FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE MAGNETICS SOCIETY

Kevin O’Grady, The University of York, UK




As many of you will know I took over as President of the Society on 1January 2005. Apparently this makes me the first non-North American based President in the history of our Society. On taking over I am pleased to be able to tell you that we are in good shape in terms of technical matters, organisational matters and more importantly financial matters. This is in no small part due to the efforts over the last two years of my predecessor, Ron Indeck of George Washington University. It is my pleasure to thank Ron for his two years of service, during which time he made major strides in resolving the difficulties over the organisation of the MMM conference and more pertinently guiding the Society through the financial difficulties which affected the whole of IEEE due to the collapse of the US stock market.

It is also our duty to provide a vote of thanks to a number of long serving members of the administration AdCom committee of the Society who have stood down from office at the end of this year. In particular Bob Fontana of Hitachi GST requires special mention as he leaves the AdCom having served for two years as Past President of the Society. During Bob’s tenure the difficulties over the MMM conference became quite critical and it was only due to his patience and diligence that the groundwork was laid for the final resolution and the drafting of a new MOU two years ago. Bob should also be acknowledged as the innovator who set up the mechanism by which the Intermag conference is now routinely held outside the United States in both Asia and Europe. Testaments to the quality of the mechanism Bob devised have been seen at the Amsterdam and Nagoya Intermags which were the largest conferences that we have ever organised.

A number of other long-term servants of the Society have also recently stood down from office. These include another past President, Dave Thomson, Floyd Humphrey and Stan Charap, who was most recently the Distinguished Lecturer Coordinator. We acknowledge and are most grateful to these individuals for their volunteer service to the Society.

Looking to the future the Society also undertook a major revision of its Constitution last year and the new Constitution came into force 1 January, 2005. Full details of the changes and a copy of the Constitution itself can be found on the website http://www.ieeemagnetics.org/. The main features of the new Constitution are a simplified structure in which ten committee chairs sit on the AdCom together with 24 elected members and 3 officers. Please note that at this time nominations are open for 8 vacancies which will occur for next year’s AdCom. Please see the Nominations Committee announcement on the website for details.

Under the new Constitution a number of key appointments had to be made or tenure in positions renewed at the beginning of the year. Major appointments of note are that Mel Gomez from the University of Maryland now chairs an enlarged Technical Committee composed mainly of people who are new to involvement with the Society and with wide international representation. The Technical Committee exists to provide advice to the AdCom or other committees and to seek nominations for positions in the Society, invited lecturers at conferences, distinguished lecturers etc. It is interesting to note that at the time of this writing the membership renewals for 2005 show that exactly half the Society membership is now non-US based. Hence this shift to represent the membership is very important .

In this vein it is also the case that the vast majority of our Chapters are based in the US. Richard Dee of StorageTek chairs the Chapters committee and is very active at this time setting up new Chapters in Spain, Taiwan and Brazil. Any members who would wish to form a Chapter either in their locality or in their country should contact Richard. Funds are available to support new Chapter activities and with the rapid advance of globalisation the formation of new Chapters to better represent the Society and allow participation in our activities is a clear.

One mechanism by which the Society can support both Chapter activities and provide outreach is via our distinguished lecturer programme. Here there has been a change in distinguished lecturer coordinator Roy Chantrell has taken over this role and therefore becomes a non-voting member of the AdCom. Here the policy is to broaden participation, particularly in the nomination of DLs and anyone who wishes to make suggestions should contact Roy as these will be most welcome. Full details of the DL programme and this year’s lecturers can be found again on the Society website which has now been expanded due to a Herculean effort by Can Korman and Martha Pardavi Horvath.

Of course the Magnetics Society inevitably faces some challenges and issues as we go forward. At the recent AdCom meeting in Nagoya the issue of the citation index for the TRANSACTIONS ON MAGNETICS was raised. Currently our citation index level is about 1.2 as compared with 0.8 for JMMM and 4 for APL. There is an increasing trend, particularly in Europe but also from the US Department of Energy, that work which they fund must only be published in journals with high impact factors. Hence we must do what we can to raise the impact factor of our Transactions. One suggestion from the Editorial Board is that in future Intermag papers would be 4 pages and that we keep the number of pages published constant. This would mean a rejection rate for Intermag papers of the order of 30% or slightly higher. Another factor linked to the above is the fact that we are seeing a serious escalation in conference fees. One solution to this problem would be to decouple the publication of papers from the conference fee. If this policy were implemented then conference fees would fall into the $350 to $400 range but individuals wishing to publish a paper would then be required to pay between $300 and $350 in page charges. Since this would disproportionately affect authors from developing economies, we have decided to hold a year-long debate and discussion that will involve the Publications committee and the Technical committee as well as the AdCom of the Society. Members wishing to express an opinion on either of the above suggestions are invited to contact any members of the committees of the Society whose names appear on the website. Input to the Publication committee and the Technical committee are probably most appropriate.

As many of you will know the Magnetics Society’s activities are overseen by the Technical Activities Board of IEEE (TAB). At the recent TAB meeting a number of issues were raised which again have relevance to the comments above re Intermag and publications. One is that due to open access publication revenues will fall in the next few years and hence only conference fee income will be stable. Thus we are advised that we must budget in all conferences for a surplus to fund our other activities such as distinguished lecturers, student travel etc. Also the real overhead on what we do lies between 10 and 15% of revenue. Coupled with the above comment it would appear that conference budgets will have to allow for a 20% surplus in future years. Hence further excessive conference fee inflation can be expected unless the publication is unbundled from the conference fee.

The Magnetics Society forms part of Division IV of the IEEE. At this time the directorship of Division IV is due for election and on behalf of the Society I nominated Ed Della Torre of George Washington University for this prestigious position. I believe that as a highly active past President of the Magnetics Society and a well-known engineer in the United States, Ed would provide valuable input to the IEEE from one of the smaller societies. Participating in the IEEE at this level would also provide valuable insight to those of us who are now charged with managing the affairs of the Society. Please look out for the ballot on the Division IV directorship and participate if you wish.

Finally, those of us who participated cannot fail to have been impressed by the fantastic organisation involved in the Intermag conference in Nagoya. As I know from experience it is a difficult thing to take Intermag outside the United States and to retain the distinct format of the conference while simultaneously allowing for the cultural experience of being in another country. I believe all those involved with the meeting made an outstanding contribution to the health of our Society. It is always difficult to single out individuals but in this case I feel I should acknowledge the Herculean efforts of Roger Wood, Prof Uchiyama and Takao Suzuki who were the main drivers behind a very successful meeting.

Best regards

Kevin O’Grady
University of York