From the President - June 2014

From the President - June 2014

Some Closing Thoughts

This, my final column, has been something that I have both been looking forward to and dreading. I have been looking forward to this last column because those mid-month deadlines will be gone. I have been dreading it because my opportunity to communicate with you, the HGS membership, will be ending as will my term in office. I have had thirty opportunities to present my thoughts, views, and opinions as Editor and President. For those of you that have been reading my columns, I know from the occasional comments received that my “three legged stool” of volunteerism, mentoring, and continuous learning has hit home with at least some. My column has also be a place where I have written about the need for change.

I looked at the need for change in HGS to accommodate how our professional and home lives have changed over time. I did not and do not suggest change simply for its own sake. But I remind you that arguing to keep things as they are for the sake of tradition or because that is always how it has been done is often a way to remain in our comfort zone, whether or not it is just or worthy. Change is not easy for most of us, but is something that must occur for organizations such as HGS to continue to thrive into the future. To the small number of you that have been fighting so hard and vocally against change, I respectfully ask that you redirect your energy from fighting change to remolding the organization and consider how the organization may best be served. Remember that in most cases the needs of the many do out-weigh the needs of the few.

I would like to look back a bit and thank those that have helped and contributed. There is always a danger in this. Someone may be left off the list and take offense. Therefore, let me begin by apologizing to those not specifically mentioned, there are only so many words that I am “allowed.”

This past year’s board implemented many changes, which I believe will build a strong foundation for others to build on. Most of the changes have been mechanical and are unseen by the membership, but there are others that were very visible. They were all necessary to make us a more business-like organization capable of paying our bills, maintaining our office and permanent staff, and recognizing those individuals that have positively impacted the Society and geology. Through the hard work of a few handfuls of individuals, we have become an organization that is self-sustaining financially rather than an organization waiting for the next cash injection from hosting an AAPG Convention in order to cover our operational costs. This has provided the Board with an increased opportunity to invest in the future, with donations to the Houston Science and Engineering Fair and to both our undergraduate and graduate scholarship programs, as well as AAPG’s Imperial Barrel Award program.

This financial freedom has largely come about as a result of the two successful technical conferences — Geomechanics and Mudstones. I cannot thank enough the organizing committees and especially Frank Walles. His approach has brought to the Society top-tier technical programs and has made these conferences selfsustaining. Several of those involved will be recognized by the Society (see the awards citations in this month’s Bulletin).

Our permanent staff of Sandra Babcock, Troy Fearnow,and Jill Kimblehas also been an integral part of this year’s success. They worked hard to deal with our membership rosters, identifying a large group of “lost” members and recapturing them. As a result of their actions our membership hovers around 4000. They have also been engaged with the details of each of our events, whether it was a monthly meeting, technical conference, social activity, or AAPG Convention. Special thanks must go to Sandra in her role as office director. She has been my sounding board, cheerleader, and corporate memory.

The Board this year was quite engaged. I would like to list all of their accomplishments, but I can only cite a few. Mike Erpenbeck altered the way our finances are presented to the Board. No longer were we simply checking what the balances were of our various accounts but we were looking at trends and projections of income and expenditures. The picture he presented each month allowed us to get ahead of the curve. Mike Demingdid a look back on meetings and began the process of revamping the cost structure and meeting schedule. John Dombrowski finalized our transition to the new website and attempted to herd the group of cats, also known as the Houston delegation of the AAPG House of Delegates. Bryan Guzmanpresented a view of the young professional and as expected it was often very different from those placing a capstone on their career. Beverly DeJarnettensured our involvement with AAPG’s technical program through short courses and field trips. The three HGS-sponsored events not only provided learning opportunities but contributed to our bottom line. Ken Nemethwas instrumental in our review of the Society’s awards. He helped search out the history of the awards and aided in our course correction, making sure that all deserving were recognized. Awards and honors are quite important to an organization such as HGS because they let our volunteers know how much they are appreciated. And, Mike Forlenza returned to the Board through appointment to take on the thankless job of Editor. He chased down content, including mine, and assembled a monthly Bulletin that we can all be proud of.

And finally, there is one special person to thank, my wife, Terry. She continues to be my sounding board often reminding me that it is not only what you say and write but the tone that is important. She has been and continues to be my editor. This began with my dissertation and continues with these columns. She has always been an advisor helping with many difficult decisions as well as being a calming influence. But most of all she has been patient and forgiving. The time that I spent at meetings, handling society business, or even writing these columns has been hers. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I have typically closed with “...until next month”, but there is no next month for me so let me simply say I thank you all for the opportunity that you have given me to serve. But I can assure you that unlike old soldiers, I will not simply fade away.





Barry Katz
Sunday, June 1, 2014
From the President