Minutes of the meeting of the Board of Governors (BoG)

of the
IEEE Society on the social Implications of Technology (SSIT)

at Bloustein School, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
September 23, 2006

1.   Welcome and Introductions

The meeting was called to order at 10:30 AM. President Perusich welcomed the attendees. Attendees introduced themselves.

2.   Adoption of Agenda

The agenda of the meeting was approved with minor changes.

3.   Approval of Previous Minutes

The minutes of the previous meeting (June 11, 2006) were corrected and approved.

4.   President's Report (Karl Perusich)

There have been substantial changes in spending and allocation algorithms. The upcoming vulnerable societies meeting (October 16) will be of representatives from the adversely affected societies.

Motion: Allocate $500 to Janet Rochester to enable her to attend the vulnerable societies meeting. Approved.

5.   Past President's Report (Brian O'Connell)

At the TAB meeting there was some talk about the vulnerable societies, but nothing was resolved. Brian spoke at the Telework conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick. There was a nice group of people, about 50, who attended. The facilities for our ISTAS 2008 look nice. The conference will likely have a strong Canadian presence. Perhaps SSIT should co-sponsor the Telework conference. Brian gave some talks as part of the Distinguished Lecture program. He has a future talk scheduled with the student chapter at University of Michigan.

6.   Treasurer's Report (Karl Stephan) (see attachments)

Membership stands at 2142, about as high as it ever has been. The balance sheet shows that we have a net worth of about $300K. The allocation formulas have changed, so we are likely to show a deficit at the end of the year. We have changed nothing in what we are doing, but now the formulas put us in the red.The line labeled "Administration" on page three is where IEEE takes out the infrastructure charges. The annual charge is $114K. This line will get even bigger next year. What IEEE takes for administration is more than the total income from our members' dues. IEEE used to make administrative charges invisible, but now they made them visible and changed the algorithm.

The income from periodicals is not figured out until the end of the year, so the line labeled "periodicals" is deceptive. IEEE put in a large figure for "Meetings/Conferences" than we have had in the past: $80K. It is not clear why they did this, but it makes us look under our budgeted income, even though we have never made that much. In the past, the final budget shows that we somehow meet whatever figure they put in that row. Money from the book broker might account for some of this.

7.   Director's Report (Clint Andrews) (see attachments)

IEEE as a whole had a large surplus in 2005. Electronic publications have done really well. There is a shift away from print to electronic forms. The IT infrastructure has become centralized. E-publication income has become centralized. Algorithms decided by TAB committees are needed to allocate expenses and income. The latest changes, made in February, was for indirect expenses. They charge each society the same, about $75K, regardless of the number of members. This is devastating for small societies. Most algorithms hurt one group or another. Infrastructure charges are 41% of our total expenses.

The memo from Jane Cerone (attachments) lists the possible things SSIT could do, such as, merging with another society, becoming a council, syndicating articles, or running a more profitable conference. The October 16 Vulnerable Societies Meeting in Piscataway will discuss these issues with other vulnerable societies. The Education Society is not vulnerable because of the success of their FIE conference. ITS also has a profitable conference, which keeps them afloat.

Discussion: merging publications is not appealing. There is no clear good choice among the ideas presented in the memo. The Computer Society, also, is in financial trouble, so changes in the algorithms could happen. Part of the reason for the changes in the algorithms is the Computer Society's threat to leave TAB. The algorithms keep changes as different committees take charge of them.

Discussion: Revenues and Expenses are allocated using two different styles of algorithms. One (expenses) is a flat tax, but the other (revenues) is proportional. This results in an imbalance. The Computer Society has complained about this, also. No society can figure out their budget in advance because their are too many factors and the algorithms keep changing. The only reason that SSIT is in trouble is that IEEE takes money for infrastructure.

Syndication of articles has some appeal, but the details of doing this would be difficult. Category J of the memo shows what would happen to the IEEE bottom line if all vulnerable societies vanished. The net gain to IEEE would be $193K, which is a trivial amount compared to the IEEE total budget. There is a wide concern that membership in IEEE does not benefit the practicing engineer. The activities of SSIT benefit all members, and this would be lost if SSIT folds.

TAB allowed the Product Safety Society to be formed, even though it was not likely to be viable. Now other societies are brought under threat. The Executive Director of IEEE claims that membership is an outdated idea. IEEE staff is growing at an incredible rate. They feel that IEEE should be an intellectual property organization without membership, and should be devoted to selling intellectual property. There seems to be a desire on the part of staff to do away with all societies.

We need to say that IEEE risks destroying the one society that is devoted to professional ethics and professionalism. It would be an embarrassment to the profession if SSIT were eliminated. Although it would be misguided to regard SSIT as a business, we should pay more attention to business. We should remind those that want to impose a business model that even in a business not all parts of the organization are profit centers. We should take the high moral ground and try to find IEEE fellows to write letters of support that say how important a society like this is to the profession.

Perhaps we should look at things in-house to demonstrate that we bring benefit to the IEEE. Compared to some societies we have been financially responsible. But we have not been generating enough revenue from conferences. We rely too much on the hosting organization, who does it only once. Our conferences don't attract very many of our own members because only rarely do they regard SSIT as their primary society. Our best conferences have been at large universities and have attracted a largely academic audience.

If IEEE staff take over the vulnerable society meeting, it will not be productive. The meeting should be fact finding: eg., why are we budgeted for $80K for conferences? We are one of the few societies where adding members increases revenue.


8.   Publications Report (Michael Loui e-mail)

(see attachments)

0. Dr. Katina Michael of the University of Wollongong, Australia is a new member of the Publications Committee. She replaces Janet Rochester.

1. The magazine is in good shape. There is a healthy backlog of papers.

2. We have a proposal from Kevin Passino for a special issue on Engineering and Volunteerism. This might be as early as 2008. The issue will discuss service learning as part of engineering education, engineers without borders, international co-curricular activities, practicing engineers who do community service, disaster and humanitarian projects. Prof. Vaz spoke on these topics at a meeting of the Boston chapter, Sept. 19. Those who attended were interested in the topic. Nationally there is rising interest in this. The North Carolina State University chapter of Engineers without Borders has 50 members.

Motion: Approve the proposal for a special issue on Engineering and Volunteerism. Approved.

3. December 2007 is Joe Herkert's last issue. A Senior Associate editor will be brought in before then. About eleven nominations for this position have been received. Applications and nominations close in November. The Board suggests that a former editor should be a member of the search committee. Bob Whelchel and Ron Kline were suggested. Joe Herkert will be involved to the extent of giving advice to the committee.

4. Electronic Newsletter. The next issue will come out in four weeks. If there is enough additional material, another issue may come out in December 2007.

Suggestion for the Magazine: The table of contents is too brief for easy searching. Eg. the line for a book review should include the title of the reviewed book. Discussion: there is not always room. Changes to the design of the magazine should not be done ad hoc.

9.   Conference Reports

(a) ISTAS 2006. There were 45 participants. The books are just about closed, but there is a problem with one caterer that can not be found. Corrected CDs of the proceedings are about to appear.

(b) ISTAS 2007, Las Vegas, Nevada. David Hassenzahl is running it (see attachments to the June 2006 BoG meeting). He has been very responsive in organizing this. The UNLV Hotel College teaching hotel may be the host of the conference. There may be a reception at the Atomic Testing Museum the evening before the conference. Perhaps we could get the Security and Privacy group involved in this? The theme is Risk, Vulnerability, Uncertainty, Technology and Society.

Some professions require a certain amount of ethics training and continuing education to maintain licensure. Could we not take advantage of this somehow? May need to have special workshops at our conferences for this. Perhaps we could partner with UNLV continuing education. A subcommittee of Brian O'Connell, Karl, Emine Cagin, and Sarah Pfatteicher will look into this and look into what IEEE staff knows about this. Could we offer CEU credit

(c) ISTAS 2008, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. (O'Connell) This is still on track. Susan O'Donnell and the National Research Council (Canada) are working on this. There is a technical problem in getting a MOU signed between the IEEE and the Canadian NRC. We may need to do the conference without a MOU.

(d) ISTAS 2009. This is still in the early stages.

Discussion: Maybe we could look for a part-time conference organizer. Maybe we could get IEEE seed money if we have a business plan. We will look into IEEE resources for this.

Put a filler in the magazine that we are looking for a 2009 venue.

10.   Committee Reports

(a) Nominations (O'Connell). There are four nominations for the Board of Governors. Three positions will be open. We are late on this. Perhaps the by-laws should be changed.

Motion: Amend the slate by adding Bogdan Hoanca and Ken Foster. Approved.

Motion: The executive officers shall be Karl Perusich, president, Janet Rochester, vice president, Karl Stephan, treasurer, and Bradley Kjell, secretary. Approved.

(b) Fellows Committee. There are problems with nominations to fellow grade. If the nominator does not know many fellows, it is hard to get the five necessary letters of recommendation. One does not have to be a fellow to nominate a fellow. The list of SSIT members that have made fellow grade should be readily available to make this process easier. This may go on the web site, if there are no privacy problems.

(c) Membership (Brook via e-mail) (see attachments). See the Treasurer's Report for numbers. Letters were sent to all SSIT members in arrears asking them to renew. This may increase our membership.

(d) Student Membership (Cagin). We need to start future engineers thinking about involvement with IEEE and social issues early. This may affect their choice of career upon graduation. IEEE student chapters can coordinate with other student organizations involved with similar issues. Getting e-mail addresses for student chapters is a problem. Some were e-mailed, but the response was poor. Emine talked face-to-face with the Michigan chapter. Those of us who have contact with student IEEE groups should try to contact them. There may be a student poster session at ISTAS 2007, which may serve as an enticement for getting involved. Regions each have a student coordinator. We should try to get them involved. Section chairs will be contacted.

(Discussion: ) Faculty that teach engineering ethics should be contacted, but many of them are not electrical engineers. Maybe we should allocate some number of student memberships; maybe work out a deal where all new student members get a free SSIT membership. This is likely to be a IEEE new initiative. Maybe send one special issue to students, without requiring them to be SSIT members. There should be a free membership to students who register at the conference.

A committee was formed to look at these issues: Emily Anesta, Emine Cagin, Brian O'Connell, and Clint Andrews.

(e) Distinguished Lecturers. (Rochester) Brian's lecture in Brazil did not happen, due to visa problems with the prospective attendees. Karl Perusich will be giving a talk in November. Steve Unger will be talking to the Long Island chapter in December on e-voting.

(f) Chapters/GOLD. (Anesta). Pittsburgh is forming a chapter. They seem motivated. A petition is being circulated. Prospective members were determined using SAMIEEE. We should contact the section chair, Joseph Polaski at Allegheny Power. SSIT Australia has formed a big joint chapter. They have had a good turnout at their meetings. The IEEE web site has not been updated to list Emily as chapter coordinator. E-mail was sent to GOLD members. Sample copies of T&S were sent to Nigeria.

(g) Awards (Rochester). The awards criteria are out for review (see minutes of last meeting). They may go forward to another IEEE committee in November. Bob Brook has a candidate in mind for the Barus Award.

(h) Ethics. NSPE has now instituted an ethics hot line. Members can get legal advise on ethics issues. IEEE ethics committee has a by-law now that they can not give ethics advice. The on-line ethics center has a hot line. But this center may be moved to another sponsor, and it is not clear if it will continue to exist. It has been moderately successful, with 50-100 cases per year. Often cases are such that nothing much can be done. It would be nice to operate like AAUP does on some issues. Three SSIT members, Joe Herkert, Michael Loui, and Sara Pfatteicher will be members of the board of the National Center for Engineering Ethics. This organization is mostly concerned with ethics education. They produce and distribute educational videos.

Motion: To pay travel and lodging expenses for Brain O'Connell when he goes to Toronto. Passed.

11.   Liaison Reports

No reports.

12.   Old Business

No old business.

13.   New Business

It appears that the BoG can vote on issues by e-mail, as long as we follow IEEE rules. We don't have to change our by-laws. There may be problems in determining exactly who is a voting member. Each division appoints a representative, but many are lax. We might use the virtual community for discussion. We should do a trial run first with a dummy issue to see how things work out.

The Engineering Management Society is becoming a council. We have been asked to be one of their sponsors, which means that we would help finance them. We currently sponsor no councils. With our financial situation, it looks like we will unable to do this.

13.   Next Meeting Data and Place

The next Board of Governor's meeting will be early March. We need to get spreadsheets from IEEE.

14.   Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 3:00 PM.

Attendees at the September 23, 2006 Meeting

NAME AFFILIATION EMAIL (replace # with @)
Clint Andrews Rutgers/SSIT c.j.andrews #i eee . org
Emily Anesta Chapters/GOLD eanesta # wpi . edu
Terri Bookman T&S Managing Editor    t.bookman # ieee . org
Emine Cagin Student Rep. cagin # eecs . umich . edu
Ken Foster BoG kfoster # seas . upenn . edu
Joe Herkert Editor T&S joe_herkert # ncsu . edu
Bradley Kjell Secretary kjell # ieee . org
Andrew U. Meyer Div. 8 / Control Soc. meyer # ujit .edu
Brian O'Connell Past President oconnellb # ccsu . edu
Karl Perusich President perusich * sbcgloba l . net
Sarah Pfatteicher T&S Assoc. Editor spfatt # engr . wisc . edu
James R. Pfafflin IAS shailpnj # lycos . com
Janet Rochester SSIT VP j.rochester # ieee . org
Karl D. Stephan SSIT Treasurer kdstephan # txstate . edu
Steve Unger Ethics Committee unger # cs . columbia . edu