officers of APS and AAPT had met and decided to invite the Presidents of all AIP Member Societies to name representatives to an inter-Society committee for the purpose of studying the organization of the Institute and the relationship between the Institute and Member Societies. Presidents Wigner and Michels accordingly had addressed a joint letter to the Presidents of the other three Societies.
Mr. Sawyer said that he, as President of the Optical Society, had received the letter and had discussed it with the Board of Director of that Society. It was their conclusion that the formation of such a committee as proposed was not appropriate and would not lead to harmonious results. Mr. Sawyer said he had so advised Messrs. Wigner and Michels and had suggested instead that the proposed committee be given official status as a committee of the Institute. Mr. Sawyer read the letter which he had written on the subject. The Secretary said that the President of the Acoustical Society had taken similar action and he read the letter which President Bruce Lindsay had written to Messrs. Wigner and Michels.
Then followed general discussion of the SEG matter and of Member Societies’ attitude toward the Institute as revealed by recent happenings. There will be differences of opinion in any healthy organization and such have not been uncommon in the history of the Institute. The Chairman expressed the opinion that time, patience, and better understanding of the various points of view will bring a solution to the present difficulties. In view of the fund raising drive and other current external problems of organized physics, it is unfortunate that internal problems should arise which may lead industrial leaders and those in other fields of science and technology to question the unanimity of physicists in the support of their Institute. It was the consensus of the Committee that apathy or opposition of some physicists to the Institute’s plans may be largely due to a lack of understanding of the fundamental purposes of the Institute and of the many services which it routinely performs for physics. To help correct this situation the Director said he had prepared an informative letter which he proposed to send to past and present officers of the Member Societies and members of their governing bodies. He read his proposed letter and there was discussion of it. It was finally agreed that certain changes would be made, the final draft would be reviewed by the Chairman and Mr. Goudsmit, and the letter would then be sent in the name of the Executive Committee to all officers and members of governing bodies of the Member Societies and to such other physicists as are suggested.
In response to a question, the Secretary said that Mr. Norman Ricker of SEG had been apprised of the situation regarding SEG’s application and understood that it might be a year or more before final action is taken on the SEG application. Mr. Ricker has said that he believes SEG is willing to wait.
8. Suggested Changes in AIP Organization
The Director and Secretary reported that, in connection with discussions about SEG, they had had a number of informal discussions with Messrs. Pegram, Goudsmit and others about ways in which the Institute’s organization and methods of operation could be changed so that more people could be kept better advised about the Institute’s plans and activities. The lack of adequate communication between members and management is always a problem in a large membership organization such as the Institute. The Institute management welcomes the participation of as many physicists as possible in its activities because such participation provides constructive direction to the management and results in appreciation of the Institute’s problems and needs. What changes should be made in the Institute’s organization to provide for this better communication?
There was some discussion of the above question and, in view of the letter written to Messrs. Wigner and Michels by Messrs. Sawyer and Lindsay on the SEG matter, it was the consensus of the Executive Committee that a new committee should be established. The following motion was made, seconded and passed without dissenting vote:
MOVED that a committee to examine the organization and purposes of the Institute be established and that the Chairman invite each of the Member Societies to name a representative to this committee.
In inviting the Member Societies to name a representative it would be appropriate to suggest they name someone who is reasonably familiar with the Institute’s activities and history, so that the committee may be most effective.
During the foregoing discussion Mr. Sawyer mentioned that he had heard some criticism of the Institute’s tardiness in providing supplements to the contract between the Institute and Member Societies to cover various specific services which the Institute performs. The Secretary acknowledged this tardiness and said he believed enough cost information had been obtained so that the supplements could now be drawn and he promised they would be within the next few months. Mr. Sawyer also called attention to the fact that the Editor of the Optical Society needs cost estimates in September of each year so he can prepare his proposed budget for the following year. Although it is somewhat difficult to do so with the understanding that the estimates may not be as accurate as if prepared later.
At 12:45 p.m. the meeting recessed for luncheon at the University Club, where they were guests of the Physics Department staff, and reconvened at 1:30 p.m.
9. Committee to Study Publishing Problems in Physics
Following the appointment of this Committee at the last meeting, the Secretary reported that acceptances had been received from Messrs. Condon, McKay, Mayer and Frenkiel (acceptance from Hunt received subsequent to the meeting). Since no reply had been received from Mr. Land, the Chairman instructed the Secretary to invite Mr. Baird to be a member of the Committee. The Secretary said that some question had been raised about the possibility of getting Committee members together quickly unless traveling expenses are paid. Because of the importance of this Committee to the future plans of the Institute and because of the desire to get them started on their assignment as soon as possible, it was agreed that an exception should be made to the usual policy with respect to such committees and the following motion was made, seconded and passed without dissenting vote:
MOVED that traveling expenses for members of the Committee to Study Publishing Problems in Physics be paid by the Institute, if necessary.
10. Committee to Study Institute Programs
The Secretary reported that, because Mr. Knowles expected to be out of the country for several months, he had suggested that he be replaced as Chairman of this Committee. Since the Institute now has so many activities in the planning stage, it was the consensus that this Committee might well remain quiescent for a while and no action was taken about changing the chairmanship.
11. Proposal of APS Division of Chemical Physics to Solicit Funds for JCP
The Secretary called attention to the fact that no action had yet been taken on the formal application of the APS Division of Chemical Physics (Item 8E – meeting of August 11, 1956). It was agreed that this matter is a part of the broad subject to be studied by the newly-created Committee to Study Publishing Problems in Physics and it was referred to that Committee.
12. Nomination of Representative to Science Manpower Commission
The Chairman reported that he had appointed Mr. Wheeler Loomis as one of the Institute’s representatives to succeed himself to the Science Manpower Commission for a three-year term to December 31, 1959.
13. Election of Associates
The Secretary reported that a formal application had been received from The Rand Corporation and that he understood an application from International Business Machines Corporation was on the way. Upon motion made, seconded and carried without dissenting vote, both were elected Associates of the Institute.
14. Appointment of Committees
The Chairman reported that he had named Mr. H. A. Fairbank to replace Mr. C. T. Lane for a term to June 30, 1959, on the Advisory Committee for Physics to the National Bureau of Standards. The Executive Committee concurred.
The Director said he had received a letter from Elmer Hutchisson advising that there is to be a permanent Council on Documentation Research with headquarters at Western Reserve University. Since Mr. Hutchisson has represented the Institute at meetings on this subject before and is willing to represent the Institute on the proposed Council, it was agreed that he should be named as our representative.
The Director also mentioned that in 1958 there is to be an international meeting on communication in science. The Institute is, of course, interested and will await further information.
15. Appointment of Tellers
By motion made, seconded and carried without dissenting vote, it was agreed that the Chairman should appoint tellers for the election of a member-at-large to the Institute Governing Board for a three-year term to 1960.
16. Sale of Back Numbers to Johnson Reprint Corporation
The Secretary reported that a study is being made to determine what can be done about reducing the tremendous inventory of back numbers of all journals now held at Lancaster. For all journals published by the Institute the inventory now amounts to well over one million copies. Recent studies made by Mr. Goudsmit for “The Physical Review” raised questions about the importance of keeping issues much over five years old and the increasing use of microfilms and microcards portends an eventual decrease in sales of back numbers. In the past, the Institute has authorized Johnson Reprint Corporation to reproduce and sell certain out-of-print issues of various Institute journals and Johnson has indicated an interest in taking over some of our back number inventory. At present we are principally concerned with JAP, RSI and JCP. JCP back numbers are still moving fairly well but we have an inventory of more than 75,000 copies of JAP and more than 50,000 copies of RSI, all more than six years old and moving very slowly. Our records indicate that the average cost of the RSI copies was about twelve cents and the average cost of the JAP copies was approximately fifteen cents. The Secretary said he would like to offer these to Johnson for twenty cents and twenty-five cents, respectively.
Then followed some discussion in which a question was raised about the ownership of the early RSI volumes and the Secretary said that was a matter which would have to be settled but he is principally interested in reducing the large amount of storage space at Lancaster which is used for back numbers. One reason is that the Institute is pressing Lancaster to arrange some setup whereby reprints of current articles can be produced more expeditiously. Lancaster can do something if they can find space for a separate reprint department and the whole process will be helped if some of the space now used for back number inventory can be used. After some further discussion the following motion was made, seconded and passed without dissenting vote:
MOVED that the Secretary be authorized to explore the matter of sale of back numbers further with Johnson Reprint Corporation, with a final decision to await action at the next meeting of the Executive Committee.
17. Proposal from University Microfilms
The Secretary recalled that he had previously mentioned a proposal from University Microfilms of Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the microfilming of various journals published by the Institute. University Microfilms indicates that there is a growing desire on the part of librarians to purchase microfilms of journals to which they subscribe so that they can destroy copies of the journals after a few years and retain only the microfilms for reference purposes, thus greatly reducing storage space required. To satisfy this desire University Microfilms has inaugurated a plan whereby they microfilm journals as they are issued and offer the microfilm edition only at the end of the volume year and only to subscribers to the journal. The publisher furnishes University Microfilms with a copy of each journal as issued and University Microfilms gives the publisher one copy of the microfilm of the volume at the end of the year. University Microfilms also gives the publisher a ten per cent royalty on the sales price of each microfilm copy sold to a journal subscriber. The Secretary expressed the opinion that such an arrangement would be a definite service to libraries and would not greatly conflict with the sale of back numbers by the Institute. The Physical Society now has such an arrangement with University Microfilms on “The Physical Review” and “Review of Modern Physics” and the sale during recent years has amounted to only twenty-five copies of each. The Secretary recommended that University Microfilms’ offer be accepted for JAP, JCP and RSI and the following motion was made, seconded and passed without dissenting vote:
MOVED that the staff be authorized to enter into contracts with University Microfilms for the microfilming of current issues of JAP, JCP and RSI on the basis of the above-described proposal.
The Secretary indicated that University Microfilms was interested in a similar arrangement with all the journals published by the Institute and said he would call the action taken to the attention of the Member Societies.
18. Employment of Office Manager
The Secretary said that, in line with recommendations made in the Kearney report, many prospects had been interviewed and arrangements had finally been made to employ Mr. Edward Tober as Office Manager of the Institute, beginning November 1, 1956. Mr. Tober was among those recommended by Kearney and is being employed at a starting salary within the range previously indicated. Mr. Tober is thirty-five years old, a magna cum laude graduate of NYU in Business Administration, and has had several years experience in office management with Dumont, Girl Scouts of America, and other organizations.
19. Next Meeting
It was agreed that the next meeting of the Executive Committee should be held at the offices of the Institute in New York City on Sunday, December 2, 1956.
20. “Physics Today”
The Secretary reported there had been a meeting of the PT Advisory Board on October 15 for the principal purpose of discussing how “Physics Today” could be made more useful to the Member Societies. One thing to come out of the meeting was the general agreement that PT should contain more review-type articles of high quality and it was suggested that Editor Davis be permitted to offer honoraria for such articles. It was believed that an honorarium of $100-200 per article would be effective and that an expenditure of about $1,000 per year for such purpose would be amply justified.
The Secretary recalled that the statement of operations for the first six months of the current year had shown that income from PT advertising and subscriptions exceeded the cost of publishing the magazine. This same situation continued through the third quarter and it now appeared practically certain that “Physics Today” would end the year in the black, costing the Institute nothing. Because of this favorable situation and the continued good prospects for advertising, spending some more money for PT text pages appeared to be justified and the proposed budget for PT for next year will be prepared on that basis.
Attention was called to the fact that the Institute is still not mailing individually-addressed copies of PT to members of student sections. Such individual mailing would cost about $1,000 per year and the staff had been instructed to do it. Efforts to obtain and keep up to date the addresses of members of student sections were made, but have not been successful. The students move around too much and even the faculty advisors of the student sections do not know their addresses. The Secretary said that the staff had never received any complaint about the present method of distribution and recommended that the idea of individual mailing be abandoned, at least for the present. The Executive Committee agreed.
21. Other Business
Apropos of previous discussion, it was suggested that the little brochure “What is the Institute?” might be included in some general mailing to members of the Institute or rewritten and published as an article in “Physics Today”.
Mr. Sawyer brought up the subject of mechanical translation and commented on the work that several investigators have been doing. He said that JETP had been taken as a sample and indicated that a Russian-English scientific dictionary might be one of the by-products of this work. He asked whether any of our translators might be interested in such a thing. The Secretary said that the Institute had had several Russian dictionary proposals. Consultants Bureau is now preparing one and Robert Beyer, Editor of “Soviet Physics – JETP” , has developed a substantial glossary on cards which might be used for the preparation of a dictionary.
Mr. Sawyer also mentioned that he understands there is a Russian “Journal of Optics” in which the Optical Society may be interested. The Secretary was asked to see what plans Consultants Bureau may have for translating the journal.
At the conclusion of the meeting the Executive Committee passed a motion expressing its gratitude to Eric Rodgers and our other hosts at the University of Alabama for the excellent meeting facilities and for the gracious hospitality shown to Committee members during the Tuscaloosa visit.
The meeting adjourned at 2:50 p.m.