PHYS Award Bylaws:
Procedure and guidelines for the adoption and administration of PHYS Awards
Voted and Approved by the Executive Committee of PHYS on 8/21/2022.
The purpose of this document is to lay out the guidelines for adopting or modifying existing PHYS Division awards and guidelines for the administration of the current awards.
Background: Due to a loss of corporate sponsors and an increase in the annual fees associated with sponsoring National ACS Awards, the PHYS Division has decided to stop funding National ACS Awards and instead expand its own PHYS Awards program. About two years ago, the ACS announced that the annual fee for sponsoring a National Award would double to $18k and that creating a new National Award would require a $400k endowment. The PHYS Division budget has been running in the red for the past 10-years, depleting the endowment, and substantial cuts to programming were made over the past 3-4 years to balance the budget. The PHYS Division has traditionally been the sole supporter of the Theory Award and partial sponsor of the Langmuir and Wilson awards. Recently, the longtime corporate sponsors of the Debye and Hildebrand National Awards withdrew their support. The ACS has a new policy that they will not provide stopgap funding and so these two awards have been removed from the ACS website.
Proposed New Award system for Physical Chemistry: The following proposal has been constructed with the intention of creating a more sustainable path forward. The goal is to create an awards system that is held in high esteem, financially viable for the PHYS Division, and is less susceptible to the whims of corporate sponsorship. The awards program outlined below is designed such that the PHYS Division bears the costs of the awards banquet, advertising, and other factors associated with the awards while the bulk of the endowment is used for honoraria to the awardees with a smaller fraction going to support the PHYS costs. For awards endowed at $100k, the honoraria and fringe is set to create an award that lasts 15-20 years at a minimal interest rate and longer for a higher rate. The PHYS Division will hold a Fall Celebration of some sort, whether it be a banquet, reception, or other large event. The goal is to (A) honor the awardees, (B) elevate the status of the awards through a large celebration, and (C) include as large a swath of the PHYS membership as can be accommodated. PHYS Division awardees will be invited, as will National ACS Awardees that are associated with the PHYS Division.
1. The PHYS Division will advertise the awards to help elevate their status by means such as (A) emailings, (B) advertisement in C&E News, and (C) powerpoint slides presented at each symposium.
2. Finances associated with the creation or renaming of PHYS Awards will follow the procedure rules:
A. If an endowment of $100k is created, the PHYS Division will allot a minimum 10-year term for the award. At 9-years, the financial health of the fund and the relevance to the society will be evaluated. If deemed financially viable and suitable, the award will be renewed for 5-years, and the process repeated at 5-year intervals. If deemed unsuitable, the award will continue to be awarded for the following 5-years while the endowment is spent to zero. Alternatively, funds can be transferred to a different award, but only if the donors are identified and their permission granted, either at the time or when donated. Funds can be combined with another endowment so long as the named individual is still included in the award title.
B. If an endowment is created at a $25k level, an award will be generated with a 3-year term.
The principle on the endowment will be spent so that the fund reaches zero at the end of the 3-year term. The awardee will receive $5k and $3k will go towards PHYS expenses for the banquet, advertising and other costs associated with the award. It is envisioned that this mechanism might alleviate the anxiety of fundraising from individuals worried about making the $100k level. It may also be a good mechanism to work in conjunction with JPC Festschrifts, whereby funds are raised from former students and contributors to the special issue.
C. For awards endowed at the $100k level, the awardee will receive $5k and $2k will be used by PHYS for expenses. If the endowment has grown by less than $7k that year, then the principle will be used to pay the award. With this formula, a $100k endowment that earns no interest would establish an award for 15-years and a $100k endowment that earns 4% interest would have a 20-year lifetime.
D. If a minimum of $100k is promised through a bequeathment by an individual, then if the PHYS budget allows, PHYS will pay the award stipend and fringe until the estate is settled (~$7k per year), at which time those sum of those funds will be recouped by PHYS. At the time the estate is settled, the PHYS Treasurer will evaluate the remaining funds and assess the viability of award following the same criteria as above, deciding whether the award will be renewed for 5-years or the principle spent down. The PHYS Division recognizes that these are often emotional topics and will take care to be sensitive to the situation.
E. Existing awards, such as the PHYS Jr. Theory award, that are not endowed will honor awardees with a certificate but will not provide awardees with honoraria.
F. The amount of the cash prize for each award will be announced with the award and on the PHYS website.
G. Within 2 years from now, sponsors of existing awards must pay 20% of the cash prize to the PHYS Division to help offset costs of the banquet.
H. Travel, lodging and registration expenses will not be paid by PHYS. The recipient can use the honorarium if desired.
3. Considerations for renaming or creating a new award
A. Permission to raise funds to rename an award or create a new award will be given after
consultation and vote by the Officers of the Executive Committee.
B. The naming of awards will take into consideration the excellence of the individual’s scientific research and their contributions to the PHYS community. Gender and race and other attributes will also be taken into consideration.
C. The renamed or new award will be brought to the attention of the full Executive Committee at the next annual meeting for a vote.
4. The PHYS Division will no longer financially support National Awards that have not already been negotiated; financial support for the Langmuir will terminate after the current agreement with JCP ends.
5. Any new National Award that is created that overlaps with the interests of the PHYS membership will be considered to be included in the Fall PHYS banquet.
6. Officers can modify the above terms as necessary by consensus, which must then be brought to the full Executive Committee for a vote.
Potential benefits of the above plan: The plan is largely based on the recent fundraising effort by former students of Rick van Dyne upon his passing. Over about 12 months, a group of his former students raised about $90k and the PHYS Division Executive Committee voted to rename the Experimental PHYS Young Investigator Award after Rick van Dyne. We imagine that similar sentiments might be held by other groups of chemists, who will then take up the challenge of raising funds. Funds might be raised at anniversaries or in conjunction with JPC Festschrifts. The plan is fully independent of the National ACS association. For nearly the same price as hosting a single National ACS Award, which honors a single person and only includes a few of their friends (whom all have to pay to attend), PHYS can throw a reception for 300 people. Among members, the PHYS Division awards will be more visible to the community than the National Awards and have similar cash prizes. The plan is also designed to evolve with time, allowing awards short or long tenures, as judged by periodic assessments. It allows the PHYS Division to rectify imbalances, such as in prizes named after females and minorities.
Potential drawbacks of the above plan: We risk losing the prestige associated with long-running awards. Most individuals who received the National Awards were scientifically impactful at the time of the award and their impact continued to grow with time, placing new awardees into a select category. The National ACS Awards banquet is a fancy black tie affair with a level of gravity that we will not be able to replicate. The C&E News coverage of awardees is terrific, which would also be difficult to replicate. The new plan relies on the efforts of the PHYS Secretary/Treasurer to organize the banquet each year, which will be no small task (the PHYS Secretary has always been given an honorarium that is meant as a compensation for taking care of the details behind-the-scenes of the PHYS Executive Committee). It might all be a bad idea and it flops. The money spent on the banquet is not being spent to support a National Award such as the Theory Award.
Officers of PHYS at the time of implementation:
David Sherrill, Chair
Christy Landes, Chair-Elect
Laura Gagliardi, Vice-Chair
Julie Biteen, Vice-Chair-Elect
Qiang Cui, Secretary/Treasurer
Marty Zanni, Past-Chair