Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Coastal Research (JCR): A Changing of the Guard

   According to Ecclesiastes (Eccles. 3:1-8, KJV), there is a time for everything under the sun and at the Journal of Coastal Research (JCR) it is time for a changing of the guard. At the end of this year, I will be stepping down as the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) after thirty-five years of service to the coastal research community. My replacement will be Dr. Chris Makowski, who has been apprenticing with me for the past decade. He is a former doctoral student, friend, and colleague of whom I have the greatest respect and confidence. He knows the ropes, so to speak, and in fact has been guiding the JCR on his own for the past year. The transition will thus be seamless and I am sure that no one will notice the change in leadership. It gives me great pleasure to know that the JCR will be transitioned to good hands, to someone who is competent and has the fire in his belly to carry the torch with dedication and love in his heart for everything 'coastal.' With an academic background in the biological, ecological, and geological sciences that feature an emphasis on coastal marine disciplines, Chris has the skill set, background, and competence to lead the JCR into the coming decades and beyond. So, at the beginning of next year (2019), Chris will officially become Editor-in-Chief of the JCR and I will step into the background as Editor-in-Chief Emeritus. Although I will be in the background or behind the curtain, as it were, I will still be around to participate, if needed, for consultation and advice. That is the official news from the Coastal Education and Research Foundation [CERF], the publisher of the JCR. In passing the baton to Chris, I briefly reminisce here for those who may be interested in the origins of the journal.


18A-00008 CWF Editorial Figure1


Dr. Chris Makowski and I at the base of the Twelve Apostles mountain range in South Africa. We journeyed there in 2014 to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of CERF and the JCR at the International Coastal Symposium (ICS).


   As the last surviving founding editor of the JCR, this changing of the guard is bittersweet. I am relieved and proud to have a protégé that now becomes the master, while at the same time can't help but think back to when Rhodes Fairbridge, Maury Schwartz, and I embarked on this publishing journey not knowing whether we would succeed or fail by starting up a new professional print journal from scratch. The stakes were high as we had to compete with well-established mainline journals. In those days, the focus of coastal research was spread across many disciplines and professional journals; therefore, we had to try to eke out a niche for ourselves by attracting coastal researchers to their own specialized journal. It took about a decade to secure the JCR's position in the international publishing world at a time when electronic publishing was not yet the fad it has become today.

   As an aside, please note that I selected this issue's cover photo as a reminder of the initiation of my academic career at Oregon State University in Corvallis, where I lived and worked for about a decade acquiring my baccalaureate and graduate degrees in Natural Resources and Soil Science, with a minor in Naval Science. My love of the coast, however, was actually spurred on by visits to the east coast of Florida during family winter vacations from Chicago, Illinois. While walking the white sandy beaches there on many a glorious day, I often imagined what it would be like to actually have a job that dealt with beaches and the shore in general. At that time I had no idea what those musings portended, but there was definitely a life plan in the making. After moving to Oregon, I learned to appreciate a different kind of coast that led to many intellectual interconnections that pondered the identification and classification of Atlantic and Pacific coastal systems that I was familiar with at that time. Moving from Oregon to Western Australia, where I obtained my doctorate in Soil Science, my interest in coasts was further enhanced by contact with Dr. Rhodes W. Fairbridge, then at Columbia University in New York City, but who was born in Pinjarra near my field study area in the Darling Ranges along the Swan Coastal Plain. Our innumerable discussions about paleo sea levels in relation to the geomorphological development of cratonic plateau surfaces and how fluvial dissections cut into their Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean coastal margins drew me further into the coastal marine realm. Upon returning to the United States after a decade in Western Australia, Rhodes offered me a job working for him on the Encyclopedia of Earth Science Series, of which he was the Series Editor. That association evolved into a life-long apprenticeship under Rhodes that focused on coasts, among a myriad of other main geological topics. When he suggested that there was an opportunity to start a coastal-type print journal with the Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, I jumped on it and we launched Litoralia. The rest is history as briefly described below.

   As a bit of trivia that might be of interest to some, the predecessor to the Journal of Coastal Research was a journal called Litoralia, of which I was the founding Editor-in-Chief (Rhodes was the Consulting Editor). The publisher at that time was Van Nostrand Reinhold in New York City. Rhodes Fairbridge was very fond of the name, which we actually got permission to borrow from Dr. Doug Grant at the Geological Survey of Canada. He was the main contact for the INQUA (International Union for Quaternary Research) Commission on Quaternary Shorelines and was already using the term for an irregular newsletter (1977–1986). Rhodes liked the name as it related to Litorina (a genus of marine gastropod mollusks in the family Littorinidae, the winkles or periwinkles) and the generic term littoral, which related to the shore of a sea or lake. I quickly realized that although the name was academically enticing, it was too esoteric for most coastal marine researchers, many of whom thought the name had something to do with literature. In their defense, many researchers were centered in engineering and physical science fields, and hence would be unaware of the subtleties of biological intention here. In a strange twist of fate, Van Nostrand Reinhard (then known as VNR) was bought out by a larger corporation and the new company decided to discontinue publication of academic journals. [In 1968, Litton Industries purchased the company and merged it with Chapman-Reinhold, Inc. to form Van Nostrand-Reinhold Publishing operations. In 1997, the operations of Van Nostrand-Reinhold were acquired by John Wiley & Sons from International Thompson Publishing.] We (The Coastal Education & Research Foundation, CERF) were given rights to Litoralia for its liabilities (forty subscribers), after which I made substantial changes to the journal and initiated the inaugural issue of the Journal of Coastal Research (JCR), a banner that we still fly proudly thirty-five years later. A major advertising firm in Chicago, Illinois, created the logo for the JCR, whereas my secretary, Barbara Russell, and I created the logo for CERF over a summer's work. We went thru many iterations of design before we were satisfied with the result.

   This is the backdrop to which CERF and the JCR exist today. They are the forerunners of my legacy (something bequeathed from one generation to the next), part of which is honesty and integrity that I have handed down to Chris Makowski, whom I know retains the same values. Those values have carried the JCR through thick and thin, and still form the corpus of our ethos. Knowing that this legacical foundation is embraced by the new EIC, I see a bright and secure future for the JCR in its service to the coastal research community.

   For me, this is not a farewell to my friends and colleagues still in the trenches, but a step back from the front lines to our company headquarters where I can regroup and enjoy my time in semi-retirement. That is the beauty of emeritus status as one can reflect on prior successes and failures, while at the same time enjoy still being part of the organizational structure of the journal, albeit in the wings, but still able to utter some sage whispers. The word emeritus is Latin, originally meaning "veteran soldier," of which I very much feel a part of after thirty-five years of service. So, at the end of 2018, I will transition from Editor-in-Chief to Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, a new posting that I will enjoy as I watch the JCR soar to new heights. I made this conscious decision of free will, as I wanted to leave my watch while still fully competent and perhaps when I will be missed. I much prefer that to staying at the party too long and being asked to please leave the floor. Nothing could make me happier than to be able to turn over the JCR to Chris Makowski, who has the same drive and dedication as I did when much younger. Now much older, I better appreciate the phrase "old soldiers never die; they just fade away," as proclaimed long ago in a popular British barrack ballad. Having done my duty to the best of my ability, I now pass the baton to Chris as he picks up the responsibility as Editor-in-Chief of the JCR.

Charles W. Finkl

Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.A.


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