AVS Historical Persons | Paul Holloway - 1994

Paul Holloway - 1994

Oral History Interview with Paul Holloway

Interviewed by John Coburn, October 25, 1994
(Holloway was the Albert Nerken Award Winner, 1999)

COBURN: Good morning. I am John Coburn, and I am here today to interview Dr. Paul Holloway, who served as the AVS president in 1987. Paul is now a professor of material science at the University of Florida in Gainesville. This interview is taking place at the 41st Annual Meeting of the American Vacuum Society at the convention center in Denver, Colorado. Today is the 25th of October, 1994. The purpose of this interview is to obtain from Paul, seven years after the fact, his impressions and reactions to his year, and particularly the things that stand out in his memory as being most memorable. Paul and I have a somewhat special relationship in that I followed Paul as the President of the AVS in 1988. In fact, immediately after this interview, Paul will interview me, and therefore you can believe I'm not going to be asking him any tough or difficult questions. [Laughter] We'll start off with a real easy one, Paul. How did you get involved in the AVS? What was your entry?

holloway.jpgHOLLOWAY: Well, it goes back to my student days. Actually, I was doing my Ph.D. at RPI in Troy, New York, and my adviser (or as I referred to him, my tormentor) was John Hudson. He was active in the AVS; I was active in surface analysis and surface science in the AVS, which was where it was all happening, and still is, by the way. As a result, it naturally led into that. I went to Sandia, and that's a hotbed of political activists in terms of the AVS, of course. So I just naturally got sucked into the Society, as they say.

COBURN: Then it was a good thing for the Society that you did. During your year in 1987, what strikes you as being the most significant thing that happened to you, or you caused to happen to the Society?

HOLLOWAY: Well, it was something that I didn't cause to happen to the Society, actually. The most memorable has to be, of course, that AIP, whom we are associated with still, was headquartered in New York City on Manhattan, and there was an executive director of the AIP, Ken Ford, that came in new. He decided for whatever reason that it would be good for the AIP to change their national headquarters from New York to Washington. And actually, I'm not the first one to address that issue because it came along, and Don Mattox was the President in the seat before me. He made this weak run at it; it sort of died away, and everybody thought it was a moot issue. But then, during my presidency, he came back strong again, so I recall setting up numerous committees and getting numerous activities going, supported extensively by the representatives to the Board of Governors, Ed Sickafus at that time. We vehemently opposed that and tried to organize some of the other affiliated societies in the AIP to oppose that move. It sort of went away again towards the end of my presidency, as you well know and perhaps can relate.

COBURN: Yes. Fortunately, he didn't resurface during my time. [Laughter]

HOLLOWAY: But he wasn't dead. He came back a couple years later and actually effected the transition, so some of the later Presidents after us had to handle that, and did an admirable job, in my opinion. We're still in New York, and they are now in Washington. And as I understand it, we're glad that we're still in New York because of quite higher rates and etc. at the new headquarters in Washington. That was certainly a period of controversy. We had to decide what was best for the Society, what was best for our permanent staff at the national headquarters, and what was best for the membership at large. It was a difficult decision. Not clear-cut, but we thrashed the issues out, and I'm confident that we made the best decision.

COBURN: I can remember clearly at the Anaheim meeting how you had to try to deal with all these problems that came up, and I was thinking to myself, "Boy, I hope Paul solves this thing." And you did, or at least for the time that I needed it to have solved. [Laughter]

HOLLOWAY: Yeah. We did it well enough to get it past us, anyhow.

COBURN: That was great. One of the other things I remember that you had recognized at that time was the growth of the Society really was causing great stress on our super volunteer, Lyn Provo, in getting the newsletter out.

HOLLOWAY: Yes, that's true.

COBURN: You brought in, I think, a major change there. Tell us a little bit about that and how it came about.

HOLLOWAY: I think you've phrased it exactly right. It was obvious the Society was growing. Our lines of communication were stressed to the ultimate limit, and I perceived the need, along with other people-- You know, the President never ever does anything by himself, of course. He only takes all of this ensemble of inputs and tries to make sure that we respond in the best fashion for the Society. So I had a number of inputs that suggested that perhaps it would be a good idea to try to communicate more effectively to our membership out there and not work poor Lyn Provo to death, which we were virtually doing already. So I looked around the Society, and since we're such a large society, one person stood out in all of that, and it was Donna Bakale. Donna had been active as a volunteer in the Society for a number of years. She actually was running a professional organization whose business it was to promote companies' products. I said, "Why not ask her to promote the AVS?" So we actually did expand the AVS newsletter beyond Lyn's home production operation, brought Donna and her professional organization into that, and that's the result of the expanded newsletter that we have today for trying to convey to the membership what's going on in the Society, what are the important significant events coming up, what are the deadlines they need to be aware of, etc. I remember thinking that was something we needed, and we responded. It's something that we have to look at ongoing, but it's something that I remember from the presidency.

COBURN: That certainly was a contribution that has lasted, and Donna is such an expert at that. She does such a beautiful job. We in the California Chapter now use her to put out our own newsletter, and it's a beautiful piece of work. 
One other thing I do remember, probably memorable about your presidency, was I think that you served as probably the best travel agent I've ever had. [Laughter]

HOLLOWAY: Well, again, it wasn't me serving as your travel agent. It was a combination of circumstances. Of course, you're referring to the fact that you and I went on this boondoggle to China as representatives of the AVS. It was jokingly a boondoggle, but it was actually quite serious, so it may be interesting to sort of understand the background of how that developed a little bit better. The background was, as you will recall, that in the time frame of three to four years before my presidency in '87, the Chinese and the United States were at loggerheads. That was in the Nixon era, where we were negotiating how much diplomatic interaction the U.S. would have with China, whether we'd recognize one China or two Chinas, etc. So I clearly remember in John Arthur's presidency where the Chinese literally walked out of the meeting because we would not address our abstract responses to the Chinese to China. We called it the People's Republic of China or the Republic of China, and that was politically unacceptable, so politics got into AVS and the National Symposia through that. So we had this long history of being at loggerheads with the Chinese, particularly the People's Republic of China Chinese Vacuum Society. 

Finally, we had worked through a lot of these discussions with receptions for them, with conversations through their diplomatic attach├ęs, actually, in Washington, and they finally invited us to come to China as a gesture of our new friendship and newfound relationship, which continues through today, by the way. We were asked to assemble a group of AVS members, including some of the officials of the AVS, so you and I were elected as officials to go on this trip. We then had the difficult task of deciding how we were going to select the balance of our members that might serve as this entourage. So we actually used our new newsletter to do that, put out an advertisement saying, "Here, this is being organized," set up the boundary conditions, and asked for responses back. We got a very good response, a broad cross-section of our membership, organized about 12 to 14 people, as I recall, to go as an entourage representing the AVS to this meeting. We went first to Beijing, we held an international conference there. And there were two things that I remember about that. One was that there was a woman scientist that had traveled for 48 hours by train to attend this meeting in Beijing. The most remarkable fact of all that was she was 92 years old.

COBURN: Oh, I didn't realize that at the time. I didn't know that.

HOLLOWAY: I'm probably in error on her age, because I think Fred Wehner was 92 at that time, and Fred was the oldest scientist at that meeting and was one of our delegates. So my ages are probably not correct. But anyhow, that was a memorable thing. The second thing that I remember about all of that was afterwards we went to Shanghai. We walked down one of the crowded streets in Shanghai, and I clearly remember you and your wife standing two feet above all these Chinese out there, and all these Chinese standing there, looking up at you with their mouth open. [Laughter]

COBURN: That was enjoyable for us. I'm 6'6", and my wife was 6'1", and this did draw attention from the Chinese. In one particular instance, there were two youngish ladies, 18 or 20, somewhere in that area, who were discreetly photographing each other with us in the background. We saw that, and we were sort of flattered with that attention. But later on, on this walkway, we came across them with their backs to us, being photographed by someone else. So we seized this opportunity to tiptoe up behind them and loom over their backs. The Chinese who could see this were in stitches, and these two girls didn't know what was funny. [Laughter] So that was a trip that has been so memorable for me. And the friendships we made, Professor Hua and Professor Pang, who's here at the meeting today, have lasted forever.

HOLLOWAY: Yes, and the one that really deserves a lot of credit for setting up and organizing the schedule and all of the details was Marion Churchill.

COBURN: Very much so, and may I interject a comment there? We had expected to be sleeping in a bed where our feet hung over the edge by at least a foot. We arrived in Beijing after the long flight and flopped down on the bed, and it was a good several minutes before I realized that all of me was on this bed, and I could not understand that. I was amazed that this didn't happen in the U.S., and it turned out Marion had told them that I was tall and my wife was tall, and they had gone to big trouble to get us a special long bed.

HOLLOWAY: That's truly representative of the hospitality they exhibited.

COBURN: It was really fantastic. So that was certainly a memorable point.


COBURN: One other area where you had been very active prior to your presidency was in the Short Course Executive Committee. I've forgotten the details of your involvement during your presidency. Or did it mostly come before?

HOLLOWAY: It mainly came before. In fact, the presidency was a good excuse to get out of that job. [Laughs] All of us probably have done this. We continually evolve jobs in the AVS, but that was certainly a memorable job for me. It boiled down to, again, the continuing evaluation of how the Society is functioning, operating, and evolving. Again, we had yeoman duties being served by Vivienne Harwood-Mattox at that time, early in the process, and she was exclusively responsible for the Short Courses. But it just continued to grow and grow to the point where it was just simply too overwhelming for a single person to handle that. So we went through a retreat and a planning session strategizing as how to best handle the Short Courses for the Society, which were deemed properly to be a very important contributor both to the educational outreach activity of the Society as well as financial conditions of the Society. As a result, we restructured into what was called the Short Course Executive Committee. Frank Ura was the chairman of that and served as the person that gave us overall directions, but I was asked to take on the job of organizing the short courses, scheduling them for presentation, developing new short courses, and developing new instructors for these short courses. It was a tremendous growth. We went from on the order of a dozen short courses in a period of about three years to numbers of short courses on the order of 40 courses. We went from instructors that were on the order of 20 to a cadre of something on the order of 60 instructors that would be used. We set up this organization where we would have East Coast-based instructors, to minimize costs by instructing on the East, and those on the West. There were a lot of rearrangements of the organization, the selection, the scheduling of the short courses, etc. during that time period, so it was really a deep involvement. The responsibilities were diffused to a number of people, and we put the mechanism in place for moving new leaders into that organization and into that Short Course Executive Committee. That continues today, so that's something that I do feel a little bit of pride in helping to evolve, but certainly there are a lot of people that deserve the credit for that.

COBURN: Understandably. I think this has been a tremendous activity of the Society, and I've been fortunate enough to be an instructor and operate almost 15 years. I very much enjoy it. Very much, indeed. 
One thing that I found extremely difficult about being the AVS President was the participation in Larry Kazmerski's 5k run. I mean, I'm capable of running across the street, but that's about it. [Laughter] How did you deal with that?

HOLLOWAY: Well, Larry had a guinea pig in me. He had a pigeon, as they say. It began actually when I was President-elect, and Jack Singleton was my predecessor, of course.

COBURN: He runs like I do! [Laughter] 

HOLLOWAY: Jack is a man of few words. When Larry said, "Are you going to run?" he says, "No." [Laughter] And so Larry calls me up before the meeting in a panic and he says, "You know, we've always had a President representing the AVS in the run. You're President-elect. Jack just refuses to do this. He says it's going to be bad for his health, so we need to have somebody representing us." I reluctantly agreed to do this, and Larry said, "Make sure you train." And I said, "Well, sure, I'll drink two beers tonight to get in condition for this whole thing." So, I dutifully did my duty at that point in time. This was in Baltimore, if I remember correctly. I arrived at the meeting at the 5k Run on Wednesday at 6:00a.m. or some ungodly time in the morning, and here was Larry, and he had done the dastardly deed of making up ribbons. If you recall these ribbons, there was a blue ribbon that says, "Congratulations. I beat President-Elect Holloway in the Fun Run," and then there was a black ribbon with "Dastardly Deed." I've forgotten the exact words, but anyhow, it says, "Paul Holloway beat me. Shame on me." To make insult to injury, he had about that many blue ribbons [holds fingers to show largel stack], and he had that many black ribbons [holds finger for small stack]. And I said, "Larry, what's going on here? You don't expect me to even finish, I guess. He said, "No, you will finish." He says, "But I'm just confident in your ability." And sure enough, he ran out of blue ribbons. [Laughter] 

COBURN: You had done such a fantastic job at that run, so I think that's wonderful.

HOLLOWAY: Well, the next year, I tried to do something to him, though. I trained for this. Rather than drinking beer, my wife got out there and ran me up and down beside my house. So I had as an objective the next year to make him run out of blue ribbons, which I achieved, by the way. [Laughter] 

COBURN: Good. Oh, that's great.

HOLLOWAY: He still had that many [large stack] blue to that many [small stack] black, though.

COBURN: Well, your year as president certainly was a great thing for me. I learned a lot from you and really appreciated the advice that you continued to give me throughout my term. Do you have any final thoughts as to memories that I haven't hit upon in this year of yours?

HOLLOWAY: You know, there's a lot of good memories and a lot of good associations. The Society certainly has been good to me, and I very much appreciate the privilege of serving the Society. But I must say, there is one thing that is outstanding to me about the AVS, and that is the volunteer structure.

COBURN: Oh, definitely.

HOLLOWAY: We consider ourselves to be a volunteer organization. Working with the President with all of these volunteers, it's like I said earlier, the President doesn't really have to do anything. He just takes credit for what goes good, and then he tries to avoid what is going wrong. [Laughs] But the volunteers actually are the ones that run the Society. When you get finished with your year in the presidency, you come away with a renewed appreciation of how dedicated and how much time and effort the volunteers put in. That's really what is outstanding in my mind. How many good people you get to work with, how dedicated they are, how much time and effort and thought they will give to the Society, the development of the programs, the development of the activities, the educational functions, the committee functions—all of them putting together this effort that is really the heart of the AVS. If it weren't for them, no matter what a President did, it would never be a success. So that's really what is outstanding in my mind.

COBURN: It certainly is the case. Well, thank you very much, Paul, for this insight into your year. The AVS certainly appreciated your participation in this activity. You're a great President.

HOLLOWAY: Thank you, John.

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