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History of the Senatorship

The long history of the Senate can be traced back to a single, great idea, one which has since evolved into one of JCI’s most successful and celebrated programs.Over the years, the Senate has markedly enhanced the prestige of Junior Chamber International by giving outstanding members a vested interest in the forward development of the organisation.

In 1951, JCI President Phil Pugsley and charter member John Armbruster were discussing a publication entitled “The Log”, which Armbruster had been producing for retired officers and directors of the US Junior Chamber of Commerce.Aware of the vital role “The Log” played in sustaining friendships that had been formed through Junior Chamber, Pugsley struck upon the idea of sending a similar publication to the “alumni” of Junior Chamber International and asked Armbruster to take on the job.

They decided to name the paper “The Elder Statesman”, for JCI alumni throughout the world were becoming important citizens of their respective countries and were, in fact, elder statesmen to younger Junior Chamber members.

The Senate story took a significant turn in New York City in January 1952 at a meeting between Phil Pugsley and JCI representative to the United Nations, Sid Boxer.

During their conversation, the two explored important questions about the nature of the organisation.Why were past members allowed to drift away from the movement when many would like to preserve some lifelong link to Junior Chamber?

Why were local members spending thousands of dollars annually giving gifts to those they wished to honour when the same funds, spent on Junior Chamber International, could work for a cause in which they all believed?

Why had an idea like Junior Chamber (then in its fourth decade) taken so long to gather enthusiasts around the world?

Upon considering these questions, Phil Pugsley and Sid Boxer conceived of the idea of a group of distinguished and honoured members, who would, in effect, help to spread the Junior Chamber concept worldwide.The JCI Senate was thus born.

On Thursday 11 September, 1952 at the then Federal Hotel in Collins Street, Melbourne, JCI President Philip Pugsley (the "father" of the Senate) invited a number of Jaycee office-bearers to an informal breakfast.

His purpose was to discuss the formation and extension of the JCI Senate.The formation of the Senate had been formally approved earlier by a mail vote.

Among those present were such leaders from the US as Douglas Hoge, "Hunk" Henderson, Harry Brawner, Mark Marlowe. From the Philippines came Roberto Villaneuva, Don Aylett from the UK, J.S.Lee from Hong Kong, Gordon Kear and G.H. Sorenson from New Zealand. Some Australians present were Ray Lawson, Harold Berg, Alan Lovell, Eric Isaachsen, Jim Cooper, Karl Robertson and Geoff King and Ivan Sparks from Canada.

In Philip Pugsley's first formal report - given at the 8th World Congress the following year in San Francisco(20/27 June, 1953) he said:-

"It does not seem unreasonable to expect that before long - if an adequate follow-through is instituted - an average of one Senator per annum per local Chapter could be achieved, either through sponsorship by the local chapter itself, or through the interest of a local Jaycee or Jaycee graduate of that community".

Little did he realise what a happy under-statement he'd made!

The idea was presented to the 1952 JCI World Congress in Melbourne, Australia, where it was approved and incorporated into theJCI By-laws as a category of membership.Since then, over 60,000 members of JCI in more than 100 countries, have been so honoured.