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May president chair all of the society’s committees?

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May president chair all of the society’s committees?

I'm on the board of a cultural society, and there is currently disagreement about the committee chairmanships.  The president is the chair of pretty much all the important committees, including the nominating committee, through which he nominates his friends to the board. The bylaws provide specifically that “the president shall, by and with the approval of the board of directors and in consultation with the appropriate vice president, appoint the chairs of all committees, of which the president shall be an ex-officio member.” Is this worth fighting over, or is the president right that he could be the chair of all of the committees?

From the provision you quote, it appears as though the president could appoint himself as chair of all of the committees so long as the board goes along with it.  It certainly isn’t a “best practice,” but association governance is only as good as the people who are responsible for it.  The bylaws apparently don’t put any limit on the number of committees the president may chair.  If the board thinks it is fine for him to have so many positions, he can do it.

You don’t say how the president is selected and you may have some ability to change the person currently in office.  But since you are a membership society, you would normally have the power to remove directors or simply vote out incumbents at the next election.  That will obviously take some effort on your part and on the part of others sympathetic with your position.

But in a democratic organization, we tend to get the governance we deserve.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

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