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Letter from the President

[Yuji Ohashi]Yuji Ohashi
Since I was elected President of the IUCr in August 2005, the obligation to write this article by the deadline has been very heavy for me. By the time you read one of my articles in the IUCr Newsletter, I have had to write a new article for the next issue. Since English is not my first language it has been very helpful to me to have Michael Dacombe (IUCr Executive Secretary), Judith Flippen-Anderson and William Duax, Editors of the IUCr Newsletter) proof the articles to be sure that my points come across as I intended. This article is the final one for me, since a new President will be elected in Osaka and will write the column for the next issue.

When I was asked to write these articles three years ago it was my intention to bring you the hot news that was being discussed by the Executive Committee (EC) and the decisions made at the EC meetings. In the first issue of this Newsletter, Vol. 1, No.1 (1993), the President of the IUCr, André Authier, said “The primary goal of the IUCr Newsletter is to assert and maintain this unity among crystallographers from all nations and all subdisciplines, by offering them a forum where they can follow the evolution of crystallography and where they can express their opinions”. The fifteen years that have passed since that first issue has seen a dramatic increase in both the number of crystallographers and in the diversity of the subdisciplines they study. At the 21st General Assembly and Congress being held at Osaka this August the number of presentations will exceed 2,100, the highest number for any IUCr Congresses to date. Moreover, the formation of a new Commission on Crystallography and Art and in Cultural Heritage will be considered by the General Assembly. As the activities of crystallographers represented by the IUCr continue to grow in a wide variety of research fields, I think it most important that the EC should take the lead in finding ways to support this diverse community. In that respect, this column has become increasingly important because it enables the President to communicate directly with the ever broadening structural community.

When I became President, I had misgivings about the financial state of the IUCr. The most important activity of the IUCr is to continue publishing its eight crystallographic journals. Moreover, we publish eight volumes of International Tables for Crystallography and the IUCr/OUP Book Series. No other International Union produces such an extensive list of publications. Recently the impact factors of our journals has been gradually increasing, although I do not think the index is the most important way to judge the importance of a journal. The number of readers of our online journals has grown. Acta Crystallographica Section E became an open-access journal in January 2008, but I am pleased to say that, even with a submission fee, the number of manuscripts is nearly at the same level as before. These activities have been supported by a variety of crystallographers. The efforts of the Editor-in-Chief, Gernot Kostorz, and the Chester staff, Peter Strickland and others, and almost 200 Editors and Co-editors of the journals have brought about this great success. Through the success of the journal publishing operations, we are able to support young scientists to attend international crystallographic meetings and we can also support crystallographic schools in developing countries by paying the travel expenses of distinguished lecturers. For the above support more than USD 150,000 has been used each year. Our investment portfolio has also been successful. The value of our assets has increased during the last three years even though many investment banks and associations have fallen into crisis. This success was brought about by the successful judgment of the Convener, Malcolm Cooper, the General Secretary and Treasurer, Sven Lidin, and the members of the Finance Committee. My initial misgivings have gone but we must remain vigilant.
I have been very happy in these three years to work in cooperation with earnest and capable colleagues and staff. I express my sincere thanks to all the members of the Commissions and to the Chester staff, and to all crystallographers worldwide.

Yuji Ohashi,