(San Francisco, March 15) – The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), one of the nation’s leading astronomy education organizations, announced today that Executive Director Michael A. Bennett has informed the Board of Directors of his desire to retire from full-time service before the end of 2006. Mr. Bennett has worked for the ASP for eleven years and has served as Executive Director for over five years. “My years with this wonderful organization have unquestionably been the most rewarding and fulfilling of my career,” said Bennett. “But now, with the ASP stable and growing, I can start slowing down a bit. I will definitely continue serving the ASP by working part-time on a few projects, but I am also looking forward to moving into semi-retirement.”

“The ASP has made great progress under Mike’s tenure,” said ASP President Dennis Schatz, “especially through his leadership in sharpening the Society’s strategic focus on education and professional development for educators. We’re sorry to see him step down, but we respect his decision and we look forward to his continued involvement with specific projects and his help during the transition.”

Schatz announced that a committee has been formed to conduct a national search and recommend a successor to the Board. A full position announcement is located on the ASP web site at http://www.astrosociety.org.

Founded in 1889 in San Francisco, the ASP is one of the nation’s leading organizations devoted to improving people’s understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of astronomy and space. Serving research astronomers, educators of all descriptions, and amateur astronomers, the ASP publishes both scholarly and educational materials, conducts professional development programs for formal and informal educators, and holds conferences, symposia, and workshops for astronomers and educators who specialize in astronomy education and outreach. The ASP’s education programs are funded by its own members, corporations, private foundations, NASA, and the National Science Foundation.