November 2011

Goodbye, Beaumont House

Enter the ASBC 

During the fall of 1953, as the APS committee was considering possible locations for the moving of its headquarters, Phil Handler and D. Wright Wilson, secretary and president of the American Society of Biological Chemists at that time, exchanged several letters about the possibilities for the ASBC in these matters. In a letter dated Nov. 2, 1953, Wilson noted, “I believe last year [1952] the Federation was talking about buying property.” He went on to say, “I think probably the Biochemists will be up against a proposition in the near future because I doubt if Universities will agree to donate space for the Journal’s Publication Department.” He raised the possibility that the ASBC might wish to consider being financially involved in the Hawley deal.

Handler replied that he had just discussed the Hawley estate purchase with Milton Lee, who wanted to know his opinion. Handler noted that he had expressed personal interest but thought that as long as Rudolf Anderson was the managing editor of the JBC, “we … should not want to make a change.” However, he also said that after Anderson, a “permanent editorial office might be a valuable thing to have.”

Not stated in these remarks was the totally autocratic control that Anderson exercised over the journal and its finances and his unwillingness to consider any change in the way they were managed. Thus, it was the location of the journal activities at Yale University and Anderson’s position as managing editor that effectively kept the ASBC from being more directly involved in the purchase of the Hawley estate. However, these events undoubtedly contributed to bringing the Anderson editorship to an end a couple of years later.

In 1955, the ASBC Council, noting the purchase and occupancy of Beaumont House by APS and the federation was complete, resolved to explore the transfer of its pertinent documents and materials to a fireproof vault to be housed in the new federation headquarters (1). The next year, the ASBC Council, now wrestling more directly with the complicated problems engendered by the finances of the journal on the one hand and those of the society on the other and confronted with the realization that “the burden of this office [Secretary] has grown to such an extent that the Society no longer has the right to impose upon one of its members to the extent now demanded,” resolved that when a new managing editor was appointed, the headquarters of the society should be located at Beaumont House, including the publication activities, and that “the possibility should be explored of a combined Managing Editor and Executive Secretary” (1).




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  • The NSF, along with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Energy's Office of Science, are supposed to be on a track to doblue their respective budgets over the next several years. This is based on the COMPETES legislation passed in 2007 as part of President Bush's American Competitiveness Initiative.The challenge in making sure this happens has been pretty much in the appropriations committees, where other priorities, and the general inability to get budgets passed on time, has seen Congress hit the budget targets late. While this doesn't derail the doubling process, it makes it harder for the agencies and their grantees to effectively plan for and disburse funding.Don't take this to mean I think Lively is wrong, it just seems like he's missing some context.

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