American Society of Naval Engineers
Annual Business Meeting held on 10 July 2019
“State of the Society”
Delivered by ASNE President, Anthony Lengerich (RADM, USN Ret.)
Fellow ASNE Members,
Thank you all for participating in our Annual Business Meeting.
My task today is to synopsize the current "state of our society". In doing so, my intention is to provide you with an appreciation for the accomplishments of our members, our sections and our staff. I'll also describe several important changes that, in the aggregate, position our society well for the future. Lastly, I'll mention the one area where work remains to be done.
Our members are fantastic. They actively volunteer to support ASNE events that are both local and national in scope. Their dedicated assistance is the secret to the success of our marque events; TSS, CSS, Mega-Rust, FMMS, MACC, AMTS and ISS. At the local level, their energy and enthusiasm can be seen in their support for events like Sea-Perch, Build-a-Boat, Human Powered Submarine competitions, STEM, section dinners and lunch-time speaker sessions.
The consolidation of our Section is now complete, and the leadership in each of our sections is strong and engaged. I'm especially pleased that the inclusion of our Section Chairs as full voting members of our national council has provided a refreshing and much need direct line of engagement between the leadership at headquarters and leadership at the deck-plates. The dialogue is robust and healthy.
Most importantly, our sections have taken the lead in reaching out to attract new members and in several cases are working to establishing subordinate chapters in nearby universities, and naval activities. The results of these efforts reinforce my belief that the most effective tool for recruiting and retaining members is the active engagement of our Section and members in their communities.
At headquarters several significant changes have kept our staff, our vice-presidents, me and several of our national level committees very busy. I'm sure you are all aware that Dr. Leigh McCue, our Executive Director since mid-2015 returned to academia in December 2018. I can't say enough about Leigh's many accomplishments during her tenure. Suffice to say, she has boundless energy; is a first class "change agent"; and put us on a great path to the future.
CAPT Rick Hepburn, USN Ret., led the hunt for Leigh's replacement. Rick and his team developed a deep list of exceptional candidates from which we were able to recruit CAPT Dale Lumme, USN Ret. Dale has a proven track record of leading organizations dedicated to the advancement of the naval services. Dale reported aboard March 15, 2019 and has quickly come up to speed on all aspects of the Society.
Between Leigh's departure and Dale's arrival, we were fortunate to be able to bring CAPT Ike Iacovetta, USN Ret. aboard to serve as our interim Executive Director. While Ike's tour of duty was only a few months, he was "the man in the middle" who successfully executed the sale of our Duke Street property and the purchase our new headquarters building.
The sale of our headquarters and purchase of a new headquarters has been a four-year effort. The fiscal extremis of our society was the motivation for selling the building we had owned since1984.
Early in my tenure as President, Leigh and I determined that advances in information technology, connectivity and the dispersed nature of our organization had greatly reduced the brick and mortar footprint needed to efficiently execute our headquarters functions. I reasoned that if we could sell the building for its appraised value, and use the proceeds to buy a smaller, more suitable facility, the residual could be used to replenish our "rainy day" reserves.
It took a long time, and at least one false start, but in April 2019 we sold our headquarters and simultaneously purchased the new headquarters. For those who track numbers, we sold for $1.5M. Total costs for the purchase, associated legal and realtor fees, and necessary permits/renovations of the new headquarters will be about $850K. Dale and the staff expect to complete the move into the new headquarters in August this year.
Selling, buying and moving is always challenging; but even more so when there is no let up in the business of the Society. My hat is off to every member of our staff. They never lost a beat. Throughout the three plus years of uncertainty about whether or when the sale and move might occur, they kept their focus and maintained the business of the Society; symposia were planned and executed, member services were maintained, the NEJ publication deadlines were met, finances were kept in order, audits were successfully completed, taxes paid on time, contracts for venues and services were arranged, and our social media feeds were kept current. To each of them, I owe a great deal of thanks.
The mission of our Society continues to be relevant to the mission of all our naval services. The emergence of new technologies has not changed that. Autonomy, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Unmanned, Cyber and Space all sound very far away from hull forms, propulsion, electrical systems, weapons, radars, sonars, electronics, and combat management systems. But these new technologies are simply the next new domain(s) in which our warfighters must have the tools to fight and win. At one time undersea warfare was a new domain, as was air warfare. As in the past, dominance in these new domains requires a trained and capable cadre of academics, scientist, architects, engineers, practitioners, artisans, mechanics and maintainers. In the new domains their roles may have titles like cyber engineer, data architect, scrum master, etc. But what remains constant are the need to exchange ideas, to learn new techniques and to learn what works and what doesn't. These things are core to our Society.
Going forward, the challenge is to attract and retain membership in these new domains. Every member dependent organization that I am acquainted with has the same concern and is faced with the same facts. The social mechanisms which enabled the growth and sustainment of societies such as ASNE are being replaced by mechanisms enabled by information technologies, which in themselves are built to enable interaction at a distance. In short, many of the benefits of membership, as we knew them, are available digitally and do not require the commitment of membership. Still, there things that "membership at a distance" cannot provide. It cannot ascertain the personality behind the user name. It cannot help a person practice the important arts of listening, dialogue, discussion, persuasion, negotiation, collaboration and compromise.
The ability of an individual to influence the beliefs, actions and decisions of others lies in these skills. In my four years as your President, I have struggled to understand the real value of membership and I have come to believe that it lies in these intangibles, which can only be obtained if one is present, active, and engaged in the business of the society.
As I turn over the office of President, I am mindful that in my four-year tenure, I gained much more than I gave. My circle of friends has greatly expanded and my toolbox of useful experiences is overflowing. It has been an honor and privilege to serve.
Thank you for supporting me and your support for our American Society of Naval Engineers.
Rear Admiral, USN, Retired