This year, ASPB is 90 years old.
Over the past nine decades, we have changed in many ways to ensure that our Society remains relevant to and serves the needs of the membership. For example, we created a professional support staff; we installed an Executive Director; we grew the governance structure from five officers to an executive committee of 22 members; we launched The Plant Cell (25 years ago!); we changed our name; we’ve run lab leadership workshops; ASPB members work with and help educate elected policy makers on your behalf; and recently we’ve embraced a new subdisciplinary section.
Those changes are continuing and, indeed, accelerating as the ways in which plant biologists carry out and communicate their research rapidly evolve. We are providing new services for members and entering into a relationship with you that requires quick response times. With an increased speed and more to offer, it is also important that ASPB’s governance is able to plan well into the future while still managing the day-to-day logistics of the present.
Toward this end, the Executive Committee, ASPB’s current deliberating and voting body, has recommended a change in the governance structure. The Executive Committee is scheduled to vote soon on the specific proposed changes to the Society’s governance documents that would be necessary to implement this new structure. If the proposed changes to the Constitution are approved by the Executive Committee, they will be put to the membership for a vote in the spring and enacted if approved by you.
Well in advance of that vote, we’d like to take a moment to explain what the Executive Committee is recommending and how it reached this decision. What is proposed is a governance structure with two collaborative bodies. There would be a large and diverse deliberating body called the Council that would be dedicated to providing vision, context, and continuity for the Society without the burden of operational logistics, such as approving budgets and new initiatives.
The second body will be a smaller Board of Directors (BoD) that meets much more frequently to deal with issues and needs as they emerge. This seven-member body will also be representative, in that it will be comprised of your officers and elected representatives – the individuals you select to serve in these capacities. We refer to this as a collaborative structure because BoD members will also serve on the Council so they will be intimately familiar with the vision of the Council and therefore well equipped to implement its plans.
Another important change involves representation. Because ASPB membership is genuinely and increasingly international in scope and reach, the Executive Committee feels that the BoD should have at least one representative from outside the US.
As to how the Executive Committee developed this proposal, an ad hoc committee comprised of a diverse group of ASPB members studied the problem and proposed a governance redesign that will provide the flexibility that governance now needs while maximizing the breadth of ideas and member representation. The idea was vetted by several of ASPB’s past leaders before being presented to the Executive Committee, which made additional refinements that further improved the initial concept.
For additional information regarding the rationale behind and timeline for these proposed changes, please download the “Proposed Restructuring of ASPB Governance” document (.pdf format).
Clearly, there is much to think about, so to provide you with the time and opportunity to discuss these changes and to make suggestions aimed at improving this new governance design we invite you to offer your comments and questions below. We look forward to hearing from you and to considering your suggestions and input.
Julian Schroeder, President
Richard Dixon, President Elect
Alan Jones, Immediate Past President
Peggy Lemaux, 2012-2013 President
Crispin Taylor, Executive Director