From the President - December 2014

We are in the middle of October. UT has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Dallas; Baylor won the basketball game against TCU with 24 unanswered points in the last 11 minutes; Ole Miss and Mississippi State are angling for a showdown at the end of the season. It has been a strange fall sports season as even my alma mater (Albion College, Michigan) played basketball, winning 77-22 this past weekend (October 11)! But October means that it is time for the December Bulletin and allows me some more time to ponder.

There is much to write about as the season for giving approaches. There was the GCAGS Convention the first week in October; the Earth Science Week and Whiskey Bridge Field Trip after that; and by the time this is published there will have been the FallEducation Conferences and the Sally Ride Festival. I hope that you were able to attend and enjoy some of these events.

Christmas is a time for giving. HGS is fortunate to be able to give. The society gives to its foundations; the Gulf Coast IBA (Imperial Barrel Award) event; Outstanding Students; HMNS Summer Interns; and a recognized K-12 earth science teacher. We have agreed to commit $50,000 over five years to help establish a foundation to guarantee the financial future of the Houston Earth Science Fair. We are fortunate to be able to do these things because a dedicated group of long-serving volunteers have made such events as the African Conference, Mudrocks Symposium, Legends Night, and AAPG Annual Conventions financially very profitable and rewarding for HGS. It’s time to give those volunteers a rest and to give the next generation of leaders a chance to develop. I urge the young professionals and NeoGeos to discuss these career  development opportunities with your managers and work with them to allow you to participate in a bigger way inside HGS. It’s never too late (or too early) to give now so that you can receive later. AAPG/SEG held their Student Expo in Houston at the same time as the Africa Conference in September. I haven’t seen a report on its success. However, it has been growing each year and has attracted students from as far away as Hawaii in the past!

I mentioned the GCAGS Convention in early October. This meeting took place in Lafayette and was well attended. There were several interesting sessions and John Jordan has returned with several possible talks for future HGS events. The Ethics session was well attended and several HGS speakers (Matt Cowan, Glenn Lowenstein, and Rusty Riese) made presentations. There was a highly condensed (maximum f looding surface??) presentation on fracking from AAPG Distinguished Lecturer Don Clarke that should attract a large crowd if we could have it in Houston.

As HGS President, I represent the society at the GCAGS Boardmeetings held twice each year. In addition to conducting Board business, the presidents from the 13 Affiliated Societies present reports about their recent activities. HGS is fortunate to have a longer “corporate” memory with GCAGS than many of the smaller societies. I am always surprised when I attend one of the GCAGS Board meetings and an Affiliated Society president states that he “didn’t know that” or “no one told me”. In many respects GCAGS is a multi-society version of HGS. If you don’t actively participate you don’t know what is going on. And GCAGS is undergoing some changes just like HGS has experienced this year. For the next portion of this month’s column I’d like to review some significant information that came out of this year’s annual GCAGS Board meeting.

•AAPG has 15 Affiliated Societies in the Gulf Coast. AAPG includes the Everglades Geological Society (which failed to complete the requirements for GCAGS affiliation by never attending a Board meeting) and the Florida Association of Professional Geologists (which to my knowledge has never sought affiliation with GCAGS). GCAGS recognizes 13 Affiliated Societies which are located in Florida (1), Alabama (1), Mississippi (1), Louisiana (4), Texas (5), and Mexico (1). The Mexican Society, AMGP, comprises 8 local societies of its own.

•Any member of an affiliated society is a member of GCAGS. AAPG members can claim membership in a section other than where they receive their mail. GCAGS elections are carried out by AAPG. Therefore if you are a GCAGS member, but not an AAPG member, you may miss out on voting and announcements. The differences in membership reported by AAPG for the Affiliated Societies and what the Affiliated Societies claim can vary by a few hundred people and they are definitely not one for one. I don’t know if the Everglades and FAPG vote for Advisory Council representatives, but perhaps they do.

•As we have learned since 2005, GCAGS has had some “minor” difficulties with its convention schedule. These conventions are the primary source of income for the Section. Profits from the convention are split 35% for the host society and 65% for the Section. The host society does not bear any loss if such should occur. HGS has been the beneficiary of many successful conferences and conventions. Unfortunately because of the recent convention attendance and cancellation issues that have occurred along with the “wonderful” certificate of deposit rates, GCAGS has had to make some difficult financial decisions. They are cutting back on the faculty and student grant programs. There may be some difficult decisions to make about grants next April. They have done away with several travel grant or support programs that Affiliated Societies and grant  winners were not using. They have had to reduce the support that they provided to the IBA contest. They are still supporting the Owen R. Hopkins Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award. The winner of this award is typically the GCAGS candidate for the AAPG Teacher of the Year Award.

•Three years ago GCAGS began producing a peer-reviewed publication (the GCAGS Journal ) with papers solicited from those submitted in the “Call for Papers” for the convention. Barry Katz will be the editor for the Journal for 2 014 -17. GCAGS is considering separating the Journal from the convention to increase the number of papers that might be submitted and allowing more time for the review process. I will see if Barry will write something for the HGS membership after he completes his Nominations Committee duties.

•Steve Hill, the long-time GCAGS Treasurer, has announced that he is stepping down after the 2015 convention in Houston. Steve has served as GCAGS Treasurer for more than 10 years. The primary bank accounts  have been handled out of Houston and the associated Finance Committee members are here in Houston. Although the treasurer does not have to come from Houston that seems to be how it has worked. (SWAAPG’s treasurer always seems to be from Midland for similar reasons.) This is a tremendous opportunity for an HGS member to step forward and make an impression on the Gulf Coast Section.

•Kate Kipper will be stepping down by year’s end as Executive Director for GCAGS. Kate has served GCAGS for 10 years. Dallas Dunlap, Chairman of the Continuity Committee, has begun a search. Currently the Director resides in Austin because of the available facility space in the BEG. However, as with Steve, this is not necessarily carved in stone. Unlike Steve’s office, this is a salaried position.

•Affiliated Societies present their reports during the lunch period at the Board meetings. I always find it intriguing to learn what the societies do for scholarship and community outreach. Back in 2009 when I was conducting surveys for the GCAGS Continuity Committee I was struck by the amount of money given for scholarships, teacher support, and faculty and student grants. As a group, more than $134,000 is annually provided to students by the GCAGS and its Affiliated Societies. Houston has outstanding programs for community outreach, but we are lagging behind several of the other societies in our furthering of the Maps and Bones in the Schools programs.

If you’ve got a penchant for organization and education, these HGS programs could sure use your leadership and participation. I sometimes wonder if writing about something causes change. In my October “Look Back in Time” I recounted our office locations and staff history. It was quite a surprise to receive letters of resignation from our Office Director Sandra Babcock and Web Master Troy Fernow after that issue went to press. As President of the Houston Geological Society I want to wish them both success in their future endeavors. Their efforts in support of HGS operations are greatly appreciated. The Board welcomes Andrea  Peoples as our New Office Director. Andrea started on October 20. HGS has also hired Brittany Davis-Morris as our Web Manager effective November 10. She will be handling web questions, password resets, helping with reservations, and examining ways for us to make better use of Dianna Phu’s social media information. Please welcome Andi and Brittany to HGS. Stop by the HGS office to introduce yourself and say hello. HGS is  now up to 15 employees in its history. To my knowledge we don’t have any plans to move offices even though I wrote about those locations in October also.

The General Lunch meeting is coming back for the spring. All the meetings will be at the Petroleum Club. I hope that you had a chance to participate in the NeoGeo Etiquette Dinner in October. It offered HGS members a final look at the Houston skyline from the club before it moves to its new location. Speaking of skylines, you have to get an HGS mouse pad! It displays the Houston skyline across the top with space for notes at the bottom. When the notes are full, tear off the page and use a “fresh” mouse-notes pad! I picked mine up at the HGS booth in Lafayette.

Don’t forget Legends Night next month! Not only will we be honoring HGS scholarship winners; we will also have a chance to mingle with participants from past IBA events. This is the perfect opportunity to “corner” your favorite young professional and share a dinner with them. Remember, giving now enables you to receive more later in return. Participation in HGS is an investment in your professional development and ensures the future of our Society.


Monday, December 1, 2014
From the President