“The only certainty in geology is the unexpected will happen” is a bit of wisdom my friend and mentor John Shelton likes to quote. If anything, in this environment, it’s an understatement. AAPG, our members and industry were hit with the perfect storm: COVID-19, geopolitics and commodity prices.
Of course, I don’t need to tell you about it. We have all adjusted to a new world, which includes quarantines, masks, eating in, ordering out, Zoom, MS Teams, etc. The dogs love it, the cats hate it. It’s been tough on all of us and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your families, especially those who have lost loved ones.
So … how does all this impact your society? The answer is we have taken a critical cut in revenue and I want all members to understand the severe impact to your society. Ten years ago, AAPG had a three-legged revenue stool: education, EXPLORER advertising, and conferences and meetings. Starting this fiscal year, last July, we had a one-legged revenue stool: conferences. Going into March this year, the budget looked very good with the first significant surplus in years. We were all happy because we had planned so well.
What could happen?
Leading with Science
The primary impact from COVID-19 and related low oil prices is the loss of conference revenue which supports most of AAPG’s operations. Now we are looking to cut costs and streamline operations to provide essential services. We are also looking at partnership opportunities and shared services. We are going to make some tough decisions and the reality is that AAPG will not look like the same society a year from now.
But what will we look like? As always AAPG will lead with science. We were able to improve the Bulletin and EXPLORER this year. AAPG’s Editor, Bob Merrill, has plans for continued improvement, such as special Bulletin issues on key programs like super basins and sustainability. In addition, with the new reality of virtual meetings and workplaces, we will be able to disseminate scientific information worldwide from all our programs. For example, most of our future conferences will include a virtual component to accommodate those who are unable to attend.
In addition we will continue to work with members to help network and build careers, especially through virtual community. I believe we have an exciting opportunity to build a truly global AAPG. For example, for the first time in AAPG’s history we had 150 members attend the House of Delegates Zoom meeting in June. We’ve had virtual luncheons with registrations as high as 900 reaching a wider audience of professionals.
What Can You Do?
I’ve had several members ask me, “What can I do to support the AAPG during this time of severe change?”
No. 1, please pay your dues; I repeat, please pay your dues and support the divisions. I know some of you have retired or are without jobs. We have graduated dues, please stay with us. We need you. Also, please support the Foundation. It provides a lot of support for our programs.
No. 2, please continue to enroll in conferences and educational opportunities. I am very excited about the virtual/hybrid conferences because most of the talks will be taped. I know when I attend the annual meeting, it’s hard to attend all the talks I want to see. Now you will have several months to review all the talks, no matter where you are in the world. Please support your society by registering for and participating in the upcoming virtual URTeC conference (July 20-22) and the ACE 2020 virtual conference to be scheduled this fall.
In fact, please consider purchasing an extra discounted registration for URTeC for a student or a member who is out of work. Please note these are ‘single-user” registrations just like face-to-face meetings and cannot be passed around to multiple users. Companies can purchase a discounted rate for multiple employees. Misuse of virtual registrations violates AAPG’s code of ethics. Thanks for your understanding.
No. 3, please volunteer. We have a lot to do. We need your science. We need your talents to provide services to members and the public. Right now, we are reviewing needs and defining committees. Please hop on the bus or push.
So what can the Executive Committee do? I promise we will focus on professionalism, ethics – which includes honesty, integrity, equality, diversity and inclusion. Second, we will search the facts, know the facts and govern with the facts in deciding what is best for AAPG members. Third, we will encourage free and open debate on science and members’ needs. We are scientists and debate is a key part of the scientific process. I’m not interested in debating politics, but I am interested in open conversation that advances our profession.
Finally, Milton Friedman is often quoted as saying, “Only a crisis produces real change.” The world, our country and its people are in crisis. Now is the time to think about the future of our profession – to take a good look at the big picture. We have a great opportunity to remake AAPG by keeping the best and integrating the new.
Through various platforms we are already reaching more people with science, business and professional information. I enjoyed working with Mike Party and the EC members last fiscal year. I look forward to working for you, our new leadership and all AAPG volunteers.
Thanks for your support,