The American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists was founded in 1955 for the principal purpose of serving the public by improving the practice, elevating the standards, and advancing public recognition of environmental engineering through a program of special certification of qualified engineers. The Academy's founding professional societies included the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Public Health Association, and the American Society for Engineering Education, the American Waterworks Association, and the Water Environment Federation. Over the years other sponsors whose ranks included environmental engineers joined the specialty certification effort. These included the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Air and Waste Management Association, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Solid Waste Association of North America. The Academy focused heavily on identifying and credentialing persons with special capabilities in environmental engineering. The primary source of revenue supporting this activity came from those credentialed through filing fees and annual renewal dues.
As the years passed, the Academy sought other funding sources and enlisted advertisers for its publications, developed a book store specializing in environmental engineering and scientific publications, and sponsored technical seminars related to hazardous waste site remediation. The Academy established a very successful annual competition leading to awards of excellence for environmental research and projects. Nevertheless, the Academy lacked the capability to pursue the greater level of funding necessary for the advancement of its objectives. Donations made to the Academy were not tax exempt for federal income tax purposes.
In October 1996, the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists directed the President to appoint a committee to undertake the formation of the Environmental Engineering Foundation. The specific purpose of the foundation, expressed at that time, was "to (1) advance the quality of environmental engineering for the public benefit; (2) inform the public regarding environmental issues; (3) conduct research on issues pertaining to the profession of environmental engineering; (4) foster improvements in environmental education; and (5) do any and all things necessary to this purpose including raising and receiving funds and property."
This committee comprised of Paul L. Busch, Jerome B. Gilbert, Robert C. Marini, and Charles A. Willis worked with staff and counsel to develop Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws for the proposed foundation. The committee served as the Board of Directors for the Environmental Engineering Foundation when it was formally incorporated in Maryland on February 10, 1998.
Those founding Directors had continuing discussions regarding the mission of the Foundation - just what should be its objectives and how can they best be fulfilled? The most prominent objectives discussed related to engineering education, research, and public education. After several meetings, the Directors settled upon a draft Mission Statement, "The Environmental Engineering Foundation operates to educate the public about the relevance and benefits of environmental engineering and to further the education of its practitioners." Organizational matters at the Academy and some changes in the roles of the directors prompted a dormant period in the Foundation's activity. After several years the Environmental Engineering Foundation was formally "papered" by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization to which donations were exempt from federal income taxes. This authority, issued effective January 1, 2006, kindled new awareness and recognition of the original goal that led to the formation of the Foundation.
Although the existence of the Foundation was little publicized, 92 diplomates of the Academy made donations to it in 2006. In 2007, the donations continued with the most noteworthy being a $25,000 grant from the estate of Frederick George Pohland to support the Frederick George Pohland Medal to be granted annually to a designee named by the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP).
By mid 2008 a new Board of Directors for the Foundation, comprised of past presidents of the Academy, convened. The Board consisted of Jeanette A. Brown, Keith E. Carns, Alan H. Vicory, Jr. and Charles A. Willis. The Board elected Willis as President, Vicory as Vice President and Carns as Secretary/Treasurer. The Board enlisted Lawrence Pencak, then Executive Director of the Academy, to serve as its liaison and to continue the maintenance of the records of the Foundation. The Foundation had assets totaling $38,423 of which $24,056 was restricted in support of the Pohland Award. The Board members agreed to review the Charter and By-laws with a focus on potentially expanding the Board beyond the four members currently authorized. Several phone meetings followed and the Board convened for its first face to face meeting in Chicago on October 20, 2008. Subsequently the Board revised the By-laws, expanding the board membership to eight, and focused on recruiting new board members and establishing a clear direction for moving forward.
The persistence and patience of those early participants have led to today's Environmental Engineering Foundation, an organization committed to its original purpose of working jointly with the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists in the pursuit of our new mission statement, "Advance the stature and practice of environmental engineering by promoting the profession, educating the public, assessing issues, and recognizing professional achievements."