John L. Robins
President - IUVSTA
In September 1995 I was invited to attend the 2nd World Congress of Physical Societies. I was amazed to think that this was only the second occasion that representatives of the national Institutes of Physics and Physical Societies from around the world had been brought together. I contrasted this with our own situation where, through the Executive Council meetings of IUVSTA, we create an opportunity for the representatives of all national Vacuum Societies to meet twice every year.
This made me more aware of the special nature of IUVSTA, which I believe arises from three factors. The first is the highly multidisciplinary membership of our Union. The second is that Vacuum Societies, of which we are the international counterpart, developed because the people who were to become their members saw the value of having a society which would facilitate their coming together to share ideas and information. That is, Vacuum Societies were created by their members, rather than being created by the various professions for their members. The third factor, as mentioned above, is that IUVSTA is organised so as to bring representatives of the national Vacuum Societies together.
Our scientific and teaching activities are certainly very successful in catering for the needs of individuals. Also, through the exhibitions associated with our conferences, we unite science, technology, industry, marketing and sales. However, are we doing as much as we should to bring the national Vacuum Societies and their national committees into close contact with each other? Such communication may help them share the ideas and strategies they have developed for operating successfully within their own country. This benefit was evidenced in the two regional meetings of vacuum society presidents held in France (1995) and Sweden (1997). The societies are our members and there is much to be gained by supporting them as societies as well as supporting their members as individuals.
As the end of the triennium approaches, I have had occasion to look back at the activities which the Union has initiated or contributed to over the past three years. Much has been done and many people deserve our collective thanks.
I have prepared two documents for the General Meeting. One is an overview of the work carried out by the Committees, which includes everything except the scientific activities reported on by the STD. If you have been reading my "IUVSTA Activities" reports in the IUVSTA News Bulletins, you will already have seen much of this work reported upon as it occurred. The second is my Retiring President's Review which deals with issues rather than specifics. These, together with the reports of the Secretary General, the Treasurer and the STD will be presented at the General Meeting and will appear in the Minutes of that meeting. I commend them for you for perusal.
By way of summary, it is pleasing to note that, during the triennium: our scientific activities have expanded; our educational activities continue to grow; we have been able to offer some help to developing countries; we have maintained a liaison with the large international scientific organisations; we have awarded our Prize and Welch Scholarships; we have used our financial resources wisely; we have been guided by our statutes in managing our affairs; we have ensured the careful planning of our Congress and conferences; and we have taken cognisance of our future through long range planning. All these activities have added strength to our Union and enabled us to bring benefits to the scientific community. I thank all those who have contributed to achieve this, particularly our Councillors and the Chairs and Secretaries of our Divisions and Committees and the Officers who have served with me.
When so many people are contributing to so many activities it is often unwise to single out individuals. However I would like to make one exception, to express what I believe must be our collective gratitude to Professor John Colligon, our Secretary General. He has served in this capacity for the past nine years and during that time has shown exceptional dedication, wisdom and efficiency, despite the huge workload involved. His work has had an enormously positive impact on the image and well-being of our Union and he has gained the respect and friendship of us all. His efficiency and advice have been of great value to me and my two predecessors and it gives me pleasure to express my personal thanks to him.
I have considered it an honour and privilege to have had the opportunity to serve as President of IUVSTA. Our Union is already making a very positive contribution to the scientific community and, with your continuing support, I am confident that it will continue to do so to an increasing degree.