Letter to the Delegates from the Treasurer
Dear Fellow Delegates,
At key moments in AAPG's 89-year history it has taken courage for members of the HoD to stand up and vote against leadership-sponsored bylaw amendments. It took just that kind of courage in 1994, after a different Executive Committee and HoD leadership unanimously proposed a similar bylaws amendment for an "international vice president" seat on the Executive Committee. Despite all the advocacy for its passage from the president and the HoD chairman at that time in 1994, the HoD members chose to send it back to committee. I believed that the proposal was not a good idea then, as this similar bylaw amendment is not a good idea now. At that key moment in history, those House members courageously answered a higher calling; to act in the best interest of all the membership.
Why we must reject this amendment:
For over 89 years, our AAPG Executive Committee has been structurally free of special interest group representation, and the decisions of over 89 Executive Committees have been made by men and women who have tried to put the collective good of all members first. Let's be clear on one fundamental fact -- none of our founding fathers ever saw a need for geographical division of the Executive Committee, neither in 1917, nor even in 1970. Rather, they must have believed as many of my colleagues and I do, that AAPG is much like a "big tent," with various groups working together for the benefit of each other, and often supporting each others initiatives with an honorable expectation that they might also support each other again, when other projects were proposed in the future.
Thus, this 89-year-old Executive Committee organizational structure and its supporters are not inadequate, exclusive, nor colonialist or isolationist, as some have implied. It is appropriately free of quotas, regional biases, cultural pandering and special interest designations and divisions. It has worked pretty well for over 89 years, with many positive initiatives enacted for both the international and domestic members. I have little doubt that most reasonable and well-prepared proposals that come before future ECs will be met with approval by those ECs.
So, why are we being asked to alter the guiding premise of "all for one and one for all" in representation on the Executive Committee? Why are we asked to embrace a future of geographical division and special interest group "voice" on the EC?
Please be clear, the proposed intent of the amendment and its language changes the composition and representation of the Executive Committee (EC) by eliminating the existing one-year, all-member vice president position, and establishing two new two-year, special region and section vice president positions, designated as VP-Regions and VP-Sections.
Under this proposal, you will have the Region VP representing about 3,600 active members, and the Section VP representing about 12,700 active members, which is a widely disproportional representation and "voice" for each. If you think this kind of division makes sense, then shouldn't you now go so far as to argue that if 3,600 active members outside the U.S. and Canada need their own seat on the EC, then what about the 3,600+ Active members in the Houston area alone? Do Houstonians deserve a permanent "voice" on the EC, especially in years when no one on the EC resides there? Of course not, nor should there be any special VPs designated for geographically-based Regions or Sections, either.
Nowadays, there are always multiple champions ("voices") on the EC for international projects. For instance, last month's unanimous EC vote to open a small London office was championed by multiple EC members, even though none of them physically lived outside the U.S. To characterize most all of the past EC members residing in the U.S. as not well-suited to effectively represent international members is disingenuous at best. Similarly again months earlier, multiple EC members championed the proposal to hire a full-time paid managementlevel staff person in Tulsa HQ specifically to work proactively on the needs of the Regions and Sections. This was yet another example of international "voice" already on the EC, without having this new VP-Regions. Thus, having internally watched the EC work together for these past two years, I believe that we don't need to add a Region VP and Section VP on the EC. Whatever functional role those new VPs might perform on a daily basis will likely be better addressed by this full-time, dedicated Region-Section manager.
It is now time for every House member to come to a decision as to whether we will choose to take this major step of "Balkanizing" our 89-year-old Executive Committee, or continue to embrace our 89-year-old "all-for-one, one for all" spirit of EC governance. I simply ask that you ask yourself if this bylaw amendment: 1) Is really in the best interest of our members, or 2) Will truly result in many new international members joining AAPG. I trust you'll come to the same conclusion that I did: 1) That geographical division on the EC will damage its longstanding "all for one and one for all" governance, and 2) It won't attract many, if any, new international members.
The real issue before this or any EC in the future will always be the fair and effective delivery of programs and services to ALL our members. Membership is, at best, not growing, both internationally AND in the U.S., and so we really need to be spending our time on designing more valuable and effective programs, products and services to meet the needs of the world's geoscientists. In the end, that is how we can best reverse this trend, rather than investing so much faith that this and future bylaws amendments will turn the trend around. Although we can't be ALL things to everyone in the world, we can provide great programs and services to most, and thus easily continue to be the world's premier petroleum geological association, and do it without this bylaw amendment.
Thank you again for your consideration of voting against the proposed VP bylaw amendment. You can read a more indepth discussion of the proposed bylaw amendment, as well as the "International VP" amendment proposed in 1994 for comparison, at the HoD discussion forum in the House of Delegates area of www.aapg.org.