BOG Members in Attendance: Behnaam Aazhang, Julia Abrahams, Andrew Barron, Ezio Biglieri, Vijay Bhargava, Robert Calderbank, Agnes Chan, Tony Ephremides, Thomas Ericson, Tom Fuja, Jerry Gibson, Bruce Hajek, Chris Heegard, Saleem Kassam, Urbashi Mitra, Steve McLaughlin, Greg Pottie, Sergio Verdu, Steve Wicker
Others in Attendance: Sean Coffey, Dave Forney, Vince Poor, Leonardas Tassiulas
1. The meeting was called to order at 8:25 PM.
2. The agenda was approved.
3. The minutes of the previous meeting were accepted.
4. President Jerry Gibson made a series of announcements. 4a. He presented a certificate of recognition on behalf of the Society to Bruce Hajek for his work as President of the Society in 1995. 4b. The IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB) will conduct the five year review of the IT Society at the November TAB meeting regarding our mode of operation. A report will be submitted to the TAB review committee in mid-May. In the meantime Jerry Gibson and Urbashi Mitra will coordinate our response. 4c. There is a new stricter policy on page count for Transactions; journals which undershoot their page count target by more than 5% will be assessed a 5% fee for the whole year, rather than the last month, necessitating more careful management of the page count. 4d. TAB is also investigating the time between submissions and publications in journals, which is judged too long for certain journals; the results will be reported in June. 4e. Vijay Bhargava has been nominated for President Elect of the IEEE by the IEEE board; the BOG members expressed their collective pleasure at his nomination. 4f. New BOG members were acknowledged: Steve Wicker (member), Behnaam Aazhang (treasurer), Michelle Effros (newsletter editor), Urbashi Mitra (membership chair) and Greg Pottie (secretary).
5. Treasurer Behnaam Aazhang presented his report on our financial status as of Dec. 31, 1995: net worth of 835.2K, for a gain of 279.7K over 1994, an outstanding loan of 5K for 1996 ITW, Haifa, Israel, with our long-term investments valued at 526.5K, for a net gain of 105.1K over 1994. It was noted that the long-term investment gain is not actually included in the net worth. In the ensuing discussion, skepticism was expressed regarding the apparent surplus of 279K, possibly due to November page charges not yet being assessed.
6. Reports were presented on Symposia and Workshops 6a. 1995 ISIT, Whistler, B.C.. Vijay Bhargava presented the audited report, revealing a $17,000.31 surplus, and presented a check for the IT Society share of $11,070 to Jerry Gibson. Dave Forney reported a general consensus that everyone wanted future symposia to be as much like Whistler as possible. 6b. 1996 IT Workshop, Haifa, June 9-13. Sergio Verdu reported that brochures have been mailed to 500 potential attendees, with e-mail announcements to many more; further information is available at http://www-ee.technion.ac.il/ITW96.html. More than 40 recent results papers were submitted, requiring reviews, suggesting it will be an excellent session. Issues of security were raised, with the conclusion that there is at present no significant risk compared to other venues. Tony Ephremides raised the issue of logistics; at present the discount package is for five days stay; individuals desiring shorter stays should directly contact the hotel. 6c. 1996 ISITA Victoria BC Sept 17-20. Vijay Bhargava reported that roughly 300 participants with 250 papers were expected at the conference, to be held in the Victoria conference center. 6d. 1996 Comm. Theory Mini Conference (at Globecom 96). It was reported by Ezio Biglieri that there were 80 submissions, and 6 papers in each of 6 sessions. 1997 ISIT, Ulm Germany. Everything appears to be on target, with the last call for papers to be distributed shortly. Local industry contributions have been solicited to enable all students to attend the banquet, and 10 workstations will be provided for e-mail. 6e. 1997 IT Workshop, July 7-9, Longyearbyen, Norway. A request for 5K to sponsor the workshop had been made, to enable a fee reduction. Bruce Hajek pointed out that Society policy is to offer loans and to share a fraction of the profit or loss of sponsored symposia and workshops, which are to be budgeted to break even. The apparent misunderstanding will be resolved by email. 6f. 1998 IT Workshop, Ireland. Sean Coffey reported that everything was proceeding smoothly, but now local organizers required a loan of 5K for hotel deposits, etc. Bruce Hajek moved and the Board approved the request. The Board requested a complete budget as early as possible. 6g. 1999 IT Workshop, South Africa. At the moment details are lacking, but a proposal is expected shortly. 6h. Possible IT Workshop, San Diego, Jan/Feb. 1998. Paul Siegel and Ken Zeger have suggested holding a workshop. Discussion ensued on whether it should be general or confined to specific topics. General workshops without parallel sessions expose participants to a broad set of topics, while focused workshops can potentially bring new members to the Society. There was consensus that there is room for both types of workshops, but that timing relative to ISIT should be considered, with general workshops not taking place close to an ISIT. 6i. 1998 ISIT Sept. 13-18. Dave Forney reported on progress in local arrangements. Three plausible locations have been identified after an extensive search of New England facilities: MIT, Mt. Washington Hotel in NH, and Waterville Valley in NH. Of these the NH sites were felt the most desirable in enabling a cohesive event. The Mt. Washington site is more historic and thus would make for a more special 50th anniversary, but is also more expensive at their standard rates, possibly beyond the means of many Society members. Much discussion ensued on prices (including methods of subsidizing some attendees) and timing of events (late August vs. early September). Negotiations will be made with both NH sites, with results and a pricing plan to be reported in Haifa in June. 6j. 2000 ISIT proposals. Thomas Ericson proposed that it be held in Linkoping, Sweden, at the conference center. It has all the facilities necessary for the symposium, and plenty of hotel rooms within walking distance. There are good transportation services to Stockholm and Copenhagen. Prices are reasonable. Ezio Biglieri presented an alternative proposal for Sorrento Italy, showing a video of the hotel and its attractions. Because of the Jubilee year, many extra cultural events will take place, and a decision will need to be made soon to get the hotel, which has all the facilities required at reasonable rates. Both groups will present fuller proposals with budgets at the BOG meeting in Victoria, where a final decision will be made. 6k. Research Directions Meeting. Julia Abrahamson proposed that the IT Society should organize a day of presentations in Washington. By making managers aware of IT activities with regard to possible future research breakthroughs and applications we may collectively achieve higher funding levels. It was pointed out that computer science often receives credit for IT accomplishments. Discussion expanded to consideration of non-American sources of funding, and coming up with a general strategy for presenting IT accomplishments. A committee was formed, to be headed by Steve Wicker and including Ezio Biglieri and Tom Ericson.
7. Membership Development. Urbashi Mitra asked basic questions as to how we wish to define ourselves as a Society and what strategy we wish to pursue to attract members. IT has a relatively high percentage of turnover of members who remain in the IEEE but drop IT membership. Questions were raised about organizing topics in the Transactions to make it more accessible, an increased number of invited tutorial papers, polling our members on what they want, upgrading our web page, etc. Suggestions may be e-mailed to Urbashi at email@example.com.
8. Publications 8a. Transactions. Robert Calderbank reported that we should be right on our page budget of 2250 pages this year, with extra papers that cannot fit in the November special issue to be spaced to hit it exactly. A page count of 2150 is expected for 97; a call was made for suggestions on a special issue that brings together one of our traditional fields and an emerging area. Input on ways of celebrating the 50th anniversary of Shannon's paper in 1998 is welcome. Authors are urged to provide electronic transmissions; these save costs and eliminate most typos. A proposal was made to replace a six year old computer with one with some modern communications ability. Chris Heegard moved and the Board passed a motion to provide Steve McLaughlin with up to 3K to purchase a new computer with the necessary software. 6b. IT Homepage. Ramesh Rao (firstname.lastname@example.org) is supervising a major update with 20K in funds allocated. Member input is essential. 6c. The newsletter is on schedule; there was nothing to report on IEEE press activities.
9. Spending Ideas Committee. Agnes Chan distributed the results of committee discussion on how to spend the Society's apparent surplus in a manner most beneficial to members. There was general consensus that funding travel to IT Symposia for worthy participants is the highest priority (e.g. grad students and otherwise indigent members), but disagreement in the Board on the best mechanism for doing so. A figure of 20K or 70% of the surplus (whichever is lower) was suggested by the committee, but a motion to implement this recommendation was tabled until June for further discussion. Further suggestions of the committee include investigation of the feasibility of creating a library of audio/video recordings of past Shannon lectures, and publication of special additional issues of the Transactions should a backlog of papers occur. In general, large surpluses are to be avoided; fees should be lowered if they are persistent.
10. Awards. Sergio Verdu reported that the paper awards nominations had closed with decisions to be made in Haifa. The deadline for nominations on IEEE paper awards and medals is July 1.
11. IEEE Fellows Committee. Dave Forney reported that there had not been a large number of nominees, perhaps owing to the early nomination deadline of March 15. The nominations process needs to be at full speed in December to meet this deadline.
12. Russian IEEE Memberships. Bruce Hajek reported that since 1993/94 the Society has paid IEEE dues for 20 Russian members, who have since organized a Russian chapter of the IT Society. Continuing need apparently exists, and a decision on whether to continue this subsidy must be made before December, and on a successor to Bruce to handle these issues.
13. The next BOG meeting will be held on Sunday June 9 in Haifa.
14. The meeting adjourned at 11:15 PM.