IEEE Canadian Foundation
Annual Meeting of the Members, April 9, 2002
The people who volunteer their time, their energy, and their knowledge, are the most important resource for any organization such as the IEEE Canadian Foundation. My sincere thanks to all members of our foundation for the significant contributions you have made - over this past year, the decade of this foundation's existence, and the preceding three and a half decades of IEEC Inc. Special mention is made of the people who have left us and joined our ranks.
This year saw the passing of two of our founding members, Bill Lower and Tom Purdy Sr. Both had contributed significantly to the predecessor organization, the International Electrical and Electronics Conference Inc. (IEEC Inc.) which provided the initial funding and a core committee (funding IEEE student and related activities) that was the basis for the evolution of that corporation into its present form as a registered charitable foundation. Bill, based in Toronto, was serving as Secretary of the Board and in many ways its heart and soul until the time of his death. Tom, having relocated to Vancouver, kept in touch using the Internet and via his son, Tom Jr. who joined the Board for the beginning of the 2000 operational year. Both are sorely missed for their greatness of spirit, sense of humour, warmth, common sense, and willingness to help others.
Pressures of the telecommunications business led Miro Forest to resign from the presidency of the foundation at its April 2001 Board meeting. Fortunately for the foundation, Miro has been able to continue as an active member of the Board. He was the foundation's first president, chairing the transitional meeting on September 14, 1992 and guiding the new Board through seemingly endless government bureaucracy and regulation to satisfy all legal requirements in establishing a Canadian charitable foundation. His past and continuing contributions are recognized and appreciated.
Dave Kemp completed his two year term on the Board as the IEEE Canada representative (concurrent with his term of office as past regional director). Based in Winnipeg, he obtained travel funding, attended a high percentage of Board meetings, and was an active, informed and enthusiastic director. He has indicated his desire to continue his involvement and will strengthen our Western Canada connection. As Dave departs his director role, we welcome IEEE Canada past president (aka past regional director) Celia Desmond as she takes over from Dave. Celia concurrently serves as the President of the IEEE Communications Society.
Wally Read accepted our new liaison role with the IEEE Foundation and, as a member of their Board, has contributed significantly to improved interactions between the two foundations. Based in St. John's, he also provides an Eastern Canada connection. Wally attended one of our Board meetings and communicated electronically on other occasions. I will add a personal note and thank Wally for introducing me to electronic mail in November 1987. We all thank Wally for being instrumental in arranging the first joint meeting of our foundation boards that is planned for June 20, 2002.
Three additional IEEE Canada volunteers, the Chairs of the three Councils in Canada (Western, Central, and Eastern), accepted Tom Purdy's invitation to become foundation members and serve on a newly constituted donations committee. They are Roger Nelson of Vancouver, John Mowbray of Conestogo, and Ferial El-Hawary of Halifax. These volunteers add knowledge of both Region and Section operations in IEEE Canada and add to our regional diversity.
Ossama Iskandar of Toronto accepted Miro Forest's invitation to become a member and serve on our Disbursements Committee. He attended our December 2001 meeting. We welcome him aboard and look forward to working together.
Canada Wide Scope
Our foundation's charter is to promote the theory and creative practice of electrical and electronics engineering within Canada, and to promote the IEEE in Canada, with particular reference to IEEE student branches. To be effective, as a group of volunteers, with a geographic reach from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland, and to do this economically in order to preserve our financial resources for charitable purposes by minimizing administrative costs, is no simple task.
Given that our target recipients are primarily at educational institutions with better than average Internet access and knowhow, we have embarked on a strategy to use the Internet as our primary communication medium. At the same time, we are purposefully broadening our geographic base of IEEE volunteers. The following list of activities and initiatives exemplifies our strategy to become a truly Canadian Foundation in the finest IEEE tradition.
Activities and Initiatives
Financials - Our Treasurer, Luc Matteau, has successfully managed to satisfy both the obscure requirements of our Auditors and the simpler but equally valid needs of our volunteer Board. I thank him, not only for this initiative, but for the extraordinary amount of work in investing prudently, balancing cash and investments, dispensing funds, and dealing with ever changing and eager but often uninformed volunteers in IEEE student branches. The change in scheduling of our Annual Meeting to April instead of the preceding December was recommended by Luc to allow improved annual financial reporting.
Donations - Our newly constituted Donations Committee has developed a plan to increase donations. An IEEE Member Dues mailing insert was implemented with the recent Fall mailing. Future activities include; a Corporate Sponsorship program, a Future Bequest program, and an On-line Donations project. The addition of new volunteers is providing the necessary people resource. I thank Tom Purdy for initiating these projects and John Mowbray for the implementation oversight.
Disbursements - Our Disbursements Committee has increased its interaction with student branch volunteers under David Whyte's guidance. Wallas Khella has become our student branch liaison by adeptly following up on grant disbursements and eliminating uncertainty about branch intentions regarding the spending of monies allocated. With David's advice, the funding level of Scholarships was increased last April for the 2002 awards. This committee recommended a full and wide range of awards (IEEE McNaughton Scholarships, IEEE McNaughton Learning Resource Centre Grants, and Special Grants).
Liaisons - Our interaction with IEEE Canada, the IEEE Foundation, and Canadian IEEE student branches is at an all-time high, thanks to Dave Kemp, Wally Read, and Wallas Khella. Additional key liaison functions are the presence of our Treasurer at the annual student branch training workshop, and our President at the IEEE Canada region meeting.
Other Support Committees - Audit, Investment, and Nominations, respectively chaired by Hugh Swain, Luc Matteau, and Miro Forest, are necessary functions that become increasingly important as our foundation matures and its level of activity expands. A current focus of our Board is the development of additional members to share the workload and provide geographic diversity. This will begin to address our current inability to fully populate all committees with the numbers and characteristics that we deem desirable.
Web Site - Our web site is now located on an IEEE server, with its own domain name, and appropriate staff support and system back up - provided by IEEE at no charge under the Entity Web Hosting program. Our site has been redesigned over the past year to conform to IEEE's appearance and navigation guidelines. Content has been improved, and on-line services are being introduced with one currently operational service - student branch updates.
Student Branch Interaction - A long standing challenge has been our ability to communicate with students and faculty associated with the branches we support. Maintaining current web and e-mail addresses has proven difficult. IEEE data at both region and corporate levels is poor at best. We are improving our use of key foundation volunteers and developing on-line web-tools to improve communication and receive feedback. Provided we keep up our focus on this effort, I am optimistic that our foundation can maintain adequate contact and interaction as a volunteer entity without staff support.
Planning - Our first special planning session was held in February in Mississauga, with Ray Findlay (foundation member and 2002 IEEE President) as facilitator. This event was highly successful, the outcomes are to be presented at the Board meeting that immediately follows this Members' meeting, and plans for implementation will be determined at that time.
As I complete my first and partial year as president, I note that I inherited a vibrant organization that has been prudently managed by a knowledgeable group of engineering professionals, committed to IEEE volunteer principles, and concerned with engineering education and practice. We will continue in working together to evolve and improve the operation of our foundation. My thanks again to all of you for your continuing guidance and support.
Robert T.H. (Bob) Alden, Ph.D., P.Eng., LSM IEEE