The Origins of SEPA
The Southeastern Planetarium Association had its beginnings in February of 1970, when Jim Hooks invited a bunch of planetarium people to Lumberton, North Carolina for an informal get together. Their names had been given to him by planetarium sales representatives that had stopped by his facility. Twenty-seven people showed up from ten planetariums. The group felt so good about the meeting they decided to plan another. At the time, there was no regional association for the southeast part of the country, although the rest of the United States was covered and there was talk, among the planetarium community of a national organization, or even international, forming.
The group did meet again that same year, in June of 1970. This time, only eighteen people were in attendance. But more importantly, the group decided they wanted a permanent organization. Three tentative officers were picked and given the task of getting things going. Selected were: Jim Hooks, acting president; Jack Gross, acting vice president; and Jane Geoghegan (Hastings), acting secretary treasurer.
1970 was a busy year for the fledgling group. In September, the three acting officers got together and hammered out the details of a constitution and set of by-laws for the, yet to be born, organization. Now there was a document that needed approval, so a regional meeting was arranged to be held at the CAPE* conference in East Lansing, Michigan that Fall. Ten people from our region showed up to review and look over the documents that would establish SEPA. The actual vote on the constitution and by-laws was conducted by a mailed ballot at a later date. Jack Horkheimer served as liaison to any national publications which might emerge from the CAPE meeting. Jim Hooks became the regional representative from SEPA.
In the first quarter of 1971, an effort was made to announce the existence of SEPA. Letters were sent to every State Department of Education in the southeast asking for the location of every school planetarium. Planetarium sales people were asked to spread the word and an announcement was sent to Sky and Telescope magazine.
By the end of March, the list of potential members had grown to 88. When SEPA gathered for its first official conference, in June of 1971, fifty-four people were in attendance. The unofficial officers from the previous year were made official, adding Jack Horkheimer as first newsletter editor. Jim Hooks became the first official SEPA representative to ISPE.
Early on, a committee on professionalism was formed, a clearing house for job information was organized and an ethics committee was established. A major policy vote at the 1973 conference, rejected the idea of having SEPA and ISPE meet together in even years and firmly established the concept of an annual SEPA meeting. In 1977, the membership voted to have Bill Lazarus investigate the possibility of SEPA becoming incorporated. Through that effort, SEPA became incorporated in South Carolina on May 15, 1978.
– adapted from an article by Jane Hastings
*CAPE was a short lived effort to try to establish a national planetarium organization. Its membership was quickly absorbed by the ISPE (International Society of Planetarium Educators) which grew to become the International Planetarium Society (IPS).