Lamont Weekly Report, July 6, 2012

Every institution has its traditions, and one of the better ones at Lamont is the weekly report from the Director, a practice in open communication initiated by Mike Purdy and continued by Art Lerner-Lam. That tradition is one I plan to continue as well.

And a great way to lead off the first such report since my arrival is to thank Art, on behalf of the entire Lamont community, for his thoughtful and effective leadership of the Observatory for the 17 months that he served as Interim Director. The ship that is Lamont continued to navigate successfully the occasionally challenging seas of science, education, management, and outreach under Art's sure and steady helmsmanship. I hope that each of you will find a moment, in your own way, to express your appreciation to Art for his unselfish efforts on behalf of everyone on the Lamont campus.

It has been an unusual first week, with a mid-week holiday, parking lots at Lamont only half full at the height of the day, and the physics community staging 4th of July celebrations following an announcement of the first firm experimental evidence for the Higgs boson. Hot weather grips much of the nation, wildfires threaten large areas in the west, and a severe storm in the mid-Atlantic led to dozens of deaths and widespread power outages demonstrating once again the vulnerability of our nation's electrical power generation and distribution system. (One small side benefit of the increasing incidences of severe weather, according to NOAA Director Jane Lubchenco as reported in a Washington Post story today, is growing recognition of climate change among the U.S. populace.)

I had two major goals for the week: to initiate a series of steps aimed toward reorganization of Observatory management, and to begin to get to know better the Lamont community.

The responsibilities of and the demands on the Lamont Director have grown progressively over the last several years to the point where too little time is available for strategic planning, fundraising, and increasing the visibility of the Observatory at the state and federal levels and with the public. Yet those are just the areas on which I hope to  concentrate much of my focus. I have therefore added the position of Deputy Director, and I have asked Art to serve the Observatory in that capacity. He and I are still working out many of the details for the sharing of management functions, but I cannot think of another individual who is as knowledgeable about the workings of Lamont and its many interfaces with Columbia University, and I look forward to our partnership in the confidence that the Observatory's research and
educational missions will be strengthened as a result.

I have enjoyed meeting many of you over the past week, and today I hosted the first of what I hope will be a regular series of small, informal lunches held with a cross section of the Lamont community. Pat O'Reilly gave me a tour this week of several of the ongoing renovation and construction projects on the campus, and I would welcome further tours of laboratories and facilities led by any of you who wish to extend an invitation.  My door will remain open every day I am on
campus.  Please stop by.