Archives:Richard Gowen Speech (1984)


About Richard Gowen

Richard J. Gowen

Dr. Richard Gowen served as IEEE president in 1984. In this speech, Gowen thanks the IEEE staff for their service and presents them with several centennial celebration gifts in recognition of their contribution to the success of IEEE.

About the Speech

RICHARD GOWEN: A speech given by Richard Gowen, IEEE History Center, 5 April 1984.

Interview # 041 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center, Oral History Program, IEEE History Center, 445 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this speech be cited as follows:

Richard Gowen, a speech given in 1984, IEEE Operations Center, Piscataway, NJ.  IEEE History Center, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, USA.






It's a real pleasure to be able to host you at lunch and for you to get a chance to meet the IEEE president, whom you will meet in a few minutes. I was just reminded very nicely by some of you elders here today that in addition to the centennial of IEEE, that for those who work in New Jersey, this is your tenth anniversary, although it is not quite the tenth anniversary in the building. What is the tenth anniversary day in this building? In January, oh well. January of 1985 is the tenth anniversary, so we have to do something about that. So you moved to New Jersey when?


July of 1974.


July of 1974, so some have been with us that long and some thank goodness, a lot longer. This is a special occasion because the IEEE president will be able to talk to us for a few minutes. He has the privilege and the pleasure of giving you some gifts. The mechanics of doing that is he will give the first one right here at the podium and then the others when you leave here. If you file out to the conference room, your department heads will be there, and each of you needs to go to where something is there for you because your name will be identified with it. It's a real pleasure for me to present Dr. Richard Gowen, president of IEEE in 1984. Dick, if you will come forward please, they all want to meet you. [Applause].

Presidents don't need a build-up; you know what they do and how much they do, but I have got to tell you how much I respect Dr. Gowen as a president and how lucky we are he is our president this year. It's a tremendous effort; he is extremely capable and extremely energetic. I suppose an eighty-hour week would be a short week, and we are very lucky that he has the energy and the talent to devote to this. It is my pleasure to welcome you again.

Edison and Bell


Audio File
MP3 Audio
(041 - gowen - clip 1.mp3)

Thank you, Eric. Ladies and gentlemen, we have almost a quarter of a million members. Those quarter of a million members know you in some very special ways. I am here on behalf of the membership to say "thank you" to you. The IEEE is celebrating its centennial, one hundred years. That is all I feel about it, it's one hundred years. We go back and we try to think in terms of how things were a hundred years ago and I don't think that I want to go back to that point in time. Because the leading technology of that day was a telegraph wire and most of us in this room don't even know what a telegraph is. When the IEEE was formed, the first president of the IEEE then was the president of Western Union Telegraph and you can hardly find a Western Union telegraph location.

On the first board of directors, we had some vice presidents, two names which you know. One had the name of Edison and he did some work just up here in northern New Jersey. We had Menlo Park, it had something to do with Edison, and we are very proud of that. And the second one was one who most people at that time were not sure of at all. He was a man that they didn't think had the right idea; his name was Bell. He had something to do with the telephone and yet the telephone came to be a way of life for so many of us. You know the telephone for us is a very important way that we often make contact with you, because when a member calls or one of us is asking questions; we have that chance to talk to you. You really represent IEEE to our members, in which they learn to have a feeling to expect the kind of excellent service that you provide. In many ways you spoil us because you serve the needs of the members so well. But I want to extend my thanks to you as president on behalf of our board of directors and executive committee, frankly because you do your job so very well. It is much easier for me when I meet members and travel around the world and they compliment the IEEE. I have the good fortune of knowing who the people are and who really does the work, and that is you folks right here. So I am pleased to be here with you today to just say to many of you, thank you for a major part of the achievements of one hundred years of the IEEE.

Centennial Medal


A hundred years comes but once as a centennial for us. We’ve had a great deal of achievement and yet we look to the future with tremendous excitement because we see that the technology and the growth of which we are all part is changing so vitally, so dynamically, and that is what the IEEE is about. We see our growth continuing not only in these United States but throughout the world. Mr. Herz and I are about to head off to Germany, then into China and down into Singapore to attend Tencom. Region Ten is having its major conference and I have the chance to visit with our leaders in that part of the world. It’s a chance for us to continue to look at the growth of the IEEE. Ladies and gentlemen, without the service that you provide, neither Eric nor I nor any of the rest of us could do much. You make it happen and that’s why we are here. In particular, on this very special time of this centennial, many of you know that we chose to have made a special medal. The medal is our centennial medal. We made 1,984 of those medals because of the year. In the process of making those medals we decided that we needed to do something very special for you folks. We had a very special edition of our key chain made. You know the key chain, except for you there has been something special done with it in order to personalize a key chain for each of you and have your initials on it. This is a small way of saying to you that each one of you counts. It is so easy to look at an organization of our size and to feel that we are all lost in the numbers, but ladies and gentlemen, you count. You count very much to me and you count very much to the people who you work with on the staff, and you count very, very much to all of those members who know you because you are the IEEE today. So today it is my special pleasure to be with you, to extend our deepest appreciation, to ask you to continue to be with us, and to urge that we step into the second century of the IEEE very proudly and very strongly. With that, Eric, if you help me, I would like to make the first presentation.

[This part of tape is for the presentation of the medals — so there is a break]

Centennial Calendar


At this time of the centennial, we have had a special calendar put together. The calendar goes back and recounts for you many of the outstanding achievements that have been made over the century. I ask you to please take the calendar, share it with a friend and share it in a proud way, because we are so proud of this opportunity to celebrate our centennial. Mr. IEEE, can you please take the podium? Now popular today, the question of “Where is the Beef” is heard. Sitting at the table a lady turned around and she said, “Where’s the cake?”

Consequently, Eric helped me get a piece of cake and what I should say to you, ladies and gentlemen, is that I commend the cakes that are here, and I understand there is a special opportunity to continue the celebration during the break this afternoon. For me it is a tremendous chance to be back here. New Brunswick is a special place for me also; I grew up in New Brunswick. So this is being back home. I know you folks well in many ways, there is a deep feeling I have for you and thank you so very much for being with us and being here. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]


So, if you will all rush through the door at once so we can get outside, we’ll help you get your calendars, your visors and your centennial key chain medals with your initials on them. And at coffee time you will have your gifts. Thank you.

Introductory Remarks for Repeat Appearance


It’s nice to see all those bright faces. I hope you feel as well fed as I did. I sat in the first seating and I imagine your lunch was as good as mine. I want to say right here to all the people that came to this, the people who are our food service, “Very well done. We appreciate it very much.” [Applause] They get their paychecks from a different company, but I think you and I feel they're people like ourselves. They work here, don’t they?

This afternoon is a very special occasion; this is the second seating. Half of you have already gone through the ceremony in recognition of our centennial. IEEE is one hundred years old. We are going to have our president with us, and he is going to speak with us for a few minutes and give you some gifts. I was reminded during this part of the first seating that it turns out that we are ten years old in New Jersey. Although we didn’t function in this building apparently until January 1975, we did move in the summer of 1974. A number of you here have been with us all this time and I thank you for that.

The IEEE presidency is a very unusual task, it is a very difficult task, and we are especially fortunate this year to have a man that has superb ability, superb talent. This is a very difficult year for the president, with an immense amount of work. If you and I worked that hard, we all would have things under our eyes that wouldn’t be mascara or whatever you call that. It requires talent. Dr. Gowen has talent, but he has another job to do as well. He's not stingy with his time; he does much more than we expect any president to do, and we are very grateful. We are having a get together with you here today, and tomorrow afternoon we will do the same thing for the forty-seven year opening [?]. Thank goodness, yesterday Dr. Gowen and I were visiting Washington. Or was it the day before? I lose track of time. I don’t think IEEE presidents see that much indirection. Dr. Gowen will speak to you.