on the 2005 SPS & Sigma Pi Sigma Council Meeting
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American Center for Physics, College Park, MD (photo by
The 2005-06 SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma National Council Meeting took
place at the American Center
for Physics (pictured at left) and the Crowne Plaza Washington
National Airport Hotel, September 22-25, 2005.
Center for Physics houses The
American Physical Society, the American
Association of Physics Teachers, the American
Association of Physicists in Medicine, and the parent
organization of SPS and Sigma
Pi Sigma, the American Institute
The Crowne Plaza Hotel is conveniently located
in the Washington DC area for meetings at the American Center
for Physics and sightseeing in downtown Washington DC.
The National Council is made
up of the 7 member Executive Committee and the 36 member National
Council. The National Council Members hail from 18
Zones; each Zone represents a section of the country and
is represented by a faculty Councilor and a student Associate
is a brief report of my experience at the National Council
meeting as the Zone 14 Associate Councilor.
National Council Meeting
Council members get acquainted during the welcome reception
at the Crown Plaza Hotel (photo by Sacha Purnell).
evening was our first meeting as the National Council. During
the reception we had an "ice-breaker" competition
consisting of a questionnaire about different activities others
participated in. The goal was to be the first to learn a fun
fact about other Councilors and hand in your sheet to win
a prize. I don't think Gary White, the Director of SPS and
Sigma Pi Sigma, was prepared to have everyone complete their
the reception, we gathered in a meeting room for a wonderful
dinner. I was fortunate to sit with Christy Covington Hyde,
the SPS Associate Councilor Representative, and Steve Feller,
the President of Sigma Pi Sigma, along with several other
Zone Councilors (AZ) and Associate Councilors (AZC). Christy
explained to us that her position is the AZC representative
on the Executive Committee and that her position is elected
by the AZCs. The position is limited to 1 term, and we would
be electing a new Representative at the end of the Council
Meeting. Steve Feller kept the conversation flowing over dinner
by asking where everyone was from and about their major field
After dinner, Thomas Olsen, the Sigma Pi Sigma
Historian, gave a great presentation about the history of
SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma. And then Gary White used the forms
we filled out during the reception to open the room for individual
introductions. He took great care to try and get everyone
to say a little something about his or her background and
share an interesting story about themselves.
to right): SPS Council members Cheri Hall, James Borgardt,
and Yu Hou enjoy dinner at the Crown Plaza Hotel (photo
by Sacha Purnell).
dinner concluded, the AZC and the ZC broke off into separate
groups. Christy Hyde sat down with us and gave us more information
about her position as the SPS Associate Councilor Representative.
She told us to about some of her experiences and that we should
all strongly consider running for the position. Then it was
time to go out! There is a tradition that on the first night
of the Meeting, the AZCs all go out for a drink or two to
get to know each other in a more relaxed setting.
all of the AZCs decided to gather for a drink at a local Sports
Bar. It was great fun to sit with my fellow Councilors and
to learn more about their colleges, programs, and future goals.
Everyone had a great time while we had a few drinks and played
pool. A long day of travel did not seem to lower the excitement
level that we all felt to be together and participate in this
SPS Council is called to order at the American Center
for Physics on Friday morning (photo by Tracy Schwab).
next morning began the actual Council Meeting. We all gathered
at the American Center for Physics. It was awe inspiring to
enter the location of so many important Associations. The
Meeting started at 9:30 am and ended around 8:45 pm with breaks
for a delicious lunch and a wonderful dinner served at the
Center. The morning session dealt mostly with information
about the Society, for example, the State of Societies, Zone
Meeting Reports, and Awards Reports. I spoke briefly about
the SPS Reporter Program. The afternoon session is when we
broke out into our Committees (we selected which committee
we wanted to work with before arriving in DC) and worked on
the goals charged to the committee.
I had participated in the trial SPS Reporter Program, I was
asked to be a member of the Publications/Communications Task
Force. I answered many questions for the Committee as they
gathered information on whether they wanted to recommend to
the National Council to expand the Reporter Program. I, of
course, recommend to my committee that they should endorse
this program. We also discussed the fact that many students
who join SPS are not fully aware that they receive the Observer,
online access to JURP, or the frequency of the publications.
It was during this first initial Committee meeting that we
were to discuss issues that we thought we should be concerned
with. At our next Committee meeting later in the evening we
would finalize our recommendations to the Council. The Council
reconvened to continue on with other business. A representative
of each Committee presented an outline of their goals and
possible motions they might bring to the council after dinner.
we began an interesting debate on the theme for the 2008 Sigma
Pi Sigma Congress. Steve Feller, Gary White, and Thomas Olsen
presented possible themes and titles. This turned out to be
a very lively debate with many AZC and ZC speaking about the
success of the 2004 Congress and how they wanted that to carry
over to the 2008 Congress. We then broke for dinner.
dinner, we again took up the debate on the 2008 Congress,
and it was decided to revisit the issue the following morning.
Each Committee presented their motions, followed by discussion
of the motions. This took up the rest of our meeting until
we finally adjourned.
day was certainly long. It also was something I felt honored
to participate in. Each suggestion or topic of discussion
put forth by either a ZC or AZC was met with respect and attention.
No suggestion was too small, nor did it matter if it came
from a student or a faculty member. It was my impression that
the members of the Executive Committee and staff went out
of their way to make sure that the students participated fully
in the proceedings.
council broke out into groups such as this for committee
discussions (photo by Tracy Schwab).
Our last official meeting as the National Council began Saturday
morning at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It was basically a wrap
up of the whole experience, and we revisited the issue of
the 2008 Congress. It was during this meeting that Justin
Stimatze, the AZC from California State University-Chico gave
a Power Point presentation he developed with a fellow AZC
about their thoughts on the theme for the 2008 Congress. It
was an excellent presentation that the Council, as a whole,
last order of business required the AZC to break away from
the Council, so that we could elect our new SPS Associate
Councilor Representative. Three highly qualified students
ran for the position. With a platform of greater communication
between the students and the Executive Committee, Krystle
Williams was elected as our new Representative. The Council
gathered as a whole so that we could announce our choice for
the Representative, and officially adjourn the meeting. The
rest of the afternoon was spent as tourists in downtown Washington
Our final social meeting as the National Council was held
at the Red Sage Restaurant, just a few blocks from the White
House. We were able to have one more social gathering with
all of our new friends that we made during the Meeting. It
was a great way to end.
my thoughts on the meeting again return to the absolute feeling
of welcome that all of the SPS National Staff, ZC, and Executive
Committee members extended to the students. I think that I
can speak for the other students when I say that they made
us feel that our suggestions for SPS were welcomed and of
extreme importance. I cannot give enough thanks to Gary White
and Liz Caron, the Project Administrator for Education, American
Institute of Physics, for their hard work. Gary White always
knew everyone's name, and took time to speak with each AZC
about their thoughts and any ideas they may have. A special
thanks goes to Liz for all her effort in see that the student’s
needs were met and that the input of the students was heard
about the whole experience. I do not think I can convey how
impressed I am with the SPS National Staff. They definitely
care about students and SPS.