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President's Message: The End of a Very Interesting Year

Gerald L. Engel, 2005 IEEE Computer Society President

Pages: pp. 7-8

Best wishes for the coming holiday season. I hope that 2005 has gone well for you and that 2006 will even be better. For me, serving as your president this year has been an outstanding experience. My wife, Doris, and I want to thank everyone who has worked with us and has been involved with the Computer Society for making it as wonderful as it has been.

I came into the year having the difficult job of following a truly outstanding group of presidents, especially in the sequence of Guylaine Pollock, Ben Wah, Willis King, Steve Diamond, and Carl Chang. I hope that in some small way I will be remembered as fitting into this group.

2004 President Chang handed us the charge of "transforming the Computer Society to the vision of being the leading provider of technical professional services for the world's computing professionals." During his administration, this transformation began. I hope you will agree that in 2005 we moved the process significantly ahead. In addition, I believe we have moved considerably toward establishing our appropriate place within the IEEE.

It will now be up to 2006 President Deborah Cooper to see that these things continue. Certainly, I want to help in the process wherever I can. I trust that I can count on all of you to also join us in the process. As I said in January, "Come join us in this journey, the time is right, and the water is fine."

The 2005 Team

I cannot give enough thanks to my 2005 Executive Committee. They were tremendous. My basic philosophy of management is surround yourself with good people, stay out of their way for the most part, and they will do great things. So I expected great things, and they always exceeded my expectations.

Deborah Cooper, the 2006 President, will indeed bring a fresh face and view to the Society. Michael Williams, First Vice President for Publications, has already been recognized by the membership for his excellence by being elected 2007 President. James Moore, Second Vice President for Electronic Products and Services, solidified our newest board and moved us considerably forward.

Christina Schober, Vice President for Chapter Activities, has approached this area with a new enthusiasm and has introduced several new programs. Murali Varanasi, Vice President for Educational Activities, has introduced new programs and individuals to us and has overseen the development of several more curriculum volumes in computing.

Stephanie White, Vice President for Technical Activities, streamlined that organization and introduced several cross-board programs to enhance our entire operation. Yervant Zorian, Vice President for Conferences and Tutorials, pursued our efforts to reinvent our conferences operations, as well as moving us into a more market-driven orientation. Susan (Kathy) Land, Vice President for Standards, ably led the standards activities and further established it as one of our unique assets while at the same time integrating the activities with other boards.

Beyond the vice presidents, as Treasurer, Rangachar Kasturi has somehow made sense of all the financial matters we have faced, and he has even been able to make me understand them. As Secretary, Steve Seidman has done a marvelous job of keeping me on track at all the meetings and making sure that I corrected the many mistakes I made during the year.

Our IEEE Division Directors, Gene Hoffnagle, Division V, and Steve Diamond, Division VIII, ably assisted by Division V Director-Elect Oscar Garcia, have faithfully performed their duties within the IEEE while keeping us informed and advising us about how we could best be involved at the IEEE level. Doris Carver, EIC of Computer, always contributes much to the Society, including, this time, letting me publish this message.

Carl Chang, 2004 President, was always there to lend me a hand, and, of course, it was he who created the environment in which I was able to succeed. And finally, David Hennage, our Executive Director, has done an amazing job of keeping me out of trouble and making my tasks, for the most part, a lot of fun.

The Board of Governors also supported all of us in our efforts this year. We shall miss Mark Grant, Michel Israel, Steve Seidman, and Kathy Swigger, whose terms have concluded. Oscar Garcia also completes his term on the Board but continues as IEEE Division V Director.

I cannot give enough praise to the Computer Society staff. I have always known they were good, but in the past couple of years, they have amazed me as to just how good they are. They always go the extra mile, and they do it in a way that whoever they are dealing with knows they are the most important person in the world. This is a rare ability, and it certainly made my job a real joy.

Space prevents listing everyone, but I must acknowledge specifically the Executive Staff with whom I had the most dealings: Anne Marie Kelly, Associate Executive Director; Angela Burgess, Publisher; Bob Care, Director, Information Technology and Services; Vi Doan, Director, Administration; Dick Price, Associate Publisher; Desmona Harris, Manager, Finance and Accounting; and Peter Turner, Director, Business and Product Development.

So again, thanks to everyone, volunteer and staff. I am sorry I cannot list everyone by name, but it would take up this entire issue of Computer. You have done great things, and you have no idea how proud I am of what we accomplished. I look forward to working with all of you for many years to come.

What We Did

To list all the accomplishments of the year is impossible. It too would require a special issue of Computer. Recall that in my message in January 2005, I said that I viewed my primary role as being the one to ensure that the implementation of the 2004 Strategic Plan, developed by Past President Carl Chang, was done smoothly while maintaining all of our existing strengths. I believe we have gone a long way toward accomplishing this.

We have indeed moved to more and intraprogram board activities, resulting in some exciting initiatives. We have also even more aggressively pursued opportunities with our certification program. You can anticipate this will soon become a major activity of the Society, as well as a credential of recognized importance worldwide. We are also looking at ways, by ourselves and with partners, to expand the program to address additional areas and levels.

We have been somewhat less successful in enhancing and informing our constituents' members, customers, and the public at large of all the great things we are doing. But we have gotten started, and we are doing better. I am certain that further development of this area will be accomplished in 2006.

Relations with the IEEE

This has been and is an extremely important issue to us. In August, I convened a meeting of selected volunteers and staff to consider what opportunities there are and which of these are best for the Computer Society. The meeting was highly successful, and it resulted in working groups focusing both on optimizing the Society's resources and on optimizing our opportunities within the IEEE.

Specifically, we need to look at how we can reposition ourselves within the IEEE so that we can respond better, faster, and cheaper to opportunities and threats; allocate our financial, human, intellectual, and organizational capital in a more strategic way; and minimize wasted energies and costs associated with the current organizational structure.

Staff is leading the internal review. I presented our findings to the IEEE Board of Directors in November 2005. My hope is that a task force can be formed at the IEEE Board of Directors level to further investigate these areas and come to specific recommendations in 2006 for how we can indeed establish both a stronger Computer Society and a stronger IEEE.

Other Outside Relations

As we have expanded our programs, and as we have extended our influence worldwide, we have also found that there are a number of organizations with similar interests and activities. In the coming year, I am planning to get together the highest level of leadership of these organizations for a chance to exchange information on what we are currently doing and what we can more effectively do by working together. Examples of the kinds of activities with which we are all involved include publications, conferences, accreditation, certification, and standards. It is my hope that this will indeed allow us to find the optimal way in which we can all proceed into the future.


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as 2005 Computer Society president. I do hope that as you look at what we have done, you will conclude that indeed I did a good job. If you have any concerns that I did not do so, please do not hesitate to contact me, and I assure you that I will see that the next administration makes the necessary corrections.

We all look forward to 2006 and the leadership of Deborah Cooper. I know that I can count on you to supply the support and help to Deborah that you have given to me. Hopefully, we will all continue to work together for a long time to come.

About the Authors

Gerald L. Engel is a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Connecticut. Contact him at
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