You got a "freebie" this month -- I hope everyone found their suitable-for-framing copy of AAPG's Code of Ethics that was included with this month's EXPLORER.
I'm going to take mine to the framing shop down the block right away, and have them put a dark mat around it, bounded by a dignified professional frame. I urge all AAPG members, associates and student members to do likewise. The format has been chosen so you also can frame it yourself, using inexpensive, readily available mats and frames.
And from now on, an identical copy of the Code will be sent to every new member of AAPG, along with their certificate of membership.
My framed copy of the Code of Ethics will hang prominently on my office wall, placed so that I will see it frequently, at close-enough range that the words are easily readable. Clients and visitors also will see it, perhaps read it, and understand, I hope, what it stands for.
Frequent exposure and re-reading have a way of embedding important principles in our unconscious. That's why most of us have iconic things in our offices -- they remind us daily of values that resonate, and experiences that affirm.
As I get older (I'm now in my 46th year of professional practice), such items seem to multiply in my office. Younger folks may see this as clutter. I see these icons and mementos as persistent reminders of how I should be living my life, and as important milestones marking the way.
I encourage all AAPG members to think of themselves as professionals. Regardless of your present situation -- student, employee, partner or sole proprietor -- and your field of endeavor -- management, E&P operations, researcher, academic, consultant, government regulator, independent operator -- you are first a professional. You should be a professional before you are an employee, even though that can be difficult sometimes.
Professionals in our society have responsibilities, most having to do with ethical obligations to their clients, society and colleagues. Professionalism requires capability beyond mere competence, and the willingness to be accountable.
The basic fabric of modern society -- commerce, research, communications, services -- rests upon the expectation of ethical behavior.
AAPG's Code of Ethics reminds geoscientists of its essential tenets. Please frame your copy and put it up on your wall.
Just before my EXPLORER deadline, the sad news reached me of the death of past Executive Director Fred Dix. Fred served as AAPG's ED from 1973-96, and he left an indelible, positive mark on AAPG. He put the Association on a business-like basis, and he was instrumental in building long-term financial strength into the AAPG Foundation.
Hundreds of geoscientists have gained substantially from Fred's vision and labor, as students, members -- and even many geoscientists who were not AAPG members! The geological consciousness of the general public has been expanded. Future geoscientists and lay people will continue to benefit from Fred's gifts in coming years.
His charming wife, Jean, was his ever-present life partner, and equally valuable to AAPG.
My sincere condolences go to Jean and the Dix family.
AAPG members should be aware that the achievements of the 2004-05 Executive Committee have been abundant and far-reaching. Immediate past-president Pat Gratton led with vision and discipline; his June EXPLORER column detailed most of these new initiatives, and I intend for the organization to digest, consolidate and institutionalize them in FY 2005-06.
Pat has been an unusually active and effective president, and I hope each and every member will find an opportunity to sincerely thank him and his lovely wife, Jean Marie, for their dedicated and effective service to our Association.
The members of the 2004-05 EC have functioned collegially and professionally, even though they represented diverse constituencies and viewpoints. The outgoing EC members -- Bob Countryman (secretary), Neil Hurley (VP) and Valary Schulz (HoD chair) -- deserve personal thanks from all AAPG members for a job well done.
The carryover veterans on the 2005-06 EC, Ernie Mancini (editor) and Clint Moore (treasurer), having now "learned the ropes," will doubtless continue their very effective service, and join me in mentoring our four newcomers -- Lee Billingsley (president-elect), Don Clarke (HoD chair), Mike Party (secretary) and Steve Veal (vice president).
Congratulations, gentlemen -- and fasten your seatbelts. I look forward to another very active and effective year on the 2005-06 EC!
And while I'm thinking about thanks, I hope all AAPG members will make time to express their personal appreciation to the recent unsuccessful candidates for AAPG office -- Tom Ahlbrandt, John Hogg and Doug Patchen. Dedicated and capable members all, they expended substantial time, energy and personal expense during the past year, visiting far-flung AAPG Section and Region meetings, and talking with interested members.
I'm a firm believer in AAPG's tradition of electing its officers and have faith in the decisions of the membership -- and I also would have been proud to have served with all three of them. Thanks, Tom, John and Doug.
A long-standing problem with AAPG leadership has been lack of continuity of elected officers from year to year. Some previous presidents have involved their presidents-elect (their successors) very closely in the day-to-day management of the Association's affairs and oversight of Tulsa HQ. Other presidents have played things "closer to the vest"; and some presidents-elect were disinclined to get deeply involved.
Sometimes this has tended to result in wide swings of policy from year to year and occasional "re-inventions of the wheel," -- and Tulsa HQ staff may have felt a bit "jerked around" a few times.
Not only did immediate past president Pat Gratton involve me very deeply (and from the very beginning) in all his AAPG business and decision-making, he also dealt with me as a valued counselor. Aside from the fact that he was always (and appropriately) the Boss, we were over this past year practically "joined at the hip" -- co-presidents, even. So I feel very well prepared to serve as his successor (not his replacement -- no one could replace Pat Gratton!). And I will continue -- even expand -- his policy of furthering continuity among serially elected AAPG officers.
Resurrecting a policy initiated by past president Ray Thomasson, Pat invited both (FY 2005-06) president-elect candidates to sit in on all EC meetings after our initial one. As observers, Tom Ahlbrandt and Lee Billingsley were able to provide input on the EC's decisions regarding events that would be taking place two years into the future, "on their watch."
(During confidential discussions of sensitive EC matters, both were excused.)
Both candidates were thus able to gain valuable experience as to the governance of the Association over nearly a full year. Both repeatedly expressed their appreciation.
So I shall continue such policies -- President-elect Lee Billingsley will be in on everything I do as president in FY 2005-06. Skip Hobbs and Peter Lloyd (candidates for 2006-07 president-elect) will be invited to sit in on all EC meetings, commencing with our two-day mid-summer retreat. And, for the first time, Treasurer Clint Moore will mentor treasurer candidates Randi Martinsen and Bill Morgan regarding our new zero-based budgeting process, its key priority-setting powers, the new iMIS Great Plains accounting system and our revised overhead calculations, the treasurer's relationships with AAPG's auditor, business director and accounting manager (Paul Hartog, David Lange and Bryan Haws, respectively), and to the fiduciary oversight and management of a dynamic, complex $12 million business.
I hope my future successors will see the value of such continuity, and will institutionalize this long-overdue policy.
I should not close without making it crystal-clear that Executive Director Rick Fritz and his four directors -- Jim Blankenship, Brenda Cunningham, David Lange and Larry Nation -- have enthusiastically embraced these new "EC-continuity" policies. Thanks, Tulsa folks!
One of the gifts colleagues can give each other is to recommend really good books. So I shall continue one of my long-standing traditions. This month's recommendation: The Skeptical Environmentalist, by Bjorn Lomborg (1998, Cambridge University Press, $18.50).
The most important book I have read in the last five years, this is a thoroughly documented, commendably well-informed and remarkably objective and insightful look at almost all well-known claims regarding "The World Environment."
Lomborg's basic, overpowering conclusion: "Things are not getting worse, they're getting better."
Read it, you'll like it.