At the August 2019 American Society of Plant Biologists Council meeting it was suggested that an ad hoc committee should research and develop improvements to our nominating and ballot process of candidates for President and Secretary of ASPB as well as the elected member of Council. In consultation with President Judy Callis, this committee was formed in the fall of 2019 by Rob Last (MSU, Past President and Council Chair) and included: Laura Wayne (Corteva Agriscience, Board of Directors [BoD] Representative), Stephanie Klein (Penn State, Early Career Representative), Marta Laskowski (Oberlin College, Primarily Undergraduate Institution Section [PUI] Representative), Klaas van Wijk (Cornell), and Neelima Sinha (UC Davis). They first reviewed the nomination and ballot process outlined in the ASPB Constitution and ByLaws, shared thoughts about the 2019 ballot and discussed some of the major issues that were brought up after voting was opened (see ‘Why Change the ASPB Nomination Process?’ discussion).
Committee members next collected information on how other societies solicit nominations for their annual ballots. Societies investigated included: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Genetics Society of American, Ecological Society of America, Botany Society of America, International Plant Growth Substances Association, Maize Genetics Community, American Society of Microbiologists, and Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. In some cases, officers and staff members of the organizations were consulted to clarify procedures. Strengths and weaknesses of the various processes were discussed and this information informed discussions about the current ASPB process and development of several options to improve our nominations and ballot process.
The ad hoc committee proposed two similar options of expanding ASPB’s nomination committee (see below) and a third “out of the box” option to the Council in February 2020. The third option eliminated the nominations committee and used a rank voting process where candidates with more than three nominations would be automatically placed on the ballot. This option was viewed with concern by the Council for a variety of reasons, including creating the potential for lack of diversity among candidates and elected officials. In contrast, two options sharing an expanded nominations committee were viewed favorably by the Council and brought to the BoD for discussion.
Members of the subcommittee, BoD and Council agreed that there should be a public comment period before moving to the ballot. Below is the proposed expanded nominating committee proposal along with two options for its implementation. Please complete the survey to share your thoughts on these two options. The BoD will consider input in crafting a final recommendation to the Constitution and ByLaws Committee. The amendment will be voted on by Council and the BoD, and the approved measure will then be placed on the 2021 ballot for voting by the ASPB membership.
Expanded Nominating Committee
As a key step towards increasing the breadth of the nominations committee, we propose an expanded committee consisting of five voting members:
- The President Elect, who serves as Chair
- The current President
- A Council Representative (from among the committee chairs and section representatives), elected by the Council
- An Equity Diversity and Inclusive Committee [EDIC] (currently known as Minority Affairs Committee, MAC) Representative, elected by the EDIC
- An Early Career Representative [ECR] Section, elected by the ECR Section.
The Past President will participate on the Nominating Committee as an ex officio non-voting member. S/he and the staff liaison can provide institutional memory and advice.
The EDIC and ECR members will be selected by said committees and the council representative will be elected by the council by the close of the annual meeting each year. The Expanded Nominating Committee members’ one year terms will commence October 1st.
One of the committee’s roles is to ensure diversity of the current larger leadership body. This includes gender and institutional diversity of the combined President Elect, President, Past President, Program Committee and Board of Directors.
Individuals with up to date membership at the time of nomination solicitation – and who have not held the same position in the past – are eligible to run. Members currently serving in elected positions and the current Treasurer are not eligible to run.
We propose two options for comment by membership.
Option 1: The candidate with the most nominations from the membership at large is selected as one candidate. The second candidate will be selected by the expanded nominating committee.
- Nominations will be solicited from the general membership (the group of individuals with up-to-date memberships). Members of the nomination committee may also nominate additional members, who will receive full consideration. The eligible candidate with the most nominations will be contacted by the President Elect who will provide the individual with written information regarding roles and responsibilities for the three years of service and assess the candidate’s willingness to serve. Should there be a tie for most nominations, the committee will choose among the nominees. If the candidate agrees to run, they will go on the ballot as the membership nominated candidate. If that candidate declines to run, this process will be repeated with the candidate with the next highest number of nominations.
- A second candidate is nominated by the expanded nominating committee. This choice will be part of a strategy to create a balanced and inclusive ballot, which promotes diversity of the leadership body. This selection could be derived from the list of member-nominated individuals, but this is not a requirement. The President Elect will provide this individual with written information regarding roles and responsibilities for the three years of service and assess the candidate’s willingness to serve. If the candidate agrees to run, they will go on the ballot as the committee-nominated candidate. If that candidate declines to run, this process will be repeated with the next selected candidate.
- The general membership will be invited to vote, the election results will be certified, and the individual with the largest number of votes will be deemed to be the winner. The results will be disseminated using varied ASPB platforms, including (but not limited to) social media, the ASPB website and by email to the full membership.
Option 2: Expanded Nominating Committee selects both candidates through outlined process
- Nominations will be solicited from the general membership (the group of individuals with up-to-date memberships). Members of the nomination committee may also nominate additional members, who will receive full consideration. The nominating committee will review the complete list and create one or more rank ordered lists of eligible candidates. The discussion to generate the rank-ordered list or lists will include a strategy to create a balanced and inclusive ballot, which promotes diversity of the leadership body.
- The President Elect will contact the top two individuals and provide them with written information regarding roles and responsibilities for the full term of service and assess each candidate’s willingness to serve. Should either of the top two ranked candidates decline to run, the President Elect will follow the ranked list of candidates from the nominating committee, as well obtain nominating committee majority approval for selection of the next candidate(s) and consult with the nomination committee as needed. The general membership will be invited to vote, and the election results will be certified and the individual with the largest number of votes deemed to be the winner. The results will be disseminated using varied ASPB platforms, including (but not limited to) social media, the ASPB website and by email to the full membership.