Executive Board Minutes - October 2006 (Part 2)October 28-29
AAPT National Office
American Center for Physics
College Park, MD
Session I, October 28 (Continued)
20. Advanced Labs Initiative. During the Syracuse meeting, Van Bistrow presented the report from the Advanced Labs Task Force, which included eight recommendations. (See July 2006 Minutes, Item 28) Leff reviewed these recommendations and efforts undertaken to address these. (See iBook, pages 73-74.) Hein acquired a list of departments having upper division labs from AIP, resulting in over 200 responses from these and over 600 names and email addresses for faculty who teach these labs. The last two recommendations had not realized any progress to date:
Leff moved that the AAPT establish an award for significant accomplishments in advanced laboratory development and instruction, based upon any or all of the following: development of new experiments, innovative modification of existing experiments, construction of useful advanced labs apparatus, preparation of an advanced laboratory manual, and the like. D. Peterson seconded the motion. The proposed award would have a stipend (suggested amount was $1500) and would be presented at the annual Summer meeting. The recipient would give a 30-minute presentation illustrating the lab development on which the award would be based. Equipment manufacturers would be given the opportunity to sponsor the award. These possible sponsors include TeachSpin, Daedalon, Pasco, Spectrum Techniques, Vernier, TEL-Atomic, and Klinger Education. Leff added that each award could carry the name of a notable experimental physicist.
In discussion of the motion, Chabay said that it seemed odd to give an award just for labs and suggested that this award could be combined with another award, with an appropriate charge to the selection committee. She added that she was also considering the difficulty in scheduling another plenary presentation. Heller then proposed that plenary presentations should be separated from awards, without presentations by award recipients. Monroe disagreed saying that award presentations help provide physics content to our meetings and in the case of the Teaching Excellence Awards, the intent had been for these recipients to share best practices with the membership. Heller then suggested that the presentations of awards could be given in a plenary session, but the presentations by the recipients could be given in parallel sessions, not plenary sessions. D. Peterson suggested that the recipient of the advanced labs award could be an invited speaker. Heller then directed that the vote on this motion be delayed. (The discussion of an advanced labs award was continued in Executive Session I on October 29 as part of a larger discussion regarding the creation of seven non-monetary awards. No definitive action was taken on this motion at this meeting.)
Heller turned discussion to the proposed creation of a visiting lab developer program. The program proposal had four elements.
D. Peterson volunteered to take this proposal to the Labs Committee, which has an advanced labs component, for their consideration and recommendation.
(Heller adjourned Session I.)
Session II, October 29
Members Present: Ken Heller, President; Dick Peterson, Past President; Harvey Leff, President Elect; Lila Adair, Vice President; Mary Beth Monroe, Secretary; Chuck Robertson, Treasurer; Randy Peterson, Chair of Section Representatives; Ruth Chabay, At-Large Member; John Roeder, At-Large Member; Dwain Desbien, At-Large Member; Jan Tobochnik, Editor, American Journal of Physics (AJP); Karl Mamola, Editor, The Physics Teacher (TPT); Toufic Hakim, Executive Officer
Guests: Karen Johnston, Jack Hehn, Warren Hein, Bernie Khoury, Roxanne Muller, Carroll Martin, Maria Elena Khoury, Bob Hilborn
21. Section-Related Issues. R. Peterson reported that by January 2007, almost all AAPT Sections should be active. The Kentucky Section has been having meetings and meetings are planned for Louisiana and Alabama. He did not believe that Puerto Rico would be energized by January. The AAPT recently granted section status to Alaska and there has been interest expressed from Mexico and Peru about applying for section status. R. Peterson said such interest has generated the question regarding how active and how large a section should be.
The retreat Planning Action Group (PAG) will be considering section-related issues that surfaced during the June 2006 Retreat.
In his review of old sections, R. Peterson said there were some flags that indicated a loss in activity. Infrequent change in presidents may indicate some internal problems. He explained that in many sections, the president is program chair. If a president has a long term, it may indicate that the section is having trouble organizing meetings and ultimately the president quits. In response to a question from Heller, R. Peterson explained that the section defines its own governance. Section officers do not have to be members of the national organization. Heller then asked if there were a way to define the term length for a Section Representative. B. Khoury said AAPT could exercise control in this by only reimbursing the Representatives for X terms. Heller concluded that the only leverage the national organization has is with the Representatives. R. Peterson pointed out that the activity of the Section Representative is not an indicator of section activity. He continued saying that section members are only marginally interested in what happens in the national organization.
R. Peterson cited another flag that tends to signal when a section is going inactive. Sections tend to invite only one or two types of teachers, either high school, two-year college (TYC), or four-year college/university (4U). He explained that the health of the section is dependent on contact with all teachers within its boundaries. In Kentucky, for example, only 50 or 60 teachers know about the section meetings. In Peterson’s opinion the national organization needs to inform the sections that they must invite all teachers. Chabay asked if the failure to invite all teachers in a section was intentional or due to carelessness. R. Peterson answered with another example. In Alabama, the section leaders were TYC faculty and they just quit asking 4U faculty, even though the meetings were held on a university campus.
In response to a question from Heller, Hakim reported that a person would be hired in the National Office who would have outreach to the sections as part of their job description. R. Peterson reported that he and Gibson were planning a Section Representative orientation for Seattle, somewhat on a parallel with the Area Chairs’ Meeting held at each Winter meeting. In addition the National Office is setting up an independent website dedicated to section communications and news as a way to showcase good practices and allow for continuous posting of event updates and reports. In response to a question from Robertson, R. Peterson reported that most Section Representatives communicate section news to the National Office.
Hehn commented that there is section literature providing some strategies. The real question to address is the self-governance of the sections. Tobochnik suggested that perhaps the national organization could decide what carrots would attract membership, maybe contributing X dollars per member to the section. Hein described two ways the National Office might help. The Office can provide email lists to sections of national members within their regions and free national membership for six months to section members. The latter would provide both national and section contact information. The availability of information regarding national membership to sections has been hindered due to the “don’t disclose to other organizations” check off item on the national membership form.
Heller asked R. Peterson for other ways that the national organization could help improve section activity and involvement in the national organization. R. Peterson suggested that the AAPT might propose some ways the local constitution and bylaws could be modified, but the AAPT must be careful not to meddle. He noted, however, that somehow most copies of the section constitutions have been lost and the Chairs of the Section Representatives have unsuccessfully tried for many years to obtain new copies. D. Peterson reminded the Board that Section Representatives are supposed to submit an annual report to the Secretary. Monroe explained that she had only received one annual report each year during her term as Secretary and that was from the same Section Representative. She explained that a few Representatives had recently expressed that they thought their reports to the Announcer constituted the annual report, which they do not.
B. Khoury stressed the diversity of personality and range in how the sections perform. Their dispersion is more significant than their average performance. He then reminded the Board that Hakim had prepared a motion regarding sections, which was posted in the iBook. Hakim moved that the AAPT charge the Section Representatives with a self-study of section governance, starting electronically and leading to a comprehensive report and recommendations to the Board by April 2007. The study should address communication among sections and with the national organization, participation and leadership in AAPT’s activities, including member recruitment and governance. D. Peterson seconded the motion.
Hehn explained that when you look at the section literature, you find that 20,000 section members believe they are also national members. He pointed out that AAPT does not want to separate these from the 10,000 members who do pay national dues. The AAPT needs to figure out a way to build a relationship with the 20,000 who do not pay dues.
D. Peterson said in reference to the motion that the issues related to sections are too big for PAG to adequately address. Heller proposed that a group charged with conducting the self-study be brought to ACP for a meeting. R. Peterson thought this would add a layer of professionalism. Hakim advised that it was important to be mindful that we need to speak with one voice, and if there are 47 sections, it is important to consider them. Chabay voiced support for the meeting at ACP. D. Peterson advised that the members of the self-study group should have clout and the experience to make things happen. If other important people are needed, then the AAPT should provide the money to bring them in as well. It was agreed that R. Peterson and Hakim would identify the members of the self-study group.
R. Peterson stressed the importance of sections to the Association. Many of the 47 Section Reps have served on national AAPT committees, some as chairs, as well as other positions of leadership within the organization. He also pointed out that sections have 100-300 members at section meetings. That collectively is a large attendance.
Heller called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Robertson reported an item related to sections. He has asked Gordon Ramsey to determine if there is a template for international sections. Robertson said there is a man in Sweden who is proposing a meeting in Europe every other year so as not to interfere with the biannual GIRUP meeting.
22. Update on Planning. Hakim reported that the second phase of the planning process was underway. PAG (Chabay, Desbien, Gibson, D. Peterson, and Hakim) was conducting its first planning session in conjunction with the Board meeting. The focus for their first meeting was on organizational vision, values, and impact goals. Additional meetings are planned for December, January and March. PAG will seek input from various groups between their meetings. The planning goal is to produce by the April 2007 Board meeting a strategic framework that will guide the Association over the next 6-12 years. At the time of this Board meeting, PAG had two reviewers (Don Langenberg, Chancellor Emeritus and Professor of Physics and of Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland, and Neal Abraham, Provost and Dean of the Faculty at DePauw University) ready to work with them in the planning process. Hakim said that PAG was realizing progress.
Karen Johnston is serving as Senior Physicist Advisor for Planning throughout the six-month process. She will assist in research and material development, facilitate communication among members on issues of planning, and advise the Executive Officer on the mechanics of the process and on all issues related to planning as needed.
Roeder moved that the Executive Board adopt the resolution prepared by Hakim. The Executive Board commends Karen Johnston on her efforts to date in support of AAPT planning and express its gratitude, on behalf of the Association and its members, for her valuable assistance and continued work on this planning initiative. This Board is enthusiastic about the prospects of a new strategic framework for AAPT and will provide the leadership necessary for its consideration and adoption. Robertson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Johnston expressed her thanks and her surprise.
23. Increasing Number of Physics Majors. Hakim reported that the Board will have an item on its January agenda concerned with an initiative originating within the APS Board to double the number of physics bachelor degrees. He has volunteered AAPT’s involvement in this area, but it is not yet clear what our role would be. Hakim is hopeful that a suggestion will be forthcoming that the Board can adopt in January. Hehn advised the Office to involve Hilborn as Senior Fellow in this effort. He added that this idea came from NSF-EHR.
24. Senior Fellow for Middle and High School Programming. Hakim proposed that the National Office continue the practice of bringing in leading physicists and physics educators of high caliber on a regular basis to spend blocks of time on special projects. The arrangement has been successful in the past, more recently with the hiring of Charlie Holbrow as Senior Staff Physicist to develop and implement special activities targeting universities. In July the Board authorized the hiring of Bob Hilborn as Senior Physics Fellow to build on the work begun by Holbrow. Hakim described future efforts to be addressed by Senior Fellows as developing workshops for high school teachers, focusing on public policy issues, two-year college programming and practices, and physics education research.
At this time, Hakim moved that the Executive Board endorse the concept of Senior Physics Fellow and charge the National Office with recruiting the next Senior Fellow for Middle and High School Programming. This Fellow would develop workshops for new school teachers of physics or physical science in the mode of New Faculty workshops, in addition to follow-throughs and identification of good practices. The approved 2007 budget provided for the salary and travel support of a part-time Senior Fellow. Adair seconded the motion.
Heller spoke to the timeliness of this action, explaining that there is a lot of tension around the country concerning curriculum. Hehn also pointed out that many states are adding another year of science to the requirements for high school graduation. D. Peterson asked the National Office to collect and provide this information to Board members. Heller opined that this Fellow might be charged with this task. Monroe asked why the next Fellow was slated to address middle and high school issues. Hakim explained that it was to implement the National Office’s goal to develop high school workshops.
The motion passed unanimously.
25. Symposium on Physics Education. Hakim explained that he planned to organize the first Annual Symposium on Physics Education at the January AAPT meeting in Seattle, with subsequent symposia occurring at each Winter meeting. Such symposia may grow and could also be held in the nation’s capital or other venues as appropriate. Hakim’s idea is to build a theme around a datum or a set of data published by the AIP Statistical Center.
Hakim explained that the AAPT annual meetings provide an excellent opportunity to energize the membership around issues of common interest and even mobilize some action or a series of actions in response to these issues. In the open collection of papers presented at the AAPT meetings, there should be time made available to discuss models, trends, and concerns relating to physics teaching and education that transcend individual classroom, college, and school regions. It is important for AAPT to hold public forums on broad topics in physics education and physics education policy at the macro level.
For this first symposium Hakim was in the process of assembling a small advisory group (including Bob Hilborn) to help him organize the event. The theme will be
Peak enrollments in physics at schools and colleges
Why? Is it a trend? If so, how do we sustain it? What’s next?
The format for the symposium will be a three-hour forum with a lunch plenary. The proceedings will be published online and a position statement will be generated and adopted for dissemination and further action.
Once the advisory group has been assembled, they will seek external funding for the symposium. Hakim concluded that the timing was short but felt the timing was right.
He asked Board members to share any ideas they have with him.
26. AAPT-AAS Meeting. Adair, Program Chair, predicted that the Winter meeting would be a fantastic meeting. In preparation for the joint meeting, Adair attended the AAS Summer meeting in Calgary to observe how their meetings are organized. In addition, Carol Heimpel, Hakim, and Adair conducted a site visit to Seattle in September. They visited the conference hotels, the convention center, and the University of WA campus. At the campus they met with the department chair, Lillian McDermott, Daryl Pedigo, and others who will actually coordinate the AAPT workshops on their campus.
The three Area Chairs who helped Adair and Heimpel with the paper sort for the meeting were Rachel Scherr (RIPE), Janelle Bailey (Space Science and Astronomy), and J.D. Garcia (Undergraduate Education). Special events for this meeting include
Changes in the format and organization have been made in preparation for this joint six-day meeting with AAS; these include paper session strands, flyers to public schools, and time allotments for papers. Adair explained at this meeting all presenters will be required to give slides/power point presentations to a technology person at the beginning of the sessions. This person will control the delivery of all media presentations. This will eliminate the down time between papers due to a switch in media and computers. Adair said that AAS has had a lot of experience with this format. Chabay observed that the short talks at Seattle might work because the AAPT is meeting jointly with AAS, even though this format was not successful at Syracuse. AAS and other professional organizations have the technology expertise to accommodate a timeless switch between papers.
Adair commented that this tech support was also used at the international meeting in Tokyo, but with student help. Chabay thought that at future meetings of the AAPT the local physics faculty should provide such tech help. One thought had been to ask SPS students to help, but Hehn stressed that we don’t want to treat students at our meetings as hired help. Hakim added that another thought for future meetings is broadcasting or web streaming the sessions.
27. Externally-Funded Projects. Hein reported that AAPT has active grant funding for six projects: currently managing three, partnering on one, and in the closing phase for two. Bob Hilborn submitted another grant in 2004 for funding to support a series of regional workshops as a spin off to the SPIN-UP project. For some reason the grant was never reviewed by NSF. The AAPT will resubmit this proposal with input from NSF regarding how we should best proceed. (Also see these Minutes, Item 28.)
The PTRA project is winding down. The AAPT is looking for funding to sustain the activities, possibly through NSF-MSP. However, the funding may not be at the current financial level.
Three efforts are being developed that will seek external funding: Physics Talent Search (NSF); Discovery Research K-12 (NSF); and New School Physics Teacher Workshop (Private). (Descriptions of these three are listed in the iBook, page 84.) Hein indicated special attention for the first effort.
The AAPT has been encouraged by Beverly Berger at the MSP Division to submit a proposal to continue the Physics Talent Search program that was started in connection with the World Year of Physics 2005 and culminated with a conference in Taiwan in December 2005. Hein said the Talent Search promoted physics but did so through the arts and other disciplines. An international effort currently underway is being led by Beverly Hartline who led the organization of the first Talent Search in 2005. The NSF has an interest in this continuing effort. Hein met with Andy Gavrin, coordinator for the U.S. WYP2005 Talent Search, and Berger to develop an effort to involve the U.S. students, using the framework used in WYP2005.
Hein commented that although the U.S. got a late start in the 2005 Talent Search, it was successful because it brought international communities together. Hakim explained that this type of program does not fit into the AAPT’s current strategic program and maybe it is the funding that is driving us. We will need to evaluate this to see if it fits into our agenda. Heller advised that the AAPT has an opportunity to direct this effort in the right way.
Hakim moved that the Executive Board approve the submission of the Physics Talent Search grant proposal to the NSF. Roeder seconded the motion. The proposal requests funding in the amount of $661,237 for a three-year project. The motion passed unanimously.
28. College and University Programming. Bob Hilborn is delighted with his new role as Senior Fellow for the AAPT. He credited Holbrow for the work he accomplished while serving as Senior Staff Physicist initiating the way for the Senior Fellow program. Hilborn is committing 10% of his time in the Fall as Fellow and will then commit 25% of his time from January through August 2007. Over the holidays Hilborn will complete a move from Amherst College to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Hilborn briefly provided an update on his activities as Fellow.
1) During the SPIN-UP project, NTFUP recognized questions that needed to be further addressed that concerned the engagement of underrepresented students in physics programs. A framework was prepared on how to proceed with this study. Currently the HBCU planning group is doing a SPIN-UP survey of HBCUS. Only 30 such institutions have physics programs. The task force will study the results of the survey and highlight what the successful schools (approximately 7-8) are doing. The group met October 20-21. Jim Gates will head up the planning task force for this effort and he will be joined by Quinten Williams and Steve McGuire. Jim Stith and Hilborn will be ex officio consultants. Others will join the effort. The planning group will develop a proposal to fund the study and it is anticipated that the proposal will be ready in late Spring, with a startup of the study targeted for late 2007 or early 2008.
Hilborn said in parallel with this effort the group will consider what support could be provided to other HBCUs to help them more effectively engage underrepresented students. Adair asked if the planning group would like to give an invited paper at the AAPT meeting in Greensboro since this coincides with the theme of that meeting. Hilborn replied that it was too soon but that he could advertise these efforts. Chabay asked why the effort did not also include HSIs. Hilborn replied that such efforts were being given some thought, but he explained that the issues associated with these colleges are different. The effort focused on HBCUs is extremely focused and short term. He added that while the effort is a focus on the department some effort might be extended to working with Hehn on the student focus.
Additional activities will include the establishment of a website early on. AAPT will be the fiduciary agent for the proposal. A report of these activities will be made to the Minorities Committee in Seattle.
2) In follow up to the topical conference on Teaching Relativity to Undergraduates at Syracuse, another topical conference is planned for Greensboro. This conference will address computational physics. The conference is being planned for 50 participants but the organizers want to appeal to several different audiences: those who do the work and those who translate the results into curriculum.
3) Hilborn will attend a meeting of department chairs in the Midwest November 4. He knows the members from the days of SPIN-UP. He noted that these are research chairs. During this meeting he proposes to be a fly on the wall but will report on AAPT activities. He expects 30 or so chairs to attend this meeting. Hilborn explained that if AAPT wants to strengthen our interactions with them, it is important that AAPT representatives go out onto their turf.
4) A second graduate TA Forum will be held in the Boston area November 10. Afterwards, Hilborn will meet with Holbrow on this to get his sense of what we might do next in the series of activities.
5) Hilborn will be giving thought to future topical conferences. Possible topics include advanced labs, biophysics, and core graduate program courses. He asked Board members to share additional topics with him. D. Peterson suggested that we need to cross link New Faculty primary areas of interest to these special topical conferences being set up.
6) Hilborn will be conducting an analysis of growing undergraduate physics programs. This effort is a correlation of SPIN-UP activities, AAPT/APS workshops, and PKAL.
7) Hilborn will be involving the AAPT with one of his activities. A weekend meeting, inspired by David Gross, addressed how theoretical physicists conduct research at undergraduate institutions and how they engage students in their research. There is interest in doing another meeting, possibly in the Summer 2007. Hilborn is going to try to involve the AAPT in helping them to better understand this issue.
8) The meeting of research department chairs last June focused on systemic reform in undergraduate physics. The chairs’ meetings were initially organized by Carl Wieman. The meeting generated a lot of interest. Hilborn will continue to work with them. At least if AAPT has a minor role, over the years it will generate useful interactions.
Heller reported that he had observed a lot of disconnect among the participants. B. Khoury said that Wieman had organized a conference of elite chairs five years ago. In his opinion this meeting of department chairs was not a spin off of Wieman’s efforts. It occurred to him, however, that one agenda item for him, as EO Emeritus might be to determine what role AAPT could have in Wieman’s efforts. Heller said that some failed efforts addressing systemic reform were reported at the chairs’ conference. It was good that these were aired but these need to be addressed.
9) A new item that Hilborn will be working on is the development of a department chair’s handbook. While the book will have the AAPT brand on it, he will work with APS. Hilborn has a person in mind to work with him on this.
10) Another activity that Hilborn will be pursuing is a spin off of the SPIN-UP project. A proposal was submitted to the NSF requesting funding for a series of workshops to enhance undergraduate physics programs, but it was never reviewed. Hakim met with Duncan McBride and learned that the submission had not been shepherded. However, the proposal will be resubmitted in January.
Hilborn reported that Roman Czujko has amazing data on the increase of students majoring in physics. He wants to identify departments that can help show the correlation between these data and the ones visited by the SPIN-UP site visit program to determine if the successful departments were impacted by SPIN-UP. Hehn added that another issue to be considered is the three year average. It will take six years to determine if change has occurred. Hilborn said they would continue to monitor the data.
29. Physics First. Physics First is a curriculum approach in which physics is taught before chemistry and biology. The AAPT has adopted a statement about Physics First, but the statement merely acknowledges that Physics First is an experiment that needs to be monitored and assessed to determine its success. B. Khoury reported that there are several different opinions regarding this curriculum. He feels this difference is a strong reason for the AAPT to energize the dialogue through forums and discussions on Physics First.
One strategy that will be implemented by the National Office is the development of a blog site – PhysicsFirstForum.org. The office is in the early stages of launching this. Khoury reminded the Board of the web site set up by Barry Feierman on Physics First. Another strategy proposed by Khoury is for Physics First to be one topic for the first Symposium on Physics Education.
30. Report from the Vice President. Adair asked the Board to read her report in the iBook, page 89, concerning her visit to the ICPE 2006 Conference held in Tokyo in August 2006. This year’s theme was “Physics for All”. She noted that AAPT could have said a lot of the same things about our findings in our country. The proceedings from the conference will be posted online in the near future.
31. Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS). Hehn reported that there is a new group on the spectrum of public policy, which has had an impact on the understanding of science. He noted that COPUS has a large number of biologists and ecologists as its drivers. However, he feels that as AAPT forms a public policy committee, this is a way for the Association to plug into a community with whom it is not easy to connect. Hehn believes that AAPT could have an influential role in this young organization and therefore in public policy.
32. Report from the Secretary. Monroe reported that the Board had acted on three electronic motions since its last meeting in Syracuse. These are listed below:
Monroe reported that she had completed the appointments to the Pubs Study Committee charged with reviewing the current job description of the Online Publications Editor and to recommend members of the search committee for an Online Publications Editor. The members of the Study Committee are Charlie Holbrow, Chair; Roger Stuewer; Bob Beichner; and Rob Headrick. The Committee will present its report and recommendations to the Publications Committee in January 2007.
33. Executive Session II (without Executive Officers). Heller convened the Board into Executive Session II.
34. Executive Session I (with the Executive Officer). Heller convened the Board into Executive Session I to consider the creation of new non-monetary awards and reactions from the Board concerning Hakim’s special address to the Board.
35. Adjournment. At the conclusion of Executive Session I, Heller thanked the members and adjourned the meeting.
Mary Beth Monroe, AAPT Secretary