This edited version of the 1970 Annual Report of the AMC Chairman sets out the policies by which the period of greatest growth of American Mensa was launched. Previous groundwork had been laid since the election of 1967, and at this point we were able to put preliminary changes on a permanent basis and make explicit declarations of policy. The promises of this document may be compared to the accomplishments reported in the 1973 Annual Report.
Material within brackets, [ ], is supplied in 1995.
Each year at this time your national officers are required [by the Bylaws] to report to you on the state of American Mensa. The report you are now reading was written just nine months after the accession of the current administration and is our first opportunity to put before all members a comprehensive review of policies and actions of this administration.
Things only get done as individuals do them. The things to be done on the national level are those that cannot be done regionally, locally, or individually. How we proceed at the national level is to set appropriate goals and priorities for things to do and then to get them done as the resources -- both funds and people -- come to hand. These are the things for which your national committee [AMC] is responsible:
- Providing the legal structure for dealing with government and the general society.
- Representing Mensa to the general public in this country.
- Representing American Mensa in international Mensa councils.
- Maintaining the financial integrity of the society.
- Recruiting through the Selection Agency [at that time set up as an quasi-independent entity].
- Fostering Local Groups and national Special Interest Groups.
- Augmenting services to members.
- Providing channels of communication among members.
- Sponsoring research and education projects within the terms of the International Constitution.
Our present legal entity is an educational corporation chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York. Our provisional charter expires this June  and is restrictive in its specification of what we may do. We have asked Frank E.G. Weil, an attorney, to undertake the chartering of American Mensa as a New York State membership corporation with rather broader powers than the educational corporation. This move will have absolutely no effect on the internal affairs of the society, since the present Constitution and Bylaws will continue in effect, but will provide a more appropriate legal vehicle.
A more far-reaching change is our formation of a Mensa Education and Research Foundation (MERF) for which bylaws are now being formulated.... The purpose of this step is to provide an entity devoted solely to eleemosynary purposes to which tax-deductible contributions may be made. This arrangement should also help reduce the tension between members who wish to use Mensa largely as a social organization and those who wish to use it for good works by giving each a separate sphere in which to operate....
This administration is committed to a policy of decentralization of authority and responsibility to bring the government of Mensa as close as possible to the individual member. We are implementing this policy by the following procedure. The three Regional Vice-Chairmen -- Terry Kuch (Eastern), Dr. Marjorie McCorquodale (Mid-Western), and Henry Miller (Western) -- have been asked to act as Local Groups Officers in their respective regions. By doing so, we move coordinating responsibility away from New York and closer to the local groups. The Regional Vice-Chairmen have also been asked to subdivide their regions and appoint assistants, when qualified volunteers can be found, in the sub-regions.
We hope eventually to have approximately ten regions within the United States, each with a substantial amount of autonomy. As people come forward to participate, authority and funds will be informally delegated to them. When several strong regional organizations are developed, we will have more formal negotiations and division of powers probably culminating in a revision of the Bylaws. The principle is to try to develop Mensa government in a practical way along agreed lines and then to modify the legal documents to conform with the realities.
... Note here the forthcoming Western Regional Gathering in Portland, July 1970...
As usual, the annual financial report will be published next month [June]. Our fiscal year closes on 31 March, too late for the books to be prepared for the May Bulletin.
[...Some information about extraordinary expenses....]
For the first time this year we have made the Membership List a (nearly) free benefit.Where in previous years we have charged up to $2.00 for this publication, this year we mailed it without charge to all members who sent a suitably stamped envelope before publication. We have recently increased the local newsletter subsidy by 14% in recognition of increased costs of publication. We have also had to absorb increases in our own publication costs and in our contribution to the International Mensa account.
[...A general comment on our finanical condition....]
Our negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service with respect to tax exemption are in their final stages at this writing. Our current application was filed last May and supplemented by further submissions in August and February. We expect exemption to be granted either on the basis of the present submission or following a conference in which any outstanding questions can be cleared up. Attorney Marvin Garbis has been especially helpful in the latter stages of our work in this matter.
No volunteer job is more demanding than getting periodical publication out on schedule. Ed Diamond and Karl Ross have discharged this responsibility faithfully with respect to the Bulletin for a year. [... Here a note on dropping local activities notices from the national Bulletin....]
As a matter of policy, the Bulletin generally limits its coverage of Mensa administrative and political matters to a monthly summary of AMC actions and statutory announcements such as this Report. The organ for political discussion is Interloc, edited by Eastern Vice Chairman Terry Kuch and published monthly. Interloc is mailed automatically to local secretaries, editors, and others actively engaged in work on behalf of Mensa. It is available to any member for a stamped (18¢) envelope (9" x 12") to Margot Seitelman and is recommended to all interested in Mensa government.
The Mensa Research Journal, edited by Vern Schumann, has appeared twice with a third issue forthcoming. This publication is obtainable by a subscription of $5.00 to Vern.., and contains articles on psychology and the social sciences in areas related to Mensa's aims. [...A note on the need for advertising revenue and a solicitation for a volunteer advertising manager....]
The Membership List, already mentioned above, is our fourth national publication. For the second year, it was prepared by a computer program written by Eve Simeti and Jane Grodin.
Membership and Recruitment
Membership declined from 10,992 to 10,724 between 1 April 1969 and 31 March 1970. Despite the increase in the dues, the membership-retention rate as remained about the same. There are no grounds for complacency in the face of even a modestly declining membership, but neither are there any magic formulas for improving membership retention. We believe that a number of small steps, described throughout this report, will eventually have good effects on the retention rate. [The decline in this year was the last until 1982 when a major political flap concerned ostensibly with "constitutional reform" was engineered by the then-chairman of the AMC. -- S.R.]
[...Here a discussion of recruitment, some fortunate publicity, and an advertising campaign....]
Our program of national help for local groups who wish te embark on a planned recruitment drive remains in effect, and an arrangement with the Los Angeles local group has recently been concluded. Alice Kasman, the account executive with our public relations agency, has not only been instrumental in getting a number of favorable Mensa appearances in the media but has also been writing a series of columns for Interloc advising local officers on ways of getting local publicity.
Since the initiative taken by Americn Mensa three years ago to formalize by agreement the relations between the international organization and the national group, international matters have gone quite smoothly. During the period, the IGC has been substantially internationalized, with a significant shift of control away from London. The American Chairman regularly represents American Mensa interests on IGC, and in addition the American First Vice-Chairman, Stuart Friedman, has recently been appointed Assistant General Secretary for the Western Hemisphere. A number of other American members serve in various international capacities.
The IGC-AMC agreements have been, and from time to time will again be, renegotiated to reflect changed conditions. These negotiations have always been conducted in an atmosphere of mutual regard, free from ideological or personal argument. Both parties have always tried to arrive at solutions that are fair and best for the organization as a whole. The AMC position is to regard itself as the advocate of the American members' interests but to regard Mensa as primarily on international organization. We hope the spirit of these relations continues and serves as a model both for other national groups and for local-national discussions.
Once again it is a pleasure to recognize the dedicated efforts of the paid staff.... Plans are now being made, in cooperation with the IGC, to establish a pension fund....
One of the key roles of the national Committee is to provide for the administration of the roster of members. We have just successfully come through a critical time with respect to our ability to fulfill that role. We have known for over a year that our data-processing system was shaky, and we had been seeking help in putting it right for many months. We had been let down by several people, and finally last fall things really began to come apart when there were changes made in the service bureau that was handling our work. Fortunately, almost simultaneously with the utter collapse of the system we found a highly-qualified firm and individual who were both capable of and interested in taking on the work. A two-stage plan of improvement is now in progress. The first stage is mandatory and will result in our obtaining the reliable, prompt, and accurate service we are entitled to expect. The second stage contemplates certain optional improvements in the system which will make it serve our needs better. High-quality, professional workmanship is not easy to obtain these days and will require a costly investment. After the first-year transition period, however, we should be saving about $400 per month over our present running costs and getting better service as well.
Surpassing the precedent of the 1967, when the Montreal Local Group managed the Annual Gathering with the assistance from the national staff, San Francisco took over the complete management of the 1969 Gathering. The weekend was a notable one for those who attended and was well-reported in The Bulletin. Having the Annual Gathering in San Francisco was symbolically significant in making the point that American Mensa is truly a national organization. It was an appropriate venue for announcing a decentralization policy.
Thes year, Philadelphia has undertaken to be host to Mensa and has been working hard, under local secretary Art Gardner, to make it a success. We hope that a mid-western local group will volunteer by July to present the 1971 Annual Gathering.
The Research Officer, Dr. Max Fogel, has submitted the following report which is quoted in full:
[Omitted from this version at this time.]
A number of members sometimes ask why they have not been polled or approached for research projects, apart from the monthly survey of the members Dr. Fogel conducts in The Bulletin. It is in the nature of significant research these days not to rely on mass surveys but rather to probe in greater detail the behavior of small, carefully-studied populations. Mensa members are regularly being used in research projects, but a fairly small percentage of the total membership is involved it this work. The supply of panels of members to qualified researchers remains a constitutionally-sanctioned purpose of Mensa, and we are committed to cooperate in such work.
The etsablishment of a Mensa College along the lines of a plan formulated by Sam Weissman remains a national Mensa goal. [The report goes on to describe activities in New York and in Maryland which ultimately did not bear fruit. Mensa had neither the financial nor the human resources to establish so ambitious an institution. A mistake of the previous AMC Chairman was to make sweeping announcements for political reasons without first making a realistic assessment of our capabilities. We tried to make good on his declarations, but realism always wins in the end.]
Another Maryland development of which Mensa may be proud is the Mensa Friends program under the direction of Joseph Whitehill. The program of outreach to intelligent inmates of penal institutions has had projects in Illinois, California, and Rhode Island, among others, but the Maryland work has thus far been the most successful and well-received by the authorities. The Mensa Friends project is especially interesting because it is one of those which are implemented on the local level with a minimum of national control or administrative superstructure. Mensa as a national and international organization provides primarily a network of communication and access to interested individuals wish to exchange thoughts and experiences or to seek or offer help. This pattern of local responsibility is a good one in many ways, and AMC will try to do what it can to encourage it by responding positively to requests for help.
Another area of work which operated along these lines has been in connection with help to gifted children. Two organizations have been established by members in this field of work:. Mrs.Claire Modarelli's Friends of the Villagio and Nathaniel Weyl's International Foundation for Gifted Children. The recent visit by Don Calogero de La Placa director of the Villagio Del Superdotato in Petralia Soprano, Sicily, was mad possible, in the first instance, by Mrs. Modarelli's efforts and the support and cooperation of members throughout the country. Your national officers can claim no credit for the success of Don Calogero's visit, but are proud to have done their part in maintaining an organization that can bring such selfless people together.
Two projects in which your national officers are taking a more direct hand are the dissemination of information about gifted children through Coordinator Herb Jacobs, and the establishment of a national Special Interest Group on Conficts of Values by correspondence, through the good work of Ken Robinson. We earnestly solicit those who have an interest in either of these projects
Ken Thomson our energetic national Services Officer, has been working on plans for a Mensa-sponsored employment agency, a health insurance plan, a membership certificate, and a pin. In each case, there have been either serious legal questions or sensitive questions of taste or pride. Inevitably, such things cannot proceed at a gallop, but Ken's work is continuing steadily. We hope it will be possible to announce more than one offering before the end of the year.
A Personal Note
[This section of the report dealt with a long-range vision and the state of Mensa's political atmosphere. These issues have current relevance and are addressed in a separate document, referred to here.] Rhetorical Offenses
4 Jul 95
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