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honorary member vs. ex officio


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Our by laws are being re-written. Some want to change the exofficio members to become honorary members. Assuming there is no restraining bylaw connected with either term, what might an exofficio member be losing should he be designated honorary? Also is an exofficio member automatically considered a board member?

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Our by laws are being re-written. Some want to change the exofficio members to become honorary members. Assuming there is no restraining bylaw connected with either term, what might an exofficio member be losing should he be designated honorary? Also is an exofficio member automatically considered a board member?

Your organization may do well to seek guidance from a professional during this bylaw revision process.

"Ex officio" means by virtue of office.

An "honorary member" is a complimentary title.

If your intention is to create different classes of membership, it is important for the bylaws to clearly define the rights of each. RONR defines members as those with full participation rights.

Your bylaws should clearly define the composition of the executive board.

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The two terms mean completely different things. I suspect that those who want to change the term do not understand the meaning of either one.

The term "ex officio" means "by virtue of office or position". An ex-officio member of the board is someone who is on the board because they hold some other office, by virtue of which they are automatically on the board. This may be in contrast with other members who are on the board because they were elected to it. But such members (with one exception) have all the rights and duties of any other member. (The exception is when the bylaws provide that the president is, ex officio, a member of all committees. In this case the president has the rights, but not the duties of committee membership.)

An honorary member, is usually someone (typically a nonmember) whom the society wishes to honor, and so grants this honorary title. An honorary officer or member (unless also a regular member) has no duties at all, and may attend meetings and speak, but not make motions or vote.

You need to decide what you want, and say it clearly.

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Assuming there is no restraining bylaw connected with either term, what might an exofficio member be losing should he be designated honorary?

He would lose, for instance, his rights to vote and make motions.

Also is an exofficio member automatically considered a board member?

Well, if he is an ex-officio member of the board, yes.

Pay close attention to the posts of Mr. Wynn and Mr. Novosielski as well, as I expect the society is confused about the meaning of the terms.

Edited by Josh Martin
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I appreciate all the input, and am not very familiar with Rules of Order, hence am questioning what is being proposed.

This instance deals with a fairly new non profit group. In particular: it has been suggested that present ex-officio members be made honorary, and that a staff member ( paid) be made ex-officio where previously they had no board status. As mentioned, correct procedure is not my forte, but this seems to several members to be a highly irregular move by some who do not understand these positions. Also we perceive there are far reaching implications of this, should it be put in the bylaws. Please enlighten me/us so that things can be done 'decently and in order' Thank you for any help here to avoid problems.

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I appreciate all the input, and am not very familiar with Rules of Order, hence am questioning what is being proposed.

This instance deals with a fairly new non profit group. In particular: it has been suggested that present ex-officio members be made honorary, and that a staff member ( paid) be made ex-officio where previously they had no board status. As mentioned, correct procedure is not my forte, but this seems to several members to be a highly irregular move by some who do not understand these positions. Also we perceive there are far reaching implications of this, should it be put in the bylaws. Please enlighten me/us so that things can be done 'decently and in order' Thank you for any help here to avoid problems.

Umm, you did read and understand the previous responses, yes? They were intended to be enlightening, and help you avoid problems.

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Maybe examples will help:

An ex officio member of a board (or committee) is one who was not directly elected to the board (or committee), but is a member because he currently holds a a particular office that makes him a member of that board (or committee).

For example, at the church where I am moderator, our pastor is an ex officio member of all boards and committees, and is the ex officio chair of our executive board. He wasn't elected to any of these positions (except the position of Pastor) he just gets them by virtue of being the pastor. Likewise, our treasurer is an ex officio member of our Board of Deacons. He doesn't have to be elected to to the Board of Deacons. He just is on the Board of Deacons by virtue of his office as Treasurer.

Honorary membership is like an honorary degree. It doesn't mean much in practical terms. An honorary member gets to speak, but can't make motions, and cannot vote. Making someone an honorary member is, well, an honor, and (in my opinion) shouldn't be used as a class of membership in the bylaws.

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Honorary membership is like an honorary degree. It doesn't mean much in practical terms. An honorary member gets to speak, but can't make motions, and cannot vote. Making someone an honorary member is, well, an honor, and (in my opinion) shouldn't be used as a class of membership in the bylaws.

Honorary memberships may only be awarded if the bylaws so authorize (RONR p. 463, ll. 17-18).

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Honorary memberships may only be awarded if the bylaws so authorize

Which seems to be what's being proposed.

Our by laws are being re-written. Some want to change the exofficio members to become honorary members.

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Thanks for the English/Latin lesson, Mr. Wynn. ^_^ I'm a stickler for proper punctuation!

Just to clarify what I meant in the snippet quoted by Mr. Hunt, the "honorary" designation should be reserved for honors, and should not be used to strip the power of what is, in all other respects, a ex-officio office (which is what it sounds like this assembly is trying to do). If they want to do that, they should spell it out in the bylaws, and not rely on the word honorary to convey a meaning outside its customary use. This is, of course, just my opinion, and I'm new here.

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I am appreciating all this learning, and enjoying your various comments. Thank you to each one. Sorry for any confusion, but I did want to be clear in what I might pass on to the other members.

Yes, that is the fear: a stripping of powers by some who do not properly understand the designation of the terms. If you don't mind a couple of other questions concerning by laws: To change a bylaw or create a new one, is it just a matter of making a motion, have it passed, and that is it? I assume this is done at an annual general meeting. And, therefore, once the bylaw is in place, is it possible to change or amend it at any time other than the AGM?

I have done some searching on my own, but do not seem to find the exact answer I need.

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I am appreciating all this learning, and enjoying your various comments. Thank you to each one. Sorry for any confusion, but I did want to be clear in what I might pass on to the other members.

Yes, that is the fear: a stripping of powers by some who do not properly understand the designation of the terms. If you don't mind a couple of other questions concerning by laws: To change a bylaw or create a new one, is it just a matter of making a motion, have it passed, and that is it? I assume this is done at an annual general meeting. And, therefore, once the bylaw is in place, is it possible to change or amend it at any time other than the AGM?

I have done some searching on my own, but do not seem to find the exact answer I need.

Check the bylaws for a provision on amendment, which is usually found in its own article near the end of the document. The bylaws can only be amended in accordance with that provision, if it exists.

If no such provision exists, the bylaws may be amended at any meeting by a two-thirds vote with notice; or by a vote of a majority of the ENTIRE membership.

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But such members [ex-officio members] (with one exception) have all the rights and duties of any other member. (The exception is when the bylaws provide that the president is, ex officio, a member of all committees. In this case the president has the rights, but not the duties of committee membership.)

True if the ex-officio member "is under the authority of the society (that is, if he is a member, an employee, or an elected or appointed officer of the society) . . . ." RONR (11th ed.), p. 483, ll. 26-28.

However, "If the ex-officio member is not under the authority of the society, he has all the privileges of board membership . . . but none of the obligations-- just as in a case, for example, where the governor of a state is ex officio a trustee of a private academy. The latter class of ex-officio member, who has no obligation to participate, should not be counted in determining the number required for a quorum or whether a quorum is present at a meeting." Id., p. 483, l. 30 to p. 484, l. 3.

It is noteworthy that when the president is ex officio a member of all committees (or all committees with stated exceptions), that officer also "is not counted in determining the number required for a quorum or whether a quorum is present at a meeting." Id., p. 497, ll. 22-29.

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If you really want to change the name but do not want to remove rights, you could simply add that honorary members enjoy the full rights and privileges of membership. Then there would be no confusion.

Still, it is probably best to pick the correct term.

Which seems to be what's being proposed.

Yes; I was replying to Mr. Sullo

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Bryan,

When "ex officio" is used in the adjective form, it contains a hyphen, for example: She is an ex-officio member.

In the adverbial form, no hyphen is used, for example: She is ex officio a member.

This is true as far as RONR is concerned, but RONR is not a manual of style.

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