BRS 2004 Annual Meeting Minutes

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BRS Board and Society Meeting Minutes – 2004



June 18, 2004

(from the August 2004 BRS Quarterly – #123)

The 31nd Bertrand Russell Society Board of Directors Annual Meeting
took place at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire on
Friday, June 18 from 8:45-9:15 p.m. Directors in attendance were Ken
Blackwell, David Blitz, Rosalind Carey, Peter Friedman, David Goldman,
Nick Griffin, Dave Henehan, Ray Perkins, Steve Reinhardt, Cara Rice,
Alan Schwerin, Warren Allen Smith, Peter Stone, Chad Trainer, and Thom

The Board’s first item of business was the selection of an
interim chair. Ken Blackwell agreed to act in this capacity. Alan
Schwerin then moved to approve the Treasurer’s report and the minutes
from last year’s meeting. Rosalind Carey seconded the motion, and they
were approved unanimously. Nicholas Griffin moved to re-elect the
current members of the executive committee. Ray Perkins seconded the
motion, and it was approved by acclamation.

Nicholas Griffin nominated Peter Friedman to the position of
vice-president for international outreach. Warren Allen Smith seconded
the nomination and it was unanimously approved. Peter Friedman indicated
his interest in John Ongley working as a vice-president of outreach in
North America. Peter Friedman also explained recent web-based
developments and progress that had been made as a result of access to
other organizations’ membership lists.

Still on the issue of outreach, Alan Schwerin wished to know the
United Kingdom’s counterpart to the American Philosophical Association,
and Nick Griffin answered that it was the Joint Session of the
Aristotelian Society and Mind Association. Schwerin stressed the need to
“tap into this pool”. Nicholas Griffin detailed the structural nature
and limits of the Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and Mind
Association, and Alan Schwerin encouraged Peter Friedman to take on the
challenge to make some headway in this area, with Ray Perkins noting the
reverence Russell still enjoys in Britain. Advertisements as a means of
outreach were mentioned, and ads in British journals were discussed.

Rosalind Carey nominated John Ongley for vice-president of North
American outreach. Warren Allen Smith seconded the nomination and it
passed with acclamation.

The site of next year’s BRS annual meeting was discussed next.
Nicholas Griffin volunteered McMaster University as the host university
so that the BRS could meet alongside the Russell versus Meinong
conference (May 14-18, 2005) commemorating the centennial of Russell’s
essay ‘On Denoting’. Ray Perkins expressed concern with possible
scheduling conflicts between the timing of the proposed McMaster meeting
and university examination periods in the U.S.

Rosalind Carey mentioned Lehman as an option at some future
point, and also mentioned Pace University (John Ongley’s university) as a
possibility, that, unlike Lehman, possesses dormitories.

Attention was drawn to Gregory Landini’s offer at the 2003
meeting to have the University of Iowa host the 2005 meeting. David
Blitz suggested that Nick Griffin’s presence at the 2004 meeting, and
Nick’s express willingness to host the meeting, should prevail. Peter
Stone suggested that the merits to meeting at McMaster the same year
they were commemorating the centennial of Russell’s ‘On Denoting’ essay
there were strong and obvious to him, and that Landini would probably
concur. Alan Schwerin indicated his willingness to obtain a formal
clarification from Landini.

Concern was expressed about excessively technical papers
resulting from the Russell vs. Meinong conference’s focus on ‘On
Denoting’. Alan Schwerin assured those concerned that the BRS meeting’s
papers would in no way be bound by the Russell vs. Meinong conference’s
criteria. David Blitz moved to have McMaster University designated as
the host of the BRS 2005 meeting. Rosalind Carey seconded the motion,
and it carried without opposition.

Rosalind Carey indicated concern for the funding of the Bertrand Russell Society Quarterly.
The editors were given to understand that the BRS would contribute
about $750/issue. Following the editors’ procurement of a $3000 grant
from Lehman College (received last fall to improve the Quarterly),
less than $750/issue of BRS money was used by them on the past 3
issues. The editors wished to clarify their assumption that BRS money,
allocated to the Quarterly for the year but not used, could be drawn on in the coming year if they wanted to spend upwards of $750 of BRS money per issue.

An additional reason for thinking more than $750 of BRS money
could be spent in the future was that when discussing how much could be
spent per issue David White had said that the editors could go over
$750/issue if it made the Quarterly better looking. Right now
there is a relative surplus in the BRS account due to the editors having
spent less BRS money for the Quarterly than usual.

Rosalind Carey expressed her hope that the present surplus of
money would not be spent in other ways by the Society but would be saved
for them in the coming year. She then indicated her interest in a
motion clarifying that residual monies from the production of a given
issue of the Quarterly could accumulate, or “carry over”, to
production of subsequent issues, as opposed to a “use it-or-lose it”
scenario. Ken Blackwell assured Rosalind Carey that this would not be
controversial, Alan Schwerin assured Rosalind Carey that a motion was
not necessary, and Rosalind Carey requested that this understanding be
made part of the minutes.

The Quarterly’s editors had expressed their desire to
spread out the aforementioned grant because they had not had time this
year to look for further funding for next year. (It was explained that
such applications have to be made a year in advance.) They reported that
they will be looking this summer for more funding for the year after
next. They suggested the possibility of a general BRS fundraising drive
of which their own efforts to find money for the Quarterly would
be a part – with perhaps the partial goal of creating an endowment for
the BRS. Nick Griffin seconded the motion, and it passed by acclamation.

In order that he could introduce a motion of his own, at this
point, Ken Blackwell temporarily removed himself as acting chairman and
was replaced by Alan Schwerin. Ken Blackwell explained that it had been 4
years since the BRS last agreed to an increase in the special rate for Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies.
The BRS has been paying $17 postpaid per member, including most
honorary members, and in 2000 that was 63% of the regular individual
rate of $27. In common with many academic journals in the electronic
age, Russell has lost subscriptions while printing and mailing
costs have increased. In 2003 the rate went up to $32 and in 2004 to
$35. An increase to $21 would maintain the BRS rate at 60% of the
regular rate.

Additional costs include creating an electronic version for
direct library reference, and putting all the back issues since 1971 on
the web and making them searchable. Ken Blackwell said he is
investigating means of doing this, and he further said that it would
surely assist the study of Russell, given that very few Society members
have journal sets extending back that far. The electronic version may
bring new revenue, but that remains to be seen.

Ken Blackwell moved to raise the BRS’s special subscription rate for Russell to $21 starting this year. Thom Weidlich seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

The issue of declining membership was raised next. Peter Friedman mentioned that the Russell Society’s current Web site ( is out of date. To reach “critical mass”, regular assistance with his own BRS site, (, he said, will be necessary.

The overall indication from the Board was that investigation and
evaluation of this new site was of genuine interest. Friedman was
careful to stress that volunteers would be crucial to the site’s

Ken Blackwell made a motion to assist Peter Friedman in
“creating a new BRS Web site by disclosing the URL to the Board of
Directors with the intent that the Board will vote on replacing the
current Web site in due course.” Peter Friedman seconded the motion, and
it passed unanimously.

Finally, Ray Perkins and Peter Stone made a motion to introduce a
motion proposing a resolution from the BRS condemning the U.S. invasion
and occupation of Iraq. The resolution read:

The Bertrand
Russell Society condemns the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq as
contrary to the principles of international law, which Bertrand Russell
advocated throughout his long life. Given the shameful role the U.S.
government has played in the region – from its years of support for
Saddam Hussein to its contemptuous refusal to submit to U.N.
jurisdiction in matters of war and peace – the Society is suspicious of
any U.S. effort to maintain control of the destiny of Iraq. Accordingly,
the Society calls for an immediate withdrawal, under UN auspices, of
U.S. forces in Iraq and for the concurrent establishment, also under UN
auspices, of a democratic secular state by the Iraqi people themselves.

David Blitz seconded the motion, and it passed by a vote of 13 to
2. Peter Stone moved to end the Board meeting, Alan Schwerin seconded
the motion, and it carried without opposition.

Chad Trainer, BRS Secretary



June 19, 2004

The Bertrand Russell Society held its 2004 Membership Meeting at
Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire on Saturday, June
19, after lunch from 1:10-1:30 p.m. (At was an abbreviated business
meeting as a result of making time for the audio-visual presentation of
the broadcasted debate between Russell and Teller.) The meeting began
with Ken Blackwell asking about the status of membership and the
measures being taken to improve it. John Ongley’s new position as Vice
President of North American Outreach was cited as a factor that could
improve membership, and Ongley explained that membership figures are
featured at the end of the Russell Society Quarterly. These figures
indicate that as of June 5th, there were 115 paid up members of the BRS,
up from 97 on June 5th, 2003. Ongley also explained that personalized
letters encouraging renewal had been sent to ex-members, as well as

Alan Schwerin encouraged the membership to reflect upon why
decline in membership was really a problem. David Henehan expressed his
view that the size of the Society is crucial to getting Russell’s ideas
out there for society in general. Peter Friedman stressed the propriety
of the BRS doing what the historic Russell would want it to do. He
stressed the advantages of people being able to become members over the
Internet, but he explained his need for volunteers in this area.

Thom Weidlich expressed pleasant surprise at the number of
current members while Ken Blackwell pointed to the Society’s 312 members
in 1990 as grounds for concern regarding current membership levels. Ken
did express optimism, though, about the potential of Peter Friedman’s
new web site and the creation of a second vice president for outreach.
Phil Ebersole said that apathy about membership levels could spell the
end of the Society. Friedman also mentioned as having
encouraging potential, but Peter Stone noted that only 21 people have
signed up on for the purposes of “meeting up” to discuss
Bertrand Russell. David Goldman proposed, as a means of increasing
membership, a quota system for professors wherein they would strive to
sign up, say, three new members a year.

Next, John Ongley raised the subject of contributions to the
Society. Specifically, Ongley thought that greater recognition should be
given to those who give the Society money over and above the cost of
the dues. Robert Riemenschneider, a member who had made such
contributions, assured Ongley that no such recognition was necessary, or
in order. But it was agreed upon by all that the Society should be
clear about its gratitude to such contributors. [At the same meeting,
after hearing that John Ongley had received 2 thank you letters for
contributing $50 to the Lehman College library, David Goldman said that
he would contribute $250 for his 2004 membership fees if he was written 5
thank you letters. The BRS officers accepted this condition and Goldman
wrote the Society a $250 check on the spot. This is at least the 3rd
year in a row David Goldman has contributed $250 to the BRS.]

Peter Stone raised the subject of preserving Russell-related
recordings and cited Graham Whettam’s Sinfonia Contra Timore, which was
dedicated to Bertrand Russell. Warren Allen Smith had obtained a master
copy of it for use at his recording studio and the possible worth of
producing copies of it was noted.

Ray Perkins announced the resolution passed at the Board meeting
Friday night condemning U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. He
expressed interest in having the resolution put on the BRS web site and
was assured that this was feasible.

Thom Weidlich asked for a clarification of whether there had
indeed been a vote at Friday night’s Board meeting on the site of next
year’s annual meeting. Chad Trainer explained that, at the Friday night
Board meeting, David Blitz had moved to have McMaster University
designated as the host of the BRS’s 2005 meeting. Rosalind Carey had
seconded the motion, and that it had carried without opposition.

Chad Trainer, BRS Secretary