Future of the Vision Science SIG?

Published November 7, 2017

Vision Science SIG Members,
Last year, the Vision Science (VS) Section became the VS SIG (Special Interest Group). The change from Section to SIG status occurred because Academy rules now require a minimum number of new Diplomates within a review period. We went through a long series of discussions with the Academy about the change in status, made a variety of suggestions about the Diplomate requirement in an attempt to avoid the change, but the Academy was fixated on the number of Diplomates. It seems clear that the requirement to have a minimum number of Diplomates will remain a key defining characteristic of a Section.

Apparently, recent changes approved by the Board of Directors of the Academy have removed differences between Sections and SIGs. So, apparently, the only differences between Sections and SIGs is the Sections must produce a certain number of diplomates and are required to have a symposium at the annual meeting, while SIGs do not have diplomates and can, but do not have to, have a symposium at the annual meeting, (We have a fantastic line up of speakers for the Symposium on Friday in E253 A-D from 4 to 6pm. See you there!)

Why did VS not get many Diplomates? Because, you did not apply or did not complete the process (please note that obtaining Diplomate status is a lot more than just applying). Why didn’t you become a VS diplomate? Many members have told me that they did not apply for the Diplomate because they saw little value to vision scientists in obtaining Diplomate status.

At the last Section business meeting (in Anaheim, where the change to a SIG occurred), a proposal was put forward to disband VS. The argument was that VS, rather than being central to the Academy, actually does not play a role and tends to be lost among the more clinical sections. The motion to disband was postponed so that we could obtain more input from VS members.

If VS were to disband, it is assumed that almost everyone would have another “home”, a section to which they already belong. Are you a member of another section or SIG or would you be “homeless”? Would that matter to you?

So, I am writing to you to start the discussion. Should VS disband? If not, what is the purpose of VS? Can you provide a description of its purpose? How does it serve you? If VS has a purpose, how can we make it fulfill its purpose? How can we make VS useful to you, to serve you better? How can we make VS useful to the Academy?

Along that line, a month or so ago, VS was asked to take responsibility for the ARVO-AAO research symposium planning. That would give VS a purpose. But, would we really need VS for that? Is that one role enough to justify VS as a SIG, when that need could be met by a committee?

We would really appreciate your input. The motion to disband VS will come up again at the VS SIG business meeting which will be held at 8am on Thursday October 12 in Lakeside Center, Room: E267, 2nd Level. Please participate. If we vote the motion down, how do we make the VS SIG relevant, how do we improve vision science within the Academy?

Yours,

Russell Woods (possibly the first and last)
VS SIG Chair
Russell_Woods@meei.harvard.edu