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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2011

12 - Actions and reactions



It made me nearly sick to think our beloved organization is endangered.

– Richard W. Hamilton, 1953

With the information that Harvard College Observatory would not be supporting AAVSO operations in the future, Margaret Mayall now had a clear idea of what needed to be done once the AAVSO Council and Evaluation Committee were notified.

There were critical steps to be taken by the AAVSO leadership: a short-term effort to raise operating funds and a long-term endowment fundraising effort. The AAVSO membership would have to be notified and reassured of the continuity of the Association and of the value of its work.

Secondary to this was contemplation of what to do about the HCO report itself: Mayall would make an appeal to the Harvard administration and obtain legal advice concerning the possibility of recovering part, or all, of the rescinded Pickering Memorial Endowment. At the same time, arrangements for the spring meeting in Ann Arbor, just 4 weeks away, were not yet final.

These were just a few of the steps that Mayall, the second Pickering Memorial Astronomer, would take to refute Harvard's actions and attempt a recovery of the Pickering Memorial Endowment. She and the AAVSO would fight back, an action that was totally unexpected by the HCO and Donald Menzel, its newly appointed director. These events are covered in this chapter.

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