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Single CEO for the USAFA AOG and UE is a Bad Idea

January 11, 2019

A couple of years ago the AOG tried to get a bylaw amendment passed that would have allowed a single CEO to lead the AOG and the USAFA Endowment. It was a bad idea then and it is still a bad idea. The reasons can be summarized in two points; it results in a return to centralization of power under a few influential grads (mostly large donors) and it perpetuates a lack of transparency in AOG/UE affairs.

First, why do I say this is a “return” to centralization of power. The desire for power is a natural tendency and it was manifested in the AOG several years ago when the bylaws were changed to prevent anyone from running for the board who was not first “approved” by the existing board. I only learned of this when I encouraged one of my classmates to run for the board and learned that he must first be “approved.” This was wrong and undemocratic, but it took a few of us more than a year of acrimonious debate until we got the bylaws changed so that any grad member can run for the board.

But those who like control did not give up. In my opinion, the bylaw change is what caused a few grads who were unhappy with the loss of control to turn to the UE to regain their influence. They have been mostly successful at this because we are now at a point where the UE is nearly the total funding agent for the AOG for any activities that require donations, and most people agree with the saying that “he who pays the piper calls the tune.”

Compounding this problem of centralized power is a lack of transparency. The AOG and its created offshoot, the Class Advisory Senate (CAS), both refuse to allow electronic participation in their meetings, even though this can easily be accomplished efficiently and without disruption. I know this because I participated in both AOG and CAS meetings before they both decided to disallow this participation. And the UE does not even allow “in-person” participation, except in special cases. This essentially means that the actions of the AOG, the CAS, and the UE are not open to over 90% of grads, only to the few who happen to live in the Colorado Springs area or have some special reason for attending.

I have been told that there are problems identifying who is participating electronically. All I can say is that it was not a problem the few times that I participated electronically. My name was clearly shown on the computer screen, so everyone could see who was participating. Furthermore, why do our actions need to be secret? What are we afraid of? What if someone from the press did listen in? What’s the problem? There are some legitimate concerns about AOG bylaw provisions, but I have two responses to that; either change the bylaws at the same time of the proposed change for the single CEO or simply loosely interpret the bylaws. I believe that the applicable part of the bylaws was probably put there to make it clear that AOG board members are “allowed” to participate electronically, not to prevent other grad members from participating.

Another point that grads should consider is the attempt by the AOG to limit the debate. What are grads to do? If one side controls the debate, that side is likely to win. It is no surprise that on the last attempt they got 86% “yes” votes because there was no opposing view. This time, the AOG would not print my argument in Checkpoints or agree to send it with their arguments in favor of the Single CEO, or let me use their bulk mail service to send it myself (even if I paid for it).
Because I think the idea of a single CEO is bad, and because the AOG will not allow transparency in their meetings, and because they will not allow a fair debate, the only effective way to stop this is to avoid voting (because the bylaws require a minimum of 25% participation). This tactic worked last time. Therefore, I must again suggest that the best way to defeat this bad idea is for grad members to refuse to vote on this issue (you can still vote for other items on the ballot).

Roy Miller Col (Ret), Class of ‘67
1529 W Virginia Ave
Phoenix AZ 85007

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