FROM THE PRESIDENT
The Second Most Important Step for Chapter Vitality
Sigma Xi fosters research excellence in many ways, not least
through local chapters. Astute readers, members or not, may
recognize ideas presented here that are transferable and
operational in their Sigma Xi chapters or any other organization
working for the greater good.
The single most import step for Sigma Xi chapter vitality is the
appointment of a functioning President's Advisory Council. The
second most important step is to create, update and execute a
Fashioning and executing a Three-Year Plan is surprisingly easy, and
the results are wonderful: effective programs and events that occur
on time with a reasonably sized audience and minimum anxiety for the
event managers and chapter officers.
Proper prior planning produces positive programs. Too many Sigma Xi
chapters—and other, similar organizations—are run on a
one-year timeline with many activities planned on short notice,
allowing little time for facility reservations, participant
engagement, audience notification and response to unforeseen impediments.
Natural entries in a Three-Year Plan include all those normal Sigma
Xi activities that are common, important, easily detailed and simple
to supervise. These include the annual banquet and new-member
induction ceremony, deadlines for new-member nominations and
Grants-in-Aid of Research applications, quarterly meetings for the
President's Advisory Council, spring open house for a selected
laboratory, coordination meetings with an institution's Chancellor
or President or Vice President for Research, selection and reporting
of an Annual Meeting delegate, review and submission of a chapter
annual report including descriptions of activities worthy of
selection for a Chapter Award, conduct of chapter-officer elections
and selection and announcement of local Certificates of Exemplary
Service for science librarians, glass blowers, irreplaceable
technicians. Annually scheduled sponsored events in which the
chapter can participate, such as a laboratory research symposium or
university research days or state finals for undergraduate science
research posters, must also appear on the Three-Year Plan.
Although arguably two-year terms for chapter president are more
efficient and effective than one-year terms, most Sigma Xi chapters
still operate in the mode of electing a new president each year.
Starting afresh to develop a meaningful program requires immediate
thorough planning soon after assuming office and extensive detailed
follow-up work. Chapter officers following a Three-Year Plan,
however, can integrate any new officers smoothly into the refinement
and execution process and continue on a reasoned non-anxious implementation.
Here is one example of the utility of a Three-Year Plan: Consider
the arrival on campus, or in the research community, of an
internationally recognized research scientist who can articulate
precise and interesting presentations of research projects both to
audiences of knowledgeable practitioners and to the general public.
Try as all might, the new expert simply has no open date for the
next two Sigma Xi chapter public lectures, nor even for the next
banquet or induction ceremony. Using a Three-Year Plan, chapter
officers negotiate with the new expert for a compatible date during
the subsequent year or even the year after that. Thus, with
flexibility but also tenacity and precision, the new expert can be
committed to a Sigma Xi event of community significance with minimum
future anxiety. Similarly, planning three years in advance means
that changes for scheduled events can be communicated to the
participating groups as changes occur, allowing for timely
adjustments. Three-Year Plans really work!
Three-Year Plans covering major research and local community
involvement as well as internal chapter activities, when updated on a
quarterly basis, lead to well-planned, adequately advertised and
effectively executed programs with events that constitute the useful and
worthwhile activities of a vital Sigma Xi chapter.