In Nashville, the House of Delegates voted on five proposed constitutional amendments, accepted introduction of two constitutional amendments, and acted on 15 proposed bylaws amendments.
Proposed amendments to the constitution are presented to the HOD over two consecutive years. The first year, they are introduced, and the next year, voted on. In contrast, bylaws amendments are voted on the same year they are forwarded.
Two proposed amendments elicited discussion at the July 13 HOD session. One was a proposed constitutional change to the membership requirements for vice presidents. The other was a proposed bylaw change to enable faculty members who are associate or affiliate members of the AVMA to serve as student chapter faculty advisers.
Up for final action, the constitutional change was disapproved. It would have shortened the membership requirements for AVMA vice president to five years of active membership immediately prior to election, instead of the current 10 years, as also required for president-elect and president. The Executive Board had recommended approval, but the House Advisory Committee and HOD reference committee had recommended disapproval.
On the House floor, Wisconsin delegate, Dr. Rene A. Carlson expressed concern about having different requirements for various elective offices. She also feared that approving the amendment could create the perception that the office of vice president is less important than others. It takes much knowledge, she said, to represent the AVMA to veterinary students.
The HOD approved the proposed bylaw change, eliminating the requirement that U.S. faculty advisers to Student AVMA chapters be active AVMA members. Now, associate members (veterinarians who are legal residents of a country other than the United States) and affiliate members (nonveterinarians involved in teaching or research) also qualify. The Executive Board, House Advisory Committee, and HOD reference committee had all recommended approval, but on the House floor, delegates spoke to both sides.
Among the detractors, Texas delegate, Dr. Tony W. Brown said, "We've heard about the declining number of veterinarians in basic sciences. ... It's in our students' best interest to have veterinarians mentor them early." He asked the AVMA to address this more actively. Louisiana alternate delegate, Dr. V. Hugh Price, also opposed the amendment.
One of the proponents, Student AVMA delegate and 2002 graduate, Dr. Rebecca E. Dixon, noted that increasingly fewer veterinarians in academia are joining the AVMA. She urged AVMA members to encourage them to join, and asked delegates to open the faculty adviser positions to AVMA associate and affiliate members.
North Carolina delegate and former AVMA vice president, Dr. Joseph H. Kinnarney, agreed philosophically that it would be ideal to have veterinarians as faculty advisers; however, he said, "Look at the reality of the times and support this change." Likewise for Delaware alternate delegate, Dr. Mary A. Bryant, who acknowledged the same concern other delegates had expressed about the lack of faculty support from veterinarians for students.
Other constitutional amendments
The HOD approved a constitutional amendment, up for final action, allowing an AVMA president-elect who succeeds to the office of president to fill the unexpired term of the preceding president, to continue through a subsequent full term as president.
Another ascendancy provision was disapproved, however. This constitutional amendment would have provided a contingency if the office of president-elect were vacated. The vice president would have assumed the duties and responsibilities of that office, but would not have assumed the title of president-elect or automatically ascended to the presidency.
The HOD approved a constitutional amendment that removes AVMA councils from the list of entities that may submit a resolution to the HOD.
The HOD also approved a constitutional amendment synchronizing the beginning of the officers' terms with the first Executive Board meeting of the new Association year, held within a few days after the close of the HOD annual session.
Other bylaws amendments
After approving the aforementioned constitutional amendment, the HOD approved a corresponding bylaw amendment to make the Bylaws and Constitution consistent.
One proposed bylaw amendment would have provided reduced dues for all graduating students who have been members in good standing of the Student AVMA. The Executive Board and House Advisory Committee had recommended approval. During an informal session of the HOD prior to the official session, however, Student AVMA delegate Dr. Dixon had suggested a friendly amendment to the proposed bylaw to stipulate that graduating students must have been "active" members in good standing of SAVMA to qualify for the reduced dues. The amendment process does not allow this, so it was the wish of SAVMA that AVMA delegates disapprove the amendment. As a result, the HOD reference committee recommended disapproval, and the HOD disapproved it.
The HOD approved an amendment to the apportionment bylaw that reflects the current and future stages of the Executive Board redistricting approved by the HOD in 2001.
The HOD approved a bylaw amendment that reassigns two positions on the Council on Research to deans or associate deans/directors of research at AVMA-accredited schools. Instead of eight council members predominantly engaged in veterinary research, there will be six.
The HOD approved an amendment that increases membership on the Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents from 10 to 12 and adds to the list of representative medical activities of its members. Immunology, clinical pharmacology, epidemiology, and industry will now be represented. Instead of two representatives each, the areas of microbiology and pharmacology will now have one each.
This amendment also provides for designating positions on the council that pertain to private practice predominantly equine, food animal, and small animal as private "clinical" practice, which addresses Resolution #4 adopted by the 2001 HOD.
The HOD disapproved a similar bylaw amendment relating to the composition of COBTA. The amendment, also initiated by adoption of 2001 Resolution #4, had been submitted prior to the aforementioned amendment. Last November, the Executive Board had recommended approval, but to prevent inconsistency, the board in April superseded its previous action and forwarded it to the HOD without a recommendation. The amendment was contradictory with regard to number and medical activities for its members. The House Advisory Committee and HOD reference committee recommended disapproval.
The HOD disapproved an amendment to simplify how the number of votes are assigned in the HOD.
The HOD approved an amendment to remove mention of specific dollar limits on the AVMA's stated policy on defending and indemnifying qualified persons against legal action resulting from actions taken in good faith on behalf of the Association.
Several housekeeping amendments were considered. The HOD approved a bylaws change referring to both days of the HOD session as the "annual" session. A constitutional amendment was introduced that would designate the annual session as the official annual business meeting of the HOD. A constitutional amendment was introduced, and five bylaws amendments were approved, to change the term "chairman" to "chair."