2021 Trustee Elections and AGM

The third election of trustees of the Society of Research Software Engineering will be taking place this September, along with our Annual General Meeting (AGM). This post explains how this year’s election will work, how to stand as a candidate and how to submit items to our AGM.

The Election Process

This year, we have made some changes to the election process we’ve used previously, taking into account feedback from Society members and the careful interpretation of our constitution.

The major change this year is that in order to be eligible to vote in the election, you must be a member of the Society at the time the election opens on Tuesday 7th September. On the day that elections open you will receive an email containing a link to the voting form and your personal voting token. This token will be generated from a salted hash of your email address and will allow the scrutineers to verify your eligibility to vote, without being able to identify you.

Voting will be open for three weeks, closing on Tuesday 28th September, with results being announced at our AGM on Thursday 30th September.

Trustee Candidate Nominations

Nominations are open from now (Monday 2nd August) until midnight at the end of Monday 23rd August, with members voting in September over a period of three weeks. Results will be announced at our AGM as the new trustees take up their positions and the retiring trustees stand down.

Since the first election of trustees of the Society in September 2019, we have been working hard to ensure that the Society has all of the necessary internal processes and infrastructure to continue and build upon the successes of the previous RSE Association. At the same time as this, the Society continues to support and lead a number of initiatives to further promote the growth of the RSE community and the position of RSEs themselves within the wider research community. These include our event funding policy, our monthly community newsletter, and this year’s return of the UKRSE conference in the new SeptembRSE format.

This year, the Society will be holding our AGM online at the end of September, as part of SeptembRSE. In contrast to previous years, the election of trustees will occur in the weeks preceding the AGM, to allow for a smoother handover, with the new trustees taking their seats at the AGM as soon as the retiring trustees stand down. Because of this change, candidates will have the opportunity at the beginning of September to put forward a pitch to our members, explaining their vision for the society and why they should be elected.

What is required to be a trustee?

Being a charity trustee is a significant commitment, but a rewarding experience which provides the opportunity to demonstrate leadership and have an impact on the national and international RSE communities. The role has a legal responsibility to run the charity and plan and oversee its activities for the public benefit and in line with its aims and constitution. However, since only half the trustees change each year, new trustees will be able to rely on the established board members during their first year to become familiar with the processes and work of the Society. Trustees are elected on a two-year term with seven of the 12 positions up for election this year.

The responsibilities of a trustee are described in this Charity Commission guidance (see section 2 for a summary). You must also be a member of the Society before you nominate yourself for election. If you’re not yet a member, see our membership page for details of how to join.

To fulfil the role of trustee you need to be able to commit sufficient time and attention to the role. With the widespread transition to remote working, all Society meetings are currently conducted online, with all trustees attending a monthly two hour board meeting and smaller meetings of individual subgroups / working groups as necessary. Trustees will also need to have time between meetings to prepare, contribute to online discussions and decisions and work on Society projects or activities. We do not have administrative staff available, so all essential tasks must be shared between the trustees. This time is either volunteered by the trustee or paid for by their employer, though the Society has an expenses policy which may cover specific direct expenses such as travel if necessary. The minimum time commitment with which useful work can be done is two days per month, though many trustees do spend significantly longer than this working on Society projects.

We are looking for people with a passion for research software engineering and its community, who share our goal of ensuring that software and the people who develop it gain recognition for their contribution to research. The most important characteristic we are looking for is enthusiasm and commitment to work with the RSE community to make things happen to further the aims of the Society. There are also some specific skills which would be very useful, such as:

  • Previous experience as a trustee or knowledge of running charities
  • Budgeting and financial reporting
  • Design, marketing and communications
  • Managing websites, online services and other digital infrastructure (especially WordPress)
  • Organising events
  • Community building
  • Leading teams, projects or committees
  • Input on policy and writing proposals or bids
  • Setting up and managing administrative processes
  • Energy and creative ideas

The current trustees have each taken responsibility for a particular core area in order to increase accountability and help ensure that the workload of managing the Society is divided fairly. These roles are listed on the governance page of our website, with details of each role on the role descriptions page. These roles are not fixed, but it would be worthwhile to consider which areas you are most interested in, or where your skills are most relevant as part of your pitch to our members. If you want to know more about any of these roles, or have any other questions, please get in touch with us at [email protected], or with an individual trustee via email or Slack.

In return for your commitment and contributions, you will have many opportunities to develop your skills, meet and influence people, raise your profile as a leader in the community and make a real difference to research and to society.

How do I stand for election?

You can nominate yourself as a candidate by completing the following form: Candidate registration for Society of RSE trustee elections.

In section 1 you will be asked for some basic information. Section 2 is to confirm that you understand the nature of the role and are eligible. You will be asked to supply the email address of two other Society members who support your nomination – please get their permission first. The final section of the form is your pitch to the Society’s membership. The five questions to answer are:

  • How have you contributed to furthering the RSE role and building the community?
  • What abilities can you bring to the role of trustee that would be useful in establishing and running the Society?
  • Which of the current activities that the Society engages in are you best suited to help with?
  • What would you like to help achieve through the Society in the role of trustee?
  • Why do you want to be a trustee of the Society?

After nominations close, information about candidates will then be published on our website. All Society members will be eligible to vote, after voting opens at an online event in early September. At this event candidates will have the opportunity to introduce themselves by presenting a two-minute pitch, either live or pre-recorded. Voting will close after three weeks so that the new trustees will join the board as the retiring trustees stand down at the AGM.

Advanced notice of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Process for Member Resolutions

Our AGM will take place on Thursday 30th September 2021 at 10:00. The AGM will include an update from trustees on work undertaken by the Society (summarised in our annual report),  presentation of our accounts, and the announcement of the election of new trustees. 

Within the AGM there will be the opportunity for members to vote on items put forwards for the agenda (referred to as resolutions within our constitution). The trustees have a number of items which will be proposed this year for vote by members. These relate to constitutional changes and details of these will be shared with members in advance when we send a formal notice of the general meeting shortly.

Members of the Society are reminded that they are welcome to put forward resolutions to be circulated to members in advance of the AGM. A resolution should be in the form of an item in which members are expected to vote. Any member resolutions for this year’s AGM require support of 10% of the membership. At the time of writing this is a minimum of 45 members of the Society. Resolutions must be submitted in advance of the AGM to allow the resolution to be circulated to members in advance of the meeting. Resolutions put forward by members will be validated by the trustees to ensure that they comply with the constitutional requirements specified in section 10.3.5.

You can submit a resolution by completing the following form: Submission of member resolutions in advance of the AGM.

The deadline for any submissions of resolutions is Monday 23rd August.

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