President's Slate

January 2022

Outgoing President’s Message
A few days before Christmas, I went in for the second surgery I’ve had recently to relieve the carpal tunnel syndrome I was diagnosed with this past summer. A long wait in a quiet prep room led to the inevitable walk down memory lane of the past four years I’ve spent on the Academy Board and a look at what our leadership has accomplished during this time. I did quite possibly the dorkiest thing I could think of and read back through my 23 previous President’s Messages to see if what I previewed and discussed was an accurate record of what we feel we have done to meet the mission of our organization: to advance and facilitate safe and productive scientific diving. Although informal, these messages in the E-Slate reach the entire Academy community and should act as a bit of a monthly historical archive of everything from recent Board activity to upcoming opportunities for awards and scholarships.

The first message included the entire body of a letter Marc Slattery and I wrote to the Director of the Office of Maritime Enforcement. Since then, our relationship with OSHA has grown into a long-term partnership where our community’s leadership and expertise has been codified and officially recognized. Next to the scientific diving exemption, creating a strong voice with our regulatory agency is the single most important thing our organization has done for our community. I’m sure none of us knew that only months later we would find ourselves barreling toward a multi-year pandemic. The Board responded with virtual town halls with medical experts from DAN and UHMS as well as fellow DSOs and partner agency leadership. We created a template framework for organizations to return to scientific diving after closures and reassured member organizations the power to authorize operations continued to be vested in their DCBs and that AAUS would support their decisions. We managed to pull off the first (and hopefully only!) virtual National Diving Safety Officer meeting and Annual Symposium, complete with forums, talks, awards, and tables for our sponsors. At that event, we also rolled out an Academy-built e-Learning platform with all the academic, administrative, and practical components available to all instructional staff and scientific divers in training.

Even during continued closures and travel restrictions, National Accreditation Coordinator Jim Hayward and the entire accreditation team managed to finalize our accreditation standards, conduct site visits (virtually and in-person), and bring the number of accredited Organizational Members into double digits. In the background, we worked with DAN to author the scientific diving addendum to their professional liability policy, the only one of its kind. We also upgraded the Academy’s insurance policy to include activities as not only a standard-setting body, but also as an accreditation and certification agency. After an exhaustive review of all previous strategic plans and input from years of member surveys, the Board met in Maine in October and finalized our next five-year strategic plan which will be released for review in the beginning of the year. For the first time ever, we’ve formally invited current participants in the AAUS-ITI Scientific Diving Instructor program to renew their Instructor credentials with AAUS as their certification agency and plan to open that professional membership to all current instructional staff at the symposium in March.
I also wrote a bit about lessons I’ve learned as a scientific diver and as a DSO. Quite a few of them were from my time at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Los Angeles, working with one of the largest programs in the country. One thing I took away from my position there was that the main role of the Board of any organization, especially during times of crisis, is to ensure the continued viability and forward progress of the organization. So, did we fulfill our obligation to our community to advance and facilitate safe and productive scientific diving? I think so, and I hope all of you do as well.

Stay safe out there!
Derek Smith
AAUS President

Incoming President’s Message
New Year, New You, New AAUS!
First off, I hope you’ll join me in thanking Derek Smith for his service and leadership over the past two years, plus Heather Albright, the Board of Directors and volunteers that have brought us so far so fast.

This is a very exciting time to be serving as the President of AAUS. There are so many things happening right now that we can’t wait to tell you about, except that we will have to wait just a bit longer on some of it. The eLearning program is up and running with lots of positive feedback. Additional courses are already in the works and should be available by Spring or Summer. The Accreditation Committee completed six Accreditations in 2021, and is ready for more programs to complete the process. Additionally, we are making changes to our Certification Program, continuing our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, plus lots of behind-the-scenes steps that are being taken to strengthen and protect our organization.

I’ve always liked New Year’s as a holiday. I like the anticipation of what’s to come in the next 12 months. Clean slates, fresh starts, optimism, and goal setting are all things that I associate with January 1st. Sure, life is full of surprises. Plans don’t always work out. Life gets messy and stuff happens. But there’s always next year. Which now starts in just a matter of days. Who knows what the next year will hold? What will you accomplish? How will your professional and personal lives change? I’m looking forward to finding out, and I hope it is a safe, productive, and joyous one for all of you.

Happy New Year!
Jim Hayward
University of California



Past President's Slate Messages

April President's slate

The President’s message has a due date to the editorial committee roughly ten days before the end of each month. With the updates on the current COVID-19 crisis coming every hour, it’s hard to imagine what the national news headlines will read when t