As I write my last President’s Note, please indulge me as I take you down memory lane. In my inaugural address, I laid out my vision for ASCE. I asked for your support in making the Society more transparent, diverse, inclusive, nimble, and sustainable. During my time as president-elect, Past President Robin Kemper, P.E., LEED AP, F.SEI, F.ASCE, gave me the opportunity to lay the groundwork for my initiatives and to spotlight diversity and inclusivity through my appointments to various committees.
The effort to cultivate inclusivity within the organization began by advocating for equal voting rights for affiliate and student members — the only two membership groups who could not vote. After several months of consideration, membership approved the decision to allow affiliate members to vote during the 2020 ASCE elections and will look toward a similar endorsement in 2021 for students’ right to vote.
We have kick-started a plan to strengthen student chapters with additional practitioner advisers. President-elect Jean-Louis Briaud, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, Dist.M.ASCE, has also undertaken the challenge of making student transition seamless by creating a Student Presidential Group centered on keeping students engaged after graduation.
“THROUGHOUT MY PRESIDENCY, I HAVE SPOKEN FROM MY HEART ABOUT THINGS THAT I TRULY BELIEVED TO BE IN THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR MEMBERS AND ASCE. I’VE TRIED TO VIEW THE ORGANIZATION THROUGH THE LENS OF VARIOUS INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS. MY FOCUS IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE ON WHAT THE SOCIETY CAN DO TO HELP YOU SUCCEED IN A COMPETITIVE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT.”
Similarly, I have asked a task committee to review the current boundaries of our student competitions and better align them with regional boundaries. This will allow them to be supported by our regional leadership. As part of this effort, we are exploring opportunities to keep younger members engaged and active beyond their qualifying years.
We addressed ASCE’s nimbleness by removing the many “handcuffs” that grew out of our rules of engagement over the years. This includes how the institutes will operate financially. Meanwhile, we are realigning our committees with the basic functions of a professional organization and expanding volunteer opportunities. We hope our collective efforts and resources expended will make a strong impact on the profession and practice.
The Society has served the members and the profession well. But to keep doing that, we need to rethink what will make this organization attractive to future generations and perceived as a thought leader by the rest of society. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that ASCE can and must evolve. We need to be more efficient with our resources and effective in the use of technology to deliver value to members.
Throughout my presidency, I have spoken from my heart about things that I truly believed to be in the best interest of our members and ASCE. I’ve tried to view the organization through the lens of various individual members. My focus is and always will be on what the Society can do to help you succeed in a competitive global environment.
I thank you for the opportunity to serve you, ASCE, and this great profession. It has been an honor and a privilege. More importantly, it has been a very humbling experience. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet many of you, whom I deem to be brilliant, passionate, and dedicated to civil engineering. For this I am eternally grateful.
I am very optimistic about the future and believe that great things are yet to come. Best wishes to all of you for a healthy, happy rest of 2020 and beyond.
This article first appeared in the October 2020 issue of Civil Engineering.