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  • About RSNA
  • Part 21 Further Challenges

  • For those radiologists who had attended crowded Society meetings at Chicago's Palmer House Hotel, it seemed incredible that the scientific assembly could be on the verge of becoming too large for McCormick Place.

    The new cabinet system of management for RSNA, as established by Society leaders in the late 1970s, was operating smoothly by 1985. However, since RSNA was now publishing Radiology, RadioGraphics and the Scientific Program for the annual meeting, with plans being discussed to print course syllabi and a catalog of educational materials, RSNA leaders believed a new cabinet position—a liaison for publications—needed to be added to the Board of Directors. Consequently, to avoid increasing the size of the Board, the positions of secretary and treasurer, which had been combined temporarily in the 1960s, were combined again and filled by California radiologist Malcolm Jones, M.D. The first liaison for publications was E. Robert Heitzman, M.D.

    Introducing RSNA Today Video 

    Soon the Society developed another cutting-edge, year-round continuing-education publication. By the mid-1980s, videocassette technology had established itself in American society. Individuals were purchasing new videocassette recorder/players (VCRs) and small stores that offered videotapes of movies for rent began dotting the landscape. RSNA leaders believed the Society should add videotape recordings of courses, lectures and annual meeting sessions to its library of slides and audiocassettes. From this idea came the development of a "videotape journal." Periodically, RSNA members received a videotape containing news and presentations on various radiology topics. This new type of journal was called RSNA Today Video. Dr. Heitzman served as interim editor until Irvin I. Kricheff, M.D., was selected as the permanent editor. Circulation approached 2,000, although RSNA had difficulty attracting advertisers to this new concept.

    Farewell to Adele Swenson 

    The middle of the decade was also marked by fond farewells to the Society's dynamic executive director, Adele Swenson, who had announced her retirement. As a reflection of the gratitude Society leaders felt for Swenson, a special book was put together in her honor entitled, RSNA Remembered: Reminiscing with Adele—1985. The book was coordinated on behalf of the past RSNA presidents and the Board of Directors by 1984 RSNA President Douglas W. MacEwan, M.D., and his wife. Many past-presidents contributed chapters to the book, which described events in RSNA history from the formation of the Western Roentgen Society to the development of RadioGraphics.

    The Board of Directors, through a selection committee, chose Mary Ann Tuft to replace Swenson. Tuft had a master's degree in education from Lehigh University. She began her career as an elementary school teacher. Like Swenson, Tuft had a solid background in administration, which included experience with the Girl Scouts. In 1966, Tuft had joined the Great Valley Girl Scout Council of Allentown, Pa., as director of personnel services and worked her way up to the national in-service instructor of education courses for the Executive Staff of Girl Scout Councils. Her experience with medical societies began when she became a consultant to the National League for Nursing in New York. By 1969, she was the executive director of the 35,000-member American Student Nurses' Association and was responsible for operations, fundraising, financial management, publication and recruiting. She was also president of the Board of Directors of the New York Society of Association Executives.1 

    Staying in Chicago 

    On November 17, 1985, the 71st RSNA Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting commenced in Chicago's McCormick Place. The number of scientific sessions and scientific exhibits had increased from the previous meeting, which had been held in the much smaller Washington Convention Center. The plenary session schedule was unchanged, although the New Horizons Lecture was renamed the Eugene P. Pendergrass New Horizons Lecture to honor the Society's 1954 president and one of the most important leaders in radiology education.

    The RSNA Board of Directors had also formed a site-selection committee to analyze potential alternative locations for future meetings, but RSNA leaders were convinced Chicago was the best place for the scientific assembly. The city had the optimal combination of an adequate convention center, large international airport, topnotch hotel accommodations, appealing cultural attractions, fine restaurants and efficient transportation. However, by the late 1980s, the RSNA meeting was taking up nearly all the exhibit and classroom space at McCormick Place. For those radiologists who had attended crowded Society meetings at Chicago's Palmer House Hotel, it seemed incredible that the scientific assembly could be on the verge of becoming too large for McCormick Place. Fortunately, plans were under way to build an addition to the convention center, which would be connected to the original lakeside building by a pedestrian walkway that would span Chicago's busy Lake Shore Drive. The RSNA Board of Directors scheduled every annual meeting in McCormick Place through the end of the century.


    1. Buenger RE. Mary Ann Tuft: new executive director, Radiological Society of North America. Radiology 1985; 155:839.
    Attendees at RSNA '86 viewed scientific exhibits such as this one titled, "Pitfalls in Cholangiographic Interpretation."