The role of President is sometimes likened to that of ship’s captain. The captain is in charge of day to day operations on the vessel. S(he) interprets the directives from the ship’s owners, makes decisions about how to implement those directives, and conveys orders to the crew. On the surface, a president’s role may seem similar, but in a democratic organization there is a curious difference: the ship’s owners are all the members of the organization, including the crew themselves! The president’s role in such a society is to try to understand the will of the entire membership and translate those ideas into action. But even the task of understanding and implementing the will of the membership can’t be done well by a single person. Just as a captain can’t hope to run a ship without a good crew, one person does not comprise an executive committee. Fortunately, the CSBE-SCGAB has an excellent crew on deck and the results are apparent. What follows is evidence of some of the good work of your executive committee. It is an incomplete list in no particular order and I must emphasize that every member of the committee, whether they are mentioned here by name or not, is valued and appreciated.
Our Annual General Meeting and Technical Conference in Edmonton is on the launch pad and ready to rocket skyward! Rick Atkins and his energetic team have toiled diligently to build a great program of technical and social activities. The turbulent and uncertain economy has restricted travel budgets for many of us but, nevertheless, the meeting is shaping up to be a dynamic one. Make sure that you are registered for this flagship event!
The efforts of Editor Sri Ranjan, Associate Editors, Reviewers and Technical Committee in modernizing the operations of the Canadian Biosystems Engineering Journal are paying off. This success is shown by dramatically shorter review and publication times (printed on the articles themselves) and rebounding submission numbers. The online, open-source CBEJ is now well positioned to thrive, especially considering statements by NSERC and other government funding agencies that they will require all publications from research that they support to be freely available to the public.
Vice-Presidents Regional, Fahimeh Yazdanpanah (outgoing) and Chella Vellaichamy (incoming) are working together with the Regional Directors to revitalize the grassroots activities of the society across the country. My vision is to have a small, informal committee in each region that supports local CSBE-SCGAB activities and catalyzes new ones. The committees provide continuity, “corporate memory”, and a sustained level of activity and enthusiasm. This revitalization can be a challenging task that requires the engagement of many people at the regional level, and it is progressing more rapidly in some regions than in other. This is a good entrance to the society’s activities for members looking to become more involved.
The membership of the CSBE-SCGAB is stable in a time when small, volunteer-run societies everywhere struggle to remain viable. This is due in large part to efforts spearheaded by our conscientious V.P. Membership, Harry Huffman. Membership numbers in the CSBE-SCGAB, as I’ve written elsewhere, are not for me an end in themselves. They are, however, one piece of evidence of to show that the members value the organization and that they feel engaged in and informed about the society. Harry is instrumental in making sure that this is the case.
Our linkages with sister organizations, particularly the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) are strong and mutually valuable. We should work to cultivate those friendships and we will both strengthen those organizations and enjoy the rewards. Please see my recent report to Council for details about how you can become engaged with those organizations.
I will close this report by appealing once again to you, personally, to invest in your society. You can do this in small ways, as your time allows, by becoming involved with your local committee and Regional Director. You could alternatively choose a bigger role by volunteering on any of a number of committees at the national level, or even standing for election to an executive position. It is up to us to come together to strengthen and reinvent the way that we live and work together. No one else can do this for us as well as we can do it for ourselves, if we only make the effort.
We tried to provide a clear structure for this year’s annual report for each Council position by implementing a simple template which includes a brief description of duties of the position, followed by a statement of goals and plans when the year/term started, actual accomplishments during the year, and then plans for the coming year (for those with multi-year terms). The list of duties and responsibilities of the President as described in the Society’s By-Laws may seem mostly ministerial and administrative such as chairing meetings, appointing persons to committees, among others, but in my view, it is the responsibility of the President to steer the Society towards its goals while ensuring that the Society keeps functioning as best as it could. In that sense, I take full responsibility for all the developments and progress (or the lack thereof) that took place over the past year, without taking credit away from the various other Council members and specific individuals who were actually involved in carrying out the bulk of the work.
As stated in my very first contribution to this column, my goals for the year focus on three aspects: (1). continuing with the implementation and possibly developing new initiatives in response to the recommendations of the Strive report; (2). streamlining the function and operation of the Council; and (3). continuing the efforts to revitalize the CSBE journal. In terms of accomplishments, thanks to the members of the Membership Engagement Committee chaired by Fahimeh Yazdanpanah, a number of regional activities were carried out over the past year and a few more are in the planning stages for the coming year. This is the first year that we have actually organized something like this, providing seed funding to the Regional Directors to initiate and implement their plans; it is understandable that there is still some learning to do but we are hoping that as the Regional Directors gain more experience in carrying out activities within their regions to engage our members, then in the long run this would turn out to be a sustained series of worthwhile activities over the years to come.
On the streamlining of the Council, we have introduced performance standards for Council members, mainly to establish guidelines for acceptable performance and expected outcomes from each position. Additionally, Qiang Zhang led the effort in updating our Bylaws as well as the Operations Manual, mainly to ensure that the functions of each position are well-defined and our internal processes are adequately described and documented such that they are very useful particularly for those who are new to the Council. One such process updated by René Morissette and Grant Clark is our own elections, which we are now going to conduct through online voting to help facilitate wider participation by general membership.
On the CSBE Journal revitalization, a Steering Committee headed by Suresh Neethirajan has been formed and given the task of finding out ways to improve the operations of the journal with the eventual goal of increasing the number of quality manuscripts that we publish, while ensuring that its overall operation is financially sustainable. Given that the business of journal publication has been becoming increasingly competitive in recent years, the committee is working with our journal editor to ensure that the various means identified for improving efficiencies, cutting down the time for adjudicating and processing manuscripts, and promoting the journal to expand readership and the number of submitted manuscripts, are carried out effectively.
I would just add that this year we will have a joint annual meeting with ASABE and so I would like to recognize all the individuals who are putting in extra effort in preparation for the conference. I would invite all our members to join me in expressing our gratitude to them by actually participating in the conference to ensure the success of the event.
In summary, I believe that we accomplished significant strides over the past year, but I would be the first one to admit that there were things that we could have been done better and there’s still a lot to be done. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the Society and I am very much indebted to all individuals, both in the Council and the general membership, who undertook this journey with me.
The goal I set out for my presidency was to address some critical issues raised in the Strive! Report, specifically to develop and implement action plans to attract young (student) members to the Society, to enhance the technical value of the Society, and to enhance communications among our members, within the scientific community, and with the industry and the public. The committees assigned to these tasks have been working hard and made good progress.
The student engagement committee has developed a detailed “procedures manual” for organizing activities at the regional level, including the description of duties of Regional Directors, suggestion of possible activities that may be organized at the regional level, and step-by-step instructions for planning and carrying out these activities. The spirit of the recommendations by the committee is to encourage and facilitate the conduct of regional activities by providing seed funding to each region, while minimizing administrative burden associated with organizing the activities and assigning discretionary responsibilities to the Regional Directors for planning and implementing such activities. I wish to thank Bernardo Predicala and everyone serving on the student engagement committee for doing an excellent job in charting out the course for organizing regional activities to involve and engage young members.
The technical value enhancement committee led by Grant Clark has been working with the journal editor to explore the possibility of joining the existing (mostly non-active) technical committees with the journal editorial board. This combined technical board/committee will be actively engaged in proposing and preparing the technical programs at the AGM, as well as other possible technical events (workshops, specialty conferences, etc.). The committee has been preparing a “living” document for the program/activities of the Annual General Meeting.
A significant value of our Society is our journal of Canadian Biosystems Engineering. We have had some challenges in the logistics of publishing the journal and reviewing manuscripts. The journal editor Ranjan Sri Ranjan has managed to get the University of Manitoba to host the Open Journal System (OJS) to help with the online review process. To speed up the review process, Ranjan is also in the process of establishing an editorial board, which will include 3 to 4 persons in each of the 8 topic areas of publication. Each person will be assigned 3 to 4 manuscripts to review each year, while the present Associate Editors will serve as the Section Editors to manage the review process through OJS.
The communications committee led by Ron Macdonald has developed a concept of communication workflow. A new Newsletter template was proposed. The idea of using social media (Twitter and LinkedIn) has been explored. The most significant progress was the launch of the new Society website, which has been entirely revamped to be compliant with the latest technologies, security and accessibility features. A big thank-you goes to René Morissette for his time and effort in developing and managing the website.
The Society has been running its annual operating budget at a deficit. A financial committee was established to explore both short- and long-term measures of cost cutting and revenue increasing. Some immediate actions that were recommended to and approved by the Council are increasing membership dues (as approved by the membership at the 2012 AGM), and removing the subsidies for student membership.
I am very pleased to announce that John Feddes has accepted the challenge to replace Ali Madani as the Society Secretary/Manager, effective July 1, 2013. Ali has been running the Society for the past two years in an exceptional and professional manner. I would like to wholeheartedly thank Ali for his dedication and hard work.
The local organizing committee has done an excellent job of putting everything in place for a successful annual conference in Saskatoon. More than 100 abstracts were received, four workshops were planned, and three technical tours were arranged for this conference. I would like to thank Joy Agnew, Grant Clark, and the all the member of local organizing committee for putting together a first class conference program.
Le but je me suis donnée pour ma présidence était d'aborder certaines questions essentielles soulevées dans le rapport écrit par The Strive!, en particulier pour développer et mettre en œuvre des plans d'action pour attirer les jeunes membres (étudiant) à la Société, afin d'améliorer la valeur technique de la Société, et d'améliorer la communication entre nos membres, au sein de la communauté scientifique, ainsi que avec l'industrie et le public. Les comités affectés à ces tâches ont travaillé dur et fait de bons progrès.
Le comité d'engagement de l'élève a développé une analyse détaillée "manuel de procédures" pour l'organisation d'activités au niveau régional, y compris la description des fonctions des directeurs régionaux, des suggestions d'activités possibles qui peuvent être organisées au niveau régional, et des instructions étape-par-étape pour la planification et la réalisation de ces activités. L'esprit des recommandations de la commission est d'encourager et de faciliter la conduite des activités régionales en fournissant des fonds de démarrage pour chaque région, tout en minimisant le fardeau administratif associé à l'organisation des activités et l'attribution des responsabilités discrétionnaires aux directeurs régionaux de planification et de mise en œuvre de ces activités. Je tiens à remercier Bernardo Predicala et tous ceux qui servent au sein du comité de l'engagement des élèves pour faire un excellent travail en traçant la voie pour l'organisation d'activités régionales pour impliquer et engager les jeunes membres.
Le comité d'amélioration de la valeur technique dirigé par Grant Clark a travaillé avec le rédacteur de la revue à explorer la possibilité de rejoindre les comités techniques existants (essentiellement non-active) avec le conseil de rédaction de la revue. Ce comité du conseil d'administration / technique combinée sera engagé activement dans la proposition et la préparation des programmes techniques à l'AGA, ainsi que d'autres événements techniques possibles (ateliers, conférences spécialisées, etc.) Le comité prépare un document «vivant» pour le programme / activités de l'assemblée générale annuelle.
Une valeur importante de notre Société est notre revue de génie des biosystèmes au Canada. Nous avons eu quelques difficultés dans la logistique de la publication de la revue et l'examen des manuscrits. Le rédacteur en chef Ranjan Sri Ranjan a réussi à inciter l'Université du Manitoba à accueillir le « Open Journal System » (OJS) pour aider avec le processus de révisions en ligne. Pour accélérer le processus d'examen, Ranjan est également en train de mettre en place un comité de rédaction, qui comprendra 3 à 4 personnes dans chacun des 8 domaines thématiques de publication. Chaque personne se verra attribuer 3 à 4 manuscrits de revoir à chaque année, alors que les rédacteurs associés actuels associés serviront les éditeurs de rubriques pour gérer le processus d'examen par OJS.
Le comité des communications dirigé par Ron Macdonald a développé un concept de flux de communication. Un nouveau modèle de bulletin a été proposé. L'idée d'utiliser les médias sociaux (Twitter et LinkedIn) a été explorée. Le progrès le plus important a été le lancement du nouveau site web de la Société, qui a été entièrement remanié pour être compatible avec les dernières technologies, la sécurité et les fonctionnalités d'accessibilité. Un grand merci va à René Morissette pour son temps et ses efforts dans le développement et la gestion du site.
La Société a été en cours d'exécution de son budget annuel de fonctionnement à un déficit. Un comité financier a été créé pour explorer les mesures de réduction des coûts et l'augmentation des recettes à court et à long terme. Certaines mesures immédiates qui ont été recommandées et approuvées par le Conseil sont d’augmenter les cotisations (approuvée par les membres à l'AGA de 2012), et de supprimer les subventions à l'adhésion de l'élève.
Je suis très heureux d'annoncer que John Feddes a accepté le défi de remplacer Ali Madani comme la secrétaire / gestionnaire de la Société, à compter du 1er Juillet 2013. Ali a géré la Société pendant les dernières deux années d'une manière exceptionnelle et professionnelle. Je tiens à chaleureusement remercier Ali pour son dévouement et son travail acharné.
Le comité local d'organisation a fait un travail excellent de tout mettre en place pour une conférence annuelle réussi à Saskatoon. Plus que 100 résumés ont été reçus, quatre ateliers ont été prévus, et trois visites techniques ont été organisées pour cette conférence. Je tiens à remercier Joy Agnew, Grant Clark, et l'ensemble des membres du comité organisateur local pour mettre sur pied un programme de conférences de première classe.
As per duties as outlined in the Procedures and Operations Manual:
due to prior commitments, but was able to attend all teleconference calls
This committee has not been convened in a few years. Most offices are by appointment.
This committee has been non-functioning since there have been no bylaw changes recently and when there were the Secretary did them.
This committee has been non-functioning. It may be that there is no need to have such a committee, as the AGM takes that role on
As the Education has not been formed for several years, there were no reports. As a member of the Awards committee since 2006, I recall the announcement being conducted by the Chair of the Awards committee, which is appropriate.
It has been my privilege to serve the Society as its President over the past year. We have conducted the necessary business of the Society with the assistance of your council and our secretary/ manager.
Your council has held 6 business meetings commencing with an in-person inaugural meeting immediately after theAnnual General Meeting in PEI on July 15, 2009. Teleconference meetings were schedule on approximately 6 week intervals throughout the year (Oct. 19, 2009; Dec. 14, 2009; Jan. 11, 2010; March 8, 2010; May 10, 2010). The current council will hold an in-person meeting in Quebec City on June 13, 2010 and will preside over the Annual General Meeting on June 14, 2010.