As the fulltime researchers in the field increased and the fields of interest broadened to include physiologists, neurologists, biochemists, and psychoacousticians, they took the meeting of the newly formed Society for Neuroscience as their home. Because the neurosciences integrate all modern techniques of physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, and cell biology, it quickly became a meeting one had to go to to learn the new and emerging trends, as well as the new techniques and tools to work with.
Because the academy is a meeting for clinicians, the Research Meeting implicitly required clinical relevance in the presentations, turning away more basic groups that it should have attracted. Thus, it began to be less attractive for basic scientists. Another significant factor in the emergence of the ARO was the need for a home for non-clinician researchers who were involved in research in the field of otolaryngology and communicative sciences. As the number of fulltime scientists grew, the pressure to have their own forum also grew.
In 1972, 1 realized this need and began to sound out the possibility of having an organization for researchers. Because Juergen Tonndorf was intimately involved with the academy's Research Meeting and was an otolaryngologist who was committed to fulltime research, I sought him out to discuss this matter. He agreed with the concept and also agreed to initiate talk with the leadership of the academy.
In September 1972, I sent out a letter of invitation to researchers who were employed in departments of otolaryngology for a preliminary informal get-together and solicited their opinions on the possibility of forming a society of our own. I knew about 30 such individuals personally and sent out invitations to the following to attend a luncheon meeting to discuss the matter: Richard Jackson, Dix Ward, Steve Juhn, Jack Vernon, Cesar Fernandez, Raul Hinojosa, P. Toledo, Makoto Igarashi, Isamu Sando, Teruzo Konishi, Vicente Honrubia, Barbara Bohne, Joe Miller, Chuck Berlin, Robert Kimura, Lars Johnsson, Bill Melnick, and Chuck Stockwell. Dr. Tonndorf informed Dr. Kos (Executive Secretary of AAOO) about this meeting, and he allocated us a luncheon room at the Statler-Hilton in Dallas during the AAOO convention. At this luncheon, we had a general consensus that an organization for researchers in otolaryngology was desirable. However, we were also aware that such an organization would require the broad support of the researchers in the field and the blessing of the leadership in otolaryngology.
As a first step I asked Dr. Tonndorf to invite Dr. Schuknecht to join us in this effort, and he was enthusiastic about such an organization. We developed a consensus and further crystallized the objectives of this new organization. We also needed to develop broad support of the researchers, but no one had data on this matter. To compile a list of such scientists, I prepared a biodata form for fulltime, non-clinician researchers in the otolaryngic field and sent it out to the program directors and department chairmen. Drs. Tonndorf and Schuknecht and I sent a letter dated April 12, 1973, concerning the possibility of organizing a society for researchers in otolaryngology. The responses were mixed, and it was not easy sailing. Even among the fulltime, non-clinician researchers there was some strong sentiment that we had too many societies already, and many felt that non- clinicians already had forums at the American Acoustical Society, ASHA, and the newly emerging Society for Neurosciences. We needed support of the major institutions where large numbers of basic scientists were located. Desperately, Lars Johnsson wrote to me on January 22, 1973, that at the Kresge Institute in Ann Arbor the younger researchers were in favor but the seniors were not interested at all.
While we were having some difficulty with the senior leadership, letters were pouring in from many clinician as well as non-clinician researchers in support of such an organization. Among those supporting, Joe Miller's letter was the longest (three pages) and Bob Kimura the second longest (two pages). Among the many reasons given for the need for such an organization were: 1) there was no one organization serving the diverse interests of researchers in otolaryngology; 2) if otolaryngology did not take the initiative to provide a home and forum for non-clinician researchers, otolaryngology would lose them to other organizations; 3) there would be a mutual benefit in having a forum for both basic scientists and clinician researchers on an equal basis; 4) it would bring the basic researchers into the mainstream for the education of residents; and 5) a unified voice was needed to represent the opinions of basic researchers in the field on research policy issues.
First, Dr. Tonndorf was given the task of convincing Brian McCabe (Secretary of the Division of Otolaryngology of the academy at that time) and Dr. Kos (Executive Secretary-Treasurer of AAOO) that the new organization was needed and in no way would undermine the interests of the academy. Dr. Tonndorf was successful in obtaining their support. The next task was the rather easy one of convincing Paul Ward, who was then chairman of the academy's Committee for Research. The committee believed that a separate research society could be formed, but that the meeting should be held in conjunction with the academy's Research Meeting. The academy was willing to take this new organization under its umbrella. However, one sticky point was that they wanted the meeting to take place after their main meeting, not before. That would certainly have killed the possibility of attracting clinicians to the new meeting, as the academy generally lasted for five days. Dr. Tonndorf and I requested a breakfast meeting with Brian McCabe and Paul Ward and pleaded to have this meeting scheduled before the main meeting. Dr. McCabe promised to take the matter before the academy council.
By the end of 1972, it was clear that we had gained momentum, and we decided to have a first organizational meeting. With the blessing of Paul Ward, we called a meeting to decide the fate of this new organization. The meeting took place at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 21, 1973, in the Golden Room of the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas. Dr. Schuknecht, on behalf of the organizers, read a prepared statement on why such an organization was needed. The reasons given were: 1) the available pool of potential members was now sufficient to support a society; 2) the magnitude of research, in terms of quality and quantity, had grown to a level where it should be dignified by an organization; and 3) it was time to integrate into our meetings the somewhat forgotten non-clinical investigators whose research related closely to our own but who, because of their restricted interests, had been unable to find a suitable forum for their scientific presentations.
After some heated debate, the majority of those present agreed to establish a new society and elected interim officers. David Hilding was elected the first president and Vicente Honrubia, David Lim, Harold Schuknecht, James Snow, and Juergen Tonndorf as executive council members. Unfortunately, I have, no record of who the nominating committee were. Drs. Schuknecht and Tonndorf and Anderson Hilding, as chairman, were appointed to the By-Laws Committee, and Max Abramson, Bobby Alford, and Merle Lawrence, as chairman, to the Membership Committee. At the 1974 annual meeting we adopted the new by-laws.
By the time of the 1974 meeting, we had received 111 applications for active membership and five for corresponding membership, so a total of 116 members were initially inducted as charter members (Ben Senturia was inducted retroactively by the council, making 117 charter members).
In the meantime, Hal Schuknecht was empowered to incorporate the ARO. Through his personal lawyer, Mr. Oravec of McLaughlin Brothers in Boston, the ARO was incorporated on September 9, 1974, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with the statement that it was officially organized on July 31, 1974. ARO did not have any funds, so the $400 legal fee was paid by Hal Schuknecht out of his own pocket.
While all these organizational structures were being formed, the role of the ARO and its direction was not clear. Because the ARO was formed by a vote of those who attended the meeting of the Committee for Research, and the Committee for Research, like all academy committees, was appointed, there was confusion as to the role each group should play. Initially, it was vaguely understood that the ARO would take over the Committee for Research's function. As Paul Ward wrote in a letter on November 16, 1973, "If the society desires, from next year we can have a joint sponsorship of the meeting, which will be a token on the part of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, but certainly with the name on the program, these both might help smooth the transition." He envisioned the primary function of the Committee for Research to continue the selection of the resident prizes and awards. With this offer, the first joint meeting --the Research Forum -- was organized. The name was originally suggested by Jack Vernon, the second president of the ARO, who presided over the first joint Research Forum.
Although the joint meeting was successful, the relationship between the Committee for Research and the ARO had not been clearly defined. To form a closer tie between the two organizations, we suggested establishing a liaison to help them coordinate their activities. For a while I was ARO's liaison to the Committee for Research, but this arrangement became unnecessary as more committee members became ARO officers or vice versa.
In the ARO council meeting held on October 4, 1974 (attended by David Hilding, Jack Vernon, Harold Schuknecht, Juergen Tonndorf, James Snow, and David Lim), Brian McCabe, representing the academy, discussed a potential conflict between the ARO and the academy's Committee for Research, which had voted to remain in existence to carry out its objectives, which are to foster research by residents, to give them a podium, and to conduct the competition. The council of the academy wanted clearly defined objectives from both groups. The ARO council decided to maintain, for the time being, a joint Research Forum with the Committee for Research, with co-chairmen representing each organization. That format still exists today, and it has worked well to maintain the research presentations in the academy.