President & CEO's Blog

By Gerald Glandon, PhD posted 03-21-2019 10:03


Open and Transparent Leadership Development Committee

As Mark indicated in his blog discussion of the proposed changes in AUPHA bylaws, we are also making changes to the selection and composition of the Leadership Development Committee (LDC). These constitute policy changes that do not require membership approval but reflect the Board’s ongoing commitment to open and transparent selection of leaders for AUPHA. The Board was given these recommendations for change during its March 4, 2019, meeting in Chicago.

By way of background, the Leadership Development Committee is a bylaws-designated standing committee of the AUPHA Board of Directors that works to ensure the efficient and effective work of the Board. The LDC ensures the constant health and value of the full Board, the leadership of the Board and the composition of the many committees that support AUPHA. It strives to facilitate the work the Board performs for the organization. Among its many duties, the LDC must perform the following three activities that have significant impact on the leadership effectiveness of the Board and ultimately the effectiveness of AUPHA:

  • Take a strategic approach to Board eligibility, recruitment and membership, including consideration of the needed skills, backgrounds, knowledge and diversity of the Board
  • Develop and implement a Board rotation process including a formalized process for succession planning.
  • Propose annually to the Board a slate for Board membership, officer roles and all committee roles and responsibilities.

The composition of LDC, consequently, determines who, among our membership, will be nominated for Board membership and Board officer positions. The LDC is traditionally chaired by the Immediate Past President of the Board (Keith Benson currently). Further, these past chairs are appointed for a three-year term and routinely renewed for three years, unless they choose not to continue serving. The slate of Board member nominees, Board leadership and committee composition then go to the full Board for review. If approved, the new Board members and Board leadership go to full members for approval. The current composition of LDC includes six past Board chairs out of thirteen members in total. Three additional members out of the thirteen are currently members of the Board.

Is past Board chair presence on the LDC a potential problem? No in practice but yes in terms of optics. In my experience working with the LDC, the members go out of their way to perform the duties as described above in a highly conscientious manner. Every effort is made to identify and select Board and other leaders that represent the diversity of our membership in all dimensions. For Board members, for example, we examine a matrix that allows the LDC to consider gender, race, faculty rank, program type, geography, and academic discipline in the selection process. The Committee also considers past activity on behalf of AUPHA as an indicator of likely future commitment. Individuals are identified for nomination that satisfy the diversity criteria and meet Board needs.

The optics, however, suggest that an LDC dominated by past Board leadership may tend to know of and evaluate highly those individuals that are most like them. Because the LDC does not fully reflect the diversity of our membership, some argue that their selection process will not adequately consider individuals from all of our members. In the past, this was called “an old boys” club. While no longer boys, the concern regarding continued selection of “insiders” remains. Again, I have not seen this as a problem in recent years but the optics remain.

Consequently, the LDC voted to accept as policy the following: 

  • Past Chairs of the AUPHA Board will be limited to one, three-year term on the LDC, after which they must relinquish their term.
  • At least two-thirds of the members of the Leadership Development Committee must be affiliated with a Full Graduate (CAHME accredited) or Full Undergraduate (AUPHA certified) program.

The LDC believes that this change will enable this committee to be populated with individuals that more completely reflect the diversity of opinions and interests that is the AUPHA. It should be noted, however, that this does not make past Board chairs ineligible to return to the Committee for an additional term after a period of inactivity. These individuals would be considered along with any other interested members. Finally, having two-thirds of the Committee consisting of members from “full member” programs reserves the traditional role of these programs while enabling individuals from other membership categories to have a voice.

As a side note from the President, the consideration of LDC with regard to its composition reflects the greatest challenge but also the strength of AUPHA. It would be much easier and less contentious to have a more concentrated membership. If interests and needs are concentrated, it is easier for staff to meet those interests and needs. However, in biology, we argue that genetic diversity enables a species to survive environmental changes. The diversity of interests and needs make AUPHA stronger, more resilient and better able to adapt to change overall.