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Acoustical Society Foundation Fund
ASA meetings are a vital forum for students to hear a vari- ety of papers from scholars from around the world, to share their research with colleagues, and to scout out job opportu- nities. The Fund gives travel stipends for 20 to 30 students to attend each ASA meeting and thus helps to ensure the vital- ity and long-term engagement of our membership.
The ASA is committed to recognizing outstanding achieve- ment in its many disciplines. Through generous contribu- tions by society members, the Fund sponsors three major ASA prizes: (1) the Rossing Prize in Acoustics Education for significant contributions toward furthering acoustics educa- tion; (2) the Medwin Prize in Acoustical Oceanography for effective use of sound in the discovery and understanding of physical and biological parameters and processes in the sea; and (3) the William and Christine Hartmann Prize in Audi- tory Neuroscience for research that links auditory physiolo- gy with auditory perception or behavior in humans or other animals.
These prizes enhance the knowledge of all ASA members by requiring the recipient to give an open lecture at an ASA meeting. And, not to be forgotten, there is a cash award that accompanies each prize. Thanks to the sponsors of these prizes and their outstanding donations, this is a win-win for the recipient and the Society.
Ostensibly, the function of the Fund is rather straightfor- ward. Its Mission Statement is, “to support the mission of the ASA by developing financial resources for strategic ini- tiatives and special purposes.” To do this, we, the Acoustical Society Foundation Board (“the Board”), see our task like the motion of a revolving door.
On the one hand, the Board solicits the flow of money into the Fund. This can be as direct as encouraging ASA mem- bers to add a donation to their annual dues (hence, this sim- ple reminder to please do so!) or as extensive as constructing a way that a major gift can perpetuate a donor’s wishes.
On the other hand, the members of the Board look for ways to ease the flow of money out of the Fund, through the scholarships, prizes, and development of new initiatives in conjunction with the Executive Council. In this regard, we disburse over $200,000 each year.
In this process, the Board interacts with many of the other back-of-house supporting players in the Society. The Board
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works with the Committee on Medals and Awards and the Committee on Prizes and Special Fellowships (the Board has no role whatsoever in the selection of any award recipient); the Audit Committee (where the Board Chair serves as an ex officio member); the Investments Committee (a slot on that committee is reserved for representation by the Fund); the Society Treasurer, Executive Director, and ASA office staff members, who help the Board run smoothly in support of our goals; and the entire ASA membership from whom we draw our support. There is no outside paid “development of- ficer.” The Foundation fits into the new ASA organizational structure as part of the Administrative Council on Financial Affairs, and we report through that channel to the Executive Council.
Current Financial Status and Operations
As of the end of the last fiscal year (2016), the Fund accounts totaled around $7.5 million. Many of the funds, especially so-called “named funds,” are largely sequestered into sepa- rate restricted accounts to recognize the manner in which the funds were given to the Society and in accordance with the donors’ wishes and the laws governing charitable founda- tions in the State of New York (where the fund is registered). These permanently restricted funds cannot be depleted and are held in perpetuity.
To decide the amounts available for disbursement, the Board reviews the allocations made by the audit of the ASA that dis- tributes earnings from the investment accounts of the ASA to the individual funds on a percentage basis. For example, if the investments earned a total of $400,000 in a given year and if the Stetson Fund (an arbitrary example) represented 20% of the total amount in the Fund, then $80,000 would be allocated to the Stetson account. Then the Board takes a look at each account with a rather conservative eye; we stip- ulate that not more than 4% of the balance in that account, averaged over the last three years, is available for distribu- tion. Because of the favorable returns on the investments of the ASA over time, the amounts for awards and prizes have increased without jeopardizing the permanently restricted original gifts.
History and Legacy
You also may be wondering why there is such a convoluted name: “the Acoustical Society Foundation Fund.” Wouldn’t “Foundation” or “Fund” alone be sufficient? Why the double billing? To answer this question, we go back over 20 years to the Fall of 1996. On behalf of the ASA, nine forward-think- ing leaders and luminaries of the ASA organized and incor-

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