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NOAO Newsletter - Director's Office - March 2000 - Number 61


Sidney Wolff Resigns as NOAO Director: Search for New Director Underway

Leonard V. Kuhi, Chair AURA Board of Directors

On November 18, 1999, Dr. Sidney Wolff announced to the AURA Board of Directors her desire to resign as Director of NOAO. The Board has accepted her resignation effective December 31, 1999, with the understanding that she will continue to serve until a successor is in place.

Sidney has served with distinction as Director of NOAO since 1987. During this time, the role of the National Observatories has changed in major ways. Sidney is responsible for the structuring of partnerships to develop major new facilities such as WIYN and SOAR that will increase public access to state-of-the-art telescopes. She led the community-based effort to develop the scientific, technical, and management proposal for the Gemini telescopes; served as the first director of the Gemini project; and was responsible for Gemini's early success. The GONG network to study solar helioseismology was deployed during her tenure, and construction was begun on the SOLIS facility, which will monitor solar activity. Recently, Sidney led in the development of a long-range plan for NOAO that includes major new survey capabilities and the possibility of a 50- to 100-m large aperture telescope. She has also pioneered efforts to develop collaborative scientific programs with Chandra and SIRTF that will leverage ground- and space-based astronomical capabilities.

Sidney intends to return to the Kitt Peak scientific staff when a new director is in place. Her hope is to use some of the outstanding facilities that she has helped to develop in her own astronomical research.

The search process, carried out by AURA's Observatories Council, has begun with the naming of the search committee, which will be chaired by John Huchra (CfA) and includes Martha Haynes (Cornell), Robert Kennicutt (Arizona), Joseph Miller (UCSC), Rolf Kudritzki (U. Munich), Nick Suntzeff (NOAO), and Ken Janes (Boston University).

The Board of Directors is very appreciative of Sidney's many years of service to AURA, first as Director of KPNO and then as Director of NOAO. She has managed to maintain a first-class institution, as well as launching many new projects within the confines of extremely constrained budgets. Her unselfish devotion to the national needs of astronomers has been exemplary, and the Board wishes her well in her return to a more normal astronomer's life.


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