Responsibilities

Responsibilities of Section Officers, as described in the AAAS Governance Manual.

Responsibilities of Section Secretary
The work of each AAAS section is accomplished by a Section Committee headed by a Section Secretary who serves as an administrative officer of the Association. The Section Secretary is appointed by the Steering Group of the Section Committee for a four-year term. There is no restriction on the number of terms a Secretary may serve.

Section Secretaries are a vital link to their disciplinary areas through their sections and to the affiliated organizations which participate in AAAS activities, through representation on AAAS Section Committees.

Section Secretaries help coordinate the section’s input on experts in their field, collects input and provides responses on behalf of the section, and oversees section participation in Annual Meeting sessions.

A long-standing responsibility of a Section Secretary is to help recruit sectional contributions to the Annual Meeting of the Association. In program planning, close coordination with the AAAS Meetings Department is essential and attendance at the program planning session at the Annual Meeting is encouraged. From the first consideration of themes or concepts through the completion of the program, the Association benefits from the Sections’ knowledge of the cutting edge of their disciplines, the best-qualified spokespersons, and the state of the art in areas of current concern.

Other duties of a Section Secretary include:

  • Responsibility for the AAAS Fellow nomination and review process carried out by the Steering Group of the Section Committee (coordinated by the Executive Office).
  • Arrangement of a business meeting of the section during the Annual Meeting (through the Meetings Office).
  • With the Meetings Office, coordination of the Section Committee review of session proposals and sponsored symposia for the Annual Meeting, which may include sessions developed by the section and other sessions of significant disciplinary interest to the section’s members.
  • Coordination of speaker support for sessions of interest to the section.
  • Oversight of the section budget.

The preceding responsibilities are the fundamentals of the Section Secretary’s role. In addition, the Secretary should consult and work closely with the Retiring Chair, Chair, and Chair-Elect, and involve them in the work of the section. Communication with representatives of affiliated organizations, to solicit their suggestions and participation, is highly desirable in order to make affiliation meaningful. The editor of Science is receptive to suggestions from the section officers for topical articles and outstanding authors. In short, the Section Secretaries should understand that they have a strong role in the affairs of the Association.

The Section Secretaries do not receive salaries, but they do control their section’s budget provided by AAAS for the purposes of:

  1. defraying the expenses of young scientists and speakers who could not otherwise participate in the section’s sponsored symposia at the Annual Meeting;
  2. providing refreshments and audiovisual equipment at the annual section business meeting; and
  3. offsetting section costs for telephone, postage, photocopying, and other general office expenses.

The amount budgeted for each section is determined by the Office of Finance and Administration. Arrangements for allocating these funds and requests for reimbursement should be made through the Executive Office. It is mandatory that Section Secretaries request reimbursement of expenses in the same year in which the expenses occurred. Unused funds in the amount of one year’s allotment may be carried over to the following year’s budget.

AAAS will send each Secretary a regular accounting of their section budget. In turn, the Secretary is responsible for keeping his or her section officers apprised of the status of the budget. The Secretary is also responsible for maintaining expenditure records.

Expenses incurred for section officers’ travel to the Annual Meeting do not come out of the section budget. (Section officers are current secretaries, retiring chairs, chairs and chairs-elect.)
Expenses incurred by the Secretary in attending the Annual Meeting are reimbursed by the Association as follows: round-trip, non-refundable economy coach class airfare (or rail fare), purchased at least 14 days in advance; ground transportation from home to airport (or train station), from airport (or train station) to hotel, and return; single standard room/tax rate for up to four (4) nights in a hotel at the AAAS negotiated rate; and reimbursement for meals for up to four days, at the GSA-approved per diem rate for the city in which the Annual Meeting is taking place.

Responsibilities of the Section Chair-Elect, Chair and Retiring Chair
The Section Chair serves a three-year term — the first year as Chair-Elect, the second year as Chair, and the third year as Retiring Chair. During all three years, he or she serves as a member of the Section Committee of his or her section and of the Section Committee’s Steering Group. Attendance at both the section business meeting, as well as the section officers’ meeting (both taking place during the course of the Annual Meeting), is expected during all three years.

The Chair-Elect, in addition to attending the Section Committee’s business meeting, is expected to attend the planning session, held near the end of the Annual Meeting, for the following year’s Annual Meeting.

The Chair presides at the Section Committee’s business meeting held at the Annual Meeting, attends the Annual Meeting planning session, chairs the Steering Group, and, in the event of a vacancy on the Electorate Nominating Committee, appoints a replacement.

The Retiring Chair serves as a member of the AAAS Council, representing the Section Committee, and is expected to attend the Council meeting. If the Retiring Chair is unable to attend, he or she is requested to inform the Executive Office so that a substitute can be appointed.

The Retiring Chair also serves as an ex officio member and as chair of the corresponding Electorate Nominating Committee (ENC). As ENC Chair, he or she is responsible for guiding the ENC in identifying and selecting candidates for the Chair-Elect, Member-at-Large, Electorate Nominating Committee and Council Delegate positions for the AAAS annual election.

Those are the minimal responsibilities, but the opportunities are open-ended. The Chair-Elect, Chair, and Retiring Chair should take active roles in cooperation with the Section Secretary in (a) identifying opportunities for the active involvement of affiliated organizations in the affairs of the section, including lively symposia at Annual Meetings; (b) identifying broad issues in science of interest to the section and to the association overall; and (c) commenting to the Chief Executive Officer, the Board Chair, or the Chair of the Committee on Council Affairs on the operations and priorities of the Association, including worthwhile new initiatives deserving consideration in future planning.

Expenses incurred by the current Chair-Elect, Chair, and Retiring Chair in attending the Annual Meeting are reimbursed by the Association as follows: round-trip, non-refundable economy coach class airfare (or rail fare), purchased at least 14 days in advance; ground transportation from home to airport (or train station), from airport (or train station) to hotel, and return; single standard room/tax rate for up to four (4) nights in a hotel at the AAAS negotiated rate (for participants living farther than 25 miles from the meeting site); and reimbursement for meals for up to four days, at the GSA-approved per diem rate for the city in which the Annual Meeting is taking place.

Responsibilities of Members-at-Large
Each Section Committee has four Members-at-Large who serve four-year terms. Their minimal responsibilities are to serve as members of the Section Committee and of the Section Committee’s Steering Group.

However, it is hoped that the Members-at-Large will do more. They should actively assess the performance of the section as a whole and its role in the Association, with a view to finding ways to involve a reasonable percentage of the section’s members in useful, professional interaction. They can urge the section officers to establish working panels on interdisciplinary subjects from time to time. They can be helpful to the Chief Executive Officer by suggesting approaches to increasing the membership of the Association and can assemble nominations of prospective members in the field covered by the section. In general, they can make their term of service count.

With regard to attendance at AAAS Annual Meetings, Members-at-Large are encouraged to seek funding from their own institutions. Unfortunately, AAAS cannot cover their travel expenses. However, AAAS does offer the Members-at-Large deeply discounted rates on registration. Information for how to register at these rates will be sent to the Members-at-Large a few months ahead of the Annual Meeting. If in attendance, Members-at-Large are strongly encouraged to attend their section’s business meeting.

Responsibilities of Council Delegates
Council delegates serve three-year terms; they may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. In addition to serving as members of the Council, the policy-making body of the Association, delegates from the Electorates serve as members of the Section Committee of the Section corresponding to their Electorate. Council delegates are also eligible for election by the Council to the Committee on Council Affairs, the steering committee of the Council.

The Council meets once a year, at the time and place of the Association’s Annual Meeting. If the Council Delegate is unable to attend, he or she is requested to inform the Executive Office so that a substitute can be appointed. Agenda and related materials are emailed by the Executive Office in advance of the meeting. During intervals between meetings, the Council is asked to participate in reviewing and electing AAAS Fellows; electing CCA members; and other urgent matters of Council business.

The following expenses incurred in attending the Council meeting are reimbursed by the Association: round-trip, non-refundable economy coach class airfare (or rail fare), purchased at least 14 days in advance; ground transportation from home to airport (or train station), from airport (or train station) to hotel, and return; single standard room/tax rate for up to four (4) nights in a hotel at the AAAS negotiated rate (for participants living farther than 25 miles from the meeting site); and reimbursement for meals for up to four days, at the GSA-approved per diem rate for the city in which the Annual Meeting is taking place. Specific information regarding reimbursable expenses will be sent to Council delegates prior to the Annual Meeting.

Section Committees hold business meetings during the AAAS Annual Meeting; information is sent to Council delegates in advance. Attendance at the section business meeting is expected.
The powers and responsibilities of the AAAS Council include the following:

  • Review all programs of the Association, including meetings and publications, and propose actions to the Board of Directors.
  • Appoint and supervise committees and commissions to aid the Council in the discharge of its responsibilities and terminate such committees and commissions as appropriate.
  • Provide for the organization of the Association into Sections.
  • Provide for the apportionment of the Association into Electorates.
  • Authorize the establishment of regional and local organizations of the Association and approve the bylaws and amendments thereto.
  • Establish the criteria for affiliation and elect organizations as affiliates of the Association.
  • Elect Fellows from among the members of the Association
  • Propose to the members of the Association the recall of elective members of the Board of Directors.
  • Adopt resolutions and statements on matters affecting the Association.
  • Propose amendments to the Constitution and amend the Bylaws.

Responsibilities of the Electorate Nominating Committee
Each Electorate has an Electorate Nominating Committee (ENC) consisting of six elected members who serve three-year, nonconsecutive terms. The Retiring Chair of the corresponding Section serves as an ex officio member and as chair of the Committee. The Committee annually selects slates of candidates for the following positions:

  • Section Chair-Elect,
  • Member-at-Large of the Section Committee, and
  • Members of the Electorate Nominating Committee.

Every third year the Committee also selects a slate of candidates for the position(s) of Council Delegate(s) of the Electorate.

The Committee’s work is carried out by mail, e-mail, fax, and telephone, at the initiation of the Executive Office, beginning immediately after the new ENC members’ election to office.