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The new IUCr General Secretary and Treasurer visits Chester (twice!)

Alex Ashcroft
[Bo and Luc]
Bo Brummerstedt Iversen (left) and Luc Van Meervelt outside the IUCr offices in Chester.

After an unprecedented 10 years in office as General Secretary and Treasurer (GS&T) of the IUCr, Luc Van Meervelt (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium) stepped down at the Prague Congress and was replaced by Bo Brummerstedt Iversen (Aarhus University, Denmark). Usually, the outgoing GS&T briefs the incipient GS&T at the Congress, but as Luc was unable to travel to Prague, Bo and Luc visited Chester in September 2021 for the briefing meeting. This allowed the Convenor of the Finance Committee, Malcolm Cooper, and the Executive Managing Editor, Peter Strickland, and me to join in for parts of the meeting to talk about the Union’s finances, the Finance Committee and the IUCr journals. With a vacancy on the Finance Committee due to Hanna Dabkowska being elected as President (and so, for two years, becoming an ex officio member), Luc agreed to stay on the Finance Committee for two more years to support Bo. The Chester staff have been mostly working from home since March 2020 for safety reasons, and the 2020 and 2021 Finance and Executive Committee meetings had been virtual, so apart from this being the first time that we had met Bo, it was the first time any of us had met each other in person for more than 18 months. The meeting was useful and enjoyable, and covered off one of the main areas of responsibility for the GS&T.

Another main area is the welfare of the Chester staff, and Bo and I were very keen for him to meet with as many staff members as possible. Bo returned to Chester in November 2021 to accomplish this, and despite part of the time being taken up by a visit from the IUCr’s new Jersey investment manager, he was able to meet one-to-one with 16 of the IUCr’s 25 staff members. I did not attend the meetings, but I saw a lot of smiling faces afterwards, and none of the meetings finished earlier than scheduled. Again, coming into the office was an opportunity to socialise for many staff members who had not seen each other since March 2020. For safety reasons, we asked people not to remain in the offices outside of their meeting with Bo, but there were plenty of socially distanced outdoor meetings in Abbey Square despite the November chill. After his visit, Bo commented "It was wonderful to meet in person and learn about the many aspects of the IUCr. I am amazed at the skills and dedication of the Chester staff, who have been able to run our complex organisation so smoothly, even sitting at home. Let us hope we get past the pandemic, so Abbey Square can again become a lively place full of exciting crystallographic endeavour." Bo is hoping to come back to Chester early in the New Year to meet with any remaining members of staff who want to meet him, but is also happy to meet virtually with anyone who is unable to come to the offices then.

9 December 2021

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