November 2008

ISA votes for name change

By Nicholas Sheble

The initials "ISA" remain the same, but what they stand for has changed. ISA's Council of Society Delegates voted in their annual meeting at ISA EXPO 2008 in Houston to change the name of the 63-year-old organization to The International Society of Automation.

Prior to the vote, ISA President Kim Miller Dunn accented and clarified the significance of the name change that may have been in doubt. "The logo will remain as ISA, and the tag line will continue to say: 'Setting the Standard for Automation,' " she said.

The 30,000-member organization conducted the vote whereby the member sections vote for their constituents via their Section Delegates. The Council of Society Delegates controls the policies of the Society. Members are represented by one delegate for each geographic ISA Section.

Renaming the organization became a highly emotional issue after the defeat of the name change at last year's annual meeting in Houston.

"We need to recognize the massive changes that have taken place and reshaped our Society since its inception," Miller Dunn said in a pre-vote letter to members. "We are no longer just instruments and systems. We are more.

"As Members of the Society, we have a very basic choice: remain wrapped in our cloak of comfort as an instrument and systems society, or push outside the box and take hold of the entire space that is automation," she said. "The Society is not trying to disenfranchise any Member. In fact, we are trying to welcome, with open arms, a much larger community of professionals involved in automation-those involved in "the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production of goods and services."

Supporters of the change saw the previous name as inclusive and specific but one that needed to change as has technology. "What happens when science and technology advances beyond our wildest imaginations? When 'instruments and systems' no longer describe what we are doing? We need a name that is timeless and not tied to any specific technology or job function," Miller Dunn said. "Although many individuals do not feel that automation describes what they do, does any other single term do a better job of embracing all of the Members that make up our Society?"

Later when systems became so important to instruments and their connectivity, and the concept of "automation" became more established, the names changed again to ISA - The Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society. That happened earlier this decade.

Several years later, the ISA dropped the tagline altogether and tried to go with only the three letters. That effort gained so little traction that many members and society officials did not know the effort was afoot and or simply did not use it.

Miller Dunn emphasized ISA has reorganized the governance and enhanced its core competencies: Standards, Certification, Education and Training, Publications, and Conferences and Exhibits.

The Council also approved a $15-per-year dues increase to accommodate two Technical Division Memberships for individual members and an updated policy on Section rebates.