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IEEE Governance in Division

Will a proposed amendment modernize the governance of one of the oldest technical societies or transfer power to a small grouper of officials?

By John Blyler, Editorial Director

As a member of the IEEEE, I recently received an email concerning a proposed change to the society’s constitution that might fundamentally impact the governance of the entire organization. Since that initial email, there have been several messages from various societies within the IEEE that either oppose or support this amendment.

To gain a broader perspective on the issue, I asked the current IEEE President-Elect and well-known EDA colleague, Karen Bartleson, for her viewpoint concerning the opposition’s main points of contention. Ms. Bartleson supports the proposed changes. What follows is a portion of her response. – JB

Opposition: The amendment could enable:

  • a small group to take control of IEEE

Support: Not at all. There is no conspiracy going on – the Boards of Directors from 2015 and 2016 are not sinister. They want the best for the IEEE.

  • transferring of power from over 300,000 members to a small group of insiders,

Support: Not at all. Currently the Board of Directors is not elected by the full membership of IEEE. Allowing all members to elect their Board is more fair than it is today.

  • removing regional representation from the Board of Directors thereby making it possible that, e.g., no Asian or European representatives will be on the Board of Directors – thus breaking the link between our sections and the decisions the Board will make,

Support: No. The slate for the Board of Directors will better ensure geographic diversity. Today, Region 10 – which is 25% of membership – gets only 1 seat on the Board of Directors. Today, there are 7 seats reserved exclusively for the USA.

  • removing technical activities representation from the Board of Directors thereby diminishing the voices of technology in steering IEEE’s future,

Support: No. There will be plenty of opportunity for technical activities to be represented on the Board of Directors.

  • moving vital parts of the constitution to the bylaws – which could be subject to change by a small group, on short notice.

Support: This is not a new situation. Today, the bylaws can be changed by the Board on short notice. For instance, the Board could decide to eliminate every Region except one. But the Board is not irresponsible and wouldn’t do this without buy-in from the broader IEEE.

The society has create a public page concerning this proposed amendment.

It is the responsibility of all IEEE members to develop an informed opinion and vote by October 3, 2016, in the annual election.



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