AVS Historical Persons | AVS Staff - 1994

AVS Staff - 1994

Oral History Interview with Staff, American Vacuum Society Headquarters 1994


Rey Whetten, Yvonne Towse, Angela Mulligan (now Klink), Keith Mitchell, Carlos Toro, and Marion Churchill
Introduced by Jim Lafferty
Lafferty.JPGLAFFERTY: Greetings. I'm Jim Lafferty. I'm going to take you on a short tour of the new AVS headquarters. Every large, complex national organization needs a national headquarters. With over 5,000 members, the American Vacuum Society is no exception. A central facility staffed by dedicated employees is essential to maintain records, handle mail, telephone and computer correspondence, print and distribute materials for educational courses, and in general provide the best membership services possible. It is also needed to serve as a place where members, officers, the Board of Directors, and committees can meet. 

The AVS headquarters moved into its new facilities on the 32nd floor of the Professional Building at 120 Wall Street in New York City on August 26th, 1993. Now, not every AVS member will have the opportunity to visit our headquarters, although you are certainly most welcome. So we thought we'd take you on a short tour to show you what we have accomplished.

We have grown quite a bit in our 40-plus years. In the early days when the society was small, we had no headquarters. There was only a post office box in Boston and a Clerk conducted the society business from his home or office. By 1967, we'd grown to over 3,000 members, and the task of providing membership services became a full-time job. 

At this point, when I became Clerk, I moved the office of the society, consisting of only two file drawers of records, from the basement of the former Clerk, Will Matheson, to the American Institute of Physics building in New York City. By this time, the AVS had become an affiliate of AIP and it provided us with a full-time Executive Secretary, Nancy Hammond. Nancy later returned to Boston with a small van and retrieved miscellaneous material from the home of Will Matheson's assistants. 

The AVS headquarters remained at 335 East 45th Street until 1993, when AIP moved to College Park, Maryland. The AVS elected to remain in New York City and established its new headquarters on Wall Street. Let's take a short tour of these new offices and meet the staff.

WHETTEN: I'm Rey Whetten, and I'm the Technical Director and Treasurer of the American Vacuum Society. We want to welcome you to our new headquarters on 120 Wall Street in New York City. We're up on the 32nd floor in a beautiful building. It's a building which was designated by the Mayor of New York City as the Association Building; that is, it's a building for non-profit associations where each non-profit association is tax-exempt without having to own the whole building. 

We're essentially going to try to give you a tour, meet the people who are here. We have expanded the staff somewhat from where we were on 45th Street with the American Institute of Physics for many years. The AIP, of course, moved to College Park, Maryland about a year and a half ago. So we were forced to move from the building. We have a 15-year lease on this floor of the building. We've been here now, as I say, for about a year and a half. 

Sitting with me is Yvonne Towse, who is our Office Manager. I'm going to ask Yvonne if she would say a few words about who our staff is that we're going to meet in a few minutes, and particularly about what she does and what we can do for the chapters and divisions and members of the society. Yvonne?

Yvonne96.bmpTOWSE: As Rey mentioned, I'm the Office Manager. I've been with the society a little over a year. I was originally with AIP up on 45th Street. I was with them for five years, and then I came to work for AVS when they relocated down to Wall Street. 

Basically, as Rey mentioned, the staff has been expanded, almost doubled. You will meet each staff person later on when we have our tour. What I'll do is I'll briefly describe each person and some of their responsibilities, but they'll discuss things with you in greater detail. 

You're going to be meeting Angela Mulligan. She is an Administrative Assistant, and she basically handles all membership issues as well as the awards and the preliminary program and a number of other things. 

Keith, he's our Office Services Assistant. He's kind of like a Jack-of-all-trades in the office. He deals with all of our mailings and shipping and all that kind of thing. But he also handles all monograph orders, keeps inventory. He'll basically do whatever it takes to get things done around here.

Marion Churchill is our Meetings Manager. You'll be meeting Marion later, but she also has a wide range of responsibilities dealing with the national symposium, a lot of topical conferences, board meetings, and a number of other things, which she'll discuss. 

Carlos Toro is our Manager of Information Services. He'll get into the technical discussions on his job. I'm really not qualified to discuss that. He basically oversees all of our email, our computers, troubleshoots problems, and he's looking into ways to totally automate us for the future. He'll discuss that with you later on.

Basically, my job, I kind of have to do a little bit of everything around here. My main function is to supervise the staff and to oversee the New York office operations. But I also will act as a backup. That was one of the main purposes I was hired, so that if there's a problem, if someone's not in, I can fill in the gap and I can pick up the pieces and just continue and no one will have a problem trying to get information that they need. I'm the person that you would speak to if you need something done or you have a request and you're really not sure who to speak to, or if you have a problem and you'd like us to handle it or something like that. 

I've also been taking on some other responsibilities. I do a great deal of work for the President and keeping a calendar for them. I try to maintain really open lines of communication between the Chapters and the Divisions. I try to contact all the Chapter and Division Chairs on a bimonthly basis just to let them know that the New York office is here if they need our assistance in any way, if they need a mailing done or help with a brochure, or if they need a meeting planned. We can point them in the right direction because we have plenty of expertise in this office.

We have taken on some additional tasks for different topical conferences that have come about in the past year. That seems to be growing, and I foresee us doing a lot more work in that area. If any of you do need assistance, please give us a call and we'll do what we can.

WHETTEN: We're doing things like the STM-5 conference, helping with the organization of that with the Ultra Shallow Doping conference that Marion is doing the local arrangements for it. We're helping with the Three Beams conference with their mailings, and essentially conferences which are very closely related to AVS. Frequently AVS members have started and have conferences that are held separately from the national but are very closely related to our interests. 

TOWSE: This is turning out to be a real learning experience for everyone here, especially for me because I've been here a short time. I don't want to get too much into detail on everything that we do because we don't want this to be a six-hour tape, and you will be talking to the staff. But basically, we're here to help you in whatever way we can. If we can't help you, we'll get you in touch with the person who can. The New York office is here to provide support and we hope that you'll let us do that. Thank you.

TOWSE: This is Angela Mulligan. She's an Administrative Assistant with AVS. She provides a wide variety of duties. I'm going to let her share with you what it is she does. Angela, would you like to say a few words?

Angela96.bmpANGELA MULLIGAN: Yes. Thank you, Yvonne. I'm the Membership Secretary and I've been with the American Vacuum Society for eight years. I'm the first person that you talk to when you call the American Vacuum Society. I handle all membership inquiries and general information. I process all new membership applications. I handle changes of address and all general information. I also deal with our membership company, so if there are any problems with your subscription or anything of that nature, I can help you. I also deal with the Nominations for Graduate Research Awards and all the five major award winners and the Fellows. I process those applications, and I deal directly with the Trustees. I also deal with the preliminary and final program; I'm the editor. 

TOWSE: And you have all that contact with the printer, all the revisions that go back and forth. That's very time consuming. A lot goes into that program, so you work closely with Marion on getting information with the program chair for the symposium and gathering.

MULLIGAN: Right. And I also proof read all that information to make sure that the information is correct. I also handle the design and the layout of the preliminary program.

TOWSE: Yes. I would say you handle a very wide range of activities. You also work closely with everyone else here when we're handling things like mailings for the topical conferences. And you're going to be handling registration for one of the new topical conferences that we're working on. 

MULLIGAN: That's right, the Shallow Doping conference.

TOWSE: That's a new area that you'll be going into. Can you think of anything else you'd like to share?

WHETTEN: Angela usually runs the Education Booth at the National Symposium. So you can come to the symposium and meet Angela there if you haven't already met her. 

TOWSE: You can track her down and you'll find her.

MULLIGAN: Right. And I also handle all educational materials for the monographs. I sell the monographs and any other publications that we will be selling in the future, I'll be handling.

WHETTEN: If you have a change of address or know somebody who would like to be a member, why, contact Angela.

TOWSE: Great. Thank you, Angela.


TOWSE: I'd like to introduce Keith Mitchell. Keith is our Office Services Assistant. He has a wide range of duties in the office. I'd like to let him tell you a little bit about what he does. Keith?

Keith96.bmpMITCHELL: As she said, I'm the Office Services Assistant. I receive all the incoming mails to the AVS society and the Acoustical Society. I get your orders and fill them and give those orders to Angela Mulligan, who handles the Education Department. I also send out most boxes and stuff to our national symposium.

TOWSE: Keith also handles the very annoying task of logging all the mail in that we receive and giving everything sequence numbers so that we make sure we're not going to lose what you send us. Keith also has developed a system for keeping track of all the inventory. He maintains all the supplies in the office. Let's see… Keith does a lot around here.

MITCHELL: I also count the ballots that come into the office for the national elections as well as the divisions.

TOWSE: Right. He developed a really nice spreadsheet on Excel. He's taken a lot of computer courses this year, and he's really increased his knowledge in the computer through developing all these new spreadsheets and forms and things like that. 

MITCHELL: I also keep an inventory of our downstairs facility that houses all our monographs, our educational materials, as well as our textbooks for the short courses. 

WHETTEN: Keith, why don't you describe the mailroom equipment that we have that you run.

MITCHELL: I'm also the mail processor. We have a Pitney Bowes machine that handles all our outgoing mail that stamps and meters it. We also have a folder and stuffer that we insert letters and items into the mail, which goes out to all our members here.

TOWSE: That machine really comes in handy when we're doing all those mailings for the different conferences and for chapters and divisions. So we used that quite often in the past year, and that was a new machine that we have just purchased.

MITCHELL: As well as those machines, I'm also new here. I'm only here for a year. 

TOWSE: All right. Do you have anything else you'd like to share, Keith?

KEITH MITCHELL: No, that's it for now.

TOWSE: Thank you, Keith.


WHETTEN: I'd like to introduce to you Carlos Toro. Carlos has been with us for just over a year now. He has a PhD in our field in semiconductor materials. He's worked with NREL and his position with AVS is that of Manager of Information Services. So Carlos has an interesting plateful of exciting things on his menu, getting us connected in this electronic age. Carlos, do you want to mention some of the things you've been working on?

toro.bmpTORO: Sure. My mandate as Manager of Information Services is to really keep us on the edge of the latest technology in computer-related services. One of the things that I did over the past year was install an e-mail list server. What that does is enables members to download information from the AVS office via e-mail, such as a calendar of upcoming events, perhaps in the future rosters and other general information about the AVS. Also, it would enable members to form e-mail discussion groups. What that is, is that let's say there are ten members throughout the world who want to form a group that would discuss this particular topic via e-mail. They would all first subscribe to this list, as it's called, or group, and then any message sent to the group by any one of those members is going to be automatically relayed to the other nine. So it's a way of having an e-mail conversation about any topic, really. Right now, we have a discussion group which is general in nature, called Town Hall. We have about 40-50 subscribers right now that are informally discussing AVS-related events. 

WHETTEN: Do you want to describe how you join the Town Hall discussion group?

TORO: Sure. The name of the program is called Majordomo. If you basically send a one-line e-mail message that says, “Help” to majordomo@vacuum.org, you will receive some information about how you can get download information and also join the Town Hall discussion groups. If you want to set up additional discussion groups, I can help you do that as well.

WHETTEN: The help will also give you information about how to get the calendar of events?

TORO: That's right. Help will tell you how to do that. A project that I'm working on right now is to enable our membership or people who want to submit abstracts for our national symposium to do so via e-mail. Again, right now we do everything with hard copy. We take that hard copy and somebody types in key information into a database, like title, primary author, affiliated authors, address, telephone, etc., into a database. That goes to the abstract selection meeting, and that aids in the process of selecting which abstracts we're going to pick. 
On top of that, abstracts are keyed in a second time—the first time being by the author, the second time by our printer. Obviously, that's very inefficient.

WHETTEN: For the program?

TORO: For the whole process really of abstract submission. What we're trying to do is to go electronically from author all the way to the printer. Right now, I'm working on a project that is going to at least take care of the front end, which is going from author to the New York office via e-mail.

Another project that I'm looking forward to tackling this year is setting up an e-mail directory. What that would do is any member could send a message to, let's say, directory@vacuum.org, for example, with a one-line message saying John Doe. If John Doe is indeed a member, a message will be relayed back giving John Doe's address, telephone member, fax, e-mail. It's something that would make life easier for our members.

I'm involved also in several database projects. We take on registrations for different groups that Rey has mentioned. For example, right now there is a group that is putting on a conference for Ultra Shallow Doping of Semiconductors. We're going to be helping the conference registration for that meeting.

I'm also involved in several desktop publishing projects. For example, last year I created this brochure, this flyer, that went out announcing our 1994 symposium in Denver. It included a business reply card that people could just tear off and send in the mail.
Lastly, I look forward this year to setting up an AVS worldwide web homepage. For those of you on the cutting edge of cyberspace, the technology, know what that means. It's really easy way for people who are connected to the Internet to find out about the AVS and get general information. 
That's about it. I hope I get the opportunity to meet, personally, many of you who are watching this video. I look forward to interacting with you.


WHETTEN: This is Marion Churchill. We're now in her offices here on 120 Wall Street. Marion is our Meetings Manager for the American Vacuum Society. Marion, would you like to say a few words about what it is you do?

Marion95.bmpCHURCHILL: Certainly, Rey. I'm the Meetings Manager for the American Vacuum Society. I have been in this position since 1981. I have about 15 years experience doing this. The American Vacuum Society annual symposium is about 3,000 to 3,500 attendees each year. It has three elements to it: the symposium itself, the exhibits, and the short courses. The symposium attendance is about 2,000. The exhibits only is maybe, oh, I would say about 700. And the short courses this year were very successful; we had 800 short course attendees.

The annual symposium rotates around the country. There are various elements of why we choose a city. It goes from the East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest. We go to the East Coast,/West Coast predominantly and the Midwest maybe every third year. We're booked up to 2001. 

Now, how do we choose a location? We have what's called a Future Sites Committee. The Future Sites Committee consists of the Future Sites Chairman, which is a member. Presently it's John Wendelken from Oak Ridge National Lab; the Exhibits Chairman, which is Ed Greeley, who has been with the American Institute of Physics and manages our exhibits for the last 30-odd years; and then myself. We get recommendations from the Board of Directors on what cities they would like to go to, or from the Manufacturers and Exhibit Committee. They would make recommendations to us of what the exhibitors would like.

We make appointments to go out to these cities. We are too large for any single one hotel in the United States. So we have to choose a convention center, because we take 100,000 square feet for our exhibits and approximately 30 simultaneous rooms for our symposium and short courses. We book up to 1.800 to 2.000 sleeping rooms. We have to find the hotels that are closest to the convention center about within three or four blocks walking distance. We have to book at least five to seven years in advance because we book in October and November, and those are the prime months for conventions. That's when the rate is the highest as well, and there are many, many conventions in this country. We only go national. We've had one international conference which was in Toronto. I believe it was 1991 or 1990. Then we visit three to four cities, then we narrow it down to two cities between the committee, the Future Sites Chairman, myself, and the Exhibits Chairman. Then we take these two recommendations to the Board of Directors and this is voted on by the Board of Directors. 

I think that's all I'd like to say about the national symposium. If any of you would like to host the national symposium, we'd be very delighted to get a letter from you. Address it to the Future Sites Chairman. We'd be very delighted to look into your city, to visit your city, and bring this to the Board of Directors. 

I also assist the chapters in organizing their symposiums, when I am asked to. I'm available for hotel negotiations. I'm available for room setup. I'm available to help you in any way possible to help your symposium get off the ground.

WHETTEN: Do you do arrangements for some of the short courses also?

CHURCHILL: Yes. The national short courses, we give anywhere from seven to ten national short courses a year. I do the logistics for that. So if any of you, again, would like to have a short course in your territory, we'd be very glad to entertain that invitation. If you would direct your invitation to the Short Course Executive Committee. Thank you very much.


WHETTEN.JPGWHETTEN: I'm Rey Whetten. We're sitting here in my offices on 120 Wall Street. I have two jobs within AVS. One of them is an elected position, that of Treasurer of AVS. In that connection, AVS is growing so that now there's something like 1,500 checks that have to be written every year. My wife helps me a great deal in writing those checks. We've just had the budget meeting of AVS, in which I solicit all of the desires of the various committee heads and divisions. The Board of Directors meets—prior to that the Finance Committee—and we decide on how we can make our income match our desire for expenditures. 

In addition to that, I'm also Technical Director of AVS. This is a position which is new to AVS. I've been the only Technical Director and we've only had this position for several years now. For many of our members, it may not be clear what the Technical Director does. AVS is the only society within the AIP that does not have a professional scientist as Executive Director or Technical Director of their society. It was felt by the long-range planning committee that perhaps we were lacking something that we should not be ignoring. 

One of the concerns was that our society puts on at the annual symposium, and sometimes at other times, topical conferences in given subject areas—in general, new areas of activity. These topical conferences were frequently given one or two or three times at a symposium and then dropped. Which meant that it exposed members of the society and the division to the most recent work in that field, but it did not really provide a home for people working in that field. They had no feeling of long-term continuity that the AVS would be the place for them to discuss and present their work.
One of the things working with the Long Range Planning Committee that we have attempted to do as Technical Director is to establish a new category, in addition to the Divisions and the Chapters that we have, is to have Technical Groups. The advantage of Technical Groups is they can be small or large. They can be formed around new and emerging—in general, but not always—new and emerging, exciting areas of science that are of interest to the members of AVS. So we have now formed technical groups in two areas and at least one other is being discussed, the two areas being Manufacturing Science and Technology, which is responding to the need in our country to bridge the gap, really, between research and development and manufacturing. So we have a group that has been formed, works in cooperation with the IEEE. And we are trying to establish other cooperative arrangements. We put on an annual symposium. Gary Rubloff and Mike Liehr have been heading this and I think has been very successful. Another is Biomaterials Interfaces, I think a new and exciting group which is of considerable interest to people in such areas as applied surface science and allied fields. 

In addition, we've had a Nanometer Scale Science and Technology Division formed recently, which I think is an extremely exciting field. With the emergence of the scanning tunneling microscope and the atomic force microscopes and techniques of that sort, one can really get models of surfaces, detailed surfaces on the atomic scale. The applications are tremendous in diverse fields such as medicine, certainly biomaterials. One can actually look at what a DNA molecule, for example, looks like and replicate the surface of the outline of this sort of thing.

The idea is to try to not necessarily just to bring in other fields, but rather the fields which are of overlap or of considerable interest to members of AVS. The technical group has the advantage, I think, over a division in that it can be much more flexible. The rules, by-laws concerning its elections, for example, can be much more informal, flexible. The Technical Groups can be expanded. There's no limit to size, and you can have very small technical groups. And if interest in this particular field wanes, it can be disbanded or it can be combined with a division so that it's not necessarily as permanent as divisions, but rather can be changed as conditions warrant. 

Also in connection with my job, we are also looking at the possibility, currently, of possibly having another journal in the field of nanometer science. But that's very speculative at this point. It's not clear, no decisions have been made, and it's by no means certain. 

So those are some of the things that we are working on in this area. I think this pretty well, then, with this interview wraps up what we do in New York. We certainly are here to serve the members. If you have any questions, any suggestions, anything that you would like to ask us about or suggest to us, why, we would certainly like to hear from you, either by email or by telephone or fax. Thank you.

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