Some Traditions and Suggestions for Officers and Hosts of

The advancing nature of the officer chain in TSAAPT generally serves to keep things moving along smoothly; however, our hosts and officers sometimes still realize or find out about certain responsibilities too late to avoid embarrassment or last minute headaches. This manuscript contains suggestions and things that have been done in the past which can serve as a guide to these people.


The president is responsible for seeing that all the activities of the section as stated in the constitution and approved by the section council are carried out. He/she should keep in touch with the officers, section representative and committee chairman to be sure that all matters are being handled approximately. He/she is responsible for calling necessary council meetings and for making all the arrangements for these meetings. The president should work with the program chairman and host to fix a time and place for the section business meetings which he/she conducts. All committees are appointed by the president including the nominating committee which traditionally is appointed in the spring. There has been a recent tradition of appointing the immediate past president to chair the nominating committee. The president also is in charge of arrangements for banquets and luncheons which include head table arrangements, serving as Master of Ceremonies, etc.


According to the constitution the vice-president and president-elect are jointly responsible for planning programs for the meetings. Traditionally, and probably wisely so, the president-elect has taken this responsibility but calling on the vice-president for assistance as needed. In many cases it has proven helpful to both parties to involve the vice-president in program planning. Thus following traditions the president-elect has full responsibility for all aspects of the programs for the spring section meeting. (See below under HOSTS and PROGRAM PLANNING).


The vice-president is in the position of an apprentice and should clearly observe the activities of the president and president-elect with the full understanding that he/she will have to fill these positions in the following two years.


The secretary-treasurer of TSAAPT is elected every year. It is significant to note that only 9 different people have held this office during the first 24 years of the Texas Section. The smooth operation of the section is greatly enhanced by the longevity of the people holding this office. Keeping up with the records and finances of the section could become a confused mess if frequent changes were made in this office. As secretary this individual keeps track of all meeting minutes and documents of the association. He/she has the responsibility of keeping current membership rolls which can be made available when necessary. Traditionally the secretary-treasurer has mailed minutes of section business meetings to the entire membership.

As treasurer this individual handles all the financial matters of the association. He/she maintains a section bank account and records of all financial transactions. It has been found valuable for this individual to have access to a computer for financial records and in particular membership rolls.


The section representative is a voting member of the AAPT council which is the governing body of the Association. He/she is therefore an individual who will go to all AAPT national meetings and be an active participant in AAPT affairs. In particular he/she should promote the Texas Section at the national level and promote AAPT at the section level.

In 1972 the constitution was changed to give the section representative a four year term of office. This was a good thing because good influence at the national level has some relationship to length of tenure.

Texas Section

The Texas Section of AAPT is a very active section with very good participation from all levels of physics teaching. Much of the success of the Texas Section is due to good leadership and a strong tradition of good meetings. As we have grown we have also expanded our activities. In the paragraphs below are listed some projects which the Texas Section is presently involved in.

Excellence in Teaching Award

The Texas Section annually recognizes outstanding teachers of physics below the collegiate level. Science supervisors, principals, teachers, or students are invited to submit the name of a teacher for such an award. All teachers in Texas (K-12) are eligible. Letters of recommendation must be submitted by at least two colleagues who can best describe the candidate’s teaching effectiveness, innovative methods of physics instruction, contributions, and philosophy.

A committee of the Texas Section then reviews the nominees and up to 4 awards are presented. The awards are announced at the banquet of the Science Teachers Association of Texas and the awards are presented at the fall meeting of the Texas Section. Along with the recognition the recipients receive scientific equipment and science books donated by scientific equipment companies and book companies.

Texas Section Papers to National Meetings

Many excellent papers on physics teaching are contributed each year at our Texas Section meetings which are not repeated at national AAPT meetings. In an effort to encourage these people to give them at the national meeting the Texas Section is awarding $50.00 towards travel expenses of the selected contributors. The selections are made by a Texas Section committee and the paper abstract must acknowledge the support of the Texas Section.


The following items list some additional projects and activities of the Texas Section.

  1. A new award started in 1979 honors outstanding contributors to physics higher education in Texas.
  2. A committee of the Texas Section is investigating the possibility of activating a regional section of the American Physical Society and possible joint affiliation between the two sections.
  3. The Texas Section has a committee working on high school standards and in particular pre-college preparation for future physicists and engineers.
  4. There has been a trend in Texas through the Higher Education Coordinating Board to combine small physics departments with other science or math departments. A committee of the Texas Section is looking into this situation with the idea of taking a strong stand on this issue.


One tradition that has strongly contributed to the success of TSAAPT has been the continuous willingness of Texas Institutions to host our section meeting. It involves a lot of time and effort. One way that TSAAPT has been able to remain financially healthy while having excellent meetings has been for host institutions to bear the major portion of the meeting expense. In recent years several institutions have spent $500 on fall meetings to pay for invited speakers, printing costs, hospitality services, etc. This definitely reflects the excellent support for our section in the state of Texas. Institutions which cannot give this kind of financial support can still host meetings. There are many ways to hold down costs and TSAAPT can give financial support when needed. It is also possible that in the future we could charge meeting registration fees to help cover the expenses of our meetings.


Good meetings are the major reason for the success of TSAAPT. These meetings don’t just happen; they take a lot of careful planning and hard work. Traditionally the emphasis in our fall meetings has been on research and student research and in our spring meeting on pedagogy. There is a strong feeling that this tradition should continue. Research papers can be contributed in the fall but members are strongly encouraged to give them in the spring.

The remaining discussion will be concerning the fall meeting; however, most of the ideas carry over to the spring meeting where the chairman for physical sciences of TAS serves as the program chairman instead of the TSAAPT president-elect.

The two most important contributing factors of a successful meeting are careful advance planning and good communications. It is imperative that the president-elect and are presentative of the host institution (HOST) meet in the spring to plan for the fall meeting. Generally this is done at the spring meeting and the president, vice-president and secretary-treasurer are included in this meeting. Generally plans would go something like the following (Dates arbitrarily chosen assuming the meeting is November9-11).

  1. Past president sends out first call for papers August 21. Deadline given as October 20. This mailing has sometimes included a form for nominating emeritus members.
  2. Host mails second and final call for papers on October 1. This mailing should include some preliminary meeting information to catch the interest of our members. This mailing one or two weeks later should contain motel information and maps of the city and campus.
  3. The past president has the final typed program including chairpersons, times, etc. to the host by October 27. Final touches supplied by the host who has the program printed within a week or less. Sometimes the program is mailed to the membership and sometimes it isn’t. At least the initial typed copy from the past_president should be mailed to all contributors.

Following are some ideas for the host to keep in mind when planning a meeting.

  1. Meetings are generally more enjoyable when all activities are centrally located and close together. Attempts should be made to have the hospitality room, meeting rooms and exhibitors areas as close together as possible so as not to isolate any part of the activities.
  2. Obtaining exhibitors has generally been the responsibility of the host. The number of exhibitors at our fall meetings has varied from 2 to more than 10. The number seems to be related to the aggressiveness of the host more than anything else. Generally exhibitors have not paid for the right to exhibit. Our meetings are not that large and it is necessary to keep the exhibitor overhead small or they won’t come. It is also a good idea to list the names of the exhibitors on the program.
  3. Registration at our meetings can be very smooth or very confusing and frustrating depending on how carefully it is planned. The only fees collected are TSAAPT dues and meal or banquet tickets. It is important that each registrant fill out a form which clearly shows his/her name, complete mailing address and Institution. Our membership rolls come from these forms and thus the information is important. Thought should be given to expediting registration on Friday morning so that people do not spend long periods of time waiting in lines.
  4. All financial arrangements and registration forms should be discussed ahead of time with the section secretary-treasurer. Since he/she is the one who is responsible for the money and membership rolls he/she should be involved or at least aware of what is being done on all financial and registration matters

JUNE, 1997

(These notes are based on my service as an officer of the Texas Section AAPT. Traditions are just that, actions customarily performed based on mutual agreement among the officers and recent officers of the section.)

This officer, following the revision in the Constitution administered when Fred Loxsom was President, serves as Program Chair for TSAAPT for the fall meeting. The fall meeting is officially hosted by the Texas Section APS and therefore the Program Chair will work closely with the Program Chair of TSAPS and the Zone 13 SPS Councilor to prepare a mutually attractive program for each of the three organizations.

This officer has traditionally chaired the two committees of TSAAPT: the Nominating Committee and the Awards Committee (even though the Constitution says the committees are chaired by the Section Rep).

This officer serves as Chair of the Physical Science Division of the Texas Academy of Sciences. Irregularly this officer has been called upon by TAS to organize a Physical Science Contributed Paper Session at the Annual Meeting of TAS.

This officer traditionally serves as a member of the Awards Committee.

The TS AAPT prides itself on being a volunteer organization. There are three additional positions which well serve the section but are not elected positions.

  1. Precollege Awards: The section has had one or two individuals who have volunteered their time and talent to solicit, review and select recipients of the precollege awards and donations from vendors to be given to the recipients. (At the time of these notes, David Brink serves as the Precollege Award coordinator)
  2. The section has a workshop coordinator who is responsible for contacting workshop leaders and organizing the agenda and meeting space to accommodate the workshops held at both the Fall and Spring meetings of TSAAPT. This individual works closely with the TSAAPT Program Chair and the Host institution to insure that the physical needs of the workshops are available at meeting time. (This person is currently Tom O’Kuma)
  3. TSAAPT now has a Web site developed and maintained by Paul Schulze at Abilene Christian University. Program Chairs work closely with Paul so as to best publicize the meetings and program agendas.

The Society of Physics Students is a member organization of the American Institute of Physics and Zone 13 is a region of this national society. Although SPS is the third organization meeting jointly with the TS APS and TS AAPT, the Councilor meets with the TSAAPT Council and reports its activities to this governing body. The SPS zone is treated, for all practical purposes, satisfactorily as a student organization within TS AAPT, but in fact has no political or voting ties with TSAAPT. The SPS Councilor and Associate Councilor work closely with the SPS Chapter of the Host Institution and the Program Chairs of TS APS and TS AAPT in the preparation of meeting programs.

In recent times, this committee has been chaired by the Past-President and two members of the committee have been recommended by the Past-President and approved by the TSAAPT Council. The Committee submits a slate of recommendations for the appropriate positions, first to the Council in the Fall and then formally to the membership during the Luncheon Business Meeting. The Committees have sometimes submitted one nomination for each position and sometimes two nominations for each position. Election of the officers is held during the Spring Business Meeting of TSAAPT. (Elected officers will assume office at the close of the following Fall meeting of TSAAPT.)

The Nominating Committee normally works with the Secretary Treasurer to ensure that voting ballots are prepared and ready for the Spring election.

In recent times, the membership of this committee has consisted of the three immediate past presidents of TSAAPT, with the Past-President serving as committee chair. (Special note: the Constitution states that this committee is chaired by the SectionRep. This practice has not occurred recently but the Section Rep has worked with this committee in its selection.) The responsibility of the committee is to collect, review and select recipients for the two Teaching In Excellence Awards, the Robert N. Little Award and the Katherine Mays Award. These awards are not annual awards. In the event that the Committee has awards to make, the Committee notifies the Council that award(s) will be made but the name(s) of the recipient(s) is customarily withheld until the actual award ceremony.

Robert Beck Clark is the person to contact concerning the preparation of the plaque for the Little Award and Tom O’Kuma is the person to contact for the preparation of the plaque for the Mays Award.

This committee is not involved with the Precollege Awards nor the Outstanding Contributed Paper Award.

TSAAPT customarily presents awards during the banquet of the Spring meeting. Each year Precollege Awards are announced and presentations made. If the Awards Committee has selected recipients for the Little Award and/or the Mays Award, announcements and presentations are also made at this time.

At the conclusion of each Spring Meeting, the Council Officers informally meet and discuss the papers presented during the TSAAPT Contributed Paper Sessions. If a paper is found deserving, it is selected for partial funding for presentation at the AAPT Summer meeting in the summer following the TSAAPT meeting. The Secretary-Treasurer handles the funding for the paper and the President immediately notifies the winning presenter(s).

In recent times, one or two individuals have been in charge of procuring, reviewing and selecting recipients for these awards. These individuals communicate their choices to the President. The President and Program Chair then coordinate the Award Ceremony activities during the banquet with the meeting host.

The Fall and Spring meeting each consists of three organizations meeting jointly as a physics community: the Texas Section of the American Physical Society, the Texas Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers and Zone 13 of the Society of Physics Students. The Host institution is therefore obligated to work with these three organizations concerning the logistics of this meeting. The Fall meeting is primarily the responsibility of TSAPS and the Spring meeting is primarily the responsibility of TSAAPT. The President-Elect serves as the TSAAPT Program Chair for the Spring meeting and the Past-President serves as the TSAAPT Program Chair for the Fall meeting.

Traditionally TSAAPT mails three Announcements and Call for Papers for each Fall and Spring meeting. The mailings are coordinated with the help of the Secretary-Treasurer. These mailings are usually separate from the mailings by the TS APS programs committee.

The Host institution normally assumes the responsibility to contact and arrange for exhibitors and vendors to attend the physics meetings.

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