PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS AT THE 2020 ANNUAL MEETING OF MEMBERS OF THE SCUDDER ASSOCIATION FOUNDATION, INC.
November 16, 2020
Charles S. K. Scudder, President
Good evening everyone. I am glad that you are participating in this virtual Annual Meeting of The Scudder Association Foundation, Inc. after an extremely challenging year. A warm welcome to all the Members who are not Board Members and are participating by telephone. You may use the chat feature to send a message. Alternatively, if you wish to address the meeting you may signal the meeting supervisor, and we will activate your microphone. Please wait until the end of the presentations to do this.
When the pandemic hit the US in February, the Board decided to cancel all in person Board and Membership meetings and hold them online instead. We also determined to postpone the in person Annual Meeting of the Membership from our anticipated time in the fall of this year to sometime late next year, although we will have to play that by ear and see how the pandemic evolves. Because of the steep stock market declines in the spring, we also put a hold on expenditures and grants until we had a better idea of where our financial position was going to end up.
As the markets have recovered significantly, and the Foundation’s expenses have diminished as a result of our curtailed activity stemming from the pandemic, we are optimistic that we can keep the level of funding for the Foundation’s charitable causes which we had anticipated at the beginning of the year.
We have been working closely over the year with John Riehl, the Executive Director of the CMC Foundation in the US who is participating as well tonight. John will be speaking a little later to let you know of the state of play at CMC and various initiatives he is sponsoring.
We also continued to pursue our contacts with the Reform Church in America, the institution which had originally sponsored John Scudder’s trip to India in 1818. Jim Taylor and John Riehl have visited the Church’s headquarters in Michigan to begin what we hope to be a renewed relationship.
Early in June, Dr. Anbu Suresh Rao, the Medical Superintendent of Scudder Memorial told us that the Hospital had been designated as the covid treatment center for the entire Ranipet district and was in dire need of an additional X-Ray facility for covid patients.
The Board at mid-year, when we were sufficiently confident that the performance of the Foundation’s portfolio was going to be able to sustain it, authorized an advance of $35,000 to Scudder Memorial to fund the new X-Ray unit. As you can imagine, Dr. Suresh and the administrators of the Hospital were very appreciative.
Dr. Suresh told us recently that the X-Ray unit has been obtained and been named “Scudder Digital X-Ray Unit 2” for covid patients. He also recently reported that the Hospital’s facilities were under great strain but that they were managing well. He said, however, that they needed to transfer those requiring emergency surgery or experiencing other medical emergencies to other hospitals because of the lack of a Covid Negative Pressure Operation Theater and ICU which they are now seeking additional funding for. We remain very concerned for the wellbeing of Scudder Memorial and will stay in close touch with them.
We have also been participating as much as possible in the various projects run by CMC including funding the RUSHA rural hospitals and CMC’s work in the Tribal areas. Jim Taylor and John Riehl will speak to this in more detail later.
We have had an exceptional effort over the year by our new Family Historian, Margery Boyden, who has spent countless hours researching family history and creating content on this subject for the www.scudder.org website. I hope you have had the opportunity to visit the website to view her efforts.
With her new genealogical research on Elizabeth Scudder, the sister of John Scudder who first arrived in America in 1635, Margery has been able to confirm the Scudder family’s connection to Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of England which had been reported by our prior historian, Chris Scudder who sadly passed away a couple of years ago. Margery has also been able to establish familial connections through Elizabeth to presidents General Ulysses S. Grant and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
As I mentioned in my address last year, a separate website, “Scudder Ancestors in America” (www.scudderancestorsinamerica.com) has been established which contains the genealogical information about the Scudders and is not part of www.scudder.org. It is now separately maintained by the voluntary work of several Scudder family members. The site was set up as a result of advice we received from our auditors, Marks Paneth, that to maintain our 501(c) 3 status, it was inadvisable to have genealogy as part of our activities. As a result, last year, we moved all the genealogical information about Scudder ancestry to the “Scudder Ancestors in America” site. The genealogical website can also be accessed via a link from www.scudder.org.
Margery was also very helpful in agreeing to be the repository of a good amount of Scudder archived material which had been held by the Princeton Theological Seminary for many years.
We were sad to see Bill Borntraeger, Katie Grose as well as Arthur and Annmarie Bunce retire from the Board but thank them all for their service to the Foundation over many years. We also welcome two new members to the Board, Phoebe Flint and Eliza Aldous. At the end of my address, I would like each one of them to say a few words about their backgrounds and why they were interested in joining the Board.
As you will hear from our Treasurer, Richard Williamson, the Foundation’s finances are on solid ground. Additionally, in January, the Finance Committee began looking into alternative investment options with a view to eliminating investment management fees. The exercise was put on hold when the pandemic struck and the markets lost considerable value. As things stabilized over the late summer, the Finance Committee resumed review of possible investment realignment and finally determined to consolidate the Foundation’s funds with two of its existing no load fund managers, Vanguard and Schawb. The effect of this will be to increase the Foundation’s resources available for charitable activities. We anticipate the changeover to be effective early in 2021.
I hope you have been visiting the www.scudder.org web site. It continues to be streamlined, expanded and updated through the excellent efforts of Bill Scudder and Rich Scudder. It is now the Foundation’s primary “window to the world”.
You will see the latest post under News and Articles is about a new book written by Dr. Rajaratnam Abel on Dr. John Scudder. Dr. Abel worked for many years at CMC and when he retired was inspired to write this book. I met Dr. Abel in Chennai during the Scudder Foundation trip to India last year, and he is a very impressive and erudite person. You can access the book from our website, www.scudder.org.
I recommend you also have a look at the website for additional interesting articles generated by Bill Scudder and Margery Boyden. These include an essay on the Scudders’ history in Chatham, Mass by Andrea Scudder Hera, an article on Ida Scudder and her role in CMC by a doctor who was marooned in Vellore during the lockdown in India earlier in the year and some fascinating historical material unearthed by our historian, Margery Boyden, about a math book apparently belonging to Philip Johnston Scudder, born in 1791 and the medical missionary Dr. John Scudder’s elder brother.
Unfortunately, the Indian filmmaker, Aneesh Daniel, who had approached us in connection with making a film about the life of Ida S. Scudder, had to put his project on hold until the pandemic runs its course. We wish him well and look forward to assisting him with the project when things are relatively back to normal.
A final interesting note is that a fellow Yale graduate, Henry Iseman, who has developed a business called Penta Prosthetics which recycles used prosthetic devices, contacted me after hearing me talk about the Foundation’s hospitals in India. Apparently, because of regulations in the US, prosthetic devices cannot be reused, and a great number of these devices are discarded every year. This is not the case in much of the rest of the world, and Henry’s business retrieves these devices in the US, refurbishes them and ships them to hospitals abroad. He started with Vietnam where the effects of the war are still being felt and is now shipping refurbished devices to many other countries as well. He told me that he was eager to expand in India, and with the help of John Riehl, we were able to identify the right individual at CMC, Dr. Jacob George, to see if they were interested. I am pleased to say Dr. George was interested, and CMC and Henry have recently signed a contract to provide these devices. The first shipment is already on its way.
We are looking forward to a positive and productive year for the Foundation with the hope that the pandemic can be overcome and we can continue our charitable endeavors.