American Society of Naval Engineers
Annual Business Meeting held on 11 July 2018
“State of the Society”
Delivered by ASNE President, Anthony Lengerich (RADM, USN Ret.)
Fellow ASNE Members,
I am very pleased to report to you today on the “state” of our society and our ambitions for the coming year.
Let me begin by noting that we are celebrating our 130th anniversary. I am told ASNE is the 7th oldest, continuously operating, chartered technical society in the US. One of the duties of any society is to honor its past. Let us remember those who came before us and brought us into ASNE’s fold. They taught us “the ropes” of our professions, and they taught us that nothing great is accomplished or survives if we do only what is required. By their example, they showed us that to achieve and sustain something great requires the voluntary contribution of time and effort. ASNE is a great organization, with a great history. I ask that in this coming year each section and chapter do something special to celebrate our great history and those volunteers who made it so.
In the spirit of honoring our past, I am delighted to report that our Rosenblatt lecturer this year was CAPT Barry Tibbitts, USN Ret., who recounted the organizational history of the Navy’s Chief Engineers office and its authorities vis-à-vis naval architectures. The Rosenblatt Lecture Series came about as a result of a generous bequest from the estate of Lester Rosenblatt. Lester and his father Mandell Rosenblatt were partners in the legendary firm of M. Rosenblatt and Son Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and they built a superb reputation for technical excellence and integrity while playing a key role in design and engineering for more than half of the ships built by the U.S. Navy for over 50 years.
CAPT Tibbitts’ lecture specifically illustrated how the structure and alignment of organizations can either encourage or inhibit the ability to make sound, fact-based decisions. This endowed lecture series provides a singular platform for “those who were there” to pass on their personal witness and valuable insights to future generations of ASNE professionals. Each lecture is video recorded and available on-line to ASNE members. Our ambition is to build an extensive library of these lectures. To do so we need our members to search out and bring to our attention the many extraordinary topics and speakers that are among our ranks.
Next, I want to address how we’ve done in terms of “managing the present”. You will remember that in last year’s address, I indicated that we had begun to realize some small improvements in our financial status. Those improvements continue, albeit not at the pace we would wish for. That said, and while the books have not yet closed for our FY18, our expectation is that when all the accounting is complete, there will be no red ink on the ledger’s bottom line. What that means to me is that our efforts over several years to return to realistic budgeting are having the intended and necessary effect.
While this is good news, I hasten to point out that our strategic reserves have yet to be replenished and a significant sum is owed to our sections for past symposia “splits” that have not yet been paid out. I deeply appreciate the patience and understanding our sections have shown regarding these monies and have set in motion a process to begin payments to the sections. No one should expect immediate, full payment. The ability of the society to meet these obligations and the pace at which they can be discharged depends wholly on our revenue intakes and confidence in our cash flow projections. Section leaders have been briefed on the process and I ask that if you have questions, please contact your section chairperson.
To successfully serve a national membership, an organization must have a highly functional central core. At ASNE’s core is our small professional staff, who are superb in every respect. They are innovative, committed and determined. They make the phone calls that produce the majority of the sponsorships for our events; create the advertising; manage contracts, invoices and receipts; keep our finances in order; deal with the demands and processes of our different conference venues; order the material for conferences; pack and arrange the shipment, and do the set up at our events; and then reverse the process when the event is over; coordinate exhibitor needs; arrange the catering; do all the research and preparation work for our committees and our national council; assist in the development of courses/curriculums; drafts policies and procedures; publish our journal; keep our IT running, and cheerfully respond to queries and concerns of our membership. Without such a great staff our society would cease.
I must also commend the efforts of our national level committees. The committees for Ways and Means, Awards, Scholarships, Journal and Audit, continue the excellent execution of their important and recurring responsibilities. And our Membership committee is once again “fully manned” and crafting an ambitious campaign plan. Each member of these committees is a volunteer and well deserves our appreciation and hearty applause.
Two committees are worthy of special mention. Our Professional Development Committee continues to execute our strategic initiative to enhance the professional knowledge and skills of our members and non-members alike. Attendance and acclaim for the courses and curriculums they develop continues to rise. As these offerings become better known, there is an expectation that additional and more advanced courses will be created. But fulling that expectation requires that more of our membership join in our efforts. We need more ideas, more materials and more instructors; all of which must come from within our membership. So again, I ask our members to come forward and be an instrumental part of this signature component of ASNE’s “mission package”. We dare not disappoint.
I am especially proud of the work of our Sections Committee. Their efforts accomplished what I consider to be a hugely important and necessary evolution to our organizational and leadership structure. As the result of considerable effort and debate, the committee brought forward changes to our by-laws which made our Section Chairpersons voting members of our national council. The by-laws change was recently approved by vote of our full membership and became effective on 01 July of this year. What probably not known by our members, is that to implement this change required significant and detailed revisions to our Sections Operating Manual. The committee labored hard a long over these changes which were presented to, and approved, by the national council this past June.
This change in the composition of our national council is profound and positive. Section Chairs are “local”. They are personally known to the members of their section and they are the elected leaders their sections. Their election imposes upon them the responsibility for the operation and fiscal well-being of their sections. As a professional society ASNE must be driven by the needs of its members. Our programs and initiatives must be driven by bottom up engagement. Section Chairs now have a voice and vote at the table … and I’m delighted to welcome them into the decision crucible.
Nothing comes without a price, and the price for installing Section Chairs as members of the national council, is the dissolution of the regional representatives. The individuals who served in these positions executed their duties well and fully. Please join me in saluting and thanking each for their dedication and their many contributions to our society.
To wrap up the accomplishments of fiscal year 2018, I want to highlight our symposia and conferences.
I’ll start with our most recent, the Technology, Systems and Ships conference (TSS 2018) which completed on 20 June. Some of you will remember that almost three years ago we recognized the need to closely examine the continued viability of our traditional ASNE Day event. The result was a painful but necessary decision to structure a replacement event that could survive and thrive in what had become a crowded and costly symposium “landscape”; in which, from a fiscal perspective, ASNE Day could not successfully compete.
With very able and engaged leadership (both Navy and ASNE) and a lot of very hard work from volunteers and our headquarters staff, a new event (TSS), in a new venue, was created and delivered. The initial feedback from the nearly 430 registrants, 17 sponsors, and 7 tabletop exhibitors has been highly positive; especially regarding the content and access to many panelist and speakers. It was our intent to structure TSS such that it provided a level of exchange and conversation that was at least 1 level deeper in content and context than could be attained in the more traditionally structured symposium/conference. In that endeavor, it was supremely successful. Most importantly, our Navy partners have committed to doing it again next year and continuing to build deeper content going forward, with a specific focus on the technical aspects of the design and construction of ships.
The remainder of our symposia portfolio continues to be strong. The Combat Systems Symposium (CSS) continues grow; the Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposiums (FMMS) are doing well, and the change this year of its San Diego venue to the convention center was highly praised. Our Delaware Valley, really “turned to” and delivered an exceptional Advanced Machinery Technology Symposium, despite challenges imposed upon them, when we needed to move that event forward in our fiscal year. MegaRust continues to be well organized and attended; and our first Design Sciences workshop was highly praised by both the lecturers and attendees. Our events continue to reflect our dedication to the fleet, with our second Arctic Day showcasing excellent collaboration with the USCG, and the Naval Future Force S&T Expo highlighting partnership with the Office of Naval Research.
Now I want to highlight our ambitions for the coming year. First and foremost, we must continue our march toward a fiscally sound society. This means continuing to critically examine each expense and to be ruthlessly cautious in estimating revenues. To provide additional visibility to the longer term fiscal outlook, our Ways and Means Committee has suggested adding a third year to our budget outlook/planning, and I fully support that initiative.
Secondly, our membership committee, with the help and engagement of the local sections intends to develop “annual membership drives”, each one tailored to the specific circumstances and audience in each section. Success in these drives will require considerable thought, planning and the committed participation of local ASNE volunteers. I want to make it clear that I believe our sections are already well engaged within their communities. I believe their fine efforts will have even greater success with the focused assistance of the national committee. I look forward to welcome new members from across our many constituencies: government, industry, academia, and anyone interested in the advancement of our professions.
Thirdly, our last serious strategic planning effort was completed 3 years ago. It spotlighted challenges and broadly pointed to our future. It’s time to renew our strategic plan and plot our path forward for the next 5 years. I am determined that our national council be the action team to develop, execute and update our strategic efforts. Accordingly, I have set aside, and dedicated, the council’s annual September meeting to accomplish these responsibilities. The timing is not accidental. The output of the September strategy session is a key input (guidance) to the Ways and Means committee’s development of the annual budget. I have lofty expectations for our September session and look forward to energetic participation of our Section Chairs and other elected Council members.
In closing, I want to thank all those who lent their efforts to our events and projects in this past year. To our many local volunteers, our elected section leaders and local committee chairs, our national committee members and chairs, members of the national council and our headquarters staff, I offer deep appreciation and thanks on behalf of all ASNE members.
Submitted to the ASNE membership,