New AAS Articles of Incorporation & Bylaws Approved!
Kevin Marvel, American Astronomical Society (AAS)
The polls have closed, and the American Astronomical Society has new Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws! The changes approved by our membership will help our volunteer leaders guide the Society more efficiently and effectively and will enable the AAS to better serve our members and our profession.
Voting officially ended at midnight on 31 July. By an overwhelming majority, AAS members voted to accept the Council's recommendation to adopt the new governance documents. A remarkable 90% of those casting ballots approved the governance changes, with only 5% voting against and 5% abstaining. Of the nearly 6,500 members eligible to vote, 16% did so, and on behalf of the Society's leadership, I thank you! This turnout is one of the Society's highest in recent history and is consistent with voting participation for professional associations generally.
The vote capped a multi-year process that began at the IAU General Assembly in Hawaii in 2015. The AAS Council completed a detailed strategic-planning exercise there, and one of the highest-priority items was to establish a Governance Task Force to review our leadership structure and, if warranted, suggest changes. A dedicated group was assembled and led by former AAS President David Helfand. Multiple meetings over a full year led to a detailed Governance Task Force Report (available as a PDF), which the AAS Council adopted at its January 2017 meeting. The next step was to work with our legal counsel to craft new Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, get input from the membership, and put the final versions of each up for a vote.
The next step in the process is to review current Council policies and procedures and to adopt new ones for the smaller Board of Trustees, which will meet more often. In early October, the first meeting of the Strategic Assembly will be held. This group, composed of the the Board of Trustees and representatives from each Division and several Committees, will review the status of the current strategic plan, assess current projects and programs, and advise the Board on the timing for the next strategic-planning process.
On behalf of David Helfand, AAS Past President Meg Urry, and current AAS President Christine Jones, I want to thank the Governance Task Force members for their hard work and engagement during this lengthy process and, again, to thank our members for overwhelmingly approving the proposed changes. I look forward to the future knowing that our Society is now equipped to perform even better than it is already.