Changes to AAS Governance

The American Astronomical Society is about to change its governance structure for the first time in 50 years in response to a task force report on the topic. Here is the task force chair’s description of the process, and here are the executive officer’s thoughts.

Here is a summary of the changes (from the executive summary):

To improve responsiveness and assure timely action on important matters, and to move toward a model consistent with best practice, we replace the AAS Council with a Board of eleven members that meets monthly. To assure effective communication between this Board and the entities in which our members work to advance the interests of the Society and our profession — our Committees and Divisions — we provide a Board liaison for each. Most importantly, each Committee and Division Chair is scheduled to attend from two to four Board meetings per year in which their issues are pre-ordained agenda items.

To enhance inclusivity in the governance of the Society, Committee members and chairs will no longer be appointed by the Board (nee’ Council); members will be derived from volunteers and selected by the existing committees, and the committee members will, in most cases, elect their own Chairs.

To further involve a broader community in setting the strategic directions of the Society, the AAS Council will be reconstituted as a body — the Strategic Assembly — including the Board and the Committee Chairs of the eleven Standing Committees as well as Division representation. The Assembly will meet twice a year at the Society’s scientific meetings 1) to foster collaboration among committees and with the Board, 2) to improve communication, and 3) to guide the strategic thinking of the Society.

The many changes, large and small, outlined in the attached document have been carefully designed to promote inclusivity, foster communication, embrace creativity, and maximize transparency — in short, to enhance the functioning of the Society so that it will be the welcoming and natural home for the many people who, in a variety of different capacities throughout their careers, work to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the Universe.

Full details in the task force report.

The AAS would like feedback from its members specific to the drafting of the bylaws to be sent to the task force chair, David Helfand, and general comments can be emailed to AAS President Christine Jones.

Comments can also be sent anonymously here.  Comments will be appreciated before May 12.

There will be a town hall about these governance changes on 7 June at 12:45pm at the summer AAS meeting

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