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SPE Bylaws Changes Approved by the SPE Board of Directors

SPE’s Board of Directors approved changes to SPE’s bylaws at their meeting on 21 January 2023. Read about these changes and the process followed in making them.

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SPE’s Board of Directors approved changes to SPE’s bylaws at their meeting on January 21, 2023. These changes and the process for making the changes are outlined below.

On October 22, 2022, the Board published its proposal for modifications to the bylaws on JPT and solicited member feedback. Newsletters and other communications were used to make members aware of the opportunity to comment on the proposal. Comments were received from more than 30 members, as well as feedback from the advisory committees to the Technical and Regional Directors. The Board carefully considered all comments and made several improvements based on this feedback. The result is a final version of the bylaws that should serve SPE well for the future. Bylaws changes require a 2/3 majority vote of the Board, and the final vote far exceeded this requirement.

Why were the bylaws changed?

SPE’s bylaws were originally drafted in 1957 as SPE was preparing to become an independent constituent society of AIME. The process to petition for member elections for Board positions had not been modified since that time. As such, they never accounted for electronic communications and a global membership that are the current reality. It still assumed manual signatures that needed to be collected and verified and hard copy ballots that needed to be completed and mailed in. For the member petition and election last year, SPE adapted the process to the extent feasible to reflect the realities of our current membership and communications. Updating the bylaws to reflect the differences from 1957 was identified as a necessary change. Several policies that were already being followed by the Nominating Committee also needed to be codified.

Why now?

The cycle from opening the nominations process to the newly selected Board members taking office at the end of ATCE is nearly a full year. The call for Board nominations closed on January 23, 2023. The Nominating Committee has not yet begun its work to evaluate the nominations received and has not selected candidates for the open positions. These bylaw changes only affect the petition and election process, not the nomination process. Therefore, this is an appropriate time to make changes to petition and election procedures that will apply for the current cycle without disrupting the process.

What are the key changes?

The bylaws changes all apply to Article XII – Elections. They affect provisions that have been used only twice in SPE’s 65-year history – in 1995 and 2022. One adjustment was to differentiate the requirements based on the Board position – President-Elect, Regional Director, or Technical Director.

  • President-Elect – The only significant changes for petitions for this position are the addition of the requirements that candidates must have prior service on the Board of Directors and must have a service break of at least one year between a candidate’s end of service on the Board of Directors and the new term for which they would be nominated to serve as President-Elect. This was already part of the Nominating Policy beginning in 2020 but had not been codified in the bylaws. The minimum requirement for a successful petition remains at 1% of eligible members globally.
  • Regional Director – Future petitions for Regional Director elections will be focused on gaining endorsements from members within the region to be represented rather than from members worldwide as in the past. The actual number of endorsements required will be reduced from the original process, with petitions requiring endorsements from at least 2% of SPE’s professional members within the region (or sub-region), but no fewer than 150 members. Petition candidates must meet the position requirements, including that Regional Directors must have experience as a Section officer and reside in the region (or sub-region) for which they are petitioning. For Regional Director positions from large regions represented by multiple Directors, the Board of Directors may designate Regional Director positions by sub-regions. This is currently the case for North America.
  • Technical Director -- Future petitions for Technical Director elections will be focused on gaining endorsements from members within the technical discipline. Additional nominations may be made by petition from at least 2% of SPE’s professional members within that technical discipline (primary and secondary designations), but no fewer than 150 members. As above, the total number of endorsements needed is lower than under the current bylaws. Petition candidates must meet the position requirements, including that Technical Directors should be a recognized subject matter expert by experience and/or education for their technical discipline, be an active member of that technical community, and have selected that technical discipline as their primary or secondary discipline.

The rationale for 2% of the constituency to be represented or a minimum of 150 members reflects the varying size of regions and disciplines within SPE. The most recent petitions required 660 member endorsements so the provisions of these revised bylaws will require significantly fewer members to support the petition than in the past.

Other changes to the Bylaws

Updates were made to the collection of signatures for a petition and for elections to reflect electronic means of communication. These updates are largely consistent with the earlier version of the bylaws changes proposed in October 2022.

The full revised text of the bylaws can be found here.

These changes ensure that members from a region or discipline have a mechanism to put forth an alternate candidate when they believe it is appropriate to do so. It also allows for electronic processes and for a fair and reasonable election process in such an instance.

Some of the feedback received suggested that the current system for Board nomination/selection should be replaced by an open election each year, while many other comments supported the current process. The Board discussed this option, but concluded the current system provides the best opportunity for balanced Board governance allowing for the optimal mix of the many member demographics represented by the Board. It has served the Society well since its inception, and therefore remains unchanged.