I consider it an honour and privilege to be able to address you today as the new President of the IUVSTA for the 1995-1998 triennium. I am conscious of the trust that has been placed in me and I assure you I will work strenuously to justify that trust and to fulfil my duties.

The present healthy state and strength of our Union results from the efforts of all those who have worked strenuously over the past three years to support and advance the ideals and activities of the Union. This includes the wisdom and firm leadership of our President, Ted Madey, the prodigious effort and untiring dedication of our Secretary General, John Colligon, the attention to financial detail of our Treasurer, Rudi Dobrozemsky, the knowledgeable and innovative guidance given to our scientific and technical activities by Phil Woodruff and Ugo Valbusa, and of course the maintenance of accurate records by Harry Leck. However, I am sure they would all be quick to remind me that their efforts would have been in vain without the support of the very large number of dedicated people who have worked tirelessly in and with the Committees and Divisions of our Union.

I am very fortunate that as I come into office the organisation and activities of the IUVSTA are well established and are contributing constructive and valuable support for science and industry. However, situations and circumstances in the world are always changing and at present they are changing rapidly. We must be alert to these changes so that we can meet the challenges they present and where possible utilise them to help advance our objectives.

The most rapid change at present is occuring in electronic communications. It is having a dramatic effect on our lives: social, ethical and scientific. Indeed I am concerned that it may be like a run-away horse which could leave disruption and chaos in its wake, but if we harness it well and use it carefully it has the potential to be of enormous benefit to our Union.

During this triennium, I would like to see our Union increase its direct interaction with the National Vacuum Societies. We are very active in supporting scientists throughout the world but do we offer enough support to the National Vacuum Societies which are our members? I would like us to explore ways in which our interaction with them could be increased and made more valuable, if it so be their wish. Perhaps initially we could play a role in bringing these societies into closer communication with each other.

Our interaction with large international, non-governmental, bodies is increasing. We are already carrying out programs in collaboration with ICSU, UNESCO, ICTP, TWAS and others. It is essential that we maintain and strengthen such contacts and it may be advantageous for us to restructure the Liaison Committee to permit more personalised representation to each individual organisation. These interactions are sometimes delicate and always important. They not only allow us to cooperate in educational programs in developing countries but often they are also a source of vital financial support.

Our main purpose is to promote science and its applications through a variety of activities. We have a strong scientific program to achieve these goals including: organising and sponsoring conferences; arranging high level workshops; delivering highlight lectures; presenting summer schools; offering short courses at conferences; and, presenting courses in developing countries. These activities range from purely scientific to educational and in this latter area we have also developed sets of visual aids material. I am confident the continuing development of this scientific program will be maintained.

The many activities in which our union is engaged have developed as the need and opportunity arose. However, what I would like us now to do is to mentally jump five or ten years into the future and then ask ourselves some questions. What image do we hope our Union will be projecting at that time? What do we hope the scientific community, the public and even the politicians and decision-makers will see when they look at our Union? What impact do we want to be making on science and society at that stage? I believe we must give these matters careful thought and we must ensure that our activities are leading us to our chosen goals.

As you may gather, I look forward to the coming triennium with optimism and enthusiasm. The opportunity exists for our Union to continue to grow, to offer ever increasing support to the scientific and technological community it serves, and to increase its impact on society as a whole.

There are two aspects of our Union which I believe distinguish it from most other International Unions. The first is the interdisciplinary nature of our membership. The second is the fact that we are concerned with the science which is basic to high-technology and to the communications industry, both of which are exerting enormous influence on society. For these reasons, I believe IUVSTA has the potential to make a very positive impact on science and society in the future.

I look forward to working with you all.

John L. Robins
Yokohama, Japan
September 1995

Bulletin Contents IUVSTA Home Page