The following brief presents my ideas on making the CSEG equity work toward furthering the goals of the Society and toward making the CSEG a more vibrant organization in the future. I hope my suggestions and examples will generate a spirited discussion amongst CSEG members, and will serve as a catalyst for change, whatever form it may take.
As I near the end of my one-year term as the CSEG's treasurer, I believe I have gained an invaluable insight into the financial workings of the Society. I also believe that — given the Society's current equity of approximately $480,000 and our conservative investments of that equity in term deposits - the CSEG is extremely solvent, with little financial worry for the near future. This year alone, I calculate that the CSEG will have a surplus in excess of $135,000, based upon general revenues of approximately $50,000 and an estimated $85,000 in revenues from the annual convention. My concern, however, is that this money is not working for us; it resides largely in term deposits where it accrues minimal interest and, in my opinion, is not furthering the goals of the Society as outlined below.
CSEG'S Objectives and Activities
The objective of the Society is to promote the science of geophysics, especially as it applies to exploration, and to promote fellowship and co-operation among those persons interested in geophysical prospecting.
Activities of the CSEG are directed toward the exchange of technical information. Each year, the Society holds ten luncheon meetings, with invited speakers, and a three-day technical convention, generally held in May. The CSEG also acts to provide feedback on technical matters to various government agencies.
Creation of CSEG Superfund
What I respectfully propose to the CSEG membership is the creation of a CSEG Superfund (i.e., the setting aside of a modest portion of our current equity, perhaps ten to fifteen percent). We would continue to build the Superfund each year, by setting aside perhaps ten to fifteen percent of the Society's annual surplus. In the event of a deficit year, no money would be channelled into the Superfund.
The purpose of the Superfund would be to fund new projects, programs or initiatives which would be proposed and executed by CSEG members. These projects could take several forms, examples might include: funding a geophysical fair (already tried and tested, CSEG donated $2,000 for the project in spring of 1995); funding a high school science project or a geophysical chair at a Canadian university. A list of criteria for funding projects would have to be developed in order to judge a project's suitability (i.e., Does it further the goals of the Society? Are the applicants members in good standing? Is there an educational component? Is there a community outreach component? Is there a funding limit for individual projects? Are there matching funds or donations in kind from government or industry? etc., etc.,). Decisions for funding could be made at either the executive meetings or by a committee set up to administer the Superfund.
The establishment of the CSEG Superfund as described above would not, in my estimation, impair the Society's financial commitments to continue with its current list of annual activities - Technical Luncheons, Recorder, Journal, Photo Directory, Consultants Directory, Scholarship and Medal Funds, Annual Convention, Doodlebug and Doodle Spiel. In fact, because of the Society's sizeable equity base, we would have financial reserves that equate to more than three years operating capital (see appendix B for rules on equity reserves). It should be noted that the CSEG's administrative expenses (that's minus items like publication of the Journal) totalled $83,183 for the year ended December 31, 1994 (see 1994 CSEG Annual Report).
Rationale for Creating CSEG Superfund
I believe that one of the duties of the CSEG executive is to actively seek out innovative ways to promote the science of geophysics in Alberta and nation-wide, whether by funding visiting professors, creating geophysical chairs at Canadian universities, subsidizing graduate student research or by fostering industry-academic interactions. The $22,000 in the Education Fund and the $10,000 in the Medal Fund, in my opinion, should be used to achieve the above-mentioned objectives. I would like to invite the CSEG members to discuss the appropriate allocation of the Education Fund monies and the interest income from the Medal Fund.
As we are all aware, reductions in federal transfer payments to the provinces have resulted in funding cutbacks to post-secondary institutions by provincial governments. Larry Lines, in his technical paper presented at the November 1995 CSEG luncheon, stated that, more than ever, industry support of academic institutions is critical. Larry also suggested that more industry-academic interactions would lead to invaluable experiences - for geophysicists working at oil companies and in the academic environment.
It may be that the CSEG - through its industry emphasis - could sponsor, fund or organize programs designed to fill the growing need described above. Examples of such programs might include:
- Funding a geophysical chair at a Canadian university.
- Subsidizing undergraduate and graduate students (scholarships, bursaries, research grants).
- Expanding our view of education - think beyond Canada by funding visiting professors at Canadian universities or Canadian professors visiting foreign universities.
- Educating professors in the latest industry trends by visiting their universities or by bringing them to Calgary once a year.
- Developing and funding a CSEG Student Industry Field Trip, similar to the one that the CSPG has been running since 1978 (see Appendix C).
- Encouraging and funding projects generated by members that further the goals of the Society (eg., National Science & Technology Week, Environment Week projects often celebrated by APEGGA).
- Generating books and publications (eg., Landsat image book of Calgary).
- Developing national expertise in environmental geophysics, an emerging and growing application, perhaps by offering courses for both industry and academia.
- Educating members through a lecture series - perhaps one-half day or all day - open to all members to promote interest in new geophysical endeavours.
- Recruitment of future geophysicists preparing an audio-visual package for use in training high school students about careers in geophysics; this could be used in "standalone" mode as a travelling exhibit anywhere in Canada or as part of a live presentation given by geophysicists.
- Creating a "hands on" kit for teachers (work with educators from the Edmonton and Calgary Science Hot Lines and the Science Alberta Foundation).
- Developing a new Careers Brochure.
- Bringing a high profile lecturer to Calgary each year with a topic of general interest, open to the general public, admission free.
The activities or projects described above, in addition to receiving money from the CSEG Superfund, might involve the solicitation of matching funds, seismic data or donations in kind from industry and/or government.
The above describes my thoughts on how the CSEG could proactively make its equity work towards furthering the goals of the Society, towards making the CSEG a more vibrant organization in the future. I hope that the suggestions and examples described above will generate spirited discussion amongst CSEG members, and will serve as a catalyst for change, whatever form it may take. I look forward to hearing your ideas, suggestions and comments.
Susan R. Eaton, P. Geol., P. Geoph.