Letter from Two WAPOR Presidents (January 2023)
Season’s Greetings from WAPOR! Hoping you are well. It is time to share some brief reflections on our activities over the past several months. Most importantly, we were able to host an in-person conference for the first time since the pandemic. More than 250 individuals from 57 countries participated in the 75th Anniversary conference, our first ever meeting in the Middle East. There were numerous highlights, including the formation of our Sub-Saharan Africa Chapter, special panels that considered WAPOR’s past and future, two noteworthy keynote speakers, and the institution of WAPOR’s new Alexis de Tocqueville Award. Preliminary findings from the recently completed 2022 Freedom to Publish study were also presented. We will be publishing that report, which covers more than 150 countries, and making it available to all WAPOR members in the coming months.
Annual Council elections were completed in November, with David Jodice elected as incoming Vice President/President-Elect, and Ignacio Zuasnabar elected as incoming Professional Standards Chair. In addition, Holli Semetko has been appointed as 2023 Conference Chair, and Christian Haerpfer as 2023 Liaison Chair. Rotation of leadership is important for the health of any organization and we are pleased to welcome these colleagues as they assume new responsibilities on WAPOR’s Council.
WAPOR also welcomed a new Executive Director – Dr. Kseniya Kizilova – who quickly mastered WAPOR operating systems and oversaw planning for our successful 75th conference. She is currently hard at work making arrangements for our 2023 conference, to be held in Austria. Watch for upcoming announcements regarding plans for that meeting soon. Kseniya’s organizational and professional skills will have an important impact on WAPOR’s growth and development in the coming years.
As we welcome colleagues to their new positions, it is also important to thank those who are ending their service to WAPOR. Marita Carballo will be stepping down as immediate Past President at the end of December. Marita has been an exceptional colleague whom I have personally relied on for mentorship and advice these past several years. She has been working to support WAPOR’s mission for six years now as Vice President/President/Past President and deserves warm congratulations and applause for the many years and countless hours she has invested on our behalf.
Also stepping down is Tatiana Karabchuk, who has chaired the past four annual WAPOR conferences. You will recall that two of those conferences were held online. Thanks to Tatiana’s ability to quickly pivot, those meetings were successful in maintaining the scientific quality that is expected of a WAPOR conference. I know how hard she worked to make the Dubai conference a success and cannot thank her enough for her dedication to WAPOR.
On a personal note, it has been an honor to serve as WAPOR’s President these past two years and I look forward to continuing to support our mission. Serving as President has been a pleasure given the committed Council members I had the opportunity to work with. There is still much work to be done, however, and I look forward with great anticipation to what we will accomplish under the leadership of our incoming President, Dr. Robert Chung. Welcome, Robert, the gavel is now in your hands …
..… Thank you, Tim, for passing the torch to me, and thank you fellow members for electing me to this position two years ago! I will do my best to fulfil my duties, but I will need help from every one of you!
Taking up this position is a real challenge! The whole world is facing unprecedented problems on all fronts. To us in WAPOR, our primary concern shall remain to be professional integrity and quality for the wellbeing of humankind.
In our 75th Anniversary Conference in Dubai, we had the precious opportunity of reviewing our own history, and then ventured into the next 75 years and beyond. Knowledge growth is not linear, so let us aim at achieving more in the next 25 years compared to what we have already achieved over the past 75 years!
In my own soul-searching exercise, I have concluded that there are three core values for WAPOR, namely, Liberty, Quality and Humanity. I explained them in Dubai: Liberty is the right to let people’s voice be heard, it is the right to conduct and publish scientific research on what people think. Quality is the application of scientific methods, the development of professional standards, research techniques among professionals and representatives across different disciplines. Humanity guides us to apply our knowledge to mitigate disasters and conflicts, to promote the common good of humankind. Enhancing Humanity should be our ultimate goal. I consider these three core values to be equally important to our entire WAPOR community, whether at the “central”, “regional” or “individual” level.
In the two years ahead of me, I shall be the number one servant of the WAPOR community. I now appeal to each and every one of you for your continued support of me and WAPOR, so that we can work together to serve humankind based on the core values we believe in.
WAPOR shall not be an organization limited by boundaries, whether geographical, ethnical, cultural, or epistemological. Over the past 75 years, we have developed very successfully in areas of conceptual, methodological, professional, and cross-cultural studies. We shall treasure our achievements, but we shall also break new ground, like the application of advanced technologies, the breaking of barriers between different sciences, and even the integration of science and art. In terms of organization, we shall work closely with our sister organizations around the world, our own regional chapters and country representatives who will be our link with the general membership. We shall promote diversification and bottom-up initiatives in different areas and domains of WAPOR development, rather than homogeneity and top-down directives.
Our common mission, after all, is to let the voice of the people be heard. For this purpose, people should not be divided, and we ourselves should not be divided. I personally look forward to seeing a borderless world united by a common humanity, one day, and I will use the next 100 days to be a period of intensive consultation and consolidation. Let us work together for a better world!
Timothy P. Johnson Robert Chung
WAPOR President WAPOR President