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

17 - The growth of a director



We have found a real treasure in Janet Akyüz, she knows a lot about variables.

– Margaret Mayall, 1972

Margaret Mayall had many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the AAVSO in 1971. The Association had considerable financial assets in the Endowment Fund, more than enough to guarantee the salaries for a director and the staff, and the membership and observer programs had grown to all-time highs. It was time to pass the reins to the next person. She had served as the director for 24 years, and at 69 years of age, she was ready to retire.

It did not take her long to realize that a new assistant on her staff would fit the job description very well. She told her friend Bart Bok, who had left Harvard College Observatory, about several new hires in the AAVSO office. Mayall spoke enthusiastically about a young Turkish woman named Janet Akyüz who was helping her make some progress with her backlog of work. Akyüz initially came to the United States to study for a medical career, but once here she discovered astronomy. It offered intellectual challenges she relished. Her early years in Turkey, education, and the events leading her to this transition and employment by the AAVSO provide necessary understanding for much that follows in AAVSO history.

As its fourth leader, Janet Akyüz would have a profound influence on the American Association of Variable Star Observers as she began to exert the director's authority over the many directions that the Association had taken.

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