C&E NEWS POLICY STATEMENT

Charles E. Kolb
Candidate, President-Elect 2014

It's a great honor to ask for your support as a candidate for the Presidency of the American Chemical Society. Today's ACS is a vibrant and vital organization, successfully serving many of our members' professional needs. It is also a very important source of scientific information and insight for both our profession and, properly presented, our planet's policymakers.

However, we live in a very challenging and rapidly changing world. Venerable institutions can become outmoded and increasingly irrelevant surprisingly quickly. Just think about Bell Labs, Digital Equipment Corporation, Eastman Kodak or America On-Line. 

It is vitally important that we ensure ACS's future relevance and effectiveness.  We need an ACS that will serve our current members as they deal with today's scientific and economic challenges.  But we also need an ACS that will be prepared to meet the needs of our youngest members over their (~50-year) professional lives. ACS must also continue providing a large fraction of the ever-expanding scientific information needed by an increasingly complex world. This can only be achieved by leaders who can envision what a successful ACS will look like fifty years from now, and can chart the course and start the journey to achieve that vision.

My Experience.

Shortly after I became President of the company I lead, it became clear that our “research for hire” business model was not sustainable, despite a very talented and productive staff of scientists and engineers. I devised a new strategy focusing our research on a few critical global issues, including: environmental sustainability; energy technology; and military remote sensing. I refocused our development efforts on key technologies required to address these issues.

A quarter of a century later, we're still executing a continuous improvement version of that plan.  Our company is thriving, with our research capabilities and our advanced instrument technologies in high demand.  By aligning our scientific capabilities with important problems whose solutions require fundamental insights, we have been able to expand both our skills and our revenues.

My Vision for ACS.

In my opinion, there are at least three long-term goals we need to meet to help ensure ACS's continued and expanded success:

First

We need a robust, innovative, and sustainable industrial base

ACS must work much harder to host the dialogs and help develop the strategies required for faster evolution of an agile and sustainable chemistry-enabled industrial sector, where ACS members can innovate, produce and thrive.  Newly expanded and less expensive feed stocks and energy sources have revitalized much of the U.S.'s chemical industry, but its long-term vitality will require ever more innovative and sustainable processes and products. Other sectors of the chemical enterprise, like the pharmaceutical industry, need to evolve rapidly to sustain or regain their vitality.
   I believe that the ACS can and must serve as a catalyst to bring industrial leaders together to determine how to overcome both the technical and non-technical barriers blocking more efficient, cost effective and environmentally acceptable processes and products.

Second

Our members and students need expanded understanding of chemistry's role in the world.

ACS needs to continue helping educators at all levels to effectively present the beauty of fundamental chemistry.  But we also need to help them convey the critical role chemistry can and must play to sustain and enhance our economy, security, health and environment.  ACS's education oriented staff and committees have started addressing this challenge; their efforts need to be supported and expanded, so the large fraction of ACS members who teach can be engaged and empowered.

Third

We need members prepared to seize the future.

Nearly all of the critical challenges facing our world have significant chemical components.  ACS must help our current and future members better understand how their vision and their skills can contribute to a more prosperous and sustainable future.  The fact that too many ACS members are unemployed or under-employed, while most global challenges need chemical insight and innovation to be addressed successfully, is a travesty.  ACS needs to develop more effective ways to help current and future members orient their interests and capabilities to successfully address critical problems.  ACS also needs to motivate both private and public investments to ensure resources exist to fund the science needed for progress.

Let's work together to chart the path and start the journey that can help ensure the long-term vitality and relevance of ACS by pursuing these three goals.


Chuck Kolb