Society for Military History Constitution FAQ Page

If you have any questions about the proposed constitutional revision, please send them to Answers will be provided periodically on this page.

FAQ 1: Why haven’t the members been provided with additional documents relating to the proposed revision?
The proposed revision is the product of nearly three years’ work by two ad hoc committees and was the subject of lengthy discussion at two Council meetings as well as multiple rounds of “offline” communication among the Council members. You may well imagine the volume of notes, minutes, etc. that relate to this revision, and the Council unanimously decided to share with the membership at large exactly those documents you have received. Any additional information would require a substantial effort to collate and condense into a readable format and would amount to a blow-by-blow of every issue, point of discussion, etc., which frankly defeats the purpose of having committees and the Council to handle the minutia of such business.
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FAQ 2: How were the amendments proposed, debated, or finalized?
In most instances, there were obvious gaps between the letter of the existing constitution and the actual practice of the Society—and unanimity that the Society was doing what it was doing because it made the most sense. Hence most amendments amounted to “housecleaning.”

In a number of other cases, the ad hoc committee identified—on their own or on the basis of input from trustees or former officers—things that ought to be done differently in the future and offered a range of options for discussion and decision at the 2019 Council meeting. A few examples: whether to not to retain past presidents as officers in some capacity, the length of terms for trustees, and the means of populating the nominating committee. A few themes predominated such cases: turnover is good, greater opportunities to serve are good, and a greater voice for the elected trustees is good. In short, those changes which did not simply align the letter with practice were uniformly designed to make the Society more representative.

As for the specifics of how: Robert's Rules and the process for amendments delineated in the current (and proposed) constitutions.
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FAQ 3: What, if at all, were the reasonable differences on the committee or among the senior leaders?
On issues of consequence, none.
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FAQ 4: Why are so many changes necessary?
There was much that needed to be done and an opportunity to do more than patch the leakiest holes. The committee did an outstanding job and we have a phenomenal slate of engaged trustees at present. We thus had at our disposal the talent and the dedication to undertake a once-in-a-generation revision of this important document with the goals of (1) producing a constitution that best enables the Society to accomplish its mission and (2) ensuring that we would not have to do anything like this again in the foreseeable future.
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FAQ 5: If the standing Awards Committees are going away, who decide on the annual prizes, and how?
All of the committees will continue to exist and will be governed by relevant bylaws—but only those committees which are absolutely essential to the operation of the Society remain chartered by the constitution. This provides the Council the flexibility to establish, reorganize, and fold committees as needed without requiring an amendment to the constitution every time. The goal here was, again, to ensure that we won’t have to go through this again in the near future.
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FAQ 6: Regarding the graduate student representative, is the expectation merely that this person is a graduate student at the time of election, or are they expected to be a graduate student throughout the period of their term? If the latter will they be removed/replaced should they lose that status before the end of their term?
The expectation (articulated in 4B) is that the GSR is a current graduate student, and thus progress toward degree is a crucial consideration when identifying candidates for the position. A GSR who resigns or drops out would be replaced per the procedure described in 4E. Other contingencies (such as a December graduation) will be addressed in the relevant bylaws.
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FAQ 7: To what degree will the Journal of Military History maintain its autonomy?
The proposed revision does not affect the Journal’s autonomy—or accountability—in any way. While autonomous from a scholarship perspective, the JMH is administratively part of the SMH organization. The editor reports directly to the Council on items such as the annual budget, staff pay, and significant issues within the publication world that might affect the journal. He additionally reports to the editorial board on Journal-specific items. The proposed revision does remove the Editor in Chief from the Executive Committee because the routine business of the Journal and the routine business of the Society are largely distinct—and time consuming enough that those interested in one do not want to be unnecessarily involved in the other.
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FAQ 8: Is there a reason the quorum requirement for annual meeting is being dropped entirely rather than simple changing the number of members required?
There are, in fact, two reasons why we eliminated the quorum requirement. The main reason is that we don't take any votes at the membership meeting; any votes would be of the full membership by electronic/mail ballot, so having a quorum does not really serve a purpose. The second reason was that the number of people who attend the membership meeting form but a tiny fraction of the Society’s membership as a whole, and any achievable quorum we might define would be absurdly low when calculated as a percentage of the total membership.
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