Annual Report 2019

CEO's Message

Globalization permeates ACS

Thomas Connelly Jr., Ph.D., ACS CEO
Thomas Connelly Jr., Ph.D., ACS CEO
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

During 2019, the American Chemical Society (ACS) made progress on a number of fronts, with globalization being a key driver.

I am proud to say we have become a Society that is fully at home in the U.S. and around the world. This global stance was confirmed by ACS Board member Ingrid Montes, Ph.D., who headed an initiative in 2019 to examine the Society’s globalization efforts.

Throughout the year, we hosted chemistry festivals, symposia, forums, workshops and ACS on Campus events worldwide. In our journals program, nearly two-thirds of new editorial appointments were from outside North America. And Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) began offering select content in Arabic and Portuguese to complement its Spanish and Chinese material.

ACS joined the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and other chemical societies to celebrate the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements in 2019. The initiative provided opportunities for outreach around the world, with ACS represented by the presidential succession led by Bonnie Charpentier, Ph.D. ACS members and volunteers participated in related activities through national meetings and local section events, including National Chemistry Week and Chemists Celebrate Earth Week.

Globalization extended to our very core: By year-end, some 20% of ACS members were from outside the U.S. At the same time, overall membership rose for a second consecutive year, ending 2019 with more than 152,000 members. 2019 was also a pivotal year for advancing our Membership 2.0 effort. We defined possible new membership models and made preparations for testing them during 2020 and 2021. Our Information Technology team completed work that will give us the systems flexibility to customize membership offerings for the first time.

ACS racked up successes on other fronts as well. Our CAS division had a strong year. The number of customers using the latest version of Sci-Findern rose dramatically. Enhancements included a new retrosynthesis tool. New product launches included Formulus®, designed to address the information needs of formulations scientists.

In ACS Publications, we made important progress in open access. ACS Central Science, the Society’s first fully open access journal, saw its impact factor grow to 12.837. ChemRxiv, the open-access preprint archive, an undertaking of ACS, the German Chemical Society and Britain’s Royal Society of Chemistry, added the Chinese Chemical Society and the Chemical Society of Japan as partners, making it a truly collaborative activity for the global chemistry community. And we worked with the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy to support open science in a way that balances sharing of science with sustainable scholarly publishing operations.

Overall, manuscripts submitted to ACS journals grew 6% in 2019 and articles published grew 9%. We introduced the new peer-reviewed journal ACS Materials Letters and established our first-ever partner publishing arrangement, with the American Society for Mass Spectroscopy. And we acquired the Journal of Chemical Health & Safety, formerly published by Elsevier, as part of our emphasis on ACS’ core value of safety.

In other news related to this core value, our Scientific Advancement unit produced six videos addressing high school lab safety issues; they are available through the ACS YouTube Channel, as well as the American Association of Chemistry Teachers website. The videos explore examples and applications of the four principles of safety using the RAMP acronym: Recognize the hazards; Assess the risks of the hazards; Minimize the risks of the hazards and Prepare for emergencies. The videos also show examples of how to integrate RAMP into lab activities.

Another core value — diversity and inclusion — was extended in December 2018 by the addition of respect. In the ensuing year, we reviewed our awards and recognition policies in the context of respect. In addition, ACS put in place hotlines and other mechanisms for attendees to report concerns at national meetings. And the Society became a charter member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine).

In the Education Division, the first cohort finished its bridge year in the ACS Bridge Project, which aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority students who receive chemistry Ph.D.s. These students are now enrolled in graduate programs at our Bridge Sites and partner universities.

Effective governance was also on our minds in 2019. The Office of the Secretary and General Counsel worked with the Board of Directors and Council on a significant revision of ACS’ governing documents to ensure timely, efficient and effective action by placing decision-making at the lowest qualified governance levels. The revisions were approved initially by Council and later by the entire Society membership.

With an eye to continued improvement of employee performance, Human Resources added six competencies — including change agility and global mindset — for staff and provided training in these skills. The unit filled senior staff openings for treasurer/chief financial officer, president of ACS Publications and vice president of Development.

The Development team, which centralized Society efforts to solicit sponsorships and philanthropic donations, had a breakout year. Funds raised exceeded $6 million by year-end, the most in more than a decade. This included a major commitment from the Genentech Foundation for the ACS Bridge Project.

Further details about these and other accomplishments can be found in the “2019 Highlights of ACS Achievements.”

I would like to close by acknowledging the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected ACS members and staff as well as families and friends. My thoughts are with you all during this difficult time.

ACS has initiated a number of efforts to support the worldwide community in the months ahead. We will continue to look for additional ways for ACS to be of assistance and would welcome your thoughts and ideas.