Amendments speak to representation

Published on December 01, 2009
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By Susan C. Kahler

The AVMA House of Delegates will consider three proposed amendments to the AVMA Bylaws during its 2010 regular winter session, Jan. 9. Each amendment relates to leadership representation. The proposed amendments follow here.

In Bylaws Amendment 1, the Executive Board proposes adding the Student AVMA president to the list of participants who are invited to participate, without a vote, in regular and special meetings of the board. The current invitees are the treasurer, chair of the House Advisory Committee, executive vice president, and assistant executive vice president.

At present, the SAVMA president attends some board meetings as a guest, but the board believes that extending a seat at the table will foster improved dialogue.

This proposal originated with the Task Force on Future Roles and Expectations, which was chaired by Dr. Gregory Hammer, 2007-2008 AVMA president. The task force was charged with evaluating areas that included the AVMA's relationship with veterinary students and faculties, AVMA student chapters, and the Student AVMA.

"In doing so, the task force felt we could use the voice of the students at the table rather than in the audience, where they don't usually address the board unless asked," Dr. Hammer said. "It's important to make sure the AVMA is hearing the voices of the more than 12,500 students who are potential members."

SAVMA President Rebecca M. Steers (TUF '10), who served on that AVMA task force, said, "SAVMA has always appreciated the importance that the AVMA places on the students as the future of our profession and our organization. This amendment allows for even greater communication between SAVMA and its parent organization, the AVMA."

The other two proposed amendments relate to composition of the HOD and terms for HOD members.

Bylaws Amendment 2 would add a provision to the section on composition of the HOD stating that—except for voting rights—delegates and alternate delegates would have equal authority and responsibility within the HOD. The House Advisory Committee submitted the proposed amendment.

In its accompanying statement, HAC explains the amendment would clarify that the term "alternate" does not carry the same meaning it does in other areas of AVMA governance of a person formally accepted as a substitute for a regular representative.

The Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont VMAs submitted Bylaws Amendment 3 proposing term limits for delegates and alternate delegates.To attract more new members with fresh ideas to the HOD, the co-sponsors propose a limit of 12 consecutive years' service, after which a member would be ineligible to serve for three years. Filling an unexpired term of a year or less would not count toward the limit.

The existing bylaw provides for each delegate and alternate delegate to serve a four-year term or until a successor is appointed. The amendment would replace that with a three-year term, renewable once. Thereafter, a delegate would be eligible to serve only as an alternate delegate for a three-year term, renewable once. Likewise, an alternate delegate who completed two three-year terms could then serve only as a delegate for a three-year term, renewable once.

Dr. John de Jong, Massachusetts VMA delegate and former HAC chair, said, "With the changing demographics of the profession today, we must encourage more people to not only become involved with organized veterinary medicine but also to assume leadership positions.

"According to all sources, the younger generations like the idea of having shorter terms of engagement with known start and end points. Having term limits will encourage their participation and open up the opportunity for a diverse House of Delegates that's more representative of the profession."

If approved, the amendment would take effect as each delegate or alternate delegate who holds a seat as of Jan. 9, 2010, concludes his or her term.