My years at AIP

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29 May 2015

Since becoming AIP’s fifth chief executive on April 1, 2007, I have enjoyed communicating regularly with members of the AIP community and our many stakeholders through this weekly newsletter. This is my farewell column to the readers of AIP Matters. After having the privilege and honor of leading the institute for the last eight years, I turn over this responsibility to a distinguished colleague, Dr. Robert G.W. Brown, who becomes AIP’s new chief executive officer on Monday, June 1, 2015. 

During my tenure, I have worked closely with AIP’s board chair, Lou Lanzerotti, and many board members to manage significant change in AIP’s publishing operations and to help guide our recent changes in governance. When I joined AIP’s leadership team, the total number of staff was nearly 500, with the majority of staff supporting AIP’s publishing activities in Melville, NY. We were fortunate to attract the leadership of John Haynes in 2009 to bring about the necessary transformation of this important function, guided by the board. In 2011, AIP renewed its commitment to its original publishing mission and phased out publishing services to non-member societies, so that the institute could focus on its own portfolio and on the journals of its Member Society publishing partners. Two years later (in February 2013), the board spun off AIP Publishing as a wholly owned subsidiary to optimize the governance of this essential AIP resource. Under John’s leadership, AIP/AIP Publishing also adopted best practices in journal production and online hosting, and has taken a leadership role in the development of industry standards. 

As CEO, I devoted a significant portion of my time to working with various stakeholder groups to advocate for, help define, and put in place pragmatic public access policies that both broaden access to unserved communities and protect scholarly publishing. The public access movement has made steady progress in recent years, as the US government and other governments began to mandate public access to published works that result from federally funded research. AIP has played a central role in enabling constructive, inclusive dialogue among stakeholders and developing tangible measures in collaboration with the greater publishing industry to help drive this change. CrossRef’s FundRef identification service and CHORUS are perhaps two of the most visible of these initiatives. 

I came to AIP with a strong personal commitment to promote the value of science through AIP and Member Society outreach activities. Through the talents of Catherine O’Riordan, whom we hired in 2008 to manage AIP’s Physics Resources, we have seen AIP’s suite of outreach activities grow and complement many related activities of our Member and Affiliated Societies. As a federation of ten very different societies, AIP has the opportunity to facilitate multi-society activities—not always the easiest of tasks given the very different makeup and cultures of our Member Societies. Yet we have welcomed the challenge, knowing that the community only stands to gain by our collaboration.

The evolution of AIP’s four-year governance journey, which led to the board’s unanimous vote in March of 2014 to restructure and downsize the institute’s governance, has established a much more nimble and engaged board. I sincerely thank Lou and the members of the Governance Special Committee for their leadership and willingness to pursue the most significant change in AIP’s governance in its 84-year history. 

AIP is currently in a very healthy state—our finances and financial model enable both stability and the ability to strengthen and evolve our products and services to our many customers, from the individual members of our Member Societies to the public interested in science. 

It has been an honor for me to serve AIP and the physical sciences community as CEO of AIP. I have been fortunate to work with remarkable AIP staff members, AIP’s board, its Member Societies, and the scholarly publishing community. I have developed relationships with colleagues and have made strong friendships that will be lifelong. Thank you all for the wonderful opportunity, and please join me in welcoming Robert Brown to AIP.

 I have helped deliver significant and healthy changes for AIP’s structure and function, but my particular role as a change agent is drawing to a close. I have great confidence in AIP’s new CEO, Robert Brown, who will take full advantage of our competent staff, our energized board, and our many partners to lead AIP in its next epoch.