From Another Side
By Dennis Yanchak, President-Elect

It's that time again ... time to compose my thoughts and let you know what is going on in the Geophysical Society of Houston from my viewpoint. Five years ago, I didn’t think that GSH would become a focal point of my geophysical life but through the encouragement of my friends and co-workers, I successfully ran for the office of treasurer in 2013. The responsibility of managing the society’s financial wellbeing brought a new found admiration of the many activities that GSH sponsors throughout the year: 80+ social and technical events. It’s very challenging to balance between providing those social and technical programs while maintaining a strong financial organization. I’ve been a part of organizations that failed their financial obligation in my corporate career, working for Gulf Oil and Amoco when their financial situations relegated them to the annals of history. But the GSH, having just passed our 70th anniversary, is still going strong.

As I write this, we are beginning the budgeting process, seeing where we can tighten our belts, offer new and inviting social and technical events, and grow our society even in tough times in the oil patch.  We have cut costs over the past few years, most notably by moving to an online only publication of the GSH Journal. For some, the move to an online journal is not very satisfying. Some among us, still prefer to open a hardcopy publication, but hopefully we haven’t lost too many members because of that. Having said that, I do wonder how many will actually read this column?

Cutting cost helps but we still do need to provide income for all of our activities and office expenses.  One source of income for these is through our membership fees. In my role as president-elect, I have the pleasure of working with many enthusiastic volunteers and the dedicated staff of the GSH in this area. A relatively large percentage of our members have now achieved emeritus status, allowing them to continue their membership at half the regular cost (and for those mathematically inclined, reducing our funds from membership fees). To keep the society alive and vibrant, we continue to explore ways to expand our membership and entice a diverse and younger group of geoscientists and those interested in geosciences to join. Income from membership only covers about 20% of the society's expenses so the remaining funding needs to come from corporate and personal donations, technical webinars, social functions and the GSH's annual Spring Symposium. 

This year’s symposium, entitled Sharper Images and honoring Dave Hale is right around the temporal corner, so mark your calendars for April 4th and 5th and join us for fun times and stimulating technical discussions at Houston's premier technical event. Halftime entertainment during the first day of the symposium is the SEG Challenge Bowl where you can find out just how much you don’t know about geophysics and the SEG. The lunch break of the second day doesn’t disappoint either with recognition of this year’s honoree, Dave Hale, and maybe some toasting and roasting as well. All of that is surround by outstanding technical presentations and discussions!

I did mention personal donations and there are many donors who help support the GSH. We hope that the trend will continue into the new year and under the new tax code. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, donations to the GSH are still tax deductible when you itemize, but the higher standard deduction may decrease the number of people that continue to itemize. Luckily, many who donate to the GSH do so because of the role we play in the geophysical and technical community in the greater Houston area … the tax benefit is a secondary consideration. 

The fiscal year is quickly passing, with only a few months remaining before the change in the board and officers and I ascend to the office of president. I’ve learned a lot, and I mean a LOT, from Tommie Rape and the past presidents that continue to stay involved with the GSH. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank them for their sincere dedication to the success of the GSH and everything I have learned from them.