This year marks the 10th anniversary of the official constitution of the Society of Herbarium Curators – and what a decade it has been! As I pick up the reins from the very capable hands of Past President Alexander Krings (NCSU) for the 2014-2016 term, I wanted my incoming message not only to communicate the recent exciting developments in our Society but to open a forum among the membership about charting a course for the next 10 years.
This past year was a very productive one due to the dedicated efforts of our officers, committee members and ad-hoc volunteers. We funded two Master’s-level floristics projects through our student research grant program, which will be managed as a standing committee in the coming years. I send my thanks to chair Ed Lickey (BDGW) and Becky Dolan (BUT) for leading this important outreach as well as to the 13 members who provided reviews of the proposals. We also welcomed a new Executive Board Member-at-Large, Rich Rabeler (MICH).
Our society newsletter, The Vasculum, went “green” this year. Lead Editor Conley K. McMullen (JMUH) and team produced two excellent issues and distributed copies electronically to over 100 members, whose ranks have been tirelessly managed by our Membership chair Emily Gillespie (MUHW), Secretary Brenda Wichmann (NCU) and Treasurer Dale Kruse (TAES). Our standing as a nationally recognized society continued its growth and passed two important milestones. First, SHC became an official participating society of the Botany 2014 meetings in Boise; our logo graced the front cover of the scientific program for the first time. Second, the Executive Board approved the constitution of the first regional chapter of the Society. One of the explicit missions of the Society is to support regional networks of herbaria, and the inaugural Southeast chapter models a way that informal collaborations among institu- tions and people can transition more easily to democratic governance. Last but not least, the Society finished the year fiscally solvent.
Next year is shaping up to be a particularly important one for the Society. At the top of the to-do list is launching www.herbariumcurators.org on a new host server with new software. The complexities of this much needed renovation have been many, managed with persistence by Derick Poindexter (NCU), Zack Murrell (BOON) and Michael Thomas (HAW) and now Alexander Krings, but should be resolved in the near term. The importance of a functioning website for providing value to members, attracting new members, and disseminating information to stakeholders (e.g., the public, institutional administrators) cannot be understated. Likewise, the Society’s 501 (c) 3 status is slated to be finalized.
Next year marks the beginning of the second decade of the Society and offers a time to reflect on the challenges and opportunities ahead. Those of you reading this newsletter will have ideas too, and I am eager to know what they are. Retaining and growing membership is a perennial challenge, one that is shared by many biological societies in the US today (Potter et al. 2013). A likely solution may be providing a clear return on investment to members. What can members of SHC receive for their yearly dues that they cannot receive elsewhere? Within the next 10 years, I propose that SHC could provide an organizational home for the regional networks of herbaria that have formed largely in response to recent solicitations from the National Science Foundation for collections’ digitization. No fewer than 10 regional networks of herbaria provided reports at this year’s meeting of herbarium curators at Botany 2014, a very positive development and one that I hope can continue even in the absence of federally funded initiatives. In the next issue of The Vasculum, I will outline comments I receive from members of SHC to begin a larger conversation about charting a course for the next 10 years, so please send them in!
Potter, S., Musante, S. and A. Hochberg. 2013. Dynamism is the new stasis: modern challenges for the biolog- ical sciences. BioScience 63 (9): 705-714
– Andrea Weeks, George Mason University, email@example.com