Tuesday, November 22, 2005

BOT Leadership Puts Out ISSUE PAPER re Strawman Proposal

USNA At Large,

Now comes George Watt with a last minute effort to put out an "Issue Paper" re the proposed BOT restructuring, aka, the "Strawman" proposal.

One doesn't know just where to begin, but since timeliness is critical here, we'll just set forth some random comments in no particular order of importance.

(Thanks to Malcolm Schantz for passing this along to the At Large.)

1.  We'll start with an "Executive Summary" -- this effort by George and the leadership of the Alumni Association is essentially pathetic in every sense.

2.  Unfortunately, the head of the Greater Washington Chapter terms George's effort as "rumor control."  Malcolm Schantz properly nails that one.  Golly!

3.  Matter of fact, why is this missive coming from the president in the first place?  This has to do with organizing and structuring the Board of Trustees.  Seems such communications should come from the Chairman of the Board of Trustees or perhaps from the Governance Committee.  George ought to be a bystander on subjects like this, not a cheerleader trotted out to bash those of us alumni who have access to the Internet and give a damn.

4.  But, since George is the fellow that has ventured out of the compound, we'll deal with his missive.

5.  He starts off gnashing his teeth -- stating that those that question the "Strawman" proposal are doing so "violently."  How in the world does he come up with a word like that?  Have there been some sort of acts of "violence" at Alumni House?  George needs to be reminded that there are a lot of our alumni, past and present, who know what the word "violence" means.  Trivializing such a word is not becoming of a president of the Alumni Association.

6.  BTW, George never says specifically who in the Internet is utilizing "violent" tactics.  As it happens, I'm not aware of any other Internet entity who has stayed as on top of this developing situation as well as USNA At Large.  You can see much of our coverage going back just the past couple of months at our new blog --
http://USNA-At-Large.blogspot.com/  To be sure, we have covered BOT issues for years.

7.  George then goes on to charge us with using "F.U.D." tactics.  (Have to admit that's a new acronym to me.)  In any event, this charge made me doubt that it was USNA At Large he was referring to since you will see communications on this subject from several current Trustees on the blog, including the CHAIRMAN OF THE GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE.  Gee whiz!

8.  But, not to worry, George then reassures us that it will take 2/3 of the Trustees to pass the "Strawman" proposal.  I guess George is implying that we can carry on as the Strawman proposal will probably not be passed.  As a Trustee for many years in days of yesteryear, I can assure you that getting a 2/3 vote out of the BOT is not a difficult feat, UNLESS WE RABBLE OUTSIDE OF THE WASHINGTON-ANNAPOLIS-BALTIMORE axis let our Trustees know what our views are.

9.  George then complains, "
incomplete information that are being promulgated through the internet"  The fault for "incomplete information" falls 100% squarely in the laps of George, Carl Trost and Roy Snyder.  As an aside, it is always profoundly discouraging to me to find Naval Academy graduates behaving this way.

10. Whew!  This is hard work.  Now on to the second paragraph.  Gadzooks!

11. George proceeds to share, finally, 10 days out from the BOT meeting the "
the only official version" of the Issue Paper.  I suspect that the only reason that this document has been generated in the first place and shared is because we among USNA At Large pressurized the BOT leadership to do a proper job.

12. George then goes on to cite the three benefits of the "Strawman" proposal.  Note that they are not cited in "
the only official version".  Sort of tough to reconcile that logistic -- guess George's three benefits must be "unofficial."

13. George then goes on to do a really good impersonation of George ORWELL, "
We build upon the success of the regional trustee model, now expanding it to six seats of "national trustees""  Here's how to read that Benefit #1 -- The Regional Trustee Model has been very, very successful.  The four Regional Trustees have some sense of responsibility to their constituencies because they were specifically elected by them.  As a result, some of the Regional Trustees have an annoying habit of asking inconvenient questions from time to time.  What would George do?  (Orwell, that is.)  Why, he would declare the Regional Trustee Model to be a success and then toss the Regional Trustees into the memory hole.

14. I don't know about the reader, but I've about had enough of this stuff.  We'll fast forward to the end here.

15. The "Issue Paper" is a sorry excuse for a document purportedly designed to seriously support a massive change to the structure of the Board of Trustees of the Alumni Association.  One could almost get a sense of the low regard that the Alumni Association seems to have for the vast body of Naval Academy Alumni outside of the Washington-Annapolis-Baltimore axis with a pathetic effort like this.

16. Finally, we call again for the Board of Trustees to take a wave-off on this "Strawman" proposal on December 1, go back to the drawing boards and do a SERIOUS study of governance issues, including the proposal that there be a SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REGIONAL TRUSTEES.

  For The American Experiment, John G.B. Howland '64

   So at last, a position paper and official explanation are promulgated,
fewer than two weeks before the vote. It's like pulling teeth getting
info out of our Alumni Association.
   In the absence of straightforward communication from the Association,
rumors will naturally flourish.  Real "rumor control" involves getting the
full story before the membership early in the game.
  I continue to suspect that some at Alumni House hoped to slip this major
change through by quick and dirty vote without arousing undue alumni notice.
Well, mirabile dictu, it appears a few alumni have noticed!
  At this point I suggest that the motion proposing this change be tabled
until the membership has had a chance to study and provide feedback.

Malcolm Schantz '63

Greater Washington DC Chapter President wrote:

Folks - here is a great effort in "rumor control" put together by George that is worth reading.

Dr. Steve Hudock '69
Greater Washington Chapter
US Naval Academy Alumni Association



I saw a note the other day from one of our members suggesting that the vote on the proposed change to the composition of the Board of Trustees is a "done deal". If that is so, then many of us are wasting our time. Unfortunately, there are a few who violently oppose the change as recommended by the standing governance committee. And what is most unfortunate is this group continues to employ F.U.D. tactics (fear, uncertainty & doubt) in order to stir up our alumni and the dues paying members of the Alumni Association. At the end of the day, it requires 2/3 of the voting members of the Board of Trustees to make a change to our bylaws. Thus, it is important that this issue be reviewed factually and thoughtfully. When we vote (and we will vote this up or down at the 1 December meeting), it is my hope our votes will be based on the merits of the proposed change and not on the myths and incomplete information that are being promulgated through the internet.

As you can see in the attached issue paper (and this is the only official version - presented to the members of the BOT through an agreed-to committee process), there are many benefits to the proposed change to the BOT composition model. Simply put, I see three basic and logical reasons for the BOT to accept the nominating committee's (and our Chairman's) proposal:

We build upon the success of the regional trustee model, now expanding it to six seats of "national trustees"
We balance the BOT among class, chapter and "at large" representation, thus moving toward a more effective governing/fiduciary model, and a cohesive and integrated board
We give all of our members a voice in the selection of their "national trustees" (which is the most important in my mind), thus engaging the entire membership in building an effective, representative board
Let me assure you this is not a done deal. I believe that if you, and our other 50,000 dues paying members are made aware of the facts and the benefits, and then we all in turn express our thoughts on the matter to all of the sitting members of the BOT, they will take your input into account and vote for the good of the association.

With Very Best Regards and BEAT ARMY!!!

G.P. Watt

George P. Watt, Jr., President and CEO

U.S. Naval Academy

Alumni Association & Foundation

247 King George Street

Annapolis, MD 21402



USNA Alumni Association

Issue Paper

Issue:  Composition of the Board of Trustees


The planned changes to board composition reduce the size of the board, balance chapter and class representation (which has been an issue of debate) and make the board more accountable to the entire alumni population.


The Chairman has proposed a change in the composition of the Board of Trustees that addresses four key elements: (1) Election of six National Trustees by the entire regular membership of the Association that broadens the support role of current Regional and Board Selected trustees and makes the National Trustees elected by, and accountable to, the entire alumni community; (2) Balanced chapter and class trustee representation on the board; (3) A modest reduction in the size of the Board; and (4) An easy, and highly effective transition methodology. The majority of the standing Governance Committee supports this proposal.

USNA Alumni Association Board of Trustees Composition


12 Chapter Trustees
8 Chapter Trustees 1

  7 Class Trustees
8 Class Trustees 1

  4 Regional Trustees

6 National Trustees 2

  2 Board selected Trustees

  1 Chair
1 Chair

  1 Vice Chair
1 Vice Chair

  1 President/CEO
1 President/CEO

  1 Past Chair
    Delete 3

TOTAL:  29
TOTAL:  25

1  Balances trustees between chapters and classes

2  National trustees to be elected by the total regular membership of the Association

3  The current Chair and the current Past Chair concur with this deletion

·        When implemented, six National Trustees will be created.  With staggered three-year terms for these six seats, the entire regular membership has the opportunity to vote each year to elect two National Trustees. 

·        With two National Trustees to be elected each year, the board-appointed Nominating Committee will have the opportunity to take into account the entire talent, experience and availability of all regular members across the entire geographic, generational, ethnic and gender spectrum. This assures a deep pool of mission oriented, qualified and willing to serve individuals.

·        The Chair of the Council of Class Presidents and seven Decade Representatives selected by the Council will comprise the eight class trustees. These trustees provide appropriate generational representation on the Board of Trustees.

·        An organization of Chapter Presidents will be asked to establish criteria for selecting chapter trustees not only giving consideration to chapter size but also providing the opportunity for smaller chapters to select trustees. The chapter trustees provide appropriate geographic alignment.

·        Each National Trustee will also be asked by the Chairman to be a communicator to a discrete sub-set of the national membership base. Thus, each member of the Association will have no less than four channels of communication with the board:  a class trustee, a chapter trustee, a national trustee and the officers (Chairman, Vice Chairman and President).

·        Finally, and most importantly, this new model will provide the opportunity for the entire membership to engage in the election of trustees each and every year, thus giving the members a voice.  


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