AAPG’s Organizational Structure-Where Did It Originate?
The way in which our Association is organized and governed is an interesting topic (especially to Delegates). It has been the topic of AAPG Presidential speeches at ACE meetings and the focus of questions, commonly from younger AAPG members.
If you have ever wondered about the AAPG’s organizational structure you might be interested in the following discussion.
Edd R. Turner, AAPG Past President (1977-78), was officially designated as AAPG’s historian and wrote a series of articles about AAPG history in the late 1960’s through the 1980’s. I have often tapped into his review of the Association’s history for information and clarity.
In the 1960’s, Edd tells us, several local affiliated geological societies began expressing frustration with the AAPG system of governance. Basically, the business of AAPG was run by the Executive Director, the EC and a formal “Business Committee” which met only once a year at the annual convention (now termed ACE). The frustration was described as “no influence, no authority” and a stronger voice for local societies was advocated as a solution. Could this have been an early “Tea Party” movement?
In 1964, the Association established a committee chaired by George V. Cohee. This committee was charged to create a new constitution and organizational plan. That committee was superseded the next year by a new committee headed by W.P. Moran. An administrative challenge at that time was the fact AAPG operated on a calendar year based budget, while the elected officers served from convention to convention. Hence, the Executive Committee handed off its new budget to an incoming EC and departed a few months after the new budget was adopted. A vote of the membership led to adoption of a fiscal year with coinciding office terms for elected officials.
To facilitate that change, the 1966-67 EC, led by President Mike Halbouty, agreed to serve an additional increment of 3 months until the new EC took over. Meanwhile, W.P. Moran’s committee continued to work but was replaced in late 1968 by a “president’s committee” composed of Halbouty, Frank Counselman and Ben Carsey. They were charged with creating a reorganization plan for consideration at the 1969 meeting of the Business Committee.
Now there must have been some interesting meetings I’m sure: Mike Halbouty leading reorganization! And you think recent House of Delegates meetings have been testy?
After a membership vote a schedule was established to implement the proposed changes by July 1, 1970. A “Constitution Review Committee” chaired by August Goldstein finalized a document and presented it to the Business Committee in June 1970.
Edd advises in his writings: “Having served on the AAPG Business Committee, the author can vouch that the Business Committee’s finest service was probably that of voting itself out of existence”. I’m sure there’s a message there!
The newly adopted organizational plan and constitution and bylaws documents established AAPG governance as we know it:
- Creating a “powerful” House of Delegates with final authority on most business with the exception of constitutional amendments
- Specifying that delegates to the House to be elected by local societies on a pro-rata scale based on the total number of AAPG “Active” Members in the local society area
- Creating the office of President-elect
- Dividing the office of Secretary-Treasurer into two positions
- Placing the elected Chair of the House of Delegates on the Executive Committee
- Creating a new body called the “Advisory Council” chaired by the immediate past-AAPG President
- Creating the rules under which the EC, AC and House relate to each other
Note that this all occurred before the creation of the International Regions. The International Regions were created at the very end of the 1990’s under the leadership of Pinar Yilmaz, chair of the “International Liaison Committee”.
So there is the basic story.
The organizational structure grew out of the concern about representation of local societies. Interestingly, the Advisory Council was given the key responsibilities of nominating candidates for office, determining honors and awards, and dealing with matters such as constitutional review, long-range planning and ethics. I can only conclude those must be the issues that caused discontent in the 1960’s?
Edd has an interesting summary in one of his writings: “All (Advisory) Council recommendations are submitted to the Executive Committee which may accept, reject or refer proposals to the House of Delegates for further action”. Was the Advisory Council intended to play a more pro-active role than it perhaps has in recent years?
Do we as Delegates recognize we have specific duties listed in Article IV, Section 5 of the Bylaws including to “actively solicit applications from eligible geologists for membership in this Association”? Are we governing AAPG in the manner these pioneering leaders intended?
In his address to ACE while in office, AAPG Past President John Lorenz used an interesting and perhaps revealing graphic of AAPG’s organizational structure and the complex web of interactions.
Is the AAPG organizational scheme effective or overly complex for a scientific association? Are the Members of the Association appropriately represented? Your current Advisory Council is examining this topic.