In November of 1970, Philip Handler, President of the National Academy of Sciences, addressed a letter to the American Geophysical Union suggesting that AGU give consideration to acquiring independent legal status separate from the Academy. After fifty years of association with the Academy, AGU has become a society of over 10,000 members, with a substantial meetings and publication program and a good-sized annual budget. Except for its role as the U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, the AGU has been operating largely independently of the Academy and has certainly come of age.