April 23-24, 2004
College Park, MD
Members Present: Dick Peterson, President; Ken Heller, President Elect; Harvey Leff, Vice President; Jim Nelson, Past President; Mary Beth Monroe, Secretary; Chuck Robertson, Treasurer; Randy Peterson, Chair of Section Representatives; Chuck Stone, At-Large Member for Two-Year Colleges; Ruth Chabay, At-Large Member for Four-Year Colleges; John Roeder, At-Large Member for High Schools; Karl Mamola, Editor of The Physics Teacher (TPT); Jan Tobochnik, Editor for the American Journal of Physics (AJP); Bernard V. Khoury, Executive Officer
Guests: Warren Hein, Carol Heimpel, Valerie Evans, Maria Elena Khoury, Fran Smith, Steve Iona, Jim Stith, Judy Franz
1. Call to Order and Welcome. Dick Peterson called the meeting to order and welcomed all those attending the meeting.
2. Approval of the Agenda.
3. Approval of the January 2005 Minutes. D. Peterson asked members for substantive corrections to the January 2005 Minutes, adding that members should give typo errors to Monroe outside the meeting, if they had not already done so. J. Nelson asked that the Minutes reflect the rationale for listing PER Dissemination as last on the Board’s priority ranking of the AAPT strategic planning initiatives.
Nelson moved that the Board accept the January 2005 Minutes as corrected and J. Roeder seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
4. Executive Session 2 (without Executive Officers). D. Peterson called the Board into Executive Session 2 for the purpose of approving the Minutes of the Executive Sessions of the AAPT Executive Board during its January 2005 meeting. He explained that it was important that the Board review the wording of the motions it had passed regarding the search for the Senior Staff Physicist and actions associated with the search for a new Executive Officer before discussions of these in Executive Session 1.
5. Executive Session 1 (with B. Khoury and W. Hein). D. Peterson subsequently called the Board into Executive Session 1 to discuss Items addressing the Executive Officer Search Committee and Senior Physicist Timing/Process.
(Following the adjournment of Executive Session 1, D. Peterson called the Board into
6. Report from the Winter Meetings Task Force. Following the Board’s discussion of the report from the Meetings Task Force in January 2005 (See Board Minutes, January 2005, Items 11 and 36), D. Peterson asked Iona to work with a subset of the Task Force and some members of the Board to formulate, from the Task Force’s twenty general recommendations, specific action items addressing AAPT Winter Meetings. The special Committee met on Friday preceding the Board meeting. Iona distributed a written summary of this meeting, explaining that the examples cited were from his notes. Attending the Friday meeting were S. Iona, Harvey Leff, John Roeder, Ruth Chabay, Jan Tobochnik, Warren Hein, Carol Heimpel and Bernard Khoury. Iona noted that the committee membership had not included a member from the presidential cycle who would have first-hand experience with the complete meeting cycle and the representation may have been a little slanted toward four-year institutions.
The Committee proposed four recommendations for Board consideration:
In response to a question from Nelson, Iona explained that as this Committee was specifically charged with recommendations addressing the winter meetings, the Committee did not consider logistics associated with summer meetings. Nelson expressed a desire that the dates for the summer meetings be rotated if the AAPT were to have only one national meeting a year. Members of the Committee had urged moving the dates of the summer meeting to July. C. Heimpel reported that universities had become more flexible with respect to scheduling dorm space for participants and so meetings could be held earlier than August.
D. Peterson reminded Board members that if the AAPT stopped having winter meetings, many things in the AAPT routine would have to change, such as the timing for the presentation of AAPT awards. In AAPT’s history, some awards were given during the joint APS-AAPT Winter meetings held until the early 1980’s. It might be appropriate to consider this again. The Oersted Award and recipient’s lecture would be a suitable presentation for a meeting of these two groups.
Tobochnik explained the Committee took the approach that AAPT should decide what should be changed and then worry about the details of making the change. Chabay added that the Committee did not want to commit to a second national meeting, even if it were a joint meeting with APS, which according to the current structure of APS meetings would have to be a joint meeting with only one APS division. Khoury expressed that a joint meeting between AAPT and the APS April Meeting might be a remote idea for consideration. The APS is struggling with its April meeting and plans to appoint a task force to look at this meeting. Khoury suggested that the AAPT might want to puts its study and that of the APS on a common table and, if the two organizations in principle liked the idea of meeting jointly, the details could be worked out. Chabay responded that the Committee did not feel this was the way to go.
Leff explained that consensus of the Committee was that the AAPT could not sustain two vibrant national meetings a year. However, the recommended one national AAPT meeting could be a joint meeting with APS in the summer or in the winter. Tobochnik expressed reservations about the joint meeting idea, saying that it was not clear to him that putting two unsuccessful meetings together would produce a successful meeting. Khoury agreed that it was a long shot to make it work. Judy Franz (arriving during this discussion) expressed that while this was an interesting idea, she did not think it likely. She did not feel that the joint meeting would be the best way to serve the interests of the APS communities.
In clarification, D. Peterson explained that the primary concern with AAPT Winter meetings is not the slight decrease in participation occurring in recent years. The main issue is that the same people attend both the summer and winter meetings. Exhibitors would prefer to see different participants at each of the meetings. Iona reported that the Committee felt that there were some options that the AAPT could develop which would target new participants. For example the New Faculty Workshops and the Calculus-Based Physics Workshop were oversubscribed.
Khoury suggested that it would be more productive if the Board considered the report from the Committee to say that the Association cannot support two meetings a year rather than interpreting the report to say that the Summer meeting is strong and the Winter meeting is weak. D. Peterson advised that this might be the better way to go since some attendees had indicated satisfaction with the winter meeting in the survey conducted by the Task Force on Meetings. Tobochnik reminded the Board that only 10% of the AAPT membership attends these meetings.
Stone questioned if the Board would be having these discussions if both meetings were break even, financially, and what things could be done to reduce the financial losses. Iona explained that the only help would be an increase in the registration fee since the hotel costs do not impact the meeting expenses. Tobochnik said that many organizations lose money on their meetings but because of their accounting practices, the losses may not be obvious. He added that if the Association did not count indirect costs (such as staff time at meetings), the AAPT would not show a financial loss for its meetings.
D. Peterson asked the staff for their input regarding the Committee’s report. C. Heimpel said she thought it an excellent idea to move to one national meeting and additional themed meetings in a year. Maria Elena Khoury suggested that one day could be added to the national meeting that would focus on a theme, such as “lab day”. She noted that if the AAPT should have themed meetings, the Board would need to decide who would be the program chair for these. The planning for these meetings will have to be done sooner than later. The calculus-based physics conference had a three-year planning period and the departmental chairs’ conference typically requires six months.
Tobochnik responded to the last point, saying that the Committee had considered this and agreed that as soon as the decision was made to have a themed meeting, the chair would have to be identified. The Committee felt that the chair working with AAPT staff would require a 2-3 year planning period. J. Roeder commented that a diversity of events will require a greater lead-time in planning, particularly since the AAPT is not accustomed to organizing these types of events.
Heimpel also advised that the Board would need to consider sites other than university campuses for summer meetings if the attendance increased. She stated that the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, scheduled for the Summer 2005 meeting, is one of the few campuses that can continue to accommodate the size of the AAPT national meetings.
C. Robertson asked if the number of contributed papers was anticipated to double with the elimination of the winter meeting. Heller felt that the number would collapse since there is a lot of duplication at both meetings. Iona said the number of presentations by one person would have to be reconsidered. Tobochnik projected that the poster session would become a more viable session. D. Peterson asked the Board to remember the warning from Ted Hodapp that the AAPT will likely lose papers and publications due to the cuts in federal budgets anticipated for the next five years.
Stone asked if the change to one national meeting would cause a loss in AAPT membership and incur negative feedback. D. Peterson commented that the AAPT only has 10% attending meetings now and Tobochnik added that the meetings are already receiving negative feedback. Tobochnik suggested that if the AAPT developed quality programs for other society meetings, such as the math societies, the AAPT might successfully attract new participants. Stone liked this idea saying that that this tact could be the carrot that would recruit more and new participants. Robertson cautioned the AAPT to keep physics as a theme if the themed meeting model is adopted. Leff expressed that if the themed conferences were modeled after the Gordon conferences, the inclusion of a physics topic would be insured. Chabay commented that themed meetings held with other AIP member societies, such as the Optical Society, would also help to address this concern.
D. Peterson then asked the Board what the appropriate next step should be. In response, Tobochnik suggested that the Board should take all these suggestions, along with possible ideas for topical conferences, and send them to the appropriate area committees for their consideration. Committees could be asked to develop concrete ideas for future meetings prior to the Summer 2005 meeting. During the summer meeting two topics for themed meetings could be selected and a program committee appointed for at least one topic within the following year. The Executive Office could begin to line up possibilities for collaborative activities with assistance from the Section Representatives and conversations between B. Khoury and his counterpart at other organizations. Tobochnik added that this gives Khoury something to talk about with the other organizational leaders and even if the organizations were not interested in the proposed collaborations, the Association would benefit from just having the conversations.
Heller asked if it would be appropriate to publish the essence of the Committee’s report in the Announcer and ask for input from its readers along with a scheduled date for discussion of this by the Executive Board. Tobochnik did not think that the Board would learn that much. Heller explained that he agreed that the input would probably not be productive, but the point of the published report was to inform the membership that the Board and AAPT leaders were considering a major change in the meeting structure of the Association.
The AAPT staff explained that the deadline had passed for the Summer Announcer but suggested that D. Peterson could add this as a topic for discussion within the Programs Meeting and during a cracker barrel session at Salt Lake City. Heller and Heimpel said that a short insert listing the bullets of the Committee’s report, if prepared within the next two days, could be added to the next issue of the Announcer. Leff and B. Khoury both expressed that they did not feel that the Section Reps and the area committees as organizational units needed to be polled for their input. Leff felt that the cracker barrel was a good idea and it should be added to the program.
It was agreed that D. Peterson would meet with Heller, Leff, and Iona during the lunch break to prepare a statement for the Announcer. After lunch the Board would review the crafted statement as well as consider a motion for the Board’s official endorsement of the Committee’s report. (See these Minutes, Item 8.)
7. James Stith. J. Stith, Vice President for Physics Resources at the American Institute of Physics, referred Board members to his comprehensive report to the AIP Governing Board included in the Board Packet as Item III E. He highlighted the following topics in his report to the Board.
Robertson asked why the membership in Corporate Associates had decreased. Stith explained that research and industry had changed over the years. Consequently some of the member companies were no longer in business and some of the companies had merged (e.g. ExxonMobil). There are a few member corporations outside the United States.
8. Winter Meetings Task Force. The Board continued its consideration of the report from the Task Force (See these Minutes Item 6.). J. Roeder moved that the Board endorse the recommendations appearing in the report of the Task Force on Winter Meetings, which addresses the planning of AAPT meetings in 2009 and beyond. J. Tobochnik seconded the motion. A friendly amendment was offered and accepted that the Board invite comments from the AAPT membership before action is taken by the Board regarding the Committee’s recommendations during its August 2005 meeting. The motion passed unanimously.
H. Leff presented the statement, crafted by Leff, Heller and Iona, prepared for publication in the Announcer. The statement explained the charge to the Task Force on Winter Meetings and reported the recommendations from the Task Force. Nelson moved that the Board accept the statement subject to final editing by B. Khoury. J. Roeder seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
9. PhysTEC. Warren Hein, PhysTEC CoPI, reported that the project directors had met with NSF program directors (except Ted Hodapp who was determined by the directors to have a conflict of interest due to his recent position at NSF) in a “reverse site visit” in January 2005. Hodapp, who succeeded Fred Stein as APS Education Director and PI for the project, proposed to shift the emphasis of the project to the PhysTEC Coalition (PTEC) aspect. The project’s leadership council comprised of faculty from each of the PPIs, expressed concern that Hodapp was not really concerned about the original project sites.
After the PTEC conference held at Ball State University, the project directors received the report from NSF. NSF told the project directors to pay more attention to the PPI sites and to do a better job evaluating their performance. The directors needed to show that the six-component model was working and place less emphasis on the Coalition. Subsequently the CoPIs met with Hodapp, Karen Johnston (PhysTEC’s external evaluator) and Paul Hickman to discuss the NSF report. Johnston has agreed to work with the sites as a project staff person to provide evidence that the model is working. The CoPIs, Hein, Layman, and Hehn, are happy with the turnaround in the project’s direction. However, Hodapp is still reluctant to give the leadership council a strong voice in the management of the project. The CoPIs are advising him that it is important that the council accept the ideas presented by the directors and assume ownership for some ideas. Hein concluded his report saying that down the road, the project will likely evolve into the Coalition, but for the time being, the project will concentrate on working with the project sites.
Nelson inquired about the visibility the AAPT gets at the sites. Hein explained that the teachers going through the teacher prep programs at participating colleges and their mentees attend AAPT Summer meetings and many also attend the AAPT section meetings. The project is trying to show the future teachers that involvement in professional meetings is part of being teachers. Heller asked if there was a real conflict between Hodapp and the CoPIs or was it a nuance. Hein did not think there was a real conflict and added that the relationship is much better with Hodapp than the previous PI. Hein described Hodapp as a “doer” but added that he did not understand the significance to obtaining a “buy in” from the leadership council. Hein explained that Hodapp now understands that the project cannot place emphasis on the Coalition. However, the CoPIs still think it is important to pay some attention to this aspect.
D. Peterson reported that S. Iona had shared in a written document to the AAPT presidency his concerns regarding the direction the project was taking and expressed that the AAPT might want to reconsider its role in the project. He asked Iona to share his thoughts with the Board. Iona explained that by the end of the PTEC conference at Ball State in March 2005, he sensed that the project was moving away from being a collaborative of three organizations to a project run primarily by APS. He also felt the project was experiencing a metamorphosis to the coalition and he did not know the source of the shift in direction. The project reports presented at AAPT Board meetings and at the PPIs sites presented a different description of the project. In his document to the presidents, Iona tried to explain the difference in goals for PhysTEC and PTEC. He expressed appreciation to Hein for his comments and report.
Iona concluded his comments by saying that he felt the underlying question for the Board concerns the role the AAPT can have in the PhysTEC national conference and the physics departments at the PPI sites and how this role will mesh with the roles of the APS and AIP. Nelson suggested that the AAPT activities addressing some of the issues facing in-service teachers might also be of value to pre-service teachers.
Heller asked Hein if there was a conflict between PhysTEC and PTEC or if PTEC is a normal evolution of the project. Hein explained that council has a leadership role in the project as well as the development of the coalition. The coalition is not a new idea. Heller then asked what would happen when the NSF funding had ended. Hein explained that if the participating universities did not realize the value in maintaining the TIR program after the NSF funding term, the project would have failed. Heller said he could not see how the departments can provide the financial support to sustain this effort. Hein replied that the PPIs have found the TIR programs to be valuable. Therefore the NSF is asking the project leadership to demonstrate how the six universities are producing more and better prepared teachers, making the TIR model an appropriate model for other institutions that want to improve their teacher preparation.
Subsequent discussion addressed the role of the AAPT in this collaborative now and in the future. Hein explained that AAPT’s visibility will be linked to the publications resulting from the project and the alternating conferences that will continue in the long term. In addition AAPT will continue to have a strong presence of teacher preparation within its meetings. The AAPT has given about 13 $500 grants to sections to support their local special teacher preparation activities. Hein suggested that the Board might want to ask for more accountability from the awardees and encourage a dialogue about teacher preparation at the section level. He added that the Board might want to consider sending a statement to the NSF asking them to reverse its decision to seriously cut the funding of professional development grants.
Stith emphasized that the AAPT has a role as a CoPI on the PhysTEC project, but notably as a professional society with a focus on teacher preparation. The AAPT also addresses teacher preparation in other areas and activities. Therefore the Association should consider how it can inform the community about all of its activities addressing teacher preparation, not just its cooperation in PhysTEC.
Iona suggested that the Board might want to affirm its support of Layman and Hein as CoPIs to help convey that these two speak with the support of the AAPT Board. He explained that the AIP and AAPT representation did not have a strong voice at the recent PTEC meeting.
Monroe expressed a need to better inform the general AAPT membership of the goals and activities of the project and the coalition, and AAPT’s contributions to these. Hein replied that he and Layman had prepared such an article for the next issue of the Announcer.
Hein pointed out that while the PPIs have funding from the NSF (approximately $100 K); the coalition members are not funded. This was done because the project leadership did not want the coalition members to think of themselves as PPIs. B. Khoury explained that some institutions may have mistakenly thought that members of the coalition would also receive $100 K, which was given to each project site. He stated that the project issues to be resolved are at what point the coalition should be made very visible and how the coalition would be tied to the original PhysTEC project with its six PPIs. He added that the PhysTEC sites will provide a core of useful information by project’s end.
10. Judy Franz. Judy Franz, APS Executive Officer, in her introductory remarks, explained that Helen Quinn, President of the APS, had recently expressed in her long-range plan that the APS should work with the AAPT. This statement surprised Franz because she believed that the associations were already doing this. Therefore Franz prepared a list of joint APS/AAPT activities currently underway, which she distributed to AAPT Board members for review and discussion. She stated that the two associations needed to think how they would continue support of these. As Franz read the list she highlighted some for comment. The list and comments follow.
Franz asked the Board for advice concerning the Task Force on Graduate Education in Physics. She explained that the chair was not providing the leadership the task force needed. D. Peterson expressed that he felt the recent report from the chair was good. Although not yet pubic, D. Peterson agreed to send B. Khoury and Franz copies of the report.
Franz reported that following a meeting between J. Nelson and Ted Hodapp, Jim and Jane Nelson presented a PTRA workshop at the APS April Meeting in Tampa, Florida. Nelson encouraged APS to continue this practice.
Franz reported that several large projects were associated with WYP. She felt that the WYP commemoration was having a large impact and was receiving a lot of publicity. She said that discussion and decisions were needed regarding what should be done in follow-up to the WYP.
In her additional comments, Franz noted that she had not listed the ST-PER journal as a joint activity between the APS and the AAPT. She also encouraged the AAPT to improve its lobbying to members of Congress. She explained that the APS could have arranged for the Board members to visit Congress the day before the Board meeting. Franz also asked for the AAPT’s cooperation in preparing a statement on creationism and enlisting the help of other sciences in the development of the statement. Franz concluded with a request for the AAPT Task Force on Winter Meetings to work with the APS Task Force on the APS April Meeting.
In response to a question from Stone, Franz expressed that AAPT members could lobby Congress to reverse the downward slope in NSF funding for education. She explained that the APS could help the AAPT set up a letter writing campaign during its Summer meeting in August.
APS members can login to the APS web site at any time and sign previously prepared letters to Washington, or they can prepare their own. The letters change as the lobbying issues change. As soon as the members’ login, the APS software package identifies the congressional representatives for each member. AAPT members who are also APS members can use this service. Franz said the software could also be extended to the AAPT database. In response, AAPT Board members said that they might want to consider arriving a day early for its October meeting. Heller suggested that since students have a stronger impact on Congressmen, each Board member might want to consider bringing a student with them for one day.
11. Report from the President. D. Peterson reminded the Board that he had distributed by email a report of the APS Forum on Education.
12. Report from the President Elect. Heller handed out copies of the events planned for the August 2005 meeting in Salt Lake City. He reported that the paper sort with help from Leff and three invited area chairs (committees for undergraduate education in physics, two-year colleges, and teacher preparation) had been successful. 355 papers and 120 posters were submitted. Heller explained that he had visited the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City and found it to be a good site for a summer meeting, especially the dorms. The AAPT staff has arranged for a larger space for the poster presentations and the meeting program and publicity are featuring the posters more. Some poster sessions have been scheduled without parallel paper sessions and the staff has arranged to have some food available during the poster sessions.
Some experimentation is being conducted with sessions and meetings of the area committees. The plenary sessions will feature many Nobel laureates. A joint session with APS is planned. Some plenary sessions will include audience participation. The Melba Phillips memorial session will have five speakers. Special attention has been given to organizing very attractive sessions for the full day Wednesday, with the hope that fewer people will leave the meeting early. Area committees can provide sodas and although the committees were given the option of providing lunch for participants, many chose not to accept this service. The awards presentations will be given on different days.
In response to a question from D. Peterson, Heimpel reported that pictures of the award recipients would soon be posted on the AAPT website.
13. Report from the Vice President. Leff distributed handouts listing the suggested sessions from area committees and other sources. He asked the Board for their input on these. He inquired if any plans had been made regarding the AAPT’s 75th anniversary. Khoury reported that that an AAPT staff committee was planning some events. The Women in Physics committee was also planning a special session commemorating the role of women within the Association. A suggestion was made that J. Roeder and Bob Morse ought to prepare a special activity for the Ben Franklin commemoration. Following a short exchange of additional ideas, Leff asked the Board to continue to share their ideas with him outside the Board meeting.