I like palindromic numbers. So, after reaching the age of 77 in September and having worked for 55 years, it seems a suitable time to retire. This is my last issue as editor-in-chief of Chemical Processing.
When I was studying chemical engineering at The Cooper Union in New York City, I worked on the school paper. I really enjoyed that, which spurred me to look for a way to combine engineering and editing. Fortunately, the then-leading magazine in the field, Chemical Engineering, was located nearby in midtown Manhattan. So, in 1967, I applied for an editorial position. Cal Cronan, its editor-in-chief, decided to take a chance on me; I started on the magazine even before I had formally graduated.
A major step for me was becoming its European editor. Based in London and traveling throughout Europe, I quickly lost the America-centric orientation I had of the chemical industry. Most importantly, it’s when I met my wife, Elizabeth, who is from the North West of England.
After four years abroad, I returned to New York to take on the role of managing editor of the magazine.
In early 1990, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) sought an editor-in-chief for its flagship publication, Chemical Engineering Progress. Dick Emmert, AIChE’s executive director, believed the magazine needed to better serve a key element of the institute’s membership — engineers in industry — and hired me to boost its relevance to this core constituency. However, AIChE’s publication committee largely consisted of academics, many of whom scoffed at the value of content with a practical orientation. Fortunately, Emmert rode shotgun for me.
Then, in 2003, Putman Media offered me the opportunity to return to a trade magazine — as editor-in-chief of Chemical Processing. As I noted recently (“Work From Home Wisely”), allowing an editor-in-chief to work remotely was unheard of back then. However, John Cappelletti, head of the family-owned company, was open-minded — and it has worked out well over these last 19 years.
CP has been blessed with a supportive environment and real teamwork, which has led to remarkable staff stability. Brian Marz has been publisher since 2007. That’s also the year Seán Ottewell, our editor at large based in Ireland, started. Amanda Joshi, managing editor, came onboard in 2010. They share my dedication to providing you with the highest quality and most useful content.
So, too, does our new Editor-in-Chief Traci Purdum, who joined the magazine in 2008 and most recently has been executive digital editor. She long has overseen our website and written the Chemical Processing Online column in the magazine. She also hosts the popular podcast Process Safety with Trish & Traci. With her promotion, CP aims to add an executive editor to its roster.
I retire knowing I am leaving you in good hands.
In addition, let me reassure you that you’ll continue to get real-world pointers from columnists who have written for CP for ages: veteran engineers — Tom Blackwood (Solid Advice), Andrew Sloley (Plant InSites), and Dirk Willard (Field Notes) — and a seasoned lawyer specializing in the chemical industry — Lynn Bergeson (Compliance Advisor).
I’ll close with an old journalistic palindrome: ### [which means nothing more to come].