Dear AMS Community,
I am delighted to send this letter to you after the wonderful Annual Meeting in Austin. You told us that the Presidential Forum with Richard Alley and the Presidential Town Hall on the recent hurricane season were the highlights of the week (both can be viewed online) and I am glad that our efforts to arrange for these two events were well-received. The latter was possible owing to our breadth as a scientific and professional society. It allowed us to assemble a panel of experts from the university and broadcast communities, NWS, FEMA, and Flood Control District that could tell a story that was quite engaging.
I was honored to have completed President Matt Parker’s vision for the Annual Meeting. I believe that he would have been very pleased with the program. Of course, the AMS staff, Executive Committee, and Council are an amazing and supportive group to work with and I owe them a deep debt of gratitude for supporting me during the past year.
I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight a couple of priorities that I will be working on in the coming months. I am deeply committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The AMS supports a number of programs that illustrate their commitment to diversity. However, I believe it is time to step back and review diversity, equity, and inclusion across AMS in a holistic manner and assess the collective effectiveness of its broadening participation efforts. What is our strategic vision on this important topic? With the support from Council, I appointed and charged a task force to review what the Society has accomplished to date in this area and to deliver a set of recommendations, including bold ones if necessary, to guide us as we rapidly approach our Centennial celebration. Susan Avery has kindly agreed to Chair this task force and I hope you contact her with your advice and suggestions.
There have been a number of events across the nation this past year that few of us could have predicted. The withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement (currently the only nation to do so), the March for Science, a proposed tax on graduate student tuition waivers, controversy at the EPA on the subject of membership on advisory committees and climate-related issues, and no Science Advisor for the Administration (the longest time this position has been left unfilled since it was created). These and other events beg the question whether AMS should alter the direction of its advocacy program or stay the course in this age of disruption. I have asked the Council to discuss this topic in the coming months so that we can define a path forward and communicate it clearly to all of you.
Finally, I would like to remind you of my vision for next year’s theme for the 2019 Annual Meeting in Phoenix - “Understanding and Building Resilience to Extreme Events by Being Interdisciplinary, International, and Inclusive”. It is the first time that extreme events, international and inclusive have been specifically highlighted in a theme and it is a timely subject owing to the natural disasters that impact our society and the need to build resilience. Xubin Zeng and Wen-Chau Lee are the overall program co-chairs and they are working with a great team that includes Julie Demuth, Rebecca Haacker-Santos, Sarah Jones, and Chris Schultz. The 2019 Annual Meeting will be the kickoff for a year-long celebration leading up the 2020 Centennial Meeting in Boston (will it snow or not??).
AMS has been a great organization that has supported me personally throughout my long scientific and professional career. In the bigger picture, AMS has endeavored to remain relevant and has adapted to change when necessary. Of course, AMS only exists because of you and the enormous number of hours that you volunteer to the organization. It is the primary reason that I know that the Society will continue to be strong and impactful for years to come.
I hope to both meet and interact with as many of you as possible this year.
Roger M. Wakimoto
President, American Meteorological Society