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How to Chair an AAS Committee or Task Force

The AAS recognizes that we are an organization that provides many leadership opportunities to young faculty.  Often, AAS members are serving as Chair of a committee for the first time. Thus, we felt it was important to provide guidelines on how to chair a committee or task force.

Formalities when first assigned Chair:

  1. Formally accept the appointment to serve as chair/co-chair through the AAS office.
  2. Be familiar with the “AAS Executive Council Report Template” and “Organizational Matrix” documents.
  3. Obtain the contact information, including email addresses, for all of your committee members from the AAS office.

Organizing your committee:

  1. Upon assuming the Chair position, send out an email to all committee members, confirming that you have all the correct email addresses (i.e., request replies to confirm they received your email).  With folks moving a lot, this has been an issue in the past.  We have had committee members claim that a Chair has not contacted them throughout the entire year.  We want to avoid these types of situations.
  2. In the first email
    1. Introduce yourself
    2. Describe the goals or tasks of the committee
    3. Detail the expectations you have for the committee members (i.e., if there are deadlines, meetings to attend, etc)
    4. Set the communication schedule (i.e., monthly conference calls, etc).  Conference calls can be arranged through the AAS office.
  3. When having conference calls, develop an agenda ahead of time and distribute this, along with call-in information, prior to the call.  To coordinate a conference call date and time, the AAS staff can set up a Doodle pool to find the best day and time, if needed.
  4. It is important to make decisions with the input of all committee members.  Thus, if there is a decision to be made, communicate the issue to the committee members to receive input.  While this may be your first time chairing a committee, it is often the faculty members’ first time on a committee.  You want to engage all committee members and make this a good experience for all members.
  5. It is important to follow up on all issues discussed during the conference call.  Provide feedback to the committee members on a regular basis.
  6. Communicate with your assigned AAS Officer about the activities related to your committee on a monthly basis.  Other responsibilities as Chair:
    1. Must provide a report for the Executive Council book (see SOP for reporting structure).
    2. Must attend all three Executive Council (EC) meetings (at the ASC, a summer retreat in June and during the ACS in the fall).
    3. Follow up on action items from the EC meeting that pertain to your committee.
    4. Work with AAS staff on setting up a committee meeting during the ASC, if necessary.
    5. If holding a meeting, work with AAS staff on the development of an agenda to be distributed to the committee members.

The key to success is through the Chair’s communication skills:

  • Communicate with members regularly
  • Communicate information in a clear and concise manner (i.e., be organized)
  • Follow up on all requests
  • Involve as many committee members as possible
  • Answer all correspondence in a prompt manner
  • Provide positive feedback to members who do good work, and are involved
  • Maintain a sense of collegiality and have fun
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