In the mid-1940s, when travel was a bit more cumbersome than it is today and WWII interrupted a National Meeting, chemists within the American Chemical Society decided to join informally with others in proximal geographical areas to host meetings featuring presenters from academia and industry within that area so that those who might not be able to attend a National meeting could have a way of presenting their work in a professional environment at lesser expense than at a National Meeting. In this way 10 Regions were formed: Northwestern, Rocky Mountain, Great Lakes, Central, Northeastern, Middle Atlantic, Southeastern, Midwestern, Southwestern, and Western.
Meetings were originally held on University campuses to keep participants’ costs to a minimum. However, with the increasing desire for comfort, air-conditioned hotels became an increasingly-used venue. As corporate donations waxed and waned, to help fund the meetings, a larger exposition was also incorporated and hotels included space that took into account the needs of exhibitors for more visibility and easier access to participants in a frequently-traveled location. Regional meetings were more accessible to graduate and undergraduate students, younger faculty members and to those in industry who had modest travel support; they also provided valuable networking possibilities to the participants.
The ACS divides local sections into six numbered electoral districts whose composition is assigned by local section. However, the geographical regions as described by the titles of the various regional meetings aren’t formally defined by ACS and don't necessarily match the districts divisions. In the case of the 10 regions, any local section or individual that thinks they are associated with the Region may consider themselves part of the Region.
The Great Lakes Region (GLR) encompasses many local sections, including: Central Wisconsin, Chicago, Decatur-Springfield, East Central Illinois, Illinois Heartland, Illinois-Iowa, Joliet, Kalamazoo, LaCrosse-Winona, Lake Superior, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Northeast Wisconsin, Red River Valley, Rock River, St. Joseph Valley, Upper Peninsula, Wabash Valley, Wisconsin, and Purdue. Over the years the importance and prestige of presenting at meetings in our Region has paralleled the content of the program selected by each Program committee and the “name” of the presenters invited to give seminars and organize symposia. Teaching and Volunteer Awards are given at Regional Meetings, and in the last 5-10 years meeting abstracts (oral and poster), are archived in the CAS database just like they are for National Meetings. Currently, the National ACS Office offers the services of a staff member to help in several aspects of the organization of a Regional Meeting but primarily in the registration and the abstract-gathering processes.
The GLR was the last to become incorporated, in 2009 at the GLR Meeting in Chicago. In an effort to maintain a schedule of Regional Meetings, our Region’s Board of Directors (one representative from each local section in the GLR) decided that Regional Meetings would be held every other odd-numbered year, and could be hosted or co-hosted by local sections within the Region, or co-hosted by a local section in our and one in an adjacent Region. Support of Regional Meetings by our attendance and/or hosting or co-hosting is very important if this more intimate venue of networking and professional development is to continue. The importance to the ACS of such smaller and more intimate meetings has grown as we seek to reach our younger constituents and the general public.