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Oral-History:W. Cleon Anderson

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Ray had desires, too, to change IEEE. But he followed his position as chairman very, very carefully. He did not try to influence the board by speaking from the position of being chair of the meeting. You're always supposed to hand the gavel to somebody else if you're going to speak for or in opposition to a particular item. And I tried to hold my feelings in line. But I didn't hold my feelings in line outside the meeting. I was pretty forthright. My objective, always uppermost in my mind: what is the member benefit and what is the you know, obviously, the financial benefit, because we had to worry about finances. So I worried about that. But I tried not to inject my personal feelings into the board meeting. And that is very hard—very hard.  
 
Ray had desires, too, to change IEEE. But he followed his position as chairman very, very carefully. He did not try to influence the board by speaking from the position of being chair of the meeting. You're always supposed to hand the gavel to somebody else if you're going to speak for or in opposition to a particular item. And I tried to hold my feelings in line. But I didn't hold my feelings in line outside the meeting. I was pretty forthright. My objective, always uppermost in my mind: what is the member benefit and what is the you know, obviously, the financial benefit, because we had to worry about finances. So I worried about that. But I tried not to inject my personal feelings into the board meeting. And that is very hard—very hard.  
  
We had revenues of $300 million during my presidency and that was the most we had ever had from IEEE in revenues up to that time. And I'll say this— my predecessor, Ray Findlay (Presient 2002), said he could only wish that have been president the year that I was president (2005) because IEEE was able to be out of the red financially.  
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We had revenues of $300 million during my presidency and that was the most we had ever had from IEEE in revenues up to that time. And I'll say this— my predecessor, Ray Findlay (President 2002), said he could only wish that have been president the year that I was president (2005) because IEEE was able to be out of the red financially.  
  
 
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In a way, IEEE is just a microcosm of the United States government combined with a US business, actually. It has infighting, some of the same financial problems. We have a board of directors, sort of a legislature, we had an executive committee, you know, which was like an executive branch. And we worried about the legal parts of things, too, with our lawyers. So we had the three branches of the business that were always to the front—is it legal, can the president do it, do we need to legislate this through the board of directors? It's a very balanced organization. It's a good organization. That's why it's successful.  
 
In a way, IEEE is just a microcosm of the United States government combined with a US business, actually. It has infighting, some of the same financial problems. We have a board of directors, sort of a legislature, we had an executive committee, you know, which was like an executive branch. And we worried about the legal parts of things, too, with our lawyers. So we had the three branches of the business that were always to the front—is it legal, can the president do it, do we need to legislate this through the board of directors? It's a very balanced organization. It's a good organization. That's why it's successful.  
  
=== Actions as President  ===
 
  
 
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Oh my. That's both the blessing and the problem. We are going away from paper toward the digital. Conferences may become less important because of the internet.  
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Oh my. That's both the blessing and the problem. We are going away from paper toward the digital. Conferences may become less important because of the internet.
  
=== Relationships with Other Presidents ===
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=== Relationships with Past Presidents and President-Elects===
  
 
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Revision as of 14:49, 19 October 2012

W. Cleon Anderson
W. Cleon Anderson

Contents

About W. Cleon Anderson

Cleon Anderson earned  a Bachlors of Science in Electrical Engineering  and an MBA  from the University of Utah, where he subsequently taught classes in solid-state circuits and control. Additionally, he has over 40 yars of working in the electronics industry with major companies including, Sperry, Univac, Unisys, Loral, Lockheed Martin and L3 Communications. Over his career he has received 3 patents.

His connection with IEEE began as a student at the University of Utah. Over the past forty years he served IEEE in various positions, including a position on the Board of Directors and President and CEO of IEEE. His professional volunteerism is not limited to IEEE. In the state of Utah, he was appointed to the Utah State Professional Engineers, the  Land Surveyors Board,  the Utah Engineers Council and the Professionalism and Ethics Committee of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

This interview focuses Anderson’s service with IEEE. It begins with his first joining the organization as a student and continues through his time as President. Along the way it details his time serving on various bodies, such as the Regional Activities Board and the Board of Directors. Additionally, he provides a glimpse behind the scenes to important IEEE policy decisions made while he was on the Board of Directors and  IEEE President.  At the end of the interview there are two pictures.  The first is a framed drawing of a bridge done by his son with a poem underneath that is mentioned in the interview.  The second is the letter he wrote and sent out outlining why IEEE should continue to use the traditional logo as its brand. The controversy over the proposed branding change is detailed in the interview.

About the Interview

W. CLEON ANDERSON: An Interview Conducted by John Vardalas for the IEEE History Center, January 30, 2012.

Interview #572 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

W. Cleon Anderson, an oral history conducted in 2001 by IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEWEE: W. Cleon Anderson
INTERVIEWER: John Vardalas
DATE: January 30th, 2012
PLACE: Salt Lake City, Utah

Joining  IEEE as a Student Member

Vardalas:

January 30th, 9:20, Monday, and I'm in the home of Mr. Cleon Anderson. Thank you so much for agreeing for this interview.

Anderson:

I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

Vardalas:

I would like to structure the interview in the following fashion. Let's talk about your early involvement as a volunteer and how that built up over the years and then get to your presidency. And when we have finished with that and have time, we'll go back to your early beginnings and get some background, general background for you to fill out who you are.

Anderson:

Well, I was going to school at the University of Utah and I had joined the student section of IEEE, as recommended by my professor Carl Durney.

Vardalas:

In 1971.

Anderson:

Actually, the fall of 1970, fall quarter of 1970, my seminar professor, Carl H. Durney, said that everybody who planned on being a success in the field of engineering needed to belong to the best organization to promote his career, and that was the IEEE. And he expected the good students in our class to be at his office and pick up an application and join the student chapter.

Anderson:

Really?

Anderson:

Shortly thereafter, we had an election for the—actually three quarters later we had an election for IEEE officers at this seminar, a seminar that all electrical engineering students were required to take. And which was run by the IEEE student section.

Vardalas:

Oh.

Anderson:

And so after electing a chairman of the student section, it came time to elect a vice chair. And I put forward one of my colleagues as being an appropriate vice chair an office which also included the program chair for the seminar. The program chair determined the program and presentations for this seminar which was held for the juniors and seniors in electrical engineering at the University of Utah.

Vardalas:

Was the student section in Utah active?

Anderson:

It was very active because the faculty at that time at the University of Utah incorporated the proceedings into the curriculum—

Really?

Anderson:

—yes—and they called it seminar. It was only half a credit per quarter, but students were required have six quarters. That meant three quarter credits, or six quarters of seminar in order to graduate. The seminar brought in leaders from the various industries and research areas to speak to the students. And the vice chair of the student section was required to be the program chair of the seminar. In other words: go out and get the speakers.

Now the path was easily cleared by the professor who was in charge of the seminar. Anyway, I got up to make my pitch. And I made such a good pitch for my colleague that, before they held a vote, another colleague of mine nominated me. They then held the vote and I became the program chair of the seminar for that year.

Vardalas:

How did your friend feel?

Anderson:

He was OK with it, but the nice part about it was that Professor Durney took me under his wing and said you need to talk to this person, you need to talk to this person, and he would go over the schedule and I would go out and get the speakers for the seminar. And that was my first volunteer position for IEEE.

Vardalas:

Does the University of Utah still encourage its student membership?

Anderson:

I don't know. I have encouraged it with them and I have been asked to speak there on numerous occasions and I have encouraged students to become members of the IEEE with the same counsel that my professor gave me back in 1970.

Vardalas:

And thinking back upon it now, did it serve you well?

Anderson:

Yes, it gave me a platform that drove me all the way to the presidency of the IEEE. But student membership wasn't the defining thing.

Vardalas:

No.

Advancing in IEEE – the Utah Section

Anderson:

It was just the beginnings of IEEE volunteerism. And I was asked a couple years after I graduated from the University of Utah to run for vice chair of the Utah Section, and I was not elected or selected to run or whatever. And so nothing happened, again, until 1978. And in 1978 they called me again and asked me if I would be a candidate for vice chair of the Utah Section for '79. And coming with that was an automatic elevation in 1980 to the chairmanship of the Utah Section. But I lost that election to Professor Woodbury from BYU. So as fate would be, they said well, we need a section PAC chair.

Vardalas:

What's that mean?

Anderson:

PAC was the Professional Activities Committee.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Anderson:

Now it's Professional Activities Committee for Engineers, or PACE, but in those days it was PAC. And I agreed. And so in 1979, I took that position. I was called by one of the gentlemen down in the Bay Area, Jack Nawrocki, the PAC chair for Region 6. He wanted to send me for training to a PAC conference in Dallas, Texas that was held in connection with MIDCON. And as a result of that, I was introduced to this foreign entity, USAB. In fact, I walked into the room and they had USAB written up there on the walls. And I didn't know what USAB was, but quickly learned that it represented the United States Activities Board of the IEEE.

I thought that maybe I was in the wrong room because I was there for an IEEE meeting. But after listening intently for about ten minutes and talking to some of the people, I realized that, that yes, I was in the correct place. So I served as PACE chair and at the end of the year was asked to run for secretary of the Utah IEEE Section. They said you've served well in '79, so to run for secretary/treasurer, and I won, served in ’80, and then ran again against competition for—

Vardalas:

Chair.

Anderson:

—No, vice chair of the Utah Section. Now in those days we didn't seem to have any problem with competition at the section level for section chair and for vice chair and for secretary and for treasurer.

Vardalas:

When you say you didn't have any problem, what does that mean? You didn't seem to have any problems, what does that mean?

Vardalas:

Well—

Vardalas:

It was easy to get opposing candidates—there were a lot of people willing to compete for these positions?

Anderson:

Yeah, we always had two candidates. When I was on the committee to recommend candidates and had headed it, we always put two candidates for secretary/treasurer, two candidates for vice chair, and elevated by acclimation the vice chair to the chairmanship. That was the way the IEEE Utah Section was run. This competition for section positions has kind of deteriorated in recent years. Now it seems like they just try, any way they can, to get somebody to take the positions. But it was a fought-after position in those earlier days. And the first time I sent out campaign mailings—I can't remember exactly. We had, I think, some 300-plus members. I personally sent about 100 letters to members of the Utah Section to get elected in those days.

Vardalas:

Before we explore the issues of the section, can you speculate as to why you think this has changed now, why it's difficult to find anyone to compete for these positions?

Anderson:

Probably because we haven't done a very good job in IEEE at promoting membership value. That was one of the reasons that I made throughout my whole presidency to speak of the importance of the IEEE Vision— which some of the board wanted to change. Everybody wants to change the vision. But I think we had a perfectly great vision statement: To advance global prosperity by: 1) fostering technological innovation, 2) enabling members' careers, and 3) promoting community world-wide.

Vardalas:

We'll get to that when we get to your presidency.

Anderson:

That would be great.

Vardalas:

Let me ask you about the chair now.

Anderson:

I just wanted to finish the train of thought there. So after serving as vice chair, then I went on to serve as the 1982 Utah Section Chairman. And that put me in a position to serve on the Utah Engineers Council because the IEEE chairman was always a designated member of the Utah Engineers Council.

Vardalas:

Ah—ha.

Anderson:

So, you see, the volunteer part of it just kind of built on itself. You know, so because of the opportunities that I'd had as chairman of the Utah Section, I became chairman of the Utah Engineers Council, which put me in position to be appointed by Utah Governor Norman Bangerter to the Board of Professional Licensure and Registration for the State of Utah. And hence, the point that I want to make is all of these opportunities that were afforded to me are also afforded to many of our IEEE members, if they will but get involved, and such activity will actually enhance their careers.

Vardalas:

Going back to the section now, your first involvement was '78, then you got professional activities '79, secretary '80, vice chair—

Anderson:

‘81.

Vardalas:

—'81, chair '82.

Anderson:

Correct.

Activities of the Utah Section

Vardalas:

Thinking of those years, are there any issues that stand out about the section or the things—challenges that the section faced? Can you recall?

Anderson:

Well, we were mostly a local organization. I did not know anything about the larger IEEE organization at the time. Eventually, I became North-East Area chair in Region 6. But at the time I simply knew that we were considered part of Region 6.

Vardalas:

Oh, I see.

Anderson:

And I knew that Region 6 was part of the IEEE. But we didn't—other than filing reports with Region 6 and with Headquarters— have much to do with the region or any other IEEE entities. Our main objective in 1980-82 was to have a monthly meeting ten months of the year and to have good speakers at those meetings that would bring out a good showing from our membership. And I think we had around 300 members at the time. We would get about 30 members out, you know, about 10%, out to our meetings.

Vardalas:

Now, not knowing a lot of details about the region or the IEEE as a whole, did you at any time while you were vice chair wonder if you were getting enough support from the organization?

Anderson:

I don't think that ever entered into my mind—at the time. And we had good meetings. And I remember one meeting in 1982 that was put on by a telecommunication company, the first paid television channel in Salt Lake City. It was called TV-One, as I remember it. But we held our meeting in their corporate offices. They had a nice, big assembly room. I think that we brought in about 200-plus people to that meeting. It was the largest meeting our section had held. And they were good to us. They provided refreshments and everything. And I talked to their president afterwards about the large attendance; he said, “Well, I expected it.” Because, you know, on the underground people were being told how to make a coffee-can antenna that would receive their signals. And so there was a lot of filching that was going on in the valley. And this company had announced that they were going to start to encode their transmissions, so unless you subscribed and received a decoder from the company, you wouldn't be able to get these broadcasted, microwave television shows anymore. And everybody wanted to know what this company was going to do to prevent filching their broadcast. And that was a huge success for an IEEE meeting. But the most—the important part of this is that we had an objective of serving our membership by bringing them in contact with leaders in industry, much like I did as program chair for the student branch.

Relationship between IEEE and Industry

Vardalas:

Of your 300 or so members in the section, how were they divided between industry and university? Was it an equal balance?

Anderson:

There were a lot more practicing engineers. But the stalwarts in helping these things along were always from academia. And it's a sad thing in my mind, but those in industry have always been a little more interested in success for their company, or feeding their family, or whatever. It's like the political situation that we face today. The captains of industry are interested in making a profit for their business. And that has to be their primary concern, whereas the politicians in Washington are more interested in getting elected and making government work. And so we have a similar motivation in the IEEE. I think what drives the people in academia is that IEEE can convey prestige, it can help with getting tenure, or a more important position by way of IEEE awards and volunteerism. Sadly, our industry members are not as convinced that IEEE volunteerism can benefit their company, or their financial position in their company, or please their boss.

Vardalas:

Publications?

Anderson:

Yes, but companies can get IEEE publications without their employees having an IEEE society membership, whereas to be published in academia provides acclamations. Yes, being published by IEEE is valuable on a CV—it helps with grants and getting tenure. The IEEE member needs to have somebody that will explain to the community at large why IEEE membership is important. And IEEE does a good job of that with its publications. I think that it's beneficial, too—that there's a good mutual relationship between academia and IEEE, whereas in industry, not so much. When I told my manager that I was chairman of the IEEE Section, he said well, that's nice. But it didn't buy me a raise.

Vardalas:

And that's interesting. I've interviewed Arthur Stern and others of an earlier generation. He was telling me, like General Electric and Westinghouse, they told their employees to join IEEE. The boss said you should join.

Anderson:

Well, and I think that was true with Hewlett and Packard, too. Also, a lot of the other emerging corporations in our industry that had management who were members of AIEE or IRE—you know, the founding societies of the IEEE.

Vardalas:

But do —

Anderson:

So as a result, they encouraged their employees to join and be active members. But since the ‘60s and early ‘70s there has been a general shift in industry management toward the MBA’s, whereas engineers somehow were no longer considered the best managers, and then the wheel turned almost entirely to the financial sector to manage a company. The financial controllers, or what we favorably call the bean counters, now manage companies. Top management in engineering or manufacturing companies often comes out of the financial areas. And it's really still that way today, maybe large companies are managed more with lawyers now than the financial managers because we've kind of brought to believe that for a company to be successful, they have to have a great lawyer. I saw this same thing in managing IEEE.

Vardalas:

Oh, really?

Anderson:

We were represented by a great legal firm. And we had to be. What bothered me in some respects, though, as I served on the board at the time, our lawyer sat at the head table. Art Winston changed this, because it seemed like our contracted person with the legal department was involved in running the board meetings. He sat right next to the president, and if any question came up, the president would turn to him and say, “give us a legal opinion.” Now, I had to do that, too. But President Art Winston said the company lawyer is not our employer—I mean he is our employee.

Vardalas:

Employee?

Anderson:

Yes, so Art seated the IEEE legal representative in the audience at board meetings. And if we need an opinion, we will call him to the microphone rather than giving an appearance that the legal department was running the IEEE.

IEEE Region 6 Activities

Vardalas:

For seven years you served on the IEEE Board, but before that you were very much involved in the Western Region or in Region 6. How did that happen?

Anderson:

Well, my good friend in academia (Dr. Ghemlich of the University of Utah) called me one Sunday morning. It was kind of interesting. We were both at a Utah Engineers Council meeting on Thursday. And I told him I had this Jacobsen snow blower, fairly new, that I had just bought the season before and it wasn't working. And he asked, “How much do you want for it?” And I said, “Well, I'm having trouble getting it started.” And he said, “I'll give you $50 for it.” And I said, “It's yours.” So he came down and picked it up Friday night on the way home from the University of Utah. I loaded it in the—helped him load it in the trunk of his car. And then I went down that Saturday and bought me a new snow blower. We need snow blowers for winters in Utah. So anyway, Sunday morning early, he called me. And he said, “You know that snow blower you sold me?” and I thought, “Oh no.” “I got it running like a top,” he said. Then he said, “and oh, by the way, I was talking to the regional director,” well, she was past director. It was Jane Evans.

Vardalas:

Jane Evans, yes.

Anderson:

“They're making recommendations to the regional director,” which was Dick Doyle, “for various positions on the Region 6 Committee. Would you take a position?” And I said, “Well, what kind of position?” “They're talking about you for the North-East Area chair,” which included Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming—the Western half of Wyoming—and Wendover, Nevada. I guess that's it. There's five Areas in Region 6, yeah, because – Nevada, but not all of Nevada, northern Nevada went to the Central and Bay Area. And the southern Nevada went to the Southwest Area.

Anyway, I said sure. So a few minutes later I get a call from Director Dick Doyle who formally ask me take the position of Region 6 North-East area chair. I didn't know anything about the position. But I had met Director Ralph Lamm in 1982 when I was Utah Section chair. I had met him at a North-East area meeting at BYU in Provo. He was Region 6 director before Jane Evans was Region 6 director. And at the time (1982) that was the only area meeting that I had attended or had any knowledge of. So essentially, I didn't know anything about being the North-East area chair. But I learned. And that started my service in the governance of Region 6. I served as area chair for two terms, which was four years.

Then they asked me to run for Region 6 director-elect. And they also asked Mike Andrews and Chet Taylor to run as well. And, yes, I lost. Taylor won, and he appointed me as treasurer of the region. Great experience, learned a lot, and held the position for 6 years.

Vardalas:

You mentioned that when you were in the section that you knew very little about the region. Once you got into the region, were you surprised to see what you discovered? What was it like?

Anderson:

Well, Region 6 was or is the largest region in IEEE. The vice chair of Regional Activities, Antonio Bastos, wrote me, “we look to Region 6 to lead the way because you are the largest region in membership and the companies that our people work for, our members work for, we're the leaders of the world’s electronic industries are located in Region 6.” That was true, I mean, it was amazing for me when I got out of engineering school and went down to Silicon Valley and saw all of the great electronics companies names while driving down those California freeways, the companies that we had fallen in love with as students, posted there. And I said, “Golly, I want to work in California.” In fact, I did garner an interview with Hewlett-Packard in Cupertino.

Vardalas:

So what things did you discover about IEEE at the regional level that you didn't see at the section level? Obviously things got more complex, more—

Anderson:

Well, not necessarily more complex, but I realized that maybe as—we as a section were flying a little bit blind and needed more nurturing from the leadership at the region level. It has since been an objective of mine to nurture the sections and especially help those that were in difficult positions. For instance, when I was Area Chair, the Idaho Section went belly-up. They just gave up. The secretary/treasurer just sent the money back in to Regional Activities and said we're closing the section down.

Now, part of the reason for that was the Idaho Section was originally formed in Idaho Falls to serve the atomic energy engineers who lived there and in Arco, Idaho, and that section just did not have the vitality to continue after nuclear research funding reduced the number of electrical engineers in the Falls area. I mean, that group of IEEE members didn't have the vitality or numbers to support the section at this period of time. So one of the things that I did was go to our members in Pocatello (50 miles south), which is where Idaho State University is located. And I found some willing people there to re-found the section. And so as soon as I got that group together, we sent them the money from Headquarters and reinstated the Idaho Section.

Vardalas:

Do you recall the big challenges Region 6 faced or, as you mentioned, it was the region that led IEEE. You said it was a barometer or—how did you phrase it?

Anderson: Again, I think the big challenge has always been, and is today, to make IEEE important to all of the members. I mean, when you have 300 section members and only 30 showed up for a section meeting, 10%, and then you go down to Santa Clara and they had thousands of members in the section and didn't have any bigger meetings than the Utah Section, that’s a problem. However, one thing that they did do in the Santa Clara Section, they provided a lot of opportunities for their members to specialize because they made a better use of the societies. Yet, the societies, during my run through the chairs, at the presidency level, they seemed to want to be a separate entity from the sections’ activities. But in the section, in the Regional Activities organization, the societies in the sections could organize as chapters. And chapters’ management ran under the IEEE Regional Activities. So, one of the problems that we had, even up into my presidency, was how to get the societies to support their chapters within the various sections of the world. I think that was probably, and still is probably, the biggest opportunity for IEEE and for volunteer involvement is through the chapters with a marriage with the various societies in Technical Activities. I tried as section chair to do that. I did establish a Communications Chapter and a Computer Chapter. I mean, computers were big and so it was easy to establish a computer chapter—

Vardalas:

Of course, in the Bay Area there are a lot of chapters.

Vardalas:

And that's why the Bay Area Sections are really blessed —and I noticed that. We didn't have that advantage in Utah. We had to do chapter activities mostly through our section meetings, whereas the larger sections, particularly in LA and the Bay Area, were able to provide the members with the services we were doing at the section level at a chapter level, and have a good representation of members.

Vardalas:

So you were saying that the challenge for the societies and all of the sections in the world were to get involved more and create chapters. Is that what you were saying before, they should be doing more to explore that?

Anderson:

Oh, well, exactly. I really felt that the societies needed to become more involved in their local chapters, but the societies have bigger problems. And I learned that. You know, they have their conferences, and that's the mother's milk of IEEE, the conferences that are provided for, and managed by, the societies.

Time on the Membership Development Committee

Vardalas:

Yes. You were a member of the Membership Development Committee. What was going on there?

Anderson:

Well, again, that really is just from my perspective of trying to integrate societies with the members, so that we could go to the members and say, “We are here to help you with your career.” Now, the problem with IEEE, when you say, “help somebody with their career,” they immediately—a lot of our people—think of, well, we can further educate engineers. We can give them further opportunities of study and learning, and sell them intensive short courses, and this type of thing. And that's good. But how does that help an engineer with his boss, you know, help get him a raise? That's the member’s objective. The other thing with membership development was student activities, how do we get students to participate in IEEE and then become full members?

And this became a real issue while I was serving on the board. One of the things we wanted to do is get students to take on full member status. And a lot of them, most students, dropped their membership in IEEE the day they dropped their student membership. And so how do you convert student members to full IEEE members? That's a big problem. I imagine it still is today.

Vardalas:

And did you come to any conclusion back—way back then, when you first noticed that students were dropping their membership when they graduated?

Anderson: It's always money. Cost of dues.

Vardalas:

Money?

Anderson:

Everything's always money because students are pretty adept at saying it doesn't serve me. I heard this from my son. I asked, “Why don't you get this?” And he said, “It doesn't serve me.” And I've thought a lot about that term, “it doesn't serve me.” Well, one could argue, why should IEEE serve anybody? You're here to serve IEEE. It’s a takeoff on what John Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” But in order for IEEE to have a vibrant membership, I think our members have to think that IEEE is beneficial to them. Then that opens up that whole box of what IEEE benefits are, and begs the question: do these benefits serve IEEE members?

Service on the IEEE Board of Directors

Vardalas:

We'll get to that when we talk about your presidency. I'm sure that's an issue that comes up. In 1999, you get on the IEEE Board of Directors. What was your impression of this board and how it operated?


Anderson:

That kind of brings me to the events that pushed me into the IEEE presidency. I remember – I think the second meeting of the board that year was in Boston. It was just for the entities. And there were three issues that they were addressing. Specifically, the new financial model, which I didn't know anything about, and the ideas of branding and streamlining. And I knew that the past chair of Region 6, past Director John Damonte, was asked to sit on the Branding Committee and he asked me some things about branding. And then I went into a big meeting. They released our RAB meeting early and they wanted the directors to be there for a presentation. I think the presentation was given by Green, Dave Green. And he was discussing the new financial model, branding, and streamlining. Now, what would you think streamlining was? It was totally misnamed. It turned out that USAB, IEEE-USA now, had a propensity to release position statements. And they had released about 15 position statements, where all the rest of the other major boards, we called them entities then, had only released one or two. And there was a concern that IEEE-USA, particularly with H1B regulation, had been taking some positions that were not acceptable to some of the societies and the other major boards. And so the idea was to get signatures; people representing the major boards of IEEE will be required to sign off on these position statements before they are released. In other words, an entity shouldn't be releasing a position statement that will reflect adversely on some of the other entities in IEEE. Well, that process would take a long time to get a position statement approved, if ever approved. So we are going to streamline the—

Vardalas:

Signing process.

Anderson:

Yes, the signing process. So they were solving a problem that never existed in the first place, but that was going to exist if they required the signatures. I remember finally getting to speak from the floor when it was opened for questions. I said I grew up on a farm and my father had a saying when we were sent out to do work, hoe weeds, and that type of thing: “One boy is a whole boy, two boys is a half a boy, and three boys is no boy at all.” And so I said one signature is a whole signature, two signatures is a half a signature, and three signatures is no signature at all.

And I really believed that, because people have to take responsibility for the things that they do. They cannot shovel off that responsibility and then saying, well, I signed it because somebody else signed it. That has been a management axiom of mine ever since. Take responsibility for the things that you do and don't expect somebody else to sign and make this acceptable to everybody else.

Vardalas:

So these are the first issues you saw when you came onto the board?

Anderson:

That was in June of '99—

Vardalas:

Yeah.

Anderson:

—in Boston.

Vardalas:

Ken Laker was president.

Vardalas:

1999.

Anderson:

Yes.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Anderson:

And that summer we held the board meeting in London.

Laker was president. We held the board entity meeting in Boston and the board meeting in London, England. This issue of branding came up. This issue of streamlining was there, too, as well as the new financial model. And I was learning to speak up.

IEEE Section Congresses

Vardalas:

Yeah.

Anderson:

So anyway, we kind of let that go. But then in Minneapolis—and Dan Benigni was chairman of the Regional Activities, RAB. And it was the Section Congress in '99, held in Minneapolis. And all of the regional directors, ten of us, had to get up on the stage and each give a little spiel. And it came my turn. And I got up and I talked about the importance of IEEE to the members and why the people there at that Section Congress were important to their members and what they needed to do as volunteers to enhance the image of IEEE. And then I sat down. I can't remember much of what I said. But anyway, I got an ovation. None of the other regional directors got much of an ovation, but I got a real ovation. And as I walked off the stage, Dan Benigni shook my hand. He was vice president Regional Activities at the time. And he said, “You've got a destiny with IEEE.” I didn't think much of that at that time. But I've since pondered the word “destiny.”

Vardalas:

I see. Interesting.

Anderson:

There is a destiny (tide) in the affairs of men, as Shakespeare wrote. I really believe that there is an unseen hand that guides the affairs of engineering. There is a reason why Newton and Leibniz and the fellow from Japan, Seki Takakazu, developed the calculus at the same time—and they weren't together. They never knew of each other’s work. No collaboration, but they developed these things. And the same with the development of radio. We give credit to Marconi, but there was a fellow in Russia, Popov. There was a fellow in India, J.C. Bose—and let’s not forget Tesla. They developed it at the same time. There's a destiny that explains why technology literally rains down to make our lives better often without collaboration. I believe that. And I believe that there's a kind Hand of Providence that makes these things go and brings about inventions at certain times in the affairs of men. So when Benigni said, “You have a destiny with IEEE,” I thought maybe that is—maybe that is a calling. Maybe that is a service that I need to provide, so—.

Vardalas:

Right. You said this took place in the Section Congress. As I understand it, you were a coordinator of one of the Section Congresses. Is this the one?

Anderson:

No. I was involved with the next Section Congress.

Vardalas:

I want to ask you, I want to ask your impression of what is the role of Section Congress?

Anderson:

I think the best thing about Section Congress is that it allows section chairs who are invited to meet other section chairs and coordinate with them about how to make their section better. Yeah, it's the touchy-feely-type thing more than just an opportunity to give them some classes, some intensive short courses and things like that, which IEEE has very well-prepared, and does. But when you go into that room with people in Section Congress, and you get somebody to talk to you about things, the talk is important. But the association of the people there is probably better. It gives people an opportunity to find and learn from other people with similar types of problems.

IEEE Regional Activities Board (RAB) and its relation with the Technical Activities Board (TAB)

Vardalas:

And you served on RAB, too. What can you tell me about from your experiences in RAB? What were some of the issues faced when you were there? Do you remember what your first impressions were when you first got there as a member?

Anderson:

Well, the thing that bothers me most about my experience on RAB were divisive forces, whether they were from staff at IEEE HQ or just members that weren't entirely happy with the way things were going, but there always seemed that were some people who were looking for an opportunity of divide and conquer. We put a division between RAB and TAB, almost an insurmountable division. They hold their meetings; we hold our meetings at the same time. I didn't see that as a particularly productive way of doing things. We needed to have more integrated response to the total IEEE problems, rather than say RAB solution is this, TAB solution is that, and to Publication and Standards and to the other major boards: you can just sit on the sidelines and we'll let RAB and TAB battle it out. I thought that was counterproductive and I worried that some members of the staff actually encouraged RAB and TAB to have problems and discord between each other.

Vardalas:

Really?

Anderson:

My idea was that to be successful in Regional Activities, Regional Activities needs the societies because they are really the caretaker of the technology. They are the ones that hold and advance the technology. Regional Activities—it's a good organization, by the way—Regional Activities had access to the members, but what the members needed was what the societies had.

Vardalas:

So they were complementary.

Anderson:

Very complementary, and it was bothering me that some of the difficulties that we had always involved trying to pit Regional Activities against Technical Activities, when in fact they should have a very symbiotic relationship, and as the president that's what I wanted to establish. The new financial model is all about that conflict, yet it should have created this mutually beneficial relationship between RAB and TAB.

Vardalas:

Please elaborate.

Anderson:

Well, the problem was that Technical Activities thought that the success of IEEE was as a result of their conferences. The inflow of money to IEEE — money is always the thing—money was being generated by the societies through their conferences. And it was true. Now, RAB generated some money as a result of membership fees, but very little as a result of section conferences. One of the big conferences, held in the ‘80s, was the Neural Networks Conference. The first big Neural Networks conference was sponsored by the San Diego Section. It was a section activity. They went to IEEE and asked for money to put on this conference.

Vardalas:

That's unusual, isn't it?

Anderson:

Yes, and they were essentially turned down. It was a hair-brained idea at the time. Nobody had ever thought of Neural Networks for a conference and being able to put it together. But the people in the San Diego Section were very, very strong on this idea—so strong that some of the members, I was told, put mortgages on their homes to buy up the hotel space necessary to hold that conference.

Vardalas:

Really?

Anderson:

And that conference was a smashing success.

Vardalas:

Yes, yes.

Anderson:

And it was so much of a success that IEEE felt that that conference should belong to IEEE and not the San Diego Section. So you would get this problem again of us versus them. And that wasn't the way it was supposed to be. It was finally resolved that the section would put it on every other year and IEEE would put it on each of the other years and they'd rotate, but no Neural Network conference was as big or as good as the first one. That's normally the case with most things that happen in new technologies. As a consequence, the San Diego Section had a nice pot of money because the volunteers were willing to put their financial position at risk. They believed in the cause that much.

Vardalas:

That's unusual for a section to do, isn't it? Is that unusual?

Anderson:

Oh, highly unusual. Like I said, the money generally came from the societies. But this one was the section. Well, in the new financial model, one of the elements was that all of the money of all the sections really belonged to IEEE. And, in fact, we ought to have it all in one bank account. And the bank account—this comes up while I was, you know, while I was on the board as a regional director—the prescribed bank account was to be with BNY Mellon. It's a bank that no one here on the West Coast knew, and yet it was a very big bank. That's where their accounts were to be held. And one of the regional directors after me said, “How am I going to cash a check from a bank that's unknown in California?” Now that's not a problem anymore. But you have to put on your 1998/1999 hat to understand how funds are moved around. Now half these banks have been absorbed by other banks, and we don’t have a lot of checks to cash anymore.

Vardalas:

This division that was being created between TAB and RAB, did it come from TAB, from RAB, from staff?

Anderson:

I think it arose a little bit from staff as a way to handle RAB and TAB by keep them at odds with each other so that they'll take care of themselves—and I don't know that I want to be quoted on that. But the real thing was that there seemed to be a disparity between the money that was being generated by the societies and the money that was being generated by the sections. And the societies, some of them, said why does a section like San Diego get to have a big bank account and we have to turn all our money over to Technical Activities or over to IEEE? We don't think that is fair.

Well, on the other side of the coin was IEEE corporate giving a lot more support to societies and conferences than they were giving to sections, which is probably because Regional Activities was falling down on the job. But a lot of the people at IEEE corporate looked at Technical Activities as the big dollar generator for the welfare of IEEE. So the new financial model, among other things, was going to require all of the sections to deposit their money with IEEE. And that—that was not a good way to promote central banking. A better method was to promote, given the interest rates, given the service, and they will voluntarily deposit their money with IEEE. But don't just come in and say to the societies or to the sections that you have to contribute your money to IEEE and hope for a return.

Membership Growth and Raising  the Status of IEEE with Employers

Vardalas:

You've quite clearly stated what contributions TAB makes in its role in IEEE overall. How did you perceive the role of RAB? What was its purpose?

Anderson:

I felt that the role of RAB was membership development. And, in fact, that's why we now call RAB—

Vardalas:

MGA?

Anderson:

Yes, it’s MGA now. Its mission is membership development. We have to have members. We needed to have members. My attitude was, the only way that you have members is if you provide a benefit to them, so that they can say, “I am a member of IEEE”; and wouldn't it be nice if they were able to say, “I'm a member of IEEE, I'm active in IEEE,” and have your boss says, “because you're a member of IEEE and you're active in it, we're going to give you a benefit in your employment.” Now, my company actually did that for me. My manager told me that as long as you're in a top leadership position, we'll give you time to do that, but my raises suffered. Yet when I was president of the IEEE, my company, L-3 Communications, paid my salary and allowed me to work full-time for IEEE. And it was wonderful. They supported me. They supported me halftime with my president-elect position. They supported me halftime with my past presidency.

Vardalas:

Now, you pointed out very clearly that for academics, TAB and the publications and the role towards tenure are integrated, but for the professional working engineer, advancing in his career is not so much tied to publications. It's something else, right—getting respect from his employer.

Anderson:

That, that's what I thought. I think that respect for the employee—from the employer for the employee volunteer— and membership activities in IEEE should be the reason that employers should want their employees to join IEEE.

If you knew that your boss was a member, if you knew that promotions in your company were going to occur because your boss felt that your membership in IEEE was a value to him, not necessarily a value to you, but it is a value to me as an employer to employ members of IEEE who are active in IEEE, who are seeking to learn from the publications, or that are going to put them on the—not only on the state of the art, because state of the art is what everybody does—but on the cutting edge, even the bleeding edge of technology, if you can do that for your company, then it would be great. Now, it turns out that as a manager at L-3 Communications, I tried to promote these IEEE values to our engineers. I became an engineering manager and had between 116 and 200 direct report engineers reporting to me for over 25 years, —now I've lost my train of thought here.

Vardalas:

Membership in IEEE.

Anderson:

Yes, I tried to tell them, especially in performance reviews, that I had a membership in IEEE and that they needed to be members of IEEE. I think that this has been a problem throughout our industry since the employers, the managers, didn't become members of IEEE; therefore, the employees that they managed weren't really encouraged to be members of IEEE either.

Vardalas:

Was this something that was part of your presidency then, the trying to raise the value of IEEE membership vis-à-vis the employers?

Anderson:

That's what we tried to do in the Utah Section by the way we set up our meetings. We tried to hold our meetings not only at the University of Utah, but at different places of employment of some of our members.

Vardalas:

Did you come to any conclusions as to what IEEE has to do to raise the value in the eyes of the employers?

Anderson:

If I knew answer that question, IEEE would be in good shape. But I'll tell you what: I think it is a lot of individual contact, not only at the corporate level of IEEE coming around and visiting companies, but with our members, and hopefully, getting their employers to join will help raise the value. We need our members to put a little more effort on getting the boss to become a member—to join IEEE. I did that for one of my bosses. I got him his senior membership—he didn't even know it was coming. I was a manager under him. He was the vice president of engineering. And he was a member of IEEE. And so I went to his secretary and I got his CV, I got everything that he needed for senior membership; I got the letters of recommendation for his senior membership, I put it in, and he got it.

Vardalas:

Really?

Anderson:

And I don't know whether he knew that I was the one that had gave it to him or not, but I remember him coming into my office one day and bragging, “You know what, IEEE finally recognized me. They made me a senior member!”

The Importance of Standards to IEEE

Vardalas:

Now do you feel that Standards has any role to play in finding value or showing value of IEEE to employers, the role of Standards?

Anderson:

Standards is an interesting organization. It is the best thing that IEEE has going in the industrial world because the technical world that we live in revolves around standards. Who is going to coordinate and be the caretaker of these standards? And it is also the way those industries can speak to each other, because they're fierce competitors, that communication is negotiated through standards. And if I wanted to go to my employer and tell him why membership was important in IEEE, the best thing that I have going for me is the standards activity. IEEE is the guardian of the electrical and, especially, electronics standards. Nearly everybody understands that. And when you see IEEE Standards quoted in the technical literature that my employer reads and that my company is involved with through all of their patent activities and all of the rest of the things that they do, IEEE Standards is probably the premier reason for having their employees involved in IEEE, that they might have some influence on the standards. Now some may think that it's not that big of influence, but let me tell you, when I was president, we were having issues with the Chinese government wanting to have more control over standards. Well, what is the big standard that we have on Wi-Fi? 802.11a, through 802.11n. They wanted to own the standard. In other words, they wanted their standard to be the Wi-Fi standard.

I got also got involved with intergovernmental politics when I was president of the IEEE, part of it through Standards and part of it through the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society with their Committee on Earth Observation, which was the type of thing the United Nations had an interest in. And I remember one of the societies—I think it was the GRSS — had an issue that arose over a presentation a conference in Seoul, South Korea. The issue was whether an engineer from Taiwan could discuss the earthquake/tsunami that occurred and devastated parts of Malaysia with a tidal wave with the data taken from the Formosa satellite. And he was prepared, this member of IEEE from Taiwan, to give that presentation; however, the keynote address for that conference was by a member of IEEE with government ranking from the People's Republic of China, and we were told through government emissaries that because the United Nations had a one-China policy, that this individual from Taiwan could not represent China and that our Chinese keynoter would not be able to keynote the conference if this person was allowed to present findings as part of a China delegation, which to the UN would logically include Taiwan.

Vardalas:

So how did you solve that?

Anderson:

I didn't. It solved itself thank heavens. I was told by the fellow that became president after me, John Vig actually, that I should go to bat for the Taiwanese fellow. But the Taiwanese fellow wrote a letter in to me and said, “I fear for my life. I'm not going to go to the conference at all.”

Vardalas:

The conference was being held in what country?

Anderson:

South Korea. And so he never went. So it did solve itself. But our conference chairs had a little egg on their face because they'd kind of stepped into international politics.

Vardalas:

Am I understanding it correctly? The Chinese wanted to impose their standard for Wi-Fi?

Well, I—yes. And I can't remember the standards now, I think it was WAPI.

Vardalas:

But they had their own that they wanted to impose?

Anderson:

Yes, they wanted—they had a standard and it was not the IEEE 802.11 standard. They wanted their standard. They felt that their standard was superior. And our Standards group had to go up against that. And they did a good job because the world technical community wasn't at that point willing to accept the China standard. They would accept China as a partner, but not China dictating the standard. And I wish I had been better briefed on this before.

Vardalas:

Well, let's get to your presidency because you—

Anderson:

What I'm really saying is that there is international politics involved in many activities of IEEE. When I went to India, one of the questions that was asked of me by a leading publication—I had to hold several news conferences while in India—was regarding China and India, who is going to succeed in or dominate, you know, in technological innovation.

Vardalas:

What a loaded question.

Anderson:

It was. And I told the Indians, I said you need to look at China. Currently, if you want something built, you go to China to have it built. I said China's got one-billion people, you have one-billion people. Your base is manufacturing. Indigenous help is there. China is ahead of you in quantity of manufacturing. Right now I see a lot of technological innovation coming out of India, particularly with cell phones and communications. India is good. But I said if India is going to compete with China, the manufacturing side must be emphasized more forcefully because, I said rest assured, China is going to compete with you on the technology side, too. And the whole world is going to be blessed as a result of that competition. I told IEEE members, and Mike Lightner who succeeded me as president, we have to work the Chinese issue because they're graduating 4 times as many engineers as we are in the United States. I said they are going to be a force. And yet one IEEE member, who I will not name, but who became president after me, said, “Well, the Chinese graduates aren't as valuable as the American, the Western graduate”. And I said, “Don't kid yourself.” We publish our technical information to the world. It's there for everybody. It just depends on just how strong you want to be.

You know, my wife was in Tiananmen Square during the demonstration there in 1989—

Vardalas:

Oh, was she?

Anderson:

—just before the students were killed. I couldn't go to China then because of my security clearance. But she went. And she said the students told her we don't want too much. “What we want is to be able to decide for ourselves what we study.” A young lady told my wife, “they want me to be a chemist, a chemical engineer. I don't like chemistry. I don't want that. I want to decide what my career is going to be rather than have my government decide it for me.” She said, “we also want better light in our dorms. We can't study. It hurt my eyes to study. We need better light because we have to study at night.” And so those two issues, we want to choose our careers, we want better living conditions, and by the way, these students in China were the top, you know, the ones that were educated and were handpicked for a technical education.

—And now the Chinese Politburo members are all engineers. That is the good news. The bad news is they were all received their PhDs in China, and except for one, and he got his PhD in East Germany. So I saw a big divide between countries. And I said we've got to make IEEE fit for Chinese participation, and we've got to accept the fact that if the Chinese government wanted, they could pay the membership dues of enough members of Chinese engineers—

Vardalas:

To swamp us.

Anderson:

—to overwhelm the IEEE. And we would have Chinese presidents of IEEE from now on out. I said we have got to promote community worldwide. It cannot be, must not be, the subject of political intrigue, international political intrigue. And I had just had enough of that experience to understand it. And so Mike went ahead. We talked about having a Chinese office. I talked with him. And I talked with the board about having an office in China. During Mike's presidency I think was when the office in China was established.

Branding Debate 

Vardalas:

Well, we've been beating around the bush about your presidency, so let's talk about it directly then. The first question I want to ask you—

Anderson:

Well, I'd like to tell you how I become president first.

Vardalas:

Why did you decide to run? Do you remember why you decided?

Anderson:

Okay, I mentioned Dan Bennini and destiny.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Anderson:

In Salt Lake City, 1999, we held the November board meeting, which was one year into my directorship, at Snowbird Utah, a great ski resort. At that time, the branding issue was on the front burner. I was told that we had spent a large amount of money trying to figure out how to rebrand the IEEE. And I was against rebranding the IEEE. Luis (Luchi) Gandia told me, “Because you are the local regional director, you can hold a meeting outside of the Executive Committee meeting just for the directors, RAB — -the regional directors, and the TAB directors. And you can tell the staff and everybody else that they're not invited to that meeting.” So we put together that meeting, which I was the inviter because I was the local director. That's what Luchi Gandia told me. He said, “You have the right to celebrate with the other directors in a private meeting because you are the director of the area where the board series is held.”

Vardalas:

You're hosting—you were hosting.

Anderson:

Yes.

Vardalas:

Right.

Anderson:

And I said, “Well, I don't know about anything about alcohol. I don't drink. I don't need it.” And he says, “Well, you got to have something to entice these guys to come at night to a meeting. I'll take care of it for you.” And that was Luchi from Puerto Rico. He was director of Region 9 at the time. And so we held it. And the head of the Branding Committee was Dave Kemp, as the director of Region 7 -

Vardalas:

I know Dave.

Anderson:

—director of Region 7. And he knew how I felt because he'd come down to talk to me in Boston five months earlier. And I told him I wasn't happy with what the Branding Committee was doing. And so he tried to make things a little bit better for me.

Vardalas:

Before you continue on with your story, can you—for those who don't know, can you say what the branding was about, what they wanted to do.

Anderson:

They wanted to change the way IEEE was viewed by the world.

Vardalas:

And their argument was that—

Anderson:

We need a new brand. We want to put that brand on every, all publications by requirement. And so you will see that brand on the Computer Magazine, you'll see it on the Communications Magazine, you'll see it on all of the society magazines. They must to carry the IEEE brand.

Vardalas:

And your objection to this was?

Anderson:

The brand that they'd come up with was meaningless to me—it was the italicized version of the block letters “IEEE.” It was just “IEEE” leaning forward to indicate that we were a forward-leaning organization. They could not agree on anything else. It seemed like the only thing they could agree on is the 35-year old logo of IEEE shouldn't be part of the brand.

Vardalas:

Should or should not be?

Anderson:

Should not be.

And this was where I had my problem with these guys on the Branding Committee. So I put together a very, very short presentation, got Ken Laker's nod at the board meeting, and said the brand should, in fact, be the IEEE logo—which is the kite with the right-hand rule. And Dan Senese, who was director —I mean, was the executive director at the time, said no, you can't patent—or you can't copyright, just a logo as a brand.

Well, I was not too smart at the time because the brand of Nike is the swoosh. That's it. The Nike brand is the swoosh; there are no letters included. But I agreed that the logo followed by the block letters “IEEE” would be acceptable. And that motion to make that part of the brand was put by Pete Morley, who was the head of Publications at the time. And there was a bunch of complaining and worrying about it. President Ken Laker, who was chairing the meeting, said, “Well, those of you that want to, let's get this together so the proposal is right, meet during the lunch period with Director Anderson.” And so I said, “I want to have Pete Morley there. I want to have Director George Dean of Region 5.” I wanted to have George there because he'd been in the Kansas State Legislature. He knew how to move things. I didn't understand parliamentary procedure that well and Ken Laker was running the board meeting by following a strict parliamentary procedure, using Robert's Rules of Order. And I didn't know too much about that at the time. You learn, you know, your destiny is set up; you learn to do these things. And so anyway, noon came and there was the whole Branding Committee out there to meet with me.

Well, I never invited the Branding Committee. I would've thought I was trying to get this thing put together so it would be acceptable to the IEEE Board, not the Branding Committee. Afterwards, when it finally came back on the agenda, I put up my presentation. And Chuck Alexander, who was the past president, asked me a question. Now, as I remember it, the question was so involved and convoluted that I told him that this question is multifaceted and very involved. I said it's going to take me a while to work through it. And anyway, before I got permission to do that, Alexander called to table the motion. This failed, so he then made a motion to call the question. And the question was not whether the brand I was proposing should be put to a vote, but whether we should cut off debate first. And it passed. They cut off debate with I think about 17 votes, barely got it, but they did cut the debate off. And I thought, well I've lost. And, in fact, one of the past directors (Harry Bostic of Region 4) went out to the hallway right then and told the staff that my motion had failed. My wife said that he came out—it was closed-door meeting—he was asked, “How's it going?” And he said, “Well, Cleon’s motion failed.” But anyway, they took the vote on my motion. The motion didn’t fail. And the brand, as you know it today, was accepted by the board of directors in Salt Lake City at Snowbird at the board of directors meeting, November 1999. After that meeting, on the way to my daughter’s for Thanksgiving dinner, I wrote an article on the airplane. And I wrote this article that I told to you about earlier, “For What Purpose.” My thanksgiving to the IEEE and its logo.

Vardalas:

Yes, “For What Purpose,” yes.

Anderson:

Not “For What Purpose,” but rather, “That All May Know.”.

Vardalas:

“That All May Know,” yes.

Anderson:

The treatise had to do with why the brand, the logo, why the logo was important to the IEEE, what it meant, how it is a consolidation of the brand of IRE and AIEE together but simplified, and why the kite was there, why the kite was diamond-shaped. By the way, the kite represents Benjamin Franklin electrical experiments with lightning—

Vardalas:

Franklin.

Anderson:

—as one of the great inventors in the United States. And the right-hand rule is a nod to James Clerk Maxwell.

Vardalas:

Maxwell, right.

Anderson:

Maxwell's equations—the foundation of electrical engineering is Maxwell's equations. He's a Scotsman. I got to visit the Royal Society in Edinburgh. There's a Maxwell organization. And I got to talk to the president of it. And as a result of that conversation, we now have as one of the IEEE medals the Maxwell Award. And I made sure that that award has displayed the version of the IEEE logo, the right-hand rule that Maxwell identified in his equations, as a tribute to him and to the founders of the IEEE—

Vardalas:

So what was the reaction —

Anderson:

—to him.

Vardalas:

What was the reaction to your article then?

Anderson:

Extremely well. And it was published eventually in the Institute. I'll show you a copy of that before you go. We published it. And you can still find it on the web. One of the societies also published the article. But that article gave me the credibility for almost singlehandedly—well, with help of Pete Morley, and George Dean, and the other members of the board of directors that were for me, we saved the IEEE logo. And that was important to me because it tied us to our foundation, to who we really are and why IEEE is important. Anyway, so I was credited with saving the logo. And that is probably—that and my desire to enhance members' careers and promote community worldwide—was the reason that I was elected president.

Vardalas:

So after this article appeared, people's minds changed? In other words, you are saying there was a reversal of views? What were the—can you elaborate on the consequences of that article that you wrote?

Anderson:

Well, the consequence of what we did here in Salt Lake City was that we established the master brand for IEEE: the IEEE logo followed by the block letters IEEE. And that has since appeared on all of our publications. And they immediately changed the signage outside of IEEE offices. That became the master brand. But I wrote the article, “That All May Know,” so that people would know why the logo was an important part of our history and of our culture.

Vardalas:

Do you have any idea why it passed? At one point you were saying to yourself, “Oh, I've lost. The debate has been cut off.” What won the tide for you at that meeting?

Anderson:

Ted Hissey (emeritus director) came up to me at lunch, before we were going out to the meeting where the Branding Committee was, and he said, “Are you sure that you want to do this? Do you know that they've spent nearly $1 million dollars on redefining the brand of IEEE?” And I said yes. And afterwards I met with Dick Schwartz, who was the head of finances, the CFO of IEEE. And Dick said to me, after the vote was taken and we won, he said, “Do you know what you've done?” And I said, “Well, if I was to listen to some of the people up there, I've thrown away $1 million that was spent with consulting agencies and that to came up with the new brand.” He says, “No, no, no, no, no. Do you know how much the IEEE brand is worth? Billions. Billions. The goodwill in that brand is worth billions of dollars. And you have saved IEEE the embarrassment. You have saved us the goodwill-” the embarrassment of changing the brand and the goodwill associated with IEEE's logo.

Vardalas:

Now do you recall the arguments that were put forward by those who said a change in the brand was needed?

Anderson:

Yes. It was we want a new IEEE that's more in tune with the future and where IEEE is going, and that all companies change their brand to roll out a new view of themselves, to make them better—to show the world that we're forward-thinking and that we're not stuck in the past. And IEEE needs a new public perception. And so they wanted to do that. Along with the new financial model and streamlining, they wanted to change the perception of IEEE and they felt that it was necessary to change the brand. And so the reason that I wrote the article “That All May Know” was so that everybody would understand where we came from, why we should be, as President Reagan said, “a shining city on the hill.” IEEE deserved that respect.

Vardalas:

Now you were very passionate about that, weren't you?

Anderson:

Extremely passionate. And it was being passionate about it, I think, that drove me forward to be eventually vice president of Regional Activities and then into the presidency.

Running for  Vice President for Regional Activites

Vardalas:

Do you remember the circumstances when you decided to run for president?

Anderson:

I don't know. I remember Jim Tien (the vice president of Educational Activities) said to me in Dallas, after a board meeting, “It all starts now.” And, you know, we had talked about it. I had talked with some of my colleagues and I had been encouraged to make a run for it. And then I talked to my wife and she said, “You got to promise me one thing. If you run and lose, you won't go and run again.” Art Winston ran three times and won on the third, the third one's a charm. He won it after three campaigns. And my wife says, “You better win it the first time.” But as I mentioned earlier, there is a destiny, as if I had run for President elect ‘03—I mean for the '04 President, I would not have won. It was—my time to run was President elect ’04 and '05 President.

I was regional director '99/2000. In 2000 I ran for vice president of Regional Activities. And I was running against Maurice Papo. I figured I was a shoo-in because I had six directors from Region 6 that would vote for me. But Maurice Papo, clever guy that he was, he got the director of Region 2 to put his name in nomination and we were doing that with an assembly made up of the 10 directors in Regional Activities. But anyway, you only had ten votes to work with. Well, the director of of Region 1 (Irv Engelson), who was my strongest supporter, ended up with cancer in his kidney and they had to take it out the day before the meeting. He was in the hospital the day of the voting. So we had nine votes. And so they voted. And they declared it a tie. How can you have a tie with nine votes, people? Well, the president of IEEE, who ran the meeting, voted. The bylaws for regular IEEE Assembly meetings said that the president can’t vote to cause a tie. He could only vote in case of a tie. He can't vote to create a tie. But he voted to create a tie. They sent me out again while the proposal was debated. Then the vote was taken, and I lost because the director of Region 2 had promised Maurice Papo that he'd only vote for me on the first ballot. And so Maurice Papo, a wonderful man by the way, at one time the head of IBM in Europe, he won the vice presidency Regional Activities.

Vardalas:

So a great disappointment to you?

Anderson:

Oh, yes. It was a disappointment. I was a little upset. I thought that I'd been wronged. But destiny—if I had been vice president, Regional Activities in '01 and '02, I would've had to run for president-elect for '03 and president '04.

Vardalas:

And why is that bad?

Anderson:

I would've never made it because of the competition that was there for that particular election. If you go back and look at—see who ran. I would've never made that.

IEEE-USA

Vardalas:

Oh, but, but '05 was your year?

Anderson:

Aught-five was my year. And I had to lose the VP election in November 2000. And besides, give me another benefit. I became treasurer of IEEE-USA, so I got to understand all of the workings of IEEE-USA finances during that year. I got to be a member of the FinCom—very important committee because they were involved with the finances at a time when IEEE was in great difficulty. It was a blessing to me to not be elected vice president Regional Activities at that time.

Vardalas:

What do you mean? Oh, I see. I see.

Anderson:

And I got to learn about IEEE-USA. I got to learn about IEEE FinCom and finances. And all of that was necessary. You know, I—I've been involved in finances quite a bit. You know, as a manager for L-3 Communications, I had to put together financial proposals to our customers. I understood that. I'd been finance clerk in my church for many years. I had been in finance or treasurer in Region 6 for three terms or five years, one year as secretary, and effectively six years treasurer, so I understood the regional finances. I was given an opportunity to understand IEEE finances. I was given an opportunity to understand IEEE-USA finances.

Vardalas:

Now before we continue on with the presidency, and your campaign, and your issues, you said you were the treasurer of IEEE-USA. What did you learn about IEEE-USA? Obviously you felt that you didn't know enough about it.

Anderson:

The big problem—well, IEEE-USA has a surcharge on membership for members in the US. And it's really important that they have that. And there have been times that they've said well, that should all be voluntary. That IEEE-USA membership should be voluntary. I went to people in TAB who were saying that, and I said if you make an IEEE-USA membership voluntary (as we do societies) for $17 a year, and IEEE charges $90 a year for a membership, and you make it possible for a volunteer member, in fact, to be simply just a member of IEEE-USA, now you can be a member of the Computer Society and not be a member of IEEE. You could also become a member of any of our societies and not be a member of IEEE. But if you make IEEE-USA membership like a society membership, which we could do, I said you give the working engineer a choice between paying $17 to be simply a member of IEEE-USA and avoid the $90 to be a membership of IEEE—do you think you're going to get any US memberships in IEEE? They will be members of IEEE-USA because that looks just as good on a resume as membership in IEEE. I said we will lose a lot of members if you sever IEEE-USA from IEEE. But the argument was always, “Well, wait a minute. Are we a US organization or are we an international organization located in the United States?”

Vardalas:

Well, how did you answer that?

Anderson:

Does that matter to a working engineer residing in the US? President Reagan said that the United States should be a beacon on the hill to the rest of the world. When I was in Nigeria to dedicate the Communications Center at the University of Ibadan, I was treated extremely well. And after that dedication, there was a reception held for me. And in that reception there were seven senators from Nigeria and a former vice president. And they asked me to talk to them. I gave about four speeches, but in one of them that I told them that my ancestry is from Denmark. My dad was a full-blooded Dane. I also have ancestry from both Norway and England. But I said my citizenship is in the United States, which is known to be a melting pot of all cultures and different races of people. And we work together in harmony and we compete in the United States. I said people from Nigeria likewise came to the United States a couple of centuries ago but in the most adverse of conditions. You know, about 600,000 slaves came to the United States from Africa. And in our Civil War there was nearly 700,000 people killed. One person killed for every slave that was brought to the United States. But these slaves were freed by President Lincoln and over a period of time have gained prominence in this country. It is in Reagan's words “the shining beacon on the hill.” And part of our mission in IEEE and in the US is to give back to the world, to remember our roots. And I said it is incumbent upon the people in the United States to seek out their roots wherever they are and give back the bounties and intellectual benefits that we have received in the United States to their countries of origin.

And that was exceptionally well-received by the Nigerians who were there. In fact, you can't believe the speeches by our IEEE leaders in Africa, that they can get up and they can use the most flowery words that you have ever heard in your life. After my introduction at one of the meetings, the master of ceremonies said to me, “Did you hear what I said about you? ‘You sit on a pinnacle, a great mountain pinnacle of the IEEE, and you survey the technical world.’” You know, I mean, lavishing praise. That's what they did. But I'm just a humble boy from Utah. I'm not important. But they can make you feel important. They also made me feel important in India. They made me feel important in many places that I got to travel as president of the IEEE. And all this because to the technical community throughout the world (and in the United States), IEEE is important, important to the world!

And, you know, one of my goals as IEEE president was that I would give out as many awards as I was capable. And so I told these people the IEEE is located in the United States to better help us give back the blessings to the world that we have received. And so it's fitting in my mind that IEEE should be headquartered in the United States so that we can send the wealth of technology to the world and that we can get the rest of the world to think about it. It's a leadership position. It should have nothing to do with where this building is located or the location of IEEE HQ. We need to find and use the technical leaders wherever they reside.

Vardalas:

So you think that IEEE-USA has a special role unlike any other country?

Anderson:

Yes. I dealt with the Popov Society, I dealt with IEEE in England. All of the countries have their own professional societies.

Vardalas:

Because there is no IEEE national society? But we don't have one here in the US except for IEEE-USA.

Anderson:

Except for IEEE-USA. And like I was saying, in order for us to fulfill our global role, we do not want to split IEEE-USA off from IEEE because that would damage the credibility of IEEE. Not that it's going to enhance IEEE-USA.

President Winston was worried that somebody could sign something as president of IEEE-USA and imply presidency of the IEEE. He didn't like the use of the term President IEEE-USA because the thought that could be confused with President IEEE. I made up my mind a long time ago that the word president is not all that important. I'm just a humble boy from Utah. But I did carry a lot of titles in my presidency. I was not only IEEE President, but also Chairman of the Board. I was the CEO, and since Dan Senese, our executive director, resigned on December 31, 2004, I was the acting Chief Operations Officer, COO. So I held the position of COO pro tempore of IEEE until November, a full ten months.

Vardalas:

That must've put a lot of load on you.

Anderson:

I made it a part of my objectives not to treat the presidency of the IEEE as a part-time job. And if I was not at an official IEEE meeting somewhere or many times on the phone with Headquarters, I was at Headquarters, at the operation offices in Piscataway, New Jersey. I also had an office in New York, but I only used it three times. But I was at the president’s office in Piscataway and I was in that office as often as I could be at that office.

Campaign for President

Vardalas:

Well, let me ask you a question. Who did you run against to become president?

Anderson:

Mike Lightner, and Vijay Bhargava.

Vijay had to quit the race in March ‘03 because he was promoted to Dean of Engineering at the University of British Columbia, a huge responsibility. They told him that he couldn't be president of IEEE and do justice to the position at that university. So he withdrew. And that left it a two-man race.

Vardalas:

Do you remember the platform on which you campaigned? What were the issues you stood on?

Anderson:

The vision of IEEE.

Vardalas:

And can you read that? Is that the vision?

Anderson:

Yes, I—I'll read it from the 2005 annual report.

Vardalas:

Yeah, appreciate it.

Anderson:

By the way, we made $300 million in revenue that year, which was a real blessing. But in my message from the president I said, "Our accomplishments in 2005 are consonant with the IEEE Vision: to advance global prosperity by fostering technological innovation, enabling members' careers, and promoting community worldwide."

Vardalas:

How long it took you to come up with that?

Anderson:

Well, that was the vision of IEEE. It wasn't my writing of my vision.

It was accepted by the board of directors as the vision of IEEE. I ran on that vision.

I also ran on building bridges. On my wall here is a picture of a bridge that was given to me. It was drawn by my son. I might just tell you a little bit my—about my son. When he was going with my daughter. He was going to the University of Utah and he wanted to be an architect. That was what he wanted to be. He wanted to be an architect.

I was chairman of the Board of Licensure and Registration for the State of Utah at the time. And I said, “Well, at the University of Utah, architecture is a graduate study. What is going to be your undergraduate degree?” See, I'm doing what a dutiful father-in-law does to a prospective son. I asked all of them how they were planning to support my daughters. I have four daughters and two sons. And he told me, “Well, I guess I'll probably go get a degree in business.” Now, I have a master's degree in business. But I got a master's degree in business to help me in my engineering career and to help me understand finances. You know, simple accounting, you credit to the right, debit to the left. That's all you need to know about accounting (smile).

But anyway, so my son, prospective son, he says, “Well, what would you suggest?” And I said, “Well, we always have a problem between professional engineers and professional architects.” The architect board is always coming against the engineering board and vice-versa because an architect can do engineering that's ancillary to the practice of architecture, and likewise, an engineer can do architecture work that's ancillary to engineering. And so I said, “You ought to get your undergraduate degree in engineering.” He said, “Well, what branch?” And I said, obviously, “If you're going to be an architect, you should get your undergraduate degree in civil engineering.” And so, bless his heart, he changed his major and he got his degree in civil engineering. Now the upshot was that he became a licensed professional engineer, but he never did get his degree in architecture. And I asked him about that one day. And he said, “I'm having too much fun building roads and bridges.”

Well, when I was running for president of the IEEE, I used a little poem to close my speeches about building bridges. I think that’s what our members in IEEE should be doing, building symbolic bridges in the technical community. I changed the poem a little bit. It was written by Will Allen Dromgoole:

“An old engineer on a lone highway, Came at evening time, cold and gray,

To a chasm vast and wide and steep, With waters rolling swift and deep.

The engineer crossed in the twilight dim, That sullen stream had no fears for him. But he turned when safe on the other side, And built a bridge to span the tide.

‘Old man,’ said a fellow pilgrim near, ‘You are wasting your strength with building here. Your journey will end with the closing day, You never again will pass this way.’

You’ve crossed the ravine deep and dark and wide. Why build this bridge at even-tide?’

The builder lifted his old gray head. ‘Good friend, in the path I’ve come,’ he said, There followeth after me today, A youth whose feet must pass this way.

The chasm that was as naught to me, To that fair-haired youth may a pit fall be; He, too, must cross in the twilight dim, Good friend, I’m building this bridge for him.’”

Vardalas:

So, as president, you used this as part of your mission?

Anderson:

Yes. We need to build bridges between the technical communities throughout the world. We need to build a bridge between those that can and those that are trying to become. That's what you're doing as a professor at the universities. You're building these bridges. You're giving the students the opportunity to participate in a vibrant career just like you have had. That’s what you are doing as an IEEE volunteer. So I used that as part of my campaign.

Vardalas:

That's all right.

Anderson:

So, my son, after I became president and he was working as a professional engineer, drew that picture of a bridge and labeled it with that poem and gave it to me.

Vardalas:

At some point after this interview, could you take a photograph of that and send it to me?

Anderson:

Yes, I could probably do that.

Vardalas:

I'd like to include it as part of your interview.

Anderson:

Okay.

Actions as President

Vardalas:

So, day one, when you stepped in as president, day one, what were your ambitions?

Anderson:

I was going to try to enhance members' careers, as the vision stated. I was hopefully going to get, with a little help, IEEE into a strong financial position without throwing away our money on foolishness. People are always coming to you with good causes to donate to, great programs to put our money into. We laughed at one, i.e.: to create an exhibit, an actual ride, in Disneyland. IEEE didn’t have that much money.

The other thing I wanted to do was allow the members of the board of directors to speak. I did not want to dictate to them. I wanted to use them in actual governance. But the problem that I had in the board of directors meetings was always—somebody who always wanted to change the bylaws. They didn't like working within the boundaries of the bylaws. And I said I don't see anything wrong with the bylaws that we have. What's wrong with the bylaws that we have? Let's work with them. But through my objections, a lot of times we pushed through bylaw changes. In my mind change is often not progress. So if we're changing the bylaws of IEEE, it should be done deliberately, and with purpose of forethought, and with the objective being a benefit to IEEE.

Vardalas:

Now you said let the members speak. Are you implying that they didn't speak as often as they should have?

Anderson:

Don't quote me on this with names, but while some IEEE presidents seemed to take a professorial stance with the board and lecture them, I determined not do that. I did not see it as my position to tell, or educate (a pejorative), or school the IEEE Board; these are grown men and women. They're not students. They've been around the block several times. They know IEEE inside and out. I did not feel it my position to use the word “educate.” I didn't want to educate them or school them. I considered these board members my colleagues.

Vardalas:

Now you were on the board earlier than that. Did previous presidents take this position? Do you recall how previous presidents treated the board in this regard?

Anderson:

Yeah, when a person gets a little authority as they assume, their disposition changes and some arrogance becomes apparent. I don’t want to confuse this with simply a strong agenda. I think that several presidents have had a pretty strong agenda. Chuck Alexander I think had a pretty good agenda. But I wanted to follow more particularly the Ray Findlay model.

Vardalas:

Which was?

Anderson:

Ray had desires, too, to change IEEE. But he followed his position as chairman very, very carefully. He did not try to influence the board by speaking from the position of being chair of the meeting. You're always supposed to hand the gavel to somebody else if you're going to speak for or in opposition to a particular item. And I tried to hold my feelings in line. But I didn't hold my feelings in line outside the meeting. I was pretty forthright. My objective, always uppermost in my mind: what is the member benefit and what is the you know, obviously, the financial benefit, because we had to worry about finances. So I worried about that. But I tried not to inject my personal feelings into the board meeting. And that is very hard—very hard.

We had revenues of $300 million during my presidency and that was the most we had ever had from IEEE in revenues up to that time. And I'll say this— my predecessor, Ray Findlay (President 2002), said he could only wish that have been president the year that I was president (2005) because IEEE was able to be out of the red financially.

Vardalas:

Now would you say that was happenstance?

Anderson:

It was probably more about the world economy more than any of our good works.

Vardalas:

Part of the economy, yeah.

Anderson:

But obviously not making any foolish mistakes on the part of IEEE, as well. You know, you can always—an organization can always put itself at risk by innovating some new programs or some other venture that turn out to be very costly.

In a way, IEEE is just a microcosm of the United States government combined with a US business, actually. It has infighting, some of the same financial problems. We have a board of directors, sort of a legislature, we had an executive committee, you know, which was like an executive branch. And we worried about the legal parts of things, too, with our lawyers. So we had the three branches of the business that were always to the front—is it legal, can the president do it, do we need to legislate this through the board of directors? It's a very balanced organization. It's a good organization. That's why it's successful.


Vardalas:

What would you say were your accomplishments during your year as president?

Anderson:

I visited as many sections and societies and I personally presented as many IEEE awards so as to lend a personal touch to what we were doing in IEEE. We signed an agreement that Director Moshe Kam put together with Areva (a French public multinational industrial conglomerate), located in Paris, France. That's the largest French nuclear-power-equipment provider. We also signed an agreement with Boeing that was put together by Jim Leonard, a senior fellow at Boeing and the IEEE-USA President for 2003.

Vardalas:

Now these agreements were for what purpose?

Anderson:

To enhance the position of IEEE within those companies and to give those companies the benefit of IEEE stature. I mean, it was a symbiotic relationship. I signed an agreement in Moscow, Russia with their technical ministry. And there were two or three other such agreements. There was also an agreement that I signed with the professional engineering society of India. And so we negotiated these agreements and we signed them. I consider that important for IEEE to be participating on the world stage with captains of international industries.

I also presented many Fellows Awards and awards at the various meeting of the societies that were given out there. It was important to me that IEEE Societies understand that I was president not only of the regional part of IEEE, but the technical part as well.

Vardalas:

How did you resolve that tension between TAB and RAB?

Anderson:

Actually some of it was very easy. I was the IEEE COO.

Vardalas:

Oh, that's right.

Anderson:

I could work across those organizational barriers. And I didn't have an executive director that thought it might be in his best interest to have tension between TAB and RAB.

See, some people think that the best way to succeed is to keep a tension between competing interests. Now a tension between competing interests could be kind of a good thing. It's the way our country, the United States government, was designed, because a lot of times, if there's competition, using dialectic model, the synthesis of the two competing items is supposed to be better than ..

Vardalas:

Synergy, are you saying? No.

I can't remember my Hegelian Dialectic that well, but—

Vardalas:

It'll come to you when you read the transcript of this oral history.

Anderson:

Yes, it comes from the philosophical approach postulated by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 –1831). It describes how progress is achieved by establishing an argument (thesis), which precipitates a counterargument (anti-thesis) and finally there is achieved a synthesis of the two into a more advanced argument, at which point the process restarted. For Hegel, the dialectic could explain everything – art, culture, history, even nature.

But anyway, out of tension, out of conflict, can come a synthesis which is the best for both sides. And people think of that as compromise. Well, you don't compromise with evil, but there are some compromises that are good. I didn't attempt to be a compromiser, but I tried to keep some of these tensions down. I did not promote them. I did not go to RAB and say one thing—or then go to TAB and say, “Guess what? RAB's over there trying to figure out how to spend some of your money,” which would immediately get the attention of everybody in the room. You shouldn't commit your people to conflicts; you don't create tensions between various parts of your organization. Unnecessary conflict, in my opinion, is an unnecessary risk for the organization.

Vardalas:

I can imagine that it was both useful and stressful to be both COO and president and all of that.

Anderson:

Well—

Vardalas:

How did that work out?

Anderson:

It was very good because my company allowed me to do it full-time. And I had good support from the IEEE staff. Dick Schwartz was a wonderful, wonderful man. And Matt Loeb did his best, you know? Matt's a good man. He has an idea a minute. But if you can harness him, he's very good. And he was a good advisor to me. I had a lot of great help from Lyle Smith. Lyle Smith was delegated by or former Executive Director Dan Senese early on to keep the presidents in line, the presidents that served before me, but in the absence of Senese there was nobody telling Lyle Smith to keep Cleon Anderson in line. Lyle and Dick would always work with me on issues. And Dick had the financials. And I told Dick right from the beginning I do not want to put IEEE finances jeopardy. And so we're not going to hire a lot of people here at Headquarters just because we had money to hire them. If there's a job that has to be done and there's a particular individual we can hire, we'll hire. But we're not going to just hire people to be hiring people. And Dick was very good at helping me and making sure that our publications were funded, making sure that the money flowed from the societies the way it was supposed to flow from them, making sure that Regional Activities and other major boards didn't step out of bounds. And he'd always give me a lot of heads-up items and things to read. He almost drove me crazy that way. But Dick was a good counselor. I have the highest regard for Dick Schwartz and for Cecilia Jankowski, who had headed staff for RAB, or MGA now. And for Mary Ward-Callan who led the staff for TAB.

Vardalas:

Now, do you have any regrets? Things you wanted to get done that didn't get done while you were president? Any disappointments about what you didn't achieve?

Anderson:

Well, I did not come to the presidency with an agenda of the things I wanted to achieve. Unlike a lot of people that wanted to run for it, I didn't run to change the IEEE. If I had any regrets at all, it was that we, at the end of my presidency, we still had not really given the individual engineer, who had an electrical engineering degree, an overwhelming desire to be a member of IEEE. We still hadn’t got our market share of the graduates to become members. We were growing, but we were not growing as fast as universities were pumping out engineers. In other words, our percentage of the opportunity, our market share, seemed to be shrinking.

Vardalas:

Did you come to any conclusion—

Anderson:

And I think it still is problem in the IEEE today.

Vardalas:

Did you come to any conclusions of what it would take?

Anderson:

That was the problem. I didn't really have the answer other than saying that everybody ought to have the IEEE vision tattooed on themselves somewhere, some phylactery in front of their eyes like the old accountant who always used to come to work, put on his green visor, open his desk, and pull out a little piece of paper and read it and then go about his work. And when he finally retired and left, there was a run to his desk to find out what was written on that piece of paper that he read every morning. And it said simply, “credits on the right and debits on the left.” And, you know, if our members would just read that vision, you know, every day remember that the purpose and vision IEEE is to promote community worldwide, enhance our members' careers, and spread technological innovation, if they just thought of that every day when they went to work, that attitude would make not only the IEEE great, but them great performers, too. If our members approached their business, their professional life with that IEEE Vision, it would be great.

Let me tell you, I thought a lot recently about Steve Jobs (the recently deceased head of the Apple Corp) and, it just came out this year. Steve Jobs, other than being a multimillionaire and having more money than Mitt Romney, you know, and not contributing all of his funds to charity the way Bill Gates finally did, you know, Steve Jobs gave us a little box, an iPhone4s, that by simply asking it questions, we can get answers. Can you imagine that kind of innovation?

With the Internet, can you imagine what that really means? And yet, on his deathbed, I think the veil was lifted from Steve Jobs' eyes, because he appeared as though he was looking through the wall and he said, “Wow. Wow. Wow,” implying I never realized that there was something out there greater than this. But I believe that there is something greater than this, some destiny that technology can play for everybody in this world to make their lives better. To make their personal lives better. That's the purpose of technology. And if we could see the future, and if we do our part for the future, we could, as Jobs did, say, “Wow.”

You know, in Region 6 we had a conference. And it used to rotate between San Francisco and LA. It was called the Wescon.

Vardalas:

Yes, I know it very well.

Anderson:

And it was incorporated as ECI and ECM managed it—Electronic Conventions Management. Very successful. But you know why it died?

Vardalas:

Why?

The Internet. We didn't have to go to conferences anymore to get information on new products. We've got a box here that we can ask and get answers to, just like Steve Jobs envisioned and created.

Vardalas:

And you don't have to be a member of IEEE to get their journals now.

Anderson:

Oh my. That's both the blessing and the problem. We are going away from paper toward the digital. Conferences may become less important because of the internet.

Relationships with Past Presidents and President-Elects

Anderson:

Now let me ask you about president-elect and past presidents. They interact with presidents. Do you recall how, as president-elect, did you interact with the current president, or as past president? Do you remember any of your interactions with the presidents in this regard?

Anderson:

Yeah, I asked Mike Lightner to work on the China issue. I gave him assignments. On the other hand, I asked Art Winston, I said you've been through this presidency stuff. As I told my children: this is my first time of being a parent; you got to cut me a little bit of slack. So I counseled with Art, saying, “You've been through this. You know the issues. You know how to—how they're going to come out.” I had him always sit on a side of the table during board meeting so I could see him—not next to me. He was positioned so I could look at him and catch his eye or he could look at me and get my attention. That way, I could tell if I was making a mistake or not. So past President Art Winston was my mentor. And as for Mike, he got elected. He was the president-elect. My intention with him was to give him as much visibility and as much opportunity and as much face-time as he needed to learn the position that he would later inherit from me. And I think I did a good job at it. You'd have to ask Mike if I did. You'd have to ask Art if I did, but—

Vardalas:

How about your role as past president when Mike was president?

Anderson:

Oh, I don't know. Mike was good to me. You know, he was the one that handed me my Fellows Award. There was something in our protocol that said you couldn’t be elected as an IEEE Fellow while you're on the board of directors. So they had to wait 8 years until I was off the board of directors to get all of my fellows stuff through. And he gave that award to me. He shepherded it through. Mike is a gentleman.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Anderson:

He even looks kind, like a gentle professor. And he speaks quietly. He isn't as brash and rough as I am. I don't know whether he liked me personally or not, but he treated me with respect and he was always helpful to me. He never fought me.

The worst fight that I can think that I had with Mike was one time we were arguing on student dues. And I felt that the longest you could have that student dues should be eight years. I said if you join IEEE as a junior in college, that's two years to graduate with a bachelor's. And then I said if you spend four years getting your PhD, you should complete your student membership in six years. So now let's be good. Let's give them eight years. I said eight years is long enough as a student engineer. Nobody should be a student member for longer than eight years. The counter argument was for 12 years. And somebody said well, we've got people that could be eligible for life membership as a student and never have been a full member of IEEE. They could just be a student member their IEEE whole professional life. We got to put a stop to this.

And so Mike and I got in a discussion. And I was kind of abrupt and brash and I said, you know, it's not fair for a person, and here I go with “fairness.” I don't believe life was ever meant to be fair. But it's not fair for somebody who has got a bachelor's degree, who goes to work in industry and pays full IEEE dues, to subsidize the PhD student dues which at the time were $20 a year or less. Now PhD students need the information from IEEE much more than that guy in industry because they’re writing a dissertation, they’re writing a thesis, and they need the cutting-edge information that's available from the societies of the member engineers. It's not fair to put the cost of the PhD student’s grabbing of the brass ring on to the backs of those who are never going to get that high honor. I said that for undergraduates I can understand it. PhD students, on the other hand, ought to pay the full ride. And Mike got upset at me. And he said what do you mean? He says that professors are the poorest paid in our industry. It's those guys out in industry with a bachelor's degree who are the ones making the big bucks.

Vardalas:

And what was your reply to that?

Anderson:

Oh, he didn't say it maybe in exactly those words, but I saw Mike's anger level come up because I'd kind of disparaged the professorial community, the academia of IEEE. I learned from that. I usually was really careful but not this time. I had lots of friends and acquaintances in academia. Like I told you on the phone, the symbiotic relationship between the working engineer and their professors, the academics, needs to be bridged, and needs to be solidified. What I did here didn’t help with that bridge.

Importance of IEEE Journals

Vardalas:

Do you think that the journals provide that or is there—

Anderson:

I think some of it, but I think the actual relationship that I had with many of the people in academia on the board helped me in my presidency to gain an appreciation of their ability to help the working engineers. But let me tell you this. When I was in college, I was actually scared of Dr. Ghemlich, who was my first engineering professor, who taught me Fortran. And I was really afraid of him. I got my “A” from him. It was a worry even though I graduated with 3.97 GPA. But anyway, we had hired people from the University of Utah to help us with some of the designs at L-3 Communication (actually Sperry Corporation at the time). And we'd hired them. We had hired Professor Ghemlich to help a colleague of mine (I was a new junior engineer at the time) design a step motor-driven antenna positioning device. Now, my forte is in servo control. And I had learned a lot about servo control at the company before I ever went to the University. I had been mentored by great servo engineers at L-3 Communication and I knew a little bit about it, and I knew about tracking devices and tracking airplanes with antenna tracking, radar tracking systems. And so anyway, Ghemlich had designed the servo for this little antenna that could drive to position using stepping motors. Anyway, we had problems two years later when that antenna system came into production. It wasn't working right. I had figured out and resolved parts of the problem, but I needed more understanding of what we call in the trade a washout circuit implemented with Z transforms. We designed it using Laplace transforms and then change them to Z transforms—that's what’s needed when you put the switch in in the loop. The switch in the loop is accommodated mathematically with Z transforms. If you're going to do things digitally, you have to account for this switch in the loop. I need academic help.

Vardalas:

With the transform thing.

Anderson:

—So I asked my management if—I said I need some help from the guy that designed this. I said Dr. Ghemlich at the University of Utah, he was out here. I remember him doing it. It wasn't me that did it, but it was Ghemlich who designed it. So my manager said well, if you need him, hire him.

I got him a contract so he could come out and spend about 50 hours or 100 hours with me. It was very interesting when you have the professor working for you, instead of in the adversarial-type relationship of a classroom where if you don't do this homework, you're not going to get the grade. He actually wrote my presentation for me. He rehearsed me on how to present this problem and its solution to company management. It was exceptionally great experience, you know? It's like if you're in trouble and you need a lawyer and the lawyer is at your elbow working for you; here was a tenured university professor with his sole objective in that contract to make me look good. And he did. And it was an endearing relationship. Because of that relationship, I sold him my snowblower and now you know the rest of that story—

Vardalas:

Oh, that's the man you—okay.

Anderson:

Yeah, and he got me into the IEEE Region 6 leadership.

Vardalas:

Did you feel or have heard others say that the journals that IEEE publishes are geared more for academics than it is for the working engineer?

Anderson:

I took a course in advanced control system once. It was put on by our company, but under the auspices of the University of Utah. So I got university credit for taking it. It was taught by a fellow that had been working part-time for Sperry but who was a tenured professor at the university. And he put the course work together just to teach us modern control theory. And modern control theory has a lot of mathematics associated with it. And his attitude was, you guys are in the trade. You should be able to read the journals. Let me get you the salient points and we will go over the papers. So he did the journal search for us to get the material for the course. And we took it and he went through those articles. But more than that, unless you are very interested in that particular technology, you're not going to sit down in a chair and simply read this stuff. You can't read the journals at 1,000 words minute or 200 words a minute or even 100 words a minute. They're meant to be read deliberately and carefully and they can only really be read, in my opinion, by what I've seen of them, by people who are interested. They are not reading that—

Vardalas:

For background.

Anderson:

You're not reading a novel, so yes. And—but you can look at the journals and you can skim them and say does this interest me, does this interest me, yeah, yeah, yeah, this—the equations are probably right, that, you know, I'm not going to argue with this guy that wrote this article because it doesn't serve me that much. But if you find one that serves you, that's in your specialty, then you need it. So for the regular working stiff that says oh, I never use the calculus in my career, it is probably not helping him very much. For the graduate student who is trying to do a PhD dissertation, he has to read it and has to know it. So I think journals probably benefit students, and not undergraduate students but graduate students, more than they do the working engineer, yet it's necessary to have them because if the working engineer needs that bleeding-edge information, then he needs it.

Now it turns out, in my view of academia, and I've said this to some of them personally: the great advances in technology are made at the corporate industry level, not at the universities. That's why the universities give to you sabbaticals so that you can go to these industry labs and learn the new technologies. And if you do your job, you will take it back to the university and you will systematize it and make it teachable so that other people can grasp the content. This is needed because the guys out in industry, they are not going to make the subject matter teachable. They're probably not even going to make it so it's really logical. Some of them will come to you and say well, it is OK because it works. However, the academics are necessary to make the subject matter teachable and to make it presentable and to make sure it doesn't violate the laws of physics. That was the problem the academic establishment had with Oliver Heaviside (and applied engineer). He reformulated Maxwell’s equations but was held at odds by the rest of the academic community because he jumped directly to the answer; he was thought to not have been academically rigorous. You know, he didn't go through all the steps to make the solution rigorous. To him the answer was simply intuitively obvious.

Travels as President

Vardalas:

You traveled an awful lot as president, right? Are there any special moments you recall during this time or any amusing moments, something that you recall that—

Anderson:

Well, I mentioned to you about Nigeria when I was really just barely out of the presidency. That trip was set up while I was president, but it happened in January ‘06. In January of '05 I went to India. And I was extremely humbled by the deference given to me by the universities and businesses I visited in India. I mean, they put up big signs that read “Welcome, W. Cleon Anderson, President”, and then in huge letters, “IEEE.” They laid down sand arts in beautiful colors that welcome me to the universities as “The President of IEEE.” They rolled out, on four different occasions, red carpets.

On two occasions, red carpet went all the way to the street and that—and I remember walking up the steps on those carpets to meet the Rector or Dean. I said to myself this is not for you, this is for the IEEE. They're not honoring you. You're just a simple Utah boy. But they want to honor IEEE. And it was always kind of the same. They would show me what their students were doing at the university. They would invite me in to talk to the faculty. There was always a little restroom off to the side of the faculty room. And this was in at four universities I visited in India. And they said you need to use that before we go out to meet the students and, you know, wash your face and be prepared. And then they would leave. The faculty would take their seats on the front row with all of the students behind. It bothered me, too, because the women engineering students sat in the back of the room. And my wife tried to correct that a few times. We broke protocol with that.

Vardalas:

How did she do that?

Anderson:

She went back and sat with the women engineers.

Vardalas:

She did? Oh, good for her.

Anderson:

But they would always say nice things. And then I would give my speech. And those were good times. You know, they were really great times as I look back on it now.

Vardalas:

How did you choose the places you went to? Was it by personal interest?

Anderson:

India was by invitation a year in advance because they had to get things set up. I met with the president of India, Dr. Kalam. In these instances where the itineraries were set up well in advance, they had important people to work with. It was the same when I visited Russia, you know, to celebrate the Popov anniversary. The invitation was made months in advance. But the main criterion used to make travel my travel decision was: “What is the purpose?” It's just not me going where I want to go, but rather, is there a major award or somebody that we want to honor? I was able to go to Israel. And that stands out way high in my mind because I was able to give a speech in the Technion University in Haifa in the same room that Albert Einstein lectured in. And we laid an IEEE milestone plaque there at the university. The Israeli Section also put on a technical conference in conjunction with the IEEE Communications Society. That was the purpose for my visit. This visit stood out in my mind because the things that I was able to do. I was able to tour the Old City of Jerusalem. And being a Christian, I—

Vardalas:

It's a very special place.

Anderson:

—it did mean a lot to me.

Vardalas:

It's a very special place to be.

Anderson:

And I had a professor who was my tour guide from Israeli Ministry of Tourism take Dixie and me to the Masada and the Dead Sea. And he talked to us about the Masada. And what happened there. And I remember his words. He said, “We have a saying in Israel, that all Israel is our Masada.” And I love those people over there. It was interesting. IEEE leaders in Israel, you know, strong Hasidic Jews, they knew the New Testament gospels better than most Christians that I've run into. I was told: this is where this happened and this is where this happened and this is where that happened. You can get a great feeling of history there.

Anderson:

It was, it was amazing to be hosted by one of my IEEE friends. I was hosted in Israel by Jacob Baal-Schem, an IEEE volunteer.

Vardalas:

I know him very well.

Anderson:

He fought in the six wars. He is highly decorated. I have been to dinner in his home. He was the communications officer that told Moshe Dayan that East Jerusalem had been secured. And he showed me the bullet marks on the Zion Gate and explained in that sacred place the Israeli battle strategy.

Vardalas:

This was in your first year of presidency, right?

Vardalas:

No, I was as president-elect. Art Winston was invited. Art Winston wrote IEEE Travel and said, “is it safe?” And they wrote back but one word: “N-O.” And Art, he's of Jewish descendent, you know. But he did not go. He said you can go. It was a blessing to me in my life.

Vardalas:

And you chose—you took the risk. You said it's—

Anderson:

You bet. There was no risk. The people in the IEEE Israeli Section, they loved having me visit. I feel bad that I wasn't able to go meet with the students in Cairo, Egypt. I feel bad that I wasn't—it just didn't line up, that I couldn't go there or to Bahrain, even though I was invited to these places, too.

In ‘04 we held the April IEEE Executive Meeting in Krakow, Poland. The entire IEEE Executive Committee was there in Krakow. After the meeting, President Art Winston and I visited Auschwitz. I had already been to Dachau in Germany, but we also visited Auschwitz in Poland. And I looked at those information signs—the signage there. It's written in English, Polish, and Hebrew. And I looked at the exhibits with Art; this was very hard on, on Art. Because these were his Jewish relatives. Lily, Art’s wife—it was so hard for her that she determined not to go. She did not want to go and see the horrors of Auschwitz, which is just outside of Krakow. This was well-known by the Pope, John Paul the II. The Pope had been a cardinal over the Krakow area before elevation to pope. In fact, he helped free that whole area from Soviet control. I said to Art, “Have you noticed that there is no Cyrillic on the signage here in Auschwitz?”

The Russians are not mentioned there. And nothing is written in German or Russian. But it's in English, Hebrew, and Polish. So that was a defining moment because I knew the Pope came from Krakow. I also visited to the cathedral in Krakow where he presided as a cardinal for the church.

So I know why he worked with Thatcher and Reagan to bring the communist monstrosity to the end. It was a blessing for the engineers in Saint Petersburg. It was a blessing to the engineers in Moscow, as well as for the engineers in all of Eastern Europe.

It really is destiny fulfilled when the Berlin Wall fell. Now let me tell you one other thing that's associated with that. I told you I believed in destiny. And I was in Budapest with John Vig (IEEE President 2009). Now John Vig is a secular Jew. But John visited, with Dixie and me, the Jewish synagogue there, which is built in Pest. It's on the Pest side of the river. It's built with and architecture resembling a Catholic cathedral. There is a memorial to the Holocaust behind that chapel.

Then John took me down the street (a short distance from the synagogue) and showed me where his father's jewelry shop was and told me about his escape from the Nazis. It turns out that his father had already been taken away and everything in the jewelry shop had been lost, you know. The Germans had confiscated it. And he and his mother were left there alone. And the Nazis sent the soldiers to get them rounded up for the camps. So the Germans come and knocked on the Vig’s door, his mother put him on a little pot and told him to do his business. They wanted them both. She said I can't come right now, my son is indisposed. Well, the German soldier couldn't wait long enough for John to get off the pot. When the soldier left, John and his mother fled. John got away to fulfill his destiny as a president of IEEE.

Vardalas:

What a story.

Anderson:

We had John as the president of the IEEE because there was destiny for him to meet in Budapest. He was saved, possibly from Auschwitz. There is an unseen hand that takes note of the affairs of men and that's just another testimony to me. Now, John may not agree with that. He may not particularly care for me telling his story in that way. But it—it's an important story. And maybe some of his professional work, outside his volunteer service being part of the IEEE, has saved countless lives elsewhere, because I know the little bit about what he worked on for the United States Army. He has a destiny too. Just like I didn't win that election when I thought I was supposed to win it, it was for my own good. And I really think that I became president of IEEE because it was my time, my road that I was going on. And it would never have happened under any other set of circumstances.

Vardalas:

Cleon, it is I think time—

Anderson:

Time for you to go and catch your airplane.

Vardalas:

There's a lot that we could've discussed related to your early upbringing and your career. We should save that for another time.

Anderson:

Okay.

Vardalas:

—because we wouldn't do it justice to race through it in ten minutes.

Anderson:

Hm.

Vardalas:

But so I'd like to reserve an opportunity to do this again on that part of your life that has less to do with IEEE as a volunteer and more with your life as how you became an engineer and what you did as an engineer.

Anderson:

Okay. I would be more than happy.

I hope that the things that I've given you are useful.

Vardalas:

They've been very useful. Thank you so much for agreeing to this.

Thank you.

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