November 7, 2011
Dear AIBS member:
The Board of Directors of the American Institute of Biological Sciences invites all individual members to cast a vote on a proposed set of changes to the AIBS Constitution. Polls will be open from November 7th through 18th, 2011.
These changes are the result of a carefully researched and strategically developed set of recommendations. They emerged from a long process during which the Board studied and considered the needs and values of our members, our organizational role, and how we might achieve success in fulfilling that role.
The Board carefully weighed the potential benefits and implications of each change, and how those changes would help achieve our Institute’s goals. Input was then sought from our organizational and individual members in an open forum. The final version, presented now for your vote, incorporates suggestions made in the open comment period and finalized by the Board at a meeting on October 24th.
We are confident that these changes are necessary to help strengthen AIBS by making a substantive change in our ability to achieve the mission for which we were formed. Here is a summary of what these changes entail:
What are the goals of these changes?
Specifically the intent of the changes is to:
The changes affect the AIBS Board of Directors by:
(To read the materials from the open comment period, including the letter to the membership from AIBS President James Collins that fully explains the rationale for these changes, click here.)
What kind of feedback did AIBS receive about the proposed changes from our membership?
An open comment period took place for three weeks in September. During this period, representatives from AIBS member societies and individual AIBS members were invited to review and discuss the proposed changes or to send comments directly to the Board through an online feedback form.
All together, twenty-six comments were received online via our Web form. The form asked for comments about the perceived impact of the changes, whether positive, negative, or neutral. Nineteen of the twenty-six respondents believed that these changes would have a positive impact on the Institute, four indicated a neutral perception, one negative, and two selected an “other” option.
These comments included two from AIBS Past Presidents, both of whom affirmed that the proposed changes would strengthen AIBS.
While comments were overwhelmingly positive, constructive feedback raised points for discussion by the Board. These included: a desire to see term limits for President/ Vice President, concern about a range in number of Board-appointed officer seats (i.e., using a range instead of set number may lead to future acrimony), concern about the added cost of expanding the Board (and thus increasing cost of Board meetings/activities) in difficult economic times, ensuring that new members are included in future leadership, concern about reduced seats from individual membership, and dilution of the current disciplinary core constituency (i.e., ecology, evolution) that will occur by broadening Board representation.
The Board met on October 24, 2011 to discuss the matters raised in the open comment period and review the proposed text changes to the Constitution and Bylaws in light of this feedback. Additional changes were made; most significantly, adding a term limit to the President and Vice-Presidential offices. To see an annotated PDF of the additional changes, click to download here. A motion was then made asking the Board of Directors to present the revised Constitution and Bylaws to the individual membership for a vote. The motion passed, unanimously.
What is next?
The Board now asks that you, the individual members of AIBS, vote on the final proposal, which if passed by a majority of the individual membership will put the changes to the Constitution approved by the Board into effect.
To view the final version of the Constitution on which you are voting, click here.
James P. Collins
President, AIBS, on behalf of the AIBS Board of Directors and Long Range Planning Committee