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About This Issue

by Kathryn Mead

June 1997


I am pleased to present in this issue the first two Letters to the Editor. (More precisely, they are emails
to the editor.) One of my goals when I became editor was to build a healthy Letters section and I hope these letters, as well as the provocative articles in this issue, will encourage additional thoughtful letters.

I have strong opinions about graduate education and tenure and I'm pleased to have an article on each of these important topics. Careful, diligent and openminded attention by the astronomical community to these issues is critical to the future health of our field. These articles explore their respective issues in a thorough and thought-provoking manner.

Zodiac Webster, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz, was her department's student representative at the "Examining Graduate Education in Astronomy" regional workshop in Tucson. Because this topic is so
important, I wanted to include an article in Status which reported on the facts of the meeting and
provided personal perspective, for interest and context. Zo has presented a balanced and interesting
treatment of an emotional and complex topic. (More information on the graduate workshops and the
entire AAS initiative, partially funded by the NSF, can be found at http://earth.ast.smith.edu/ED.GRAD/workshop. html.)

Here in Arizona, the tenure system is under attack by the state legislature. Apparently this is also true in
Texas, as, on a recent visit to Austin, I read an editorial column in the newspaper about the
legislature's consideration of tenure. Marc Kutner has written on the merits and drawbacks of tenure, and
his opinion on how faculty can best deal with impending changes. In his article, Marc tells you
what you need to know about him to in order to put his opinions in context. In the interest of full
disclosure, I add here that Marc is my husband.

The 'dessert' article of this issue is about leaving astronomy for a new career. I met the author, Barry-
Meyers Rice, when he and I were students at the same institution (I was a graduate student, and he an
undergraduate.) He departed for graduate school at the University of Arizona and we lost contact for
many years. We became reacquainted when I (and Marc) moved to Tucson. Barry has a unique view of
life and a delightful way of expressing it. I'm pleased to share with you his humorous but thought
provoking reflections on his departure from astronomy for a new career in environmental
conservation.

Finally, I have written some comments about current events. Though there are often current events about
which I'd like to write, for previous issues of Status, I have not had time to write an opinion column. For
this issue, I made time. I call it, "About some things there is too much equality, about others, not enough."

Kathryn Mead - kmead@nrao.edu

Note: This is a reminder that articles are welcome from anyone on topics related to what I call
'sociological' issues in astronomy. The fact that most articles are written by people that I know means only
that I don't get many unsolicited articles. You can change that. A general description of my editorial
policy can be found on the publications page of the AAS CSWA pages,
http://www.aas.org/~cswa/pubs.html.


Acknowlegements: Nadine Dinshaw's help in editing and proofreading, as well as moral support,
has been invaluable. Any problems with the newsletter are completely my responsibility. I also
thank Lynn Scholz and Judy Johnson at the AAS for their extreme patience and extensive help with
getting this issue out, despite my needing an extension of the submission deadline.

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