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«Let It Be: Leave the American Physical Society Constitution and Bylaws unchanged as concerns the APS Editor-in-Chief. Carlton M. Caves Distinguished ...»

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Let It Be: Leave the American Physical Society Constitution and Bylaws

unchanged as concerns the APS Editor-in-Chief.

Carlton M. Caves

Distinguished Professor, Physics and Astronomy

Director, Center for Quantum Information and Control

University of New Mexico

2016 September 23

If you are a member of the American Physical Society, you have received recently two messages from

the CEO of the APS regarding amendments to the APS Constitution and Bylaws. The first set of changes,

labeled 1) in the appended document from the APS website, concerns the Speaker of the APS Council and the maximum number of APS Board members. The second set of changes, labeled 2), concerns changes related to the APS Editor-in-Chief (EiC). The first message from the CEO proposed amendments related to the EiC, and after objections to these changes, the second message informed the membership of a different proposal for changes.

You can find out more about the current proposals at the APS website, http://ultron.aps.org/forms/aps.cgi?ID=1277, or in the appended document taken from this link. This message concerns only the changes related to the EiC.

First a little background. The current APS Constitution and Bylaws was adopted by the membership two years ago as the heart of a corporate reform of APS governance. A video by then-President Malcolm Beasley, http://www.aps.org/about/reform/, made the case for this reform. The only nonelected officers of the Society mentioned in the reformed Constitution and Bylaws are the CEO and the EiC. The EiC is charged with “responsibility for the scientific journals published by the Society, especially for ensuring the quality, relevance and scientific integrity of those journals.” As President Beasley noted, “Because of the importance of our journals to the Society, the EiC will be a nonvoting member of the Board and Council.” The reform also changed the method of amending the APS Constitution, putting that in the hands of the Board and Council. The only way to influence the decision on the proposed changes is to post a comment at the first link above (comments will be accepted till October 23).

The first set of proposed EiC changes diminished the EiC by removing all mention of the EiC from the Constitution and Bylaws. This was justified on the grounds of establishing “symmetry” among the nonelected officers of the Society in the CEO’s senior management team, including the recently hired Publisher, who is responsible for the business aspects of the Society’s journals.

After objections were raised to this demotion of the EiC, we now have the second set of proposed changes. These put the EiC and the Publisher, but not other nonelected officers, on the same footing— so much for the symmetry argument—by demoting the EiC some and placing the Publisher in the Constitution and Bylaws. In particular, the EiC will no longer have general “responsibility for the scientific journals published by the Society,” but only “responsibility for the content of the scientific journals published by Society”, and the EiC will no longer be an ex officio, nonvoting member of the Board and Council. The Publisher will have “responsibility for the business operations of the publications of the Society.” I believe these proposed changes are inadvisable and would be harmful to the Society’s journals for the

following reasons:

1. The EiC should have and should retain the special role spelled out in the current Constitution and Bylaws. The journals are the biggest activity of the Society and the most valuable service for many APS members; the EiC should have overall responsibility for all aspects of the Society’s journals.

2. It is a mistake to be amending the Constitution and Bylaws to diminish the stature of the EiC only two years after the membership was sold the corporate reform partly on the grounds of the reform’s recognition of the special role of the EiC.

3. One of the principles of the corporate reform was to leave the CEO free to assemble a suitable senior management team as times change by not spelling out in the Constitution and Bylaws a particular roster of nonelected officers of the Society, except for the CEO and the EiC. Putting the Publisher into the Constitution and Bylaws is a clear violation of this principle.

4. We should maintain the Constitution’s current recognition that scientific and editorial issues in publishing the Society’s journals have precedence over business affairs. This is essential in any scientific publishing enterprise, but there is an additional consideration for the APS journals: If the journals’ worldwide suite of authors perceives that financial considerations predominate and that the APS journals are used as a cash cow to finance services for the predominantly American APS membership, then you can kiss goodbye the pre-eminence of the APS journals in the global physics community.

I encourage you to submit a comment at http://ultron.aps.org/forms/aps.cgi?ID=1277. Construct your own argument if you wish, or you might use the title of this message. Let It Be: Leave the American Physical Society Constitution and Bylaws unchanged as concerns the APS Editor-in-Chief.




In November, 2014, the APS members and the APS Council of Representatives approved significant changes to the governance structure of the Society. A new Constitution and Bylaws was approved and simultaneously, a set of Policies & Procedures were adopted. The Constitution & Bylaws provides an overall structure for the APS organization and governance and the Policies & Procedures spell out in more detail the ways in which the structure was to be implemented and maintained operationally. The proposed amendment to the Constitution & Bylaws relates to the composition of the Board of Directors and Officers, in particular with respect to the Speaker of the Council, the Editor in Chief, and the Publisher.

1) Proposed changes related to Speaker of the Council Background Speaker of the Council • The Constitution & Bylaws created a new position called the Speaker of the Council (ART V, Section 3) who would be a Council member elected by the Council of Representatives. The Speaker, working with an elected Council Steering Committee, has overall responsibility for directing the activities of the Council and chairing Council meetings. The Speaker is also a member of the Board of Directors as well as the Board Executive Committee.

Speaker-Elect of the Council • The Policies and Procedures for the Council of Representatives defined procedures for choosing a Speaker. Rather than having the Council directly elect a Speaker, the Council chooses a Councilor at the end of their second year to serve first as Speaker-Elect of the Council (C2.1) for one year, and then as Speaker in their last year. This allows the Speaker a one year initiation and smooths operation and continuity for the Council.

Explanation of the Proposed Changes The existing Constitution & Bylaws describes the composition of the 14-member Board of Directors, stating that, in addition to the President, President-Elect, Vice President, Past President, and Treasurer, the total number of Council-elected members on the Board can be adjusted but at no time should exceed nine, including the Speaker of the Council (Article IV, Section 1). Because the Board members are chosen at the end of their first year on Council and the SpeakerElect is chosen at the end of their second year on Council, there is the possibility that the Speaker is not already a member of the Board of Directors. The only way to adhere to the nine Councilor maximum would be to adjust the number of new Councilors elected to the Board.

The proposed change to the Constitution & Bylaws would allow ten Councilors to serve on the Board of Directors during the one-year term of a Speaker who was not already a member of the Board. This allows three Councilors to be elected to the Board each year and avoids the need for election complications. The Council Policies and Procedures specify that a Speaker-Elect who is not a member of the Board should attend Board meetings as an observer.

2) Proposed changes related to the Editor in Chief and Publisher Background Editor in Chief • The Constitution & Bylaws specifies that the Editor in Chief serves on both the Board of Directors and the Council of Representatives in an ex officio, non-voting role, along with the Chief Executive Officer. There is also a separate section on the role of the Editor in Chief and on hiring procedures.

Explanation of the Proposed Changes The APS journals are the major contribution of the society to the physics community and their quality and viability are critically important. In recognition of the central role of the journals, the Constitution & Bylaws gives the Editor in Chief a special role on both the Board of Directors and the Council of Representatives.

There is no question that both the Board and the Council need to have very close and open communication with the journal leadership, and the leadership of both bodies is responsible for ensuring that communication. However, as the APS leadership team is being completed with the hiring of new senior staff, it is clear that the journal leadership includes both the Editor in Chief and the Publisher.

The Editor in Chief is responsible for the quality of the journals and the Publisher for their viability, and they need to approach challenges as a team.

The APS Governance Committee considered various options for insuring direct input to the Board and Council from the Publisher and Editor in Chief. An obvious possibility would be to add the Publisher as an additional ex officio, non-voting member of the Board and Council. There were various other alternatives considered. However, current best practices for non-profit corporations recommend that ex officio board members be kept to an absolute minimum. With this in mind, and given that the leadership of both the Board and Council have responsibility for maintaining close communication with the journal leadership, the APS Governance Committee recommended that the Editor in Chief no longer be an ex-officio member of either Board or Council. It is important and expected that the Editor in Chief and the Publisher, along with other members of APS senior management, attend all Board and Council meetings. It is also important to note that the Board Policies & Procedures (in section B4) explicitly specify that the Board plays a major role in establishing an Editor in Chief search committee, approving the appointment, and renewing appointments of the Editor in Chief.

3) Proposed Amendment to the C&BLs The specific changes to Articles IV, V and VII that constitute the proposed amendment are shown below, where underscore indicates new language and strike-out indicates deletions. The changes highlighted in grey pertain specifically to the Speaker.

--------------------------APS CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS Article IV – Board of Directors Section 1. Composition and Term. The Board shall be responsible for the overall management of the Society, including all matters of corporate governance and finance. The Board shall consist of the President, the President-Elect, the Vice President, the Immediate Past President (collectively, the “Presidential Line”), the Treasurer, and nine or ten Councilors (including the Speaker of the Council) elected by the Council to serve as members of the Board (“Directors”). The President shall have the right to designate an additional non-voting Director to provide needed expertise, with such designation subject to the approval of the Board. If the term of such appointment exceeds (or is extended to exceed) one year, the appointment shall also be subject to the approval of the Council. The Chief Executive Officer (the “CEO”) and the Editor in Chiefshall serve as an ex officio, non-voting, members of the Board. The President shall be the Chair of the Board. Directors who are elected by the Council shall have a term of three years. A Councilor shall be eligible for election as Director at the end of his or her first year of service on the Council, or may become a Director upon his or her election as Speaker of the Council. The Directors elected by the Council shall be classified by the Board into three classes of three, with one class up for election each year. If a Councilor who is not already a Director is elected as Speaker of the Council, such person shall serve contemporaneously as a Director, and the Council shall then and thereafter adjust the number and terms of other persons to be elected as Directors in each year in order to equalize the three classes of directors to the extent the Council deems practical. In no event shall the number of Directors elected by the Council, including the Speaker of the Council, exceed nineten.

Article V – Council of Representatives Section 2. Composition. The Council shall consist of four General Councilors elected by the membership at large, four International Councilors, whose primary residence is outside the United States, elected by the membership at large, the Presidential Line, the Treasurer, Councilors representing the Divisions, Forums, and Sections, and Councilors representing Committees of the Society as determined by procedures established by the Board and the Council. The number of Councilors representing Divisions, Forums, and Sections shall be determined according to procedures established by the Council. The CEO and Editor in Chief (as defined in Article VII) shall serve as an ex officio member of the Council, without the right to vote. At its discretion the Council may request other persons to sit with the Council as advisors. To be eligible to serve as a Councilor, a person must be a member of the Society in good standing.

Article VII – Officers

Section 1. Officers.

The following are the principal officers of the Society: the President, the President-Elect, the Immediate Past President, the Vice President, the Treasurer, the CEO, and the Editor in Chief, and the Publisher. The Board shall appoint a Secretary, and may appoint one or more other officers and define their duties as needed. Officers shall be appointed in accordance with Sections 1011 and 1112 of this Article VII.

Section 8. Editor in Chief.

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