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Letter from the President

[Henk Schenk]The last issue of the Newsletter already paid much attention to the very successfull Congress in Glasgow, so I will be very brief. Scientifically and socially it was a great Congress, every day a feast! There were also a number of innovations, like the Closing Ceremony being part of the Farewell Party, the poster prize presentation, and the dance to very lively music!  My congratulations go to our UK colleagues, especially to the two Chairs, Professors Judith Howard and Chris Gilmore!

The General Assembly in Glasgow had the difficult task of electing the next President from two candidates. Although the statutes of the IUCr provide for this possibility, there has never before been more than one candidate for this post, so this was an exceptional occasion. Indeed, for the candidates themselves it was also an exceptional experience as I can assure you. On Sunday evening, the day before the election, Hartmut Fuess and I were having a beer together, discussing our chances and concluding that it was completely unclear which of us was going to win. I will never forget how surprised I was when Ted Baker told the General Assembly that in a close finish I had been elected President. I am glad that Hartmut will remain a member of the Executive Committee and will be the Chair of the Sub-committee on the Union Calendar.

The few remaining days of the Congress went through my fingers as in a dream. To be President of the IUCr I feel is a great honour, not just for myself, but also for my very supportive colleagues in Amsterdam and for the Dutch crystallographic community.  On my return from Glasgow my group had decorated my room and the lab, my family and friends had filled the house with a sea of flowers, and the congratulations were numerous and heart warming. So the dream was going on.

In the last three months the work has started. I have had my first meetings and many email conversations with the numerous people who work so hard to make our Union the strong organisation that it is. As a matter of course, I have seen in the last six years as an Executive Committee member how the IUCr retains its vitality through the enormous input of so many volunteers and through the enthusiastic competent professional staff in Chester. But as President the view on all that is going on is more intense and I am very much impressed by what I see. This is something we must treasure and maintain in the next century!

All that Ted Baker wrote in his last letter about the challenges for the IUCr and the 'I' in its name I endorse fully. I told the General Assembly that I also think that our society should make it clear to the rest of the world why we are so dedicated to and so enthusiastic about our profession. Through the Internet we have a real chance to reach the people easily. It is my intention to initiate an educational website about crystallography in many languages meant for primary school children, kids of 10 years old. They will be the University students of 2010 and enthusiastic young scientists, perhaps the crystallographers of 2020! You will hear more about this in future columns.

Hendrick Schenk