TPT 50th Anniversity book - page 27

It was coincidence that brought two major
AAPT offices to the campus of the State
University of New York at Stony Brook in the
early 1970s. I had been on the faculty there
teaching physics since 1966. In 1972 I accepted
the honor of serving as AAPT executive officer
with the understanding that I would continue
to do some teaching and that an expanded
version of my university office would become
the AAPT Executive Office.
Let me be honest and admit that the biggest
part of my new duties was handling money.
But I did have responsibility for making sure
that our two journals,
The Physics Teacher
American Journal of Physics
, were high
quality, were produced on time and within
budget, and that the editorial offices had the
resources to make this all possible.
It helped that the editor of
was Clifford
Swartz, my Stony Brook colleague with an
office one floor below mine. Cliff was a man
of enormous creativity and impeccable taste.
He successfully solicited the kind of articles
that he knew would be of interest to his
readers. Soon it was no longer just a journal
for high school physics teachers; it became a
journal read by many of our college teacher
members and purchased by nonmembers
interested in teaching.
There were, of course, other people who
contributed to the excellence of the journal.
My list will not be exhaustive but will include
those with whom I had frequent and positive
interactions. Lester Paldy, once a Stony Brook
undergraduate and later a successful high
school physics teacher, was hired by Cliff to be
associate editor of
. That this was a wise
choice is confirmed by the other roles that Les
was asked to serve on the campus: instructor
of physics, dean of continuing education,
professor of public policy, and distinguished
service professor. His contributions to
and AAPT are too numerous to recite.
Another important cog in the smooth
operation of
was Art Ferguson. She
managed the Stony Brook office and handled
negotiations with the publisher, the American
Institute of Physics in New York City. Of course,
columnists make an important contribution to
any journal. Two
columnists I admired
were Herb Gottlieb on “Apparatus” and Mario
Iona on “Would You Believe…?”
All the above should not be construed to
mean that my interactions with the
and his staff were problem-free. Because
our ultimate responsibilities differed, Cliff
and I occasionally clashed on some issues.
Examples: (1) Did my office assign an adequate
amount of booth space for
exhibits at the
next national meeting? (2) Should
members be paid travel expenses to attend
out-of-town meetings? (3) Is the Delaware
Valley of Pennsylvania a suitable site for a
summer meeting? As you can see, these are all
resolvable issues.
My years with AAPT were among the best of
my life. I owe it all to my good relations with
the Stony Brook administration, the AAPT
governing board, the
editorial office,
and—not least of all—Clifford Swartz and his
Arnold Strassenburg received a BS in physics from Illinois Institute of
Technology (1951) and MS and PhD degrees in physics from California
Institute of Technology (1953, 1955). He was on the faculty of the
University of Kansas and was professor of physics at the State University
of New York at Stony Brook from 1966-1998. During this time he
served in a variety of other roles, including as the Director of Education
and Manpower at the American Institute of Physics (1966-1972) and
Executive Officer of AAPT (1972-1982).
Arnold Strassenburg
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