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10 years of news and resources for members of the IEEE Signal Processing Society

Your Vote is Needed

Rabab Ward
President, IEEE Signal Processing Society

In last month’s newsletter, I wrote to you about our Board of Governors NOT being in favor of the upcoming IEEE Constitutional amendment. In this newsletter, I will tell you more about its proponent views and its opposing views because the ultimate decision on the amendment is yours, as voting IEEE members.

At this website, https://www.ieee.org/about/corporate/election/2016_constitutional_amendment.html, you can learn more about the amendment. The IEEE Board of Directors statement in support of the amendment posted there contains the following PRO points:

  • “Provide members with the possibility of an increased role selecting the Board of Directors, allowing directors to be elected by the full eligible voting membership of IEEE.
  • Add language encouraging a diverse Board of Directors.
  • Add the IEEE executive director, the most senior IEEE staff executive, as a non-voting member of the Board to participate from inception in setting the strategic direction of IEEE.
  • Separate the role of an IEEE delegate from an IEEE director, so that directors need not also be delegates.
  • Separate the requirement that corporate officers must also be directors. This will allow corporate officers as currently defined to serve in important leadership positions other than on the Board of Directors.
  • Establish a new role for IEEE delegates, who are members of the IEEE Assembly, to recommend and consult with the Board on revisions to IEEE Bylaws.”

Proponents of the amendment present it as a way to improve the members’ voice in governing IEEE and allow future changes to the organizational structure to better respond to the demands of a complex and changing world.

The amendment, however, changes IEEE in a fundamental way. It transforms IEEE into a top-down organization run by a much smaller number of directors – about one-third of the present number. It gives these directors the power to re-organize and re-structure IEEE without the need for member approval. Only candidates that satisfy “diversity“ qualifications can run for election as directors, and these qualifications are set by the Board each time there is an election. It is not difficult to envision cases when these qualifications are used to shun some candidates and promote others.

The amendment eliminates geographic and societies representation from the Board. This makes it possible that no Asian, European, Latin American or Canadian representatives will be on the Board. Societies are instrumental to IEEE’s past and future success, and the reason why many of you joined IEEE. They bring 70 - 80% of IEEE’s revenue through volunteer efforts on publications and conferences. The removal of our grass roots geographic voices and technical societies’ voices from the Board will drastically reduce their influence on the decision process of IEEE resources and initiatives.

Much of the IEEE’s future structure is unknown, since new bylaws that should accompany the amendment have not been written. Opponents conclude, as did our Board of Governors, that the risks of unknown changes are too great. The existing IEEE constitution offers alternative, less complex ways of accomplishing intended improvements, while maintaining members at the core of the decision making process.

These are some of the reasons why the governing bodies of IEEE’s largest societies: Computer, Communications, Power and Energy, Signal Processing, Circuits and Systems, Electron Devices, Robotics and Automation, Solid-State Circuits, and more, have passed motions of opposition. Many smaller societies, councils, Region 5 ExCom, and also geographic sections have passed such motions. Four past IEEE Presidents have also been vocal in opposing the amendment. For their statements, please see https://ieee2016blog.wordpress.com/.

We urge you to do your own research and reach your own conclusion about the proposed amendment. It is very important that you vote between 15 August and 3 October in this critically important juncture for IEEE.

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