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Positioning Sigma Xi for the Future

As this issue of American Scientist magazine goes to press, the Society is gearing up for the grand opening celebration of the new Sigma Xi Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. This beautiful 52,000-square-foot facility is both a tribute to the proud heritage of Sigma Xi and the next stage in the evolution of our Society. Members and officers of Sigma Xi, elected and appointed governmental officials, leaders of Research Triangle Park institutions and representatives of other state and national scientific societies will join to hail this remarkable moment in Sigma Xi's history.

The opening of the Center culminates a succession of activities over the past two years that will ultimately shape the Society’s pattern of growth and ability to support science and engineering effectively for years to come. The new facility, with its marvelous technology, flexible meeting spaces and dramatic engineering, represents the third step in a process of evolution and growth that included the development of a comprehensive strategic plan and a reorganization of staff and committee structure to support that plan. The overall focus of this effort has been to foster a higher level of chapter support, member service and public visibility for the Society.

The new facility boasts cutting-edge technology that promises to link and engage the Society's network of chapters and members better and more effectively in the future. It will provide room to grow and expand in areas that have long been the focus of chapter activities: science and engineering education, research ethics, the public understanding of science and technology, international research cooperation and the overall health of the research enterprise. The flexible meeting spaces will provide the venue in which to host forums, workshops and conferences. The frequent webcasting of such events from the Center will broaden discussion of issues of science and engineering among our chapters. The improved bandwidth, system redundancy and backup generator support will ensure the continuity of communications with our members.

The Society is now exceedingly well positioned to accomplish its mission: to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. With the new Center all the elements are in place. Sigma Xi's greatest asset, however, is our members' talent, vitality and commitment to service. Sustaining the strength of that membership must be a personal priority for each of us, just as it is the top priority of our strategic plan. It takes the commitment and dedication of scientists and engineers to improve the conditions of humankind. Won't you please share the honor of membership in Sigma Xi with those individuals worthy of the honor who share your zeal for research? Each of us must recognize, mentor and create the next generation of distinguished scientists and engineers who will grace the rolls of our membership. There are many of our fellow scientists and engineers who would be proud to be nominated and who in turn would honor us with their service. They are waiting to be asked.

This editorial marks my last such message to you as the Society's president. It has been my honor to lead the Society in such a challenging but productive time. I want to thank the Board, committees, members and administrative staff for their hard work and contributions on behalf of Sigma Xi, and to express my appreciation on your behalf to Executive Director Pat Sculley for a banner year. I also wish to thank all members for your continuing support, service and friendship. The future of science and engineering is well placed in the good hands of those whom I have just thanked.

Peter H. Raven
President, Sigma Xi

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