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Continuity, Geothrills and Geohelp

These subjects are not directly related (I hope!) but are treated in sequence in this column.

First, some observations about continuity.

Effective leadership requires continuity and good corporate memory. The staff of the Association has continuity, but our elected leadership is challenged in this respect.

Our system, which provides for a president-elect and a chair-elect of the House of Delegates (HoD), addresses the problem. But I've observed that even so, there are discontinuities due to short terms of office of Executive Committee (EC) members.

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These subjects are not directly related (I hope!) but are treated in sequence in this column.

First, some observations about continuity.

Effective leadership requires continuity and good corporate memory. The staff of the Association has continuity, but our elected leadership is challenged in this respect.

Our system, which provides for a president-elect and a chair-elect of the House of Delegates (HoD), addresses the problem. But I've observed that even so, there are discontinuities due to short terms of office of Executive Committee (EC) members.

In a simpler lineup of tasks and issues, our system of one-year apprenticeships would easily solve the problem. But AAPG's business and service lines have become complex and very numerous. In order to be well acquainted with all is a challenge even after a two-year learning experience, much less after one year.

Accordingly, I've initiated the practice of inviting the candidates for president-elect to our EC meetings. As guests they have no vote, but I usually ask for their comments on topics of discussion. Since usually there are sensitive and competitive items on the agenda, these guests are admitted only after those issues are acted upon.

This approach also is being used in the Budget Review and Finance Committee meetings. The president-elect chairs the committee and the treasurer is the vice chair. The committee is appointed by the president -- ordinarily from recommendations made by the president-elect. These recommendations usually include candidates for president-elect and for treasurer (in the years when there are candidates for the treasurer's post).

In both of these cases, participation not only makes for better education and continuity but also engenders "ownership."

On Oct. 10, 2004, the EC unanimously approved a resolution recommending the HoD, with advice from the Advisory Council, to consider an amendment to the Bylaws to allow candidates for president-elect to attend the EC meetings as non-voting members.

Having seen the utility of president-elect candidates Tom Ahlbrandt and Lee Billingsley attending EC meetings, I believe institutionalizing this arrangement would greatly benefit the Association by improving continuity and corporate memory in our leadership.

Your EC is commonly called upon to make decisions for events several years in the future. These include locations for annual meetings and international conventions, plus commitments for representatives or joint ventures. By involving the senior officer candidates in the decision discussions we improve accountability.


I rarely recommend books, but a recent publication is so well based in geoscience and modern politics that it seems worthy.

Michael Crichton's State of Fear is a true geothriller and an easy read.

Ronald Bailey's review in the Dec. 10, 2004 Wall Street Journal provides unusual insight on many elements of the novel.

Independent of this suggestion the EXPLORER had arranged for a book review ([PFItemLinkShortcode|id:40991|type:standard|anchorText:see related story|cssClass:|title:|PFItemLinkShortcode]) by Chris Steincamp, vice president of the Division of Environmental Geosciences. These two analyses will help you understand the importance of State of Fear.


As this is being written, the magnitude of yet another geologic disaster is being realized worldwide due to the tsunami that destroyed so much and so many lives in the circum-Indian Ocean. Our hearts go out to those suffering, and we are saddened by the tremendous loss of life.

Your Association will be offering our specialized assistance to education institutions impacted by the Sumatra tsunami, and I encourage members to contribute to some of the numerous private relief agencies focusing on assisting the survivors.

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