EMBS President Letter to the Membership

August 15, 2016

Dear EMBS Member:

At its November 2015 meeting, the IEEE Board of Directors proposed revisions to the IEEE Constitution. These revisions are to be voted upon by the IEEE membership as part of the 2016 IEEE election ballot, opening 15 August and closing 3 October. The revisions have the stated objective: “Create a nimble, flexible, forward-looking organization.”

During our Fall AdCom 2016 meeting, the Engineering in Biology and Medicine Society AdCom and ExCom reviewed and carefully considered the proposed IEEE Constitutional Amendment change, and unanimously passed this motion:

“The EMBS AdCom and ExCom is NOT in favor of the constitutional amendment and revised board structure, as proposed. While we recognize the importance to improve governance and operations within IEEE, we do not believe the proposed revisions to the constitution will accomplish this without compromising fundamental principles of representation.”

The reasoning for opposition are expressed below and include the following:

  1. The problem statement that the proposed amendment is attempting to solve is not well-defined;
  2. The existing IEEE Constitution offers alternative, less complex ways of accomplishing the intended improvements;
  3. There are considerable unknowns associated with still-to-be-written bylaws under the proposed constitution; and
  4. The risk associated with a major constitutional change is not clearly outweighed by its possible benefits.

It is unusual that we are asked to vote on this constitutional change before we know what the final new structure would be, and without knowing the new bylaws that will govern the IEEE in the future. The new bylaws are to be written later by the BoD, however, none of the new bylaws will require member vote, or even prior notification. The proposed amendment gives power to the BoD to implement any changes they wish to make, without requiring approval from us, the IEEE Members.

More than half of the governing boards of the IEEE’s Societies and Councils with strong ties to EMBS have already spoken against the amendment, including the Computer; Communications; Power and Energy; Circuits and Systems; Electron Devices; Robotics and Automation; Solid-State Circuits and Signal Processing Society.

I urge you to become more familiar with the pros and cons of the amendment, and exercise your right to vote in this critically important juncture for the IEEE. Click here to learn more about the amendment. The rationale for opposition to the constitutional amendment and proposed restructuring can be found on this website.

For background, the IEEE governing documents, including the Constitution and Bylaws, are available at IEEE.org.

The proposed changes are critical to the future of IEEE. If passed, they will not be easy to reverse in the future if we are not happy with them. It is YOUR vote that will decide the fate of IEEE. I encourage you to share this information with other IEEE member colleagues, and urge them to make an informed vote.


Andrew Laine

Andrew Laine

President, IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society

Columbia University


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