AHA Activities

Council Proposes Amendment to AHA Constitution

AHA Staff, December 1994

At its May 1993 meeting, the governing Council of the Association unanimously approved a proposal to amend the 1974 constitution of the AHA. Under the provisions of Article X, amendments to the AHA Constitution may be proposed by the Council, a petition to the Council by 100 or more members in good standing, or a resolution proposed and approved at the annual business meeting. These amendments must then be publicized in an AHA publication and submitted to the next annual business meeting for an advisory vote. Thereafter, the amendment will be submitted to the membership accompanied by a summary statement of the pro and con arguments for approval or rejection by mail ballot.

The proposed amendments, the first since the constitution was adopted, would provide a constitutional basis for the position of deputy executive director of the Association. Such a step was proposed to the Council in 1983 by the executive director, but the Council at that time directed that the title of the position be changed from assistant executive director to deputy executive director without incurring the expense and the labor of a formal amendment to the constitution.

The proposed amendments, adopted by the Council for submission to the Chicago business meeting on January 7 and for referral to the membership thereafter, are (proposed changes in boldface type):

Amend Article IV, Section 1, to read: "The elected officers shall be the president, the president-elect, and three vice presidents. The appointed officers shall be the executive director, the deputy executive director, the editor of the AHR and the controller."

Amend Article IV, Section 6, by inserting a paragraph: "The executive director shall be the chief administrative officer of the Association. It shall be his or her duty, under the direction of the Council, to oversee the affairs of the Association, to have responsibility for the continuing operations of the Association, to supervise the work of its committees, to assist in the formulation of policies and projects for submission to the Council, to execute instructions of the Council, and to perform such other duties as the Council may direct.

"The Council may appoint a deputy executive director who shall serve under the provisions of Article IV, Section 7 [which limits an individual term of appointment to a maximum duration of five years], as deputy and principal assistant to the executive director in the conduct of the continuing operations of the Association. The deputy executive director shall assist in the supervision of its committees and support the divisions and the Council."

Amend Article V, Section 1(d): "There shall be a Council, constituted as follows: ... (d) The executive director and deputy executive director, serving as nonvoting members."

The Association has at present only three constitutionally mandated staff positions: executive director, editor of the AHR, and controller. All other staff positions are ad hoc creations established as need arises and as the workload varies.

The arguments in favor of establishing a constitutionally mandated deputy executive directorship are to increase the deputy executive director's authority within the Association and vis-à-vis other organizations, to increase the elected Council's and the elected divisions' oversight of the position, and to recognize the comparability of the deputy executive director's role and functions with those of the other statutorily appointed officers.

The arguments against amending the constitution in this fashion are the burdensome procedures for amending the hitherto pristine constitution for small gains, the precedent created for other perhaps less meritorious amendment proposals, and the cost of a separate mail ballot of some $4,700.

To reduce sharply the cost of a special mail consultation with members, the Council intends, if the January business meeting advises proceeding with the amendment process, to include the proposed amendments and arguments pro and con with the regular 1995 September–October election ballot to members, as was done several years ago with the issue of the change of date of the annual meeting from December to January.

If the amendments are approved by the members' ballots, the Council will make necessary changes to the present bylaws of the Association to make them conform to the amendments.