By John Hawdon
Welcome to the President’s Corner! With memories of sun, surf, and science from the meeting in Cancun in the distance, and the new semester underway, I am writing my first installment of what I hope will be an ongoing conversation with you, the membership, about the state of the ASP. I hope to use the President’s Corner to keep you up to date on happenings in Council and the exciting initiatives that are underway at the ASP. Before I begin, I want to thank a few people. Thanks again to the Local Organizing Committee in Cancun, chaired by Victor Vidal-Martinez and Leo Aguirre-Macedo, for a wonderful meeting in a beautiful location. I also want to thank our Immediate Past President Susan Perkins for leaving the presidency in excellent shape. Thanks also to Secretary/Treasurer Lee Couch for her steadfast work and dedication to the Society. I also want to express my gratitude to everyone who stepped up to serve on Society committees. The strength of the Society depends on the commitment, energy, and involvement of its members. I have big plans for you, and will be contacting you soon.
We have several what I think are exciting initiatives underway in the Society, starting with the new ASP Newsletter. This is part of an overall effort to bring the ASP into the 21st century and increase our social media presence. Our newest committee, the Public Relations Committee, under the guidance and direction of co-chairs Kelly Weinersmith and Ben Hanelt, spearheads this modernization effort. In addition to the electronic Newsletter and new blog, the website is undergoing modernization, and the Committee is invigorating our Twitter and Facebook accounts with timely posts and interesting discussions. Thank you all for your efforts. I also want to take a moment to extend my appreciation and thanks to Scott Gardner for his long- time service to the Society as Newsletter Editor.
I am also excited about the changes that Rich Clopton, our new editor in chief, is bringing to the Journal of Parasitology, including a new co-publishing contract with Allen Press and a new article look, among many others. You can find more details about changes coming to the Journal of Parasitology in this post. I will just say thanks, Rich - it makes my life easier as President to know the Journal is in your capable hands.
Another big initiative underway is conversion of the ASP from 501(c)(6) to 501(c)(3) non-profit status. This has several advantages for us, including tax-exempt meetings and tax-deductible donations to the Society, which will make us more attractive to sponsors. To take advantage of this opportunity, I am charging the Business Advisory Committee with developing a Sponsorship Program for the Society to be displayed prominently on our website to help generate funds for our meetings and other programs. I also invite anyone with contacts in industry to reach out to them as potential ASP sponsors.
Another goal of mine is to increase our membership by increasing the value of an ASP membership. I am tasking the Committee on Education to work with the Membership and Public Relations Committees to develop educational resources for sharing with members in a password-protected members’ only section of the website. This will include materials like parasitology course syllabi, lectures, specimens, and lab exercises that will help members develop or improve parasitology teaching. I also hope to post videos of talks and symposia in this area as a visual history of the Society, as well as other society information.
Finally, the leadership team and I are working to increase transparency and decrease costs of our meetings in an effort to stabilize our finances. Council approved, and I appointed, a committee chaired by Past President Perkins to evaluate the planning and execution of our annual meeting from start to finish. Their committee report will guide future efforts to streamline planning and decrease the cost of our meetings. I also intend to update the membership on committee efforts and Council proceedings throughout the year via this blog.
Thanks again to our members, who make the Society what it is, and as always, please reach out to me about concerns or ways to make our Society better.