American Society of Naturalists

A membership society whose goal is to advance and to diffuse knowledge of organic evolution and other broad biological principles so as to enhance the conceptual unification of the biological sciences.

ASN Constitution and By Laws Revision

Posted on

Letter from President Mark McPeek

Dear ASN members,

The American Society of Naturalists was organized in 1883, making it one of the oldest scientific societies in North America.  As with any organization that old, the constitution and by-laws need to be periodically revised.  The constitution and by-laws of the ASN were last revised in 1994.  The Executive Committee felt that a number of innovations of how the society is run plus changes in our standard practices and our relationship to the publication of The American Naturalist by University of Chicago Press call for revisions to the constitution and by-laws.  I write to bring to you the Executive Committee’s recommendations for these changes. 


You can find the current constitution and by-laws at the ASN website.  Attached to this post, you will find three documents. 

‘ASN_constitution_2016_suggested_revisions.pdf’ contains the text of the constitution and by-laws with the Executive Committee’s suggested changes made in the document.

‘ASN_constitution_2016_suggested_revisions_Track_Changes.pdf’ contains the text of the 1994 constitution annotated with these changes using Track Changes so that you can easily see what changes are suggested.

‘ASN_constitution_suggested_revisions_NOTES.pdf’ contains a brief description for the rationale associated with each suggested change. 

The set of first revisions codify innovations to our governing structure in the constitution, namely the new Graduate Student Council that was created a few years ago.  The Graduate Student Council has been a tremendous addition to the workings of ASN, and the Executive Committee feels that this Council should become a permanent part of the governing structure of our society.

The second set bring us in line with current practices for not-for-profit 501(c)(3) scientific organizations.

The third set update a number of issues pertaining to the length of various offices and their membership on the Executive Committee.


Revising the constitution requires a ballot of the full membership.  In that ballot, at least one-fifth of the current members must vote, and two thirds of those voting must vote in the affirmative to support the revisions and amendments.  We will hold a vote of the full membership this summer on a final draft.  You will receive an announcement about how to vote when we have a final draft proposal.

To develop that full draft, we feel it is critical that all members also have a full voice in discussing the proposed revisions.  We will have a public discussion of the revision at this year’s Member’s Business Meeting at our June 2016 Meeting in Austin, Texas.  If you cannot attend that meeting or if you would also like to comment outside of that forum, please e-mail me directly with your comments/questions/suggestions.  I will collate and forward all correspondence from you to the Executive Committee, and based on your feedback they will develop the final draft of revisions to be put to a vote sometime in July or August, 2016.

We look forward to hearing from you.

On Behalf of the Executive Committee,
Mark A. McPeek, President
The American Society of Naturalists