Chair of the House Report

Larry Wickstrom, Chair 2013-14, House of Delegates
Larry Wickstrom, Chair 2013-14, House of Delegates

By all accounts, the Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston in April was a huge success! There were 9,385 total attendees – the largest since 1990 (Houston), a great technical program, a fantastic exhibition hall and pretty darn nice weather! The annual meeting of the House of Delegates (HoD) on April 6 also was a big success. We had 207 delegates present (out of a total of 226) and moved through a packed agenda, including a rather contentious issue that will start a new course for AAPG. We also introduced some modernization issues for the HoD to position us for proper use of technology as we move forward.

As all are aware by now, this year the HoD entertained a motion to amend the AAPG Bylaws eliminating the sponsorship requirement for full membership in the Association. This proposed amendment came to the HoD via the Advisory Council and the Executive Committee (EC). Prior to the annual meeting there was much debate of the issue among the membership at many levels. Some of the pre-meeting debate became fairly heated, and in some cases personal, with accusations of conspiracies and blatant misrepresentation of the facts. This behavior is uncalled for in a professional association. We do not need to emulate the dirty politics of Washington, D.C., or any other group.

From the very start of my chairmanship I made it clear to all that I and the rest of the HoD leadership are committed to a totally open/transparent administration of the House and following of Roberts Rule of Order to the letter. The end result in this instance is a compromise position: Full AAPG membership will now require only one sponsor – which I think is the best outcome for our great Association. I wanted to give everyone time to air their opinions during the floor debate, rather than limiting the overall time. As a result, the meeting time was extended well past noon for the first time in several years, but most seem to agree it was the proper course. The process works and I hope we all will remember this in the future.

The House worked through a few other actions during the meeting in Houston. The Resolutions Committee brought forward requests for affiliated society status for the Geological Society of Brunei Darussalam and the Sociedad Colombiana de Geologia (Colombian Geological Society). Both societies were voted in as affiliates and we all extend them a warm welcome to AAPG!

Some housekeeping changes to the HoD Rules and Procedures were brought forward and easily voted in place:

  1. Where the term “Active member” was used the word “Active” has now been dropped because that category of membership no longer exists.
  2. The deadline when the affiliated societies and Regions must report the names of their elected delegates, alternates and unsuccessful candidates for the coming year was changed to June 30 from April 1.

This year our new firm, A Great Meeting Inc., assisted with parliamentarian procedures before and during the annual meeting. Colette Collier Trohan worked with us to create a new scripting procedure to walk through the HoD meeting following Roberts Rule of Order. She did a marvelous job working alongside your officers and staff to understand our traditions and guiding us through a fairly complicated process. I think the work we’ve done this year will position us well for years to come.

Also this year the HoD officers and chairs discussed a number of changes as to how the HoD conducts its business. We have developed the following list of items to work through in the coming year.

  1. I think many of us now agree that the agenda of the HoD meetings has become a bit too massive. Many think the agenda should be re-arranged to allow more time for HoD business. This became very apparent at this year’s meeting.
  2. We can make better use of our time during the meetings if we employ an electronic Audience Response System (ARS) to record our votes. This system will provide instantaneous results and can even be used to better control the order of speakers during floor debates.
  3. We may want to investigate setting up procedures and technology to allow for electronic voting during the year. Such procedures and technology could allow us to vote on minor issues (such as Rules and Procedures housekeeping changes) during the year rather than taking additional floor time.
  4. Finally, the HoD should investigate the issues, technology and cost of setting up the means to allow for limited remote attendance and voting at our annual meetings.
House of Delegates reception at the House of Blues, Houston.
House of Delegates reception at the House of Blues, Houston.

For the Houston HoD reception, I wanted to get away from the usual hotel ballroom scene, and so we held the reception on Saturday evening at the Houston House of Blues – and even had musical entertainment. Most everyone I have talked to thoroughly enjoyed the venue, food, music and camaraderie at the event. And, for those wondering, there was no real cost difference. I hope we’ll get out of the ballrooms more in the future.

Finally, I want to thank all those serving on the HoD committees and congratulate all the HoD committee chairs for a job well done. What a GREAT bunch of officers and chairs we had this year! David Dolph has been a pure pleasure to work with as chair-elect, and I know he will do a great job for us this coming year!

Lastly, it has been a gigantic honor to serve in the HoD and as HoD chair. I have made many great friends here and learned a lot. This will be my last year as a delegate. I will not run for re-election as a delegate, but instead I will step aside and let someone else (I hope younger) have this great experience. Thank you ALL!

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