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Introducing the AAS Agents Program

Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 10:09

"For most astronomers, astrophysicists, planetary scientists, and solar physicists, the AAS is, at best, a peripheral part of their lives," wrote AAS President David Helfand in April 2013. "Given the ever-accelerating pace of modern life, peripheral things get neglected — non-urgent emails get deleted, deadlines get skipped, dues renewals get forgotten, and calls for support get ignored. Political parties overcome this problem by having a hierarchy of unpaid, partially paid, and fully paid volunteers and staffers, and a party's effectiveness on election day comes not from the leadership but from the precinct captains. I have proposed the AAS adopt the precinct-captain model and, at the January [2013] Council meeting, we agreed to proceed."

And so was born the AAS Agents program, designed to improve communication between the Society and its members and to enhance the profile of the AAS in the community. AAS Agents, representing colleges (or consortia thereof), universities, and research institutions that have at least a half dozen practicing astronomers, will act as interlocutors between the Society and its members. In return for their service, AAS Agents will receive a half-price registration discount for one Society meeting each year for a designee of their choice.

For a detailed description of the new program, as well as a list of responsibilities of institutional representatives, see "The AAS Agents Program." For a deeper look at the motivation for the program, as well as answers to some questions that we anticipate will be frequently asked, see "Information for AAS Agents."

We welcome anyone who wishes to volunteer to play this new role at his or her institution. To sign up, please fill out our short AAS Agents Sign-Up Form (note that you must be signed in to aas.org to fill out and submit the form). Deadline: 1 October 2013, if you wish to participate in the kickoff webinar in late October and in the Agents activities scheduled for the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, in January 2014.

Richard Tresch Fienberg
Press Officer & Director of Communications
American Astronomical Society