Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Case for MORE Regional Trustees

  A couple of weeks ago, I went back into the archives to dig out some of the posts that had to do with the Strawman Proposal and the long-running attempt to kill off the Regional Trustee Concept.
  Unfortunately, I overlooked one of the most critical of them all.
  Below you will find a post of last May 2 PRIOR to the BOT meeting last spring.
  This post will be put up on the blog along with most of the other relevant posts in this debate.
    Go Navy!  John Howland
From: BlackfinSS322@aol.com
Date: Mon May 2, 2005  9:14 am
Subject: A Case for MORE Regional Trustees

USNA At Large,
  One of the countless advantages of spending Four Years by the Bay was the fact that we were exposed to just about every sport in the book.
  I learned both athletic and life lessons from every one of them.
  Take wrestling for example -- one of the dynamics of a successful wrestler is the ability to pull off "reversals."
  In essence, that's when your opponent is thinking that he has you just where he wants you and is about to go for the pin, you use his own force/pressure to effect a reversal and the next thing your opponent knows -- he's the one being pinned.
  The Alumni outside of the Yard have a reversal opportunity here.
  The Powers inside Alumni House think that it would be a really swell idea to eliminate Regional Trustees altogether.
  I don't have a clue why they think that would be a good idea.  No one connected with the management or the BOT has released any sort of analysis of the dynamics within the BOT.  A small detail.  In the real world, one wouldn't be floating major reorganization balloons w/o some sort of supporting rationale.  But, I quibble.
  In the message I put out a few days ago, reprinted below, I said "
the direction that the BOT should be going in is precisely the opposite direction -- MORE Regional Trustees!"
  So, for purposes of furthering the discussion, let's assume that we have agreement with the Powers that 
"increase Alumni voting participation" is a valid goal for any restructuring of the BOT.
  Right off the bat, w/o further discussion being necessary, that points in the direction of MORE Regional Trustees.
  No other class of Trustee is subjected to a DIRECT vote of Alumni!  Chapter Trustees are typically chosen via all sorts of mechanisms, the most common being some sort of loyal effort being expended over some period of time for the Chapter in question.  Laudable, but not really directly subject to any sort of significant vote of Alumni.
  The Class Trustees come from the Class Presidents' ranks.  And, Class Presidents are chosen for all sorts of reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the concerns of the national Alumni Association.
  So, now that we have established that Regional Trustees best move the ball down the field to the goal of more voter involvement among Alumni, then the question becomes how many Regional Trustees is optimal?
  * Zero?  Nope, already demonstrated that number doesn't work.
  * Twenty three?  Naah!  Probably too much of a good thing.  Certainly there is always a legitimate concern re how big is too big for any governing board.  Besides this is a case for MORE Regional Trustees; not necessarily a case for eliminating either Chapter or Class Trustees.  A thorough discussion of those two categories might be a useful exercise for an in-depth analysis -- matter of fact, that might be an excellent chore for the existing Governance Committee to take on.
  * Four?  The existing number.  Four in this organizational context is a betwixt and between number.  It's not enough to make an obvious difference, but it is just enough, for those who don't think all this through, to easily throw brickbats at the Regional Trustee category.
  * Sixteen?  The current four could be bumped up by eliminating Chapter Trustees.  We're getting close to the right number.  Dramatically reducing the geographic territories of Regional Trustee representation will drive the Regional Trustees to being more closely tied to the major Chapters in their territory.  BUT, THEY WILL STILL NOT BE DIRECTLY TIED TO THOSE MAJOR CHAPTERS AND WILL BE REQUIRED TO PAY ATTN TO THE SMALLER CHAPTERS IN THEIR REGIONS.  This point is the key to the success of the expanded Regional Trustee concept.  It has all sorts of beneficial dynamics associated with it.
  I'll stop, for the time being, at this point.
  Hopefully, the Governance Committee will roll up their sleeves and take advantage of this opportunity to do some really serious analysis of the concept of MORE Regional Trustees.
    Live for Life, John Howland
PS A small correction.  In earlier posts, I guessed that the Read Ahead material provided to the Trustees re the proposed restructure of the BOT had been vetted by the Executive Committee.  Apparently not.  In fact, it is not clear that it was vetted by the full Governance Committee.  Stay tuned.  JH

Subj: Re: [USNA-At-Large] Just Released - Proposed Change to BOT Composition 
Date: 4/26/05 6:58:14 PM Central Daylight Time

USNA At Large,
  As I reread the very brief "Read Ahead" that Trustee Wass sent along, I have a whole variety of reactions.
  o First, appreciation to Trustee Wass for getting this information out.  The vast body of Alumni have every right to see what is being contemplated and why it is being contemplated and to have the ability to advance their two cents into the process.  I am very hopeful that there is no one on the Governance Level who would dispute that premise.
  o Of necessity, the Central Region Trustee needed to be brief in his initial communique.  I'm wondering if there is more to the proposal.  IMHO, this is a crucial decision that may be taken by the BOT.  Accordingly, it is deserving of a pretty thorough vetting.  Certainly, that should come from Alumni as well as Trustees.  However, the Executive Committee must have already had some elaborative discussions leading up to their advancing these proposals.  Those discussions and the attendant pros and cons should be shared.
  o The "stated objective" set forth by the Executive Committee advances three components.  Of the three, the only one that has any serious merit on its own is "increase Alumni voting participation."  I'm from Missouri on the other two -- that would be the "Show Me!" state.
  o As for "increase Alumni voting participation," I don't see much of anything that moves the ball toward that goal.  Indeed, I see components of the proposal that will drive voting from minimal to zero.
  o Indeed the guts of the proposal are the complete elimination of the current four Regional Trustees and two of the Chapter Trustees all six of them to be replaced by six AT LARGE Trustees.
  o Now, a sage might opine the publisher of USNA At Large ought to be in favor of At Large Trustees.  Amusing, but nothing could be further from the truth.  A truism in free society dynamics is that an official who is responsible to everyone is accountable to no one.  The sole exception being, of course, the #1 job in a free society -- in our case, the Chairman of the Alumni Assoc.
  o The BOT backed away from At Large Trustees a long time ago and rightfully so.  In a less challenged era, they were a generally useless role reserved for "name" alumni, but not expected to really do anything, but the penalty for the At Large luxury in those days was minimal.  Those are bygone days.  The Alumni Association needs, for a whole bunch of reasons, to gear up for dramatically more challenging todays and tomorrows.  The At Large Trustee mechanism is a nonstarter.
  o Matter of fact, the direction that the BOT should be going in is precisely the opposite direction -- MORE Regional Trustees!  I can elaborate on that dynamic and may do so in coming days.  (But, sure would like to see what discussions have already taken place within the Executive or Governance Committees.)
  o Dropping the Immediate Past Chair and the two BOT appointed positions is entirely appropriate. 
  o But, would also drop the voting powers of the President/CEO.  He is a hired hand.  His counsel should obviously be sought, but the BOT is his boss and he should not be placed in the conflict of interest situation that now exists.
  That concludes a few preliminary thoughts.
  The Powers have put the structure of the BOT into play.  Alumni have available to them a rare opportunity to take advantage of this situation to effect the kind of restructuring that will position the BOT appropriately for the challenges ahead.  Don't miss this opportunity -- make your views known.
    Live for Life, John Howland

In a message dated 4/26/05 5:05:51 PM Central Daylight Time, BlackfinSS322@aol.com writes:

USNA At Large,
  I am turning around the communique from the Central Region Trustee immediately in the interests of getting the word around nationally asap.
  I have some very definite views that I will put out shortly.
  But, in any event, strongly recommend that those among the At Large who have some views on this proposal get them to your Trustee(s) soonest.  Please copy me for further promulgation to all of the At Large.
  The red highlighting is mine.
    Live for Life, John Howland


U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association
Central Region Trustee
Leonard R. Wass, CAPT (Ret.)

USNA Class of 1964

Subj: Proposed Change to BOT Composition

Refer to: Central Region Letter 10-05; April 26, 2005


 The “Read Ahead” has just been issued to the Board of Trustees (BOT) prior to next week’s BOT meeting (May 6).  In it the Governance Committee is proposing a potential change to the current composition of the BOT for discussion next week, and a vote in December.  I would like the views of Central Region alumni prior to the May 6 meeting to help me determine how best to proceed.  I will summarize the proposal below.


In December 1998 the BOT approved the comprehensive report and recommendations of a 14 person Governance Study Group to implement a new BOT composition. All At-Large Trustees were eliminated from the new BOT, and the new structure was implemented over several years—being fully implemented by May 2003.  The new structure had 29 Trustees, made up of: Chair; Vice Chair; immediate past Chair; President/CEO; 4 Regional Trustees (new); 12 Chapter Trustees; 7 Class Trustees (new); and 2 Board selected Trustees (new, but optional to implement).


As of the December 2004 BOT meeting the Chair and Governance Committee Chair reported that no change need be made to the composition of the BOT.  Subsequently, over the last few months, a “strawman” to change the BOT composition was raised by the Chair to the Governance Committee.  The stated objective was to balance Class and Chapter Trustees, reduce the BOT size, and increase Alumni voting participation.  The Governance Committee is mixed in its views on the “strawman”.  In fact, an ad hoc group of the Governance Committee tasked to study the “strawman” recommended against it and recommended no change be made to the BOT composition for three years.  The Governance Committee proposal in the Read Ahead said it “accepts it as a solid basis for continuing discussion and recommends that it be given broad distribution among alumni groups.”


The “strawman” proposal before the BOT now would reduce the BOT (by 4) to 25 Trustees by: a.) Eliminating all 4 Regional Trustees, 4 of 12 Chapter Trustees, 2 Board selected Trustees, and the immediate past Chair; and, b.) Adding 6 “elected At-Large” Trustees and 1 Class Trustee.  The Chair, Vice Chair, and President/CEO would remain unchanged.


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