Over the years, the HGS has grown significantly. The Society’s annual budget now exceeds $1,000,000. The organization has expanded its office space and now has three full-time employees. From September through June, there may be as many as six monthly meetings organized by the Society. HGS continues to print a hard-copy magazine style monthly Bulletin. In addition, HGS now organizes at least two conferences each year, with international participation, as well as a number of short courses. The Society continues to be active in guaranteeing the future of our science and profession by supporting two funds which grant undergraduate and graduate scholarships. We also continue to support the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston, as well as Earth Science Week each year, and have approved a contribution toward an endowment that will guarantee long-term survival of the Science Fair. The Society also maintains several members’ social programs, such as the Tennis, Golf, and Skeet tournaments, as well as Guest Night.
As HGS moves forward, it has a number of key challenges. As President, I recognize that there are at least two major challenges that the incoming Boards will need to address over the next few years. The first is membership growth and the need to shift the demographics of the Society. Earlier this year, we had a very successful drive to recover lost members. In 2013, the change in the Society’s website introduced a number of problems in accepting payments. Members became frustrated and did not renew. The website problem, which has been corrected, resulted in a “loss” of more than 2000 active members. The good news is that more than half have returned. The bad news is that we still lost a significant number of our members. New member applications remain steady each month, but could be significantly greater, especially as the “Great Crew Change” begins to increase its pace and the need increases for members that are new to our profession.
Future Boards will need to take on the challenge of finding a way to entice the young professional to join HGS. This will require a fresh approach to this challenge that has persisted for several years. The second challenge is a matter of ensuring that the volunteer pool is renewed. Many of our committees have been chaired and staffed by the same volunteers for multiple years. Although they continue to do an exceptional job, we cannot expect that this will continue indefinitely. Ensuring succession plans for committee chairs and committee membership will be high on the list of the 2014-15 Board’s work. They will need to ensure that new people volunteer and that they are successfully mentored, making sure that the job responsibilities and work plans for each committee and position are documented. If HGS lacks an informed volunteer pool to run an activity, that program may disappear. Your vote for the HGS officers is the first step in ensuring that these programs move forward and that the key challenges for the Society are overcome.
The new members of the AAPG House of Delegates (HOD) will also have some key issues to deal with as the AAPG examines its future. The AAPG shares some of the same problems with HGS, such as membership, and others that result from its international footprint and the need to provide products and services to a global membership pool with the associated overhead costs. A number of governance issues will be presented to the HOD for debate and approval. These proposals could change the future of the organization. Individuals will need to consider how the various proposals may impact the overall organization and not just their own individual circumstances. The individuals we select for these positions will need to be those that we trust with the future of the AAPG as it enters into a time of potential transition.
Once again, let me ask that you read about the candidates and vote with an understanding that the future of two organizations rests with that vote. Remember “elections have consequences,” even those of professional societies.
Also, remember to join us this month at the George R. Brown Convention Center for the AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition. It will be an opportunity to maintain, develop, and expand those all-important professional networks and to continue our education. A review of the technical program suggests that it will be outstanding.
Until next time...