BRS 2005 Annual Meeting Minutes

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BRS Board and Society Meeting Minutes – 2005



May 14, 2005

(from the August 2005 BRS Quarterly – #127)

The Bertrand Russell Society 2005 Annual Board of Directors Meeting
was held from 12:30 to 1:30 pm at McMaster University in Hamilton,
Ontario, Saturday, May 14, 2005. At 1:30 pm the meeting was recessed. It
was resumed at 2:30 pm and concluded at 3:15 pm. Directors in
attendance were Kenneth Blackwell, Andy Bone, Rosalind Carey, David
Henehan, Tim Madigan, Ray Perkins Jr., Steve Reinhardt, Cara Rice, Alan
Schwerin, Warren Allen Smith, Peter Stone, and Chad Trainer.

The Board’s first item of business was the selection of an
interim chair. Peter Stone agreed to act in this capacity. Warren Allen
Smith then moved to approve the minutes from last year’s meeting. Alan
Schwerin seconded the motion, and they were approved unanimously. Ken
Blackwell then made a motion to approve the emailed versions of the
Treasurer’s report, and Warren Allen Smith seconded the motion.

The directors then elected the following officers by acclamation:

President – Alan Schwerin

Vice President: Ray Perkins

Secretary: David Henehan

Treasurer: Dennis Darland

Chair: Chad Trainer

The subject of outreach for the Bertrand Russell Society was
next discussed. Specifically, the worth of positions established for
these purposes was revisited. Rosalind Carey indicated her support for
this type of position and cited the work that John Ongley is already
doing in this area. Tim Madigan moved to have the positions that were
divided (at the 2004 board meeting) into vice-president for
international outreach and vice president of outreach in North America
combined into one position to be occupied by John Ongley. Cara Rice
seconded the motion, and it passed with eleven to one votes.

The place and time of next year’s annual meeting was the next
item on the agenda. It was agreed by all to accept Gregory Landini’s
offer to host next year’s annual meeting at the University of Iowa.
There was less agreement about the exact weekend the meeting should
occur. Cara Rice supported the idea of holding the meeting as late in
June as possible. John Ongley, on the other hand, supported the idea of
the meeting occurring around the end of May, or beginning of June. Peter
Stone suggested taking a straw pole on the matter. One person voted for
mid-May, three people for early June, and twelve people for mid-June.
Cara Rice moved to have the next annual meeting held at the University
of Iowa, Warren Allen Smith seconded the motion, and it passed

On the subject of the site for 2007’s meeting, Alan Schwerin
mentioned Monmouth University as a candidate. John Ongley mentioned the
possibility of Drew University. Peter Stone noted the good attendance at
Drew’s last meeting, but it was agreed that the availability of John
Lenz as a host needed to be determined. Rosalind Carey volunteered
Lehman as a candidate with the caveat that it lacked dormitories.

Next on the agenda was the subject of honorary memberships.
Peter Stone read aloud the conditions for honorary members. Ken
Blackwell moved to make Joseph Rotblat an honorary member, alluding to
the well-known Nobel Prize-winning work Rotblat had done with Russell
and continues to do with the Pugwash conferences. Ken also reminded the
directors that Rotblat is 97 years old. Ray Perkins seconded the motion,
and it carried unanimously. Peter Stone brought up the proposal that
Tariq Ali be made an honorary member, citing the work he did for the
Russell War Crimes Tribunal along with other related work, his
correspondences with Russell, and his memorandum on Russell’s secretary
Ralph Schoenman. Ray Perkins moved to make Tariq Ali an honorary member.
Warren Allen Smith seconded the motion, and it carried with eleven yes
votes and one abstension.

Steve Reinhardt then asked whether there was any method on the
Society’s Web site for briefing members on what sort of topics the
annual meetings’ papers will concern and what sort of preparatory
reading members can do to get the most out of the meetings’ talks. He
referred specifically to a couple of papers delivered that Saturday
morning based largely on books with which he could easily have become
reacquainted (and so derive more out of the talks) if only he had had a
way of knowing about these papers’ subject matter in advance. Alan
Schwerin responded that the papers accepted for the meeting are indeed
listed on the Society’s Web site with accompanying abstracts. Chad
Trainer claimed that, on his computer at least, only the titles of
papers could be accessed and not any of the abstracts. Rosalind Carey
then suggested the possibility of a “recommended reading” list that
could be compiled for each meeting.

The next matter addressed was that of funding students
interested in presenting papers on Russell at academic conferences. Alan
Schwerin explained that Nicholas Griffin had approached him with the
idea of the Society helping to fund a student interested in delivering a
paper at a conference in Portugal. The Directors considered the
problems of setting such a precedent, especially in cases where students
do not yet belong to the BRS. There was common agreement that a pledge,
at least, to join the BRS should be a pre-condition for receipt of such
funding, and Peter Stone reminded the directors that a student prize
was already in existence.

There was then a digression about the perennial problem of how
to expand membership. Peter Stone and Rosalind Carey suggested the value
of membership drives, especially advertising. Alan Schwerin explained
his disappointment after his experience with writing to forty-five
universities inviting people to submit papers and/or become members and
having had nothing to show for it as a result. Rosalind Carey supported
the idea of the editors of the Society’s Quarterly printing “free
year’s membership tickets”. Dennis would give recipients interested in
redeeming these tickets a free membership and they would be sent a
“welcome package” of sorts. David Henehan encouraged people to think
along the lines of using World Wide Web options, and he asked for a
clarification of exactly how flush with money the BRS is.

Ken Blackwell cited recent payments for a couple of lifetime
memberships and university funding for printing the BRSQ as some reasons
for the surplus, and he made reference to Dennis Darland’s records of
ten or eleven-thousand dollars currently at the Society’s disposal. Ken
Blackwell then introduced a motion to empower the executive committee to
fund students attending conferences who are members of the BRS up to
$200. Alan Schwerin seconded the motion. The motion passed with six of
the seven directors present at this point voting in its favor and one
director voting against it.

Finally, Ken Blackwell suggested coming up with an automatic
method for selecting a substitute Chair for meetings such as this one
when the Chairman of the Board is not in attendance. Ken suggested, as
an example, that such a role could automatically devolve upon the former
Chairman. Dave Henehan wondered whether the position of substitute
chair could automatically go to the President, but Alan Schwerin replied
that that would empower the President excessively. Peter Stone
mentioned the option of mailing out ballots for such cases. David
Henehan questioned the propriety of conducting such an election by mail,
and Ken Blackwell made the point that this has been the settled manner
in which Directors have been elected. Dave Henehan then suggested that a
Vice-Chair position might be worth considering. Alan Schwerin replied
that the Chairman should have to appoint a substitute or proxy.

Cara Rice made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Dave Henehan seconded the motion, and it passed by acclamation.

Chad Trainer, BRS Secretary