By Anthony (Bud) Rock
As the May/June 2017 edition of Dimensions goes to press, I will be completing my tenure as ASTC’s president and CEO. It has been an honor to serve the ASTC community for nearly eight years.
In 2009, ASTC entrusted me with the responsibility to help promote the work of science centers and museums worldwide—strengthening our network, expanding our services, and ensuring that our association functions efficiently and responsibly. Thank you for your confidence and your partnership in these endeavors. With your help, we have indeed secured broad recognition and support for the great work of our field, we are offering new professional services and networking opportunities, and we have introduced important operational and fiscal efficiencies to the association.
We are a diverse community with a common mission to inspire people of all ages about the wonders and meaning of science in our lives. I marvel at the skills and dedication of our science center and museum professionals, as well as our enormous capacity to share and support one another. ASTC membership continues to grow each year. Thousands of science center professionals now participate in ASTC’s Communities of Practice, skills-building workshops and webinars, research activities, and, of course, our superb annual conference. And our award-winning professional magazine, Dimensions, is always filled with excellent contributions from leaders of our field throughout the world.
Recognition and appreciation of science centers and museums are necessary prerequisites for greater support. ASTC serves as the collective voice for our field, celebrating our achievements and defending our needs. It has been my privilege to represent ASTC in widely diverse venues. Through strong advocacy, ASTC has helped protect valuable resources for our field, and we have secured and distributed funds directly to ASTC members for programs and activities. Thank you for so many letters and heartwarming stories about the use of these funds in your centers and museums for programs such as the Creativity Garden, the Youth Inspired Challenge, Fund-a-Bus, Learning Labs, teacher professional support, the Cultural Competence Learning Institute, the World Biotech Tour, and many more.
ASTC is indeed a global organization, and we have made great strides to extend and deepen the bonds among our colleagues worldwide. We now celebrate our field collectively through an annual International Science Center and Science Museum Day and a Science Centre World Summit. Our members collaborate on programs across continents, highlighting the importance of science-based global issues. These efforts remind us that the daily activities of science centers and museums everywhere are helping respond to the imperative for greater science literacy and engagement in our world. As we have expanded our network, we have strengthened our positive global impact.
During my tenure at ASTC, I have focused a great deal on broad recognition and support for our field as a whole. Looking ahead, this may be the time for ASTC also to examine more closely the very practical, changing needs of our science centers and museums, as we adapt to dynamic changes in the communities that we serve, and to set priorities for professional support and advocacy accordingly. We should continue to ask how words like “educational,” “objective,” “relevant,” “appropriate,” “accessible,” and “inclusive” apply to us. More information exchange, targeted research, and longitudinal evaluations concerning science center programs and operations can certainly assist in this process and help ASTC better serve its members. And better communication in all directions can help ASTC stay current on the needs of the field and help members stay informed of the services ASTC offers.
As we face new challenges concerning U.S. federal budgets and priorities, we will no doubt continue to debate our strategies of policy engagement, but our message of service to our communities remains sound. Looking ahead, ASTC will need to apply even greater effort in defense of resources to support our field, with equal emphasis on local, national, and global messaging. Strategies applied today in the United States may well apply in other countries, now or later.
I am pleased to report to you that ASTC is today a healthy and vibrant association. We have implemented a sound business strategy and made significant improvements in areas such as our mission statement, logo, publications, website, and even our office location.
I want to thank all of the volunteers for their tireless support on ASTC’s committees and task groups. These efforts are essential to the services that we offer our members. This is also my opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to an outstanding ASTC staff. I will forever be indebted to them for their hard work and tremendous spirit. ASTC is fortunate to have such a superb team that celebrates its diversity and shared mission so well. Moreover, we have made diversity and inclusion a cornerstone of the work for the field, with special thanks to our excellent Equity and Diversity Committee.
Finally, I want to thank all readers of Dimensions for permitting me to use this column in every edition to reflect on issues large and small, which I hope have stimulated thoughts and reflections from you as well. Like many others, I can point to the inspirational impact of science centers and museums in my youth, and I am fortunate to have been able to provide some measure of return to the field for all that it has given me. Thank you for that opportunity. I will follow your continued successes with great pride.
Anthony (Bud) Rock is ASTC’s president and CEO.