Monday, February 2, 2015

Tom Connelly does not view US chemist unemployment as a challenge that ACS faces

Also from this week's C&EN, Rudy Baum talks to new ACS CEO Tom Connelly: 
C&EN: You haven’t started on the job yet, but do you have a concept of two or three of the biggest challenges that ACS faces over the next five years and what needs to be done to address those? 
Connelly: One is globalizing the reach of ACS. It is the leading professional scientific society within the field of chemistry. ACS has a tremendous amount to bring to practicing chemists and chemical engineers in other parts of the world. 
Parallel to that, the chemical industry has different needs from what it had in the past. The industry has become more globalized. Making ACS a continuing resource for industrial chemists and engineers, both those in the established markets and those in the developing world, is another area where we can have increased impact. 
Another challenge involves education in its multiple dimensions. On one level, there’s the scientific awareness of the general public. I’m cautious about making statements on that because that is such a vast problem that nobody owns it entirely. But I think ACS can be an important voice. 
In education, at the university level the U.S. is the gold standard, particularly when you talk about chemical research graduate education. We need to maintain that, and we need a steady stream of young people coming in through the K–12 system who are excited about chemistry and the chemical sciences. I think that is where ACS can play an increasingly important role. The American Association of Chemistry Teachers is a tremendous initiative. Many of my colleagues and friends talk about the high school teacher who was so influential in shaping their careers and shaping their decision to go into the chemical sciences. 
Of course, I understand the importance of the publishing businesses at ACS. They are on the right track. There are some competitive threats out there. But that’s business. There’s always going to be competition. It makes you better and keeps you on your game. ACS brings tremendous strengths to those areas. We’re the envy of the people who might aspire to compete with us. But it’s not a birthright that you’ll always have that position.
I hate to repeat myself, but it is apparent to me that high unemployment for recent B.S. graduates or recently high unemployment for ACS members is not a concern for the new ACS CEO. 

20 comments:

  1. "Lets keep pumping MORE chemists into an unsustainable ecosystem and see what happens!"

    My apologies if this is too lewd for decorum of the blog (and feel free to delete this comment if so), but I think my sentiments can be summarised thusly:

    Tom Connelly can gargle my balls.

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    1. He could, but would it make him any less an idiot?

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  2. Is this a surprise? You can easily make a career out of re-arrange deck chairs on a slowly sinking ship. (His predecessor sure did.)

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  3. Yadda yadda yadda. Piece of meaningless newspeak.

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  4. Are there more recent unemployment numbers than the ones you linked to? They're around 2-3 years old.

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    1. More interesting than the unemployment number (which won't necessarily capture people employed outside chemistry is the salary information. In constant dollars salaries have dropped pretty badly. That seems like a pretty good indicator of some combination of depressed demand or excess supply. It also raises the question of why "we need a steady stream of young people coming in through the K–12 system who are excited about chemistry and the chemical sciences." There's strong indicators that we don't need even more people entering chemistry.


      source: http://cen.acs.org/articles/91/i38/2013-Salaries-Employment.html

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  5. "One is globalizing the reach of ACS"
    Maybe someone should remind him what 'ACS' stands for. Or better yet maybe someone should buy ACS from the ACS and start a society that's actually concerned with the chemists.

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    1. I suppose it's the trend: as of a few months ago, 'OSA' is no longer he 'Optical Society of America', but rather the 'Optical Society'.

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  6. I can understand the ACS's interest in globalization. Once Americans have completely stopped entering the field (and we're getting there), it'll need someone to pay membership fees.

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  7. On the topic of ACS globalization, last week I received a cold call enrollment package from the ACS to my university address here in Canada... I will not be joining

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  8. It's the same hackneyed lines every year from the parasitic organization known as the ACS. Just rehashed words from "The ACS Strategic Plan". They need to be honest with people and tell them that there is no future careerwise in chemistry in the United States anymore. China, India and the "emerging economies"...maybe...but certainly not here anymore. Chemistry and most sciences should be used as a stepping stone to professional school or another career.

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  9. Q: Is the ACS leadership ignorant of the chemistry job market situation - or is it just being indifferent?
    Connelly: I don't know, I don't care.

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  10. "the chemical industry has different needs from what it had in the past. The industry has become more globalized. Making ACS a continuing resource for industrial chemists and engineers, both those in the established markets and those in the developing world, is another area where we can have increased impact. "

    I thought the American Chemical Council was the industrial trade group. Anyone know where the group that represents chemists is?

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    1. i think that may require formation of a union.

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  11. Well according to the UPS guy who drops off our chemicals each day, they're unionized, so why not us? His pay & bennies are not the same as those of the employees of McDonald's or Starbucks. If you don't feel that you're getting adequate representation from your representatives, then find a new representative, right?

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    1. What kind of chemistry do you do at UPS, Generic Chemist?

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    2. The American Chemists Union? How often are there white collar unions? I'm not sure that that wouldn't end up just hastening the decline of chemical research here as opposed to India or China.

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    3. Anon, you have an interesting point there. And so a more thorough explanation is due. Everyone grumbles about the ACS - myself included. But actually, the ACS does a better job representing chemists than the other national chemical societies to which I've belonged at different times (e.g., the CIC, the GdCh, the (new) Swiss Chemical Society and even the RSC). How many of us are nevertheless outraged or at least dissatisfied by "appointment" of Connelly to be de-facto head of the ACS under a system which doesn’t let the actual members chose? If there are enough of us who are upset about it, then two choices are (a) either demand by petition that the CEO also be chosen by popular vote of the ACS member, or (b) found a new chemical society for chemists. Sadly, however, there are too many of us who are not willing to do more than whine. Ironically, a previous commenter on this thread wrote something about “gargling balls”.

      Bad Wolf, not for the first time I will suggest re-reading my comment a little more carefully.

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  12. I was a Sr. Director of a major Pharma company when cost cutting caused the new dept VP to consolidate some job functions; it was not an unreasonable thing to do. But the VP did not like people with experience and opinion, so the job went elsewhere. I was young enough to still work many years, but what has ACS done to help such experienced people find new employment other than to minimally post a few academic jobs? They ignore the job situation, either deliberately or by naive ignorance. Either way, they walk around with bags over their respective heads.

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  13. Him discussing the issue would only help acknowledge that it is a real problem, if he doesn't talk about it, the issue doesn't exhist. Why have a debate on the issue in his position? as it would only give more footing to the troubling employment numbers.

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