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Dorfan Today: Communications: Results of the Today Survey and an All Hands Recap

Maintaining excellent communication at all levels within the lab is vital. All of us have important information to transmit to our co-workers; doing it thoughtfully and effectively strengthens us as an organization. Last week's All Hands Talk was part of my continuing effort to keep you informed about the successes, challenges and future opportunities for our lab while at the same time providing me with feedback from all of you. I hope to develop more vehicles for enhanced communication in the coming year; your ideas are most welcome. Some of you may have missed the All Hands presentation; others may appreciate a recap. What follows is partially taken from my All Hands Talk, but not exclusively.

SLAC's scientific palette has never been as rich as it is today. With SPEAR3 and the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), SLAC is in a position to lead the world in photon science. The PULSE center is the first of an anticipated suite of institutes designed to ensure maximum exploitation of the key focus areas of LCLS and SPEAR3 science. The ongoing physics fountain of BaBar, our central leadership and contributions to the ILC and a world-class particle theory group means that our accelerator-based particle physics program remains at the forefront of world research. In the area of particle astrophysics, SLAC has led the way with GLAST followed by the creation of the Kavli Institute, which is bringing a forceful experimental, theoretical and observational onslaught to the pressing problems of dark energy and dark matter.

Policy makers are as excited about our science program as we are. Two reports—EPP2010 and the upcoming AMO2010 report from the National Academies of Science—support the main drivers of our research projects and strongly endorse our programs. Our future is bright, especially with the encouraging budget predictions for 2007, which recommend a 14.1 percent overall increase in the Office of Science budget. Our two key stakeholders, DOE/Congress and Stanford University, are both making large, long-term investments at SLAC, thereby ensuring a long and healthy life for the lab, a life filled with new discoveries.

This is a time of change for SLAC, change in our management structures, change in the mix of our scientific program and change in administrative procedures. By 2009, we must complete a transition: i) from a set of organizational and financial structures that support accelerator operations that are SPEAR3 and PEPII-based to those that are LCLS and SPEAR3-based, ii) to a program that has a large proportion of particle physics involved in off-site accelerator-based initiatives, and iii) to scientific adventures with a series of non-accelerator projects like GLAST, EXO and LSST. Change is always challenging, but it is also simulating and exciting. Change is also not new to SLAC; in the past forty years we have repeatedly recognized changes in the scientific landscape and adjusted our program boldly to keep us at the discovery frontier. We are doing it again, and as with each preceding major adjustment, we will be successful.

During any period of transition, communication is particularly important. SLAC Today is one tool through which we can communicate with one another. Last month, you had the chance to offer your thoughts about SLAC Today through a survey. The majority of respondents were very positive about the newsletter. With such a strong endorsement of SLAC Today, we will continue to support and expand it as the centerpiece for daily communications. We did receive critical input, the most common related to the HTML format used for e-mail delivery. In response to this input, the SLAC Today team plans to offer a text-only version beginning in August. To see the complete survey results, click here.

In the All Hands I also stressed the importance we must place on institutional "wellness," taken in all its forms. Lab-wide events like Juneteenth, Kids Day, Family Day and the Holiday Party allow us to celebrate together as coworkers and as extended families. Stanford has a very broad range of professional-growth, recreational, support and wellness programs that I commend to your attention (see links below). It is also essential that we take advantage of our vacation benefit. As committed as we are to the lab, we all need periodic restorative time away from work. I encourage you to use your full annual vacation allotment, I know I do; starting next Friday, Renee and I will take vacation for about 10 days.

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—Jonathan Dorfan, July 17, 2006