The ASA In Transition
From: PSCF 46 (September 1996): 149
July marks the changing of the guard in the Executive Director's chair as Houghton College biologist Donald Munro moves to Ipswich to assume the leadership position. Retiring Executive Director Robert Herrmann took over in May 1981, establishing the ASA office first in his home and then in a suite at the Marketplace Building in Ipswich, Massachusetts ó a long leap from the office in Elgin, Illinois, headed by his predecessor Bill Sisterson. Change has already begun, with Dennis Feucht assuming the Newsletter editorship from Walt Hearn in 1993.
Bob's 13 years have seen the ASA expand in influence and in services to the membership and the Church. The major challenge has always been the budget, with pressure to bridge the gap between membership income and expenses. There has never been a lack of ideas for worthy projects, but funding them continues to be difficult. Happily, the ASA community has generously responded to the challenge, with Bob's prodding.
Don and the Executive Council face significant challenges in the coming months. These include completion of the "Space, Time and God" TV series; expanding the membership; completing service projects; and the need to develop a more substantial financial base.
Two decades ago the ASA faced little competition from other organizations. In subsequent years some disciplines have created their own organizations and publications which have caused some erosion in our membership base. Several local sections have recently lost leadership with the result that fewer programs are available to maintain regional interest. For ASA and CSCA to be really influential in nations of such large land mass, strong local section activity is essential.
Commissions and committees find it difficult to meet when such long distances are involved. Perhaps the electronic highway can enable better exchange of ideas. We need to explore ways that computer communication can aid in dialog within ASA, the Church and the broader scientific community. I am currently a "lurker" on two electronic mailing lists. One, called "faith-learning," based at Baylor, has emerged as a medium for high level discussion of important questions for Christian intellectuals. The other group, "talk.origins," has less appeal because of a tendency for name-calling. We need to consider whether ASA should provide such a service, possibly in a managed form which would offer various categories of discussion reflecting the wide range of disciplines represented by our organization. To do this right will take considerable volunteer time and financial support.
Younger members are encouraged to help with continuing projects and developing new ways of doing things. All of us should seek to recruit new members. The ASA office will be happy to send an information packet and sample journal to prospective members. If Don is to see success in his tour of office, it will come only with the whole-hearted support of members.
J. W. Haas, Jr.
Wenham MA 01984