Councillor Responsibilities

Councillor Responsibilities


March 2002

Council Meetings.  Council is the policy making body of the AAG.  Councillors participate in the policy-making deliberations and programmatic development of the AAG that take place at two meetings each year.  A spring meeting is held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the AAG.  Normally, the Council meeting convenes two days before the start of the annual meeting (opening session and paper sessions).  The fall meeting is typically held in conjunction with the annual meeting of one of the AAG regional divisions, or in Washington, DC at the AAG office.  This meeting lasts for 11/2 days and usually takes place on Saturday and Sunday.  Although most of the Council’s business is conducted at these two meetings, occasionally there is the need to conduct some business by email.  Meeting agendas and materials are circulated to Council members by the AAG office approximately two weeks prior to the fall and spring meetings.  Councillors should take time to review these materials prior to the start of the meetings.  This preparation will be beneficial for an efficient and effective Council meeting.

AAG Committee Assignments.  Each of the AAG’s Standing Committees includes at least one Councillor.  Councillors may volunteer for a committee in their area of interest or they may be assigned to one by the Committee on Committees.  National and Regional Councillors each elect among themselves Chairs of their respective groups. These selections usually occur during the fall meeting. The Chair of the National Councillors acts as a liaison between the Council and the various AAG specialty groups.  The Chair of the Regional Councillors serves as a member of the Committee on Committees, the group that recommends to Council individuals for appointment to AAG Committees.  The Committee on Committees meets prior to and during the spring Council meeting to prepare a slate of nominees for Standing Committees.  The other members of the Committee on Committees are the Secretary and Treasurer, both of whom are elected by Council from its members.  Both National and Regional Councillors can be helpful in identifying candidates for AAG committees and other service roles in the Association.

Report on the Status of Departments in the Region.  At each Council meeting, Regional Concillors are asked to report on the status of departments within their region.  These reports are brief (less than five minutes) and are typically made in oral form.  Problems departments are experiencing can be brought to the attention of Council, and early intervention strategies can be suggested.  Good news is also welcomed concerning growth in geography departments and the creation of new geography programs.  Some regional divisions have state representatives that survey programs in the state and provide important information to the Regional Councillor.  Councillors may also want to contact the President of their division for this information.

Reports to Regional Divisions.  As a Regional Councillor, you are the liaison between your regional division and the AAG.  Therefore, you should take the opportunity to make reports back to your division concerning activities and issues facing the AAG.  One way to do this is to prepare a short annual report on Council discussions and actions for publication in your division newsletter. You might also make an oral report during the business meeting of the division’s annual meeting.  Effort should be made to maintain close contact with your division president.

Membership Recruitment.  An important responsibility of the Regional Councillor is AAG membership recruitment and retention.  One procedure that is helpful in membership recruitment is to establish a network of department membership coordinators within your region.  These persons could keep membership applications on hand and direct prospective members to the AAG website.  A good time for this coordinator to make a “pitch” to colleagues and students for AAG membership is the start of each semester.  The AAG office can provide a list of current AAG members to help identify prospective new members.  You should also take the opportunity to promote AAG membership at your annual regional meeting and arrange for relevant AAG materials (such as careers brochures and membership applications) to be available.

Oversight of Specialty Groups.  National Councillors have the responsibility of general oversight of the Association’s specialty groups.  These Councillors review the annual reports submitted by each group President or Secretary, and where appropriate, recommend changes in policy.  The Chair of the National Councillors hosts a session for specialty group Presidents at each annual AAG meeting.  This session provides a forum for the dissemination of relevant news from the Council, and for the discussion of policy changes and proposals.  It also serves as a mechanism for specialty groups to voice concerns to the Council.

Reports on Systematic Trends in Geography and Allied Fields.  Paralleling the charge to Regional Councillors that they monitor and report on the status of geography departments within their respective regions, National Councillors are urged to pay special attention to ongoing systematic trends relevant to the discipline.  For example, these may be concerns of equity or emphasis.  They may be happenings inside academia, in the outside world, or on the relations between the two.  This monitoring function is informal, but potentially important to the Association.

The Experience.  Serving on the AAG Council will prove to be a great experience.  It may take a while to get your feet wet and understand the workings of the AAG and the Council, but you will get there.  Serving on the Council not only gives you the opportunity to learn about your professional organization, it also provides the opportunity to get to know colleagues from other parts of the country.  Furthermore, after serving on the Council, the experience will make those 1-2 hour departmental meetings seem short.  Enjoy the experience!