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Executive Committee of the American Institute of Physics

Minutes of Meeting

February 1, 1958

Members Present: J. W. Beams, S. A. Goudsmit, W. C. Michels, R. A. Sawyer, M. W. Zemansky

Absent: Frederick Seitz, Chairman; A. V. Astin; H. S. Knowles

AIP Staff Present: Elmer Hutchisson, H. A. Barton, Wallace Waterfall

Mr. Sawyer, as Chairman pro tem, called the meeting to order at approximately 8:30 a.m.

1. Purchase of Adjacent Vacant Lot

The Secretary reported that negotiations to purchase the vacant lot immediately east of the Institute had about been completed and attorneys were drawing up a purchase contract. The owner had originally asked $55 per square foot or a total of approximately $225,000 for the lot. He had finally agreed to sell it for $165,000 or approximately $40 per square foot. Our real estate broker and others consider this as a very fair price for the property. The owner is unwilling to take $10,000 for an option to purchase the property but is willing to take $10,000 as a down payment on a purchase contract with the balance to be paid on or before July 1, 1958. Previous action of the Executive Committee authorized the officers to pay not more than $10,000 for an option to purchase at not more than $200,000.00.

Believing it was best not to disclose the identity of the purchaser, our broker has indicated to the owner that the purchaser is an out-of-town organization closely identified with the Institute and that the Institute will guarantee performance of the contract. Mr. Erf of Cleveland, Treasurer of the Acoustical Society, has agreed to sign the contract in the name of the Society if it appears necessary to continue this ruse through the negotiations. The Institute will put up the money and guarantee performance of the contract and it will be assigned to the Institute after the down payment is made. The $200,000 mortgage which the Institute holds on the old property on 55th Street is payable on June 10, 1958, and this should provide ample funds for the purchase of the lot. The mortgage of approximately $120,000 on our present property is not payable until May 1, 1960.

In answer to a question, the Secretary said that the staff had not yet given much consideration to what would be done with the vacant lot in the immediate future. If revenue from the parking concession which now uses it is more than enough to pay the taxes, the concession will probably be continued. Otherwise, we will probably start proceedings immediately to have the lot exempt from taxes and our attorney anticipates no difficulty.

After brief discussion the following motion was made and passed without dissenting vote:

MOVED that the officers of the Institute be authorized to proceed with the purchase of the adjacent vacant lot in the manner proposed.

2. Settlement with IBM on Fourth Floor Lease

The Secretary reported that, since vacating the fourth floor last December, IBM had difficulty in subleasing it. Their lease expires on December 22, 1958, and current plans of the Institute do not indicate that we could a new tenant a lease for more than one year from that date. On January 22, 1958, IBM was still obligated to pay the Institute for approximately eleven months’ rent, a total of approximately $15,100.00. The Institute pays $1,180 per year in taxes on the fourth floor and the occupancy status on January 25, 1958, determined the taxability for the next tax year. The Secretary reported that, after considerable negotiation, he had agreed to accept $7,000 from IBM to cancel the remaining portion of the lease. The Institute is now free to lease the space to others or to seek immediate tax exemption and hold the space for the use of the Institute. The staff intends to take the latter alternative but we can change our minds after a few months if it appears desirable to do so. Due to some conditions encountered during remodeling, our occupancy permit provides for occupancy of the entire building by a single tenant. We have been led to believe the permit can be changed by proper proceedings but this will be unnecessary if we keep the floor for our own use.

After brief discussion a motion was made and passed without dissenting vote approving the action taken by the Secretary in cancelling the lease and authorizing the officers of the Institute to use their best judgment in deciding on future plans for occupancy of the fourth floor.

3. Future of the Institute’s Education Program

The Director recalled that Messrs. Gale and Kelly and their secretaries had been employed for the current year on a temporary basis on special education projects for which funds had been provided by the Ford Foundation and the National Science Foundation. Mr. Gale’s project and his employment will terminate on August 31, 1958, and he will return to Grinnell. Mr. Kelly has indicated willingness to remain with the Institute if he is given reasonable assurance of employment on our general education program for a period of at least several years. He has already had two years leave from his position in Pittsburgh and feels that he must either return next fall or resign.

The Director then reviewed the funds which will be available for continuation of the education program after the middle of 1958 and stressed the importance of making this a continuing activity of the Institute. The cost of continuing Mr. Kelly and staff, with appropriate charges for office expense and overhead, is estimated at approximately $23,000 per year. Available funds from existing grants, from extra payments of Corporate Associates to support educational work, and from the $30,000 set aside by the Institute to be used over a five-year period for education projects will provide enough to carry Mr. Kelly’s office through the balance of the 1958 calendar year. The Institute has applied for and expects to receive from NSF funds to continue the Visiting Scientists Program next year and this will carry a part of the expenses of Mr. Kelly’s office. At least a half dozen other projects are in preparation for which grants will be requested and probably received. With this prospect of funds for indefinite continuation of the Institute’s education program, the Director recommended that, without specific commitment to Mr. Kelly, the Executive Committee declare it intention to find funds for continuation of the education program and urge Mr. Kelly to continue with the Institute on that basis.

There was some discussion of the desirability of continuing one man in the Institute’s education program for too long a period because of the possibility that he would lose contact with the teaching profession and thus become less effective. The following motion was made, seconded and passed without dissenting vote:

MOVED that the Institute establish a permanent Education Department at an estimated cost of approximately $25,000 per year and that the headship of the Department be offered first to Mr. Kelly with long range commitment.

4. Tools for Science Program

The Director described a proposal which had been made by Walter Baird to provide laboratory equipment for approximately 500 educational institutions which have substantial science departments. The plan would provide for the purchase of $24,000,000 of laboratory physics equipment over a three-year period. The institutions benefitted would put up half of the money and the other half would come from places such as the Research Corporation, the Sloan Foundation or the Rockefeller Foundation. These organizations have already been contacted but their interest in the project is not yet known. It has been suggested that the large sums required for such a project might become available if some going organization were set up to handle them and actually conducting a pilot operation. It has been estimated that $150,000 per year for a period of three years would be sufficient to establish the organization and start some pilot activities. It has also been suggested that AAPT might request the funds and contract with AIP to establish the organization.

In the discussion which followed it became evident that the idea behind the proposal, although still quite nebulous, was looked upon with favor by the Committee members present. It was the consensus that the Institute staff should continue negotiations.

The Director also mentioned a pilot project which had been suggested by AAPT for furnishing undergraduate teaching equipment to three colleges. This would involve a budget of approximately $60,000 for a three-year period and it had been suggested that a grant for this purpose be sought from NSF. It was the consensus of the Committee that the Director should use his own judgment in proceeding on this pilot project but it was recommended that he proceed with caution in view of the reluctance of some private foundations to put money into projects which have received initial support from Government agencies.

5. Report from Committee on Publishing Problems

Mr. Barton reported that the subject Committee had met on the preceding Wednesday and had discussed and approved in principle a comprehensive research program on physics publishing problems which he had presented to them. He then outlined the program which contained the following facets:

  1. Compilation of information on the growth of the physics profession, the literature of physics, and funds for the support of physics research.
  2. Study of the coverage of the field of physics by present publications, present trends and future needs.
  3. Financial studies of trends in production costs and sources of income.
  4. Examination of journal production procedures and factors affecting publication schedules.
  5. Comparison of different processes of printing and reproduction.
  6. Study of indexing methods, their adequacy and cost.
  7. Study of abstracting.
  8. Appraisal of the present and future need for English translations of physics research reported in less generally known languages.
  9. Review of the present status of new and rapid methods of recording, sorting, recalling and distributing information.
  10. Review of studies on the manner in which information sources are used (or could better be used) by physicists in their work.
  11. Study of the need for critical review articles, how they may be obtained and where they should be published.

Mr. Barton explained that to make progress on these various studies would require some staff members assisted by various advisory committees and consultants. If very thorough investigation of some of the subjects seems desirable, operational research groups might be employed. It had been estimated that a three-year budget for such a program would require a minimum of $120,000 and the figure might be much higher if operational research groups were involved. Conversation with NSF representatives had indicated they might be interested in a program of this type.

After some discussion of the program presented the following motion was made and carried without dissenting vote:

MOVED that the purposes and general plan of the proposed research project on publishing problems be approved and the staff authorized to proceed with a request for the needed funds.

6. Associate Member Societies

The Secretary pointed out that several societies have expressed interest in the “Associate Member Society” class of membership provided in our new Bylaws and it was necessary for the Institute to decide what financial arrangements should be made between the Institute and an Associate Member Society. The new Bylaws provide that the Institute may enter into a service contract with an Associate Member Society, presumably similar to the contracts with present Member Societies. The Secretary suggested that the first question to be decided is whether all members of Associate Member Societies should receive “Physics Today” and, if so, what the Associate Member Societies should pay the Institute for this privilege. He said that the staff officers had considered this and other problems and recommended that the following statements be adopted as Institute policy in drawing contracts with Associate Member Societies:

  1. Associate Member Societies shall contribute to the support of the Institute either $400 per year or $.50 per member per year, whichever is larger.
  2. “Physics Today” will be sent to all members of Associate Member Societies without additional charge.
  3. Services such as the publication of journals, collection of dues, etc., shall if requested, be performed at Institute cost plus 15% overhead.

Then followed discussion during which the various reasons for the staff recommendations were explained in detail and the following motion was finally made and passed without dissenting vote:

MOVED that the policies recommended by the staff for the drawing of service contracts with Associate Member Societies be approved.

7. AIP Role in Publishing English Translations of Russian Books

The Director explained that Chairman Seitz had requested that this subject be added to the agenda and that it had also been discussed in some detail by the Institute’s Advisory Board on Russian Translations which had met on the preceding day. After considering the subject and learning that NSF would probably be interested in subsidizing the publication of English translations of certain important Russian physics books, the Board recommended that the Institute request funds for and undertake the publication of such English translations if commercial publishers might be willing to handle the book from there on. The Board agreed to investigate the various Russian books which should be published in English translation.

After some discussion by Committee members the following motion was made and carried without dissenting vote:

MOVED that the recommendation of the Advisory Board on Russian Translations be accepted and the Institute staff authorized to seek funds and make contractual arrangements for the translation and publication of books chosen.

8. Request From NSF for Assistance in Obtaining Staff Help

The Director reported receipt of a letter from an officer of NSF inquiring whether the Institute could assist them in obtaining staff help from various colleges. Although the Institute is appreciative of the problem and would like to be of help, it was the consensus of the Committee that the plan proposed was unrealistic.

9. “The Role of Physics in High School”

The Director exhibited a dummy and preliminary copy for a new brochure under preparation entitled, “The Role of Physics in High Schools”, and indicated that he intended to look for funds outside the Institute for a large printing of this brochure.

The meeting adjourned at 10:40 a.m.