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Glen Hall

Ex officio in the Fall 2018 NP Vol. 80 No. 1

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Ex officio describes a method of becoming a member of a group by a method other than appointment or election; the person becomes a member by virtue of an office held.  But what if there is no office, for example the office of Past President?  Do we still describe the person as holding the office ex officio?

Interestingly, in the Q and A of the Fall 2018 NP p. 23 talks about past presidents being ex officio members of a board, that as long as they pay their dues to the organization they remain members of the board.  The article references RONR p. 484, but that page says that the ex officio position is relinquished when the person no longer holds the office.  There is no office of "Past President" either Immediate or otherwise, mentioned.

The article doesn't mention an office of Past President, so I wonder if the term "ex officio" is being used in error.  If there is no office of "Past President" then are they "ex officio" members? 

Of course persons can be made members of a board or committee by virtue of a holding a past position of an organization and by a stretch of the definition be called "ex officio members" but the definition would have to be altered a bit so that it would include persons who hold the title of "previous [office]" or "past [office]" if there is no office of the Second Past President, Third Past President ... Tenth Past President, etc.

So is it technically correct to call them ex officio members if there is no such office?

Ex officio is a confusing term to many who are not more intimately familiar with parliamentary procedure and parliamentary authorities, so I have discouraged its use in our governing documents unless it is necessary for understanding a rule or bylaw - which it usually is not.  For example, "The President shall be a member of the Budget Committee."  There is no question about whether the President can vote or make motions, etc.  My experience has been that when the wording is "The President shall be an ex offico member of the Budget Committee" that many people want to know if he/she can vote or participate in discussion/debate, etc.  Leaving out the words "ex officio" removes the confusion.

Thus my question about its use in this article.  If we say "Any person who is a former President of the organization shall be a member of the Board if his/her dues are current," I guess we have to say that they are "ex officio members" because of an office they used to hold?

Thanks for any replies.

Glen

 

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59 minutes ago, Glen Hall said:

Ex officio describes a method of becoming a member of a group by a method other than appointment or election; the person becomes a member by virtue of an office held.  But what if there is no office, for example the office of Past President?  Do we still describe the person as holding the office ex officio?

Interestingly, in the Q and A of the Fall 2018 NP p. 23 talks about past presidents being ex officio members of a board, that as long as they pay their dues to the organization they remain members of the board.  The article references RONR p. 484, but that page says that the ex officio position is relinquished when the person no longer holds the office.  There is no office of "Past President" either Immediate or otherwise, mentioned.

The article doesn't mention an office of Past President, so I wonder if the term "ex officio" is being used in error.  If there is no office of "Past President" then are they "ex officio" members? 

Of course persons can be made members of a board or committee by virtue of a holding a past position of an organization and by a stretch of the definition be called "ex officio members" but the definition would have to be altered a bit so that it would include persons who hold the title of "previous [office]" or "past [office]" if there is no office of the Second Past President, Third Past President ... Tenth Past President, etc.

So is it technically correct to call them ex officio members if there is no such office?

Ex officio is a confusing term to many who are not more intimately familiar with parliamentary procedure and parliamentary authorities, so I have discouraged its use in our governing documents unless it is necessary for understanding a rule or bylaw - which it usually is not.  For example, "The President shall be a member of the Budget Committee."  There is no question about whether the President can vote or make motions, etc.  My experience has been that when the wording is "The President shall be an ex offico member of the Budget Committee" that many people want to know if he/she can vote or participate in discussion/debate, etc.  Leaving out the words "ex officio" removes the confusion.

Thus my question about its use in this article.  If we say "Any person who is a former President of the organization shall be a member of the Board if his/her dues are current," I guess we have to say that they are "ex officio members" because of an office they used to hold?

Thanks for any replies.

Glen

 

The question mentions it and I don't have any issue with their answer.

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On 11/7/2018 at 3:53 PM, Glen Hall said:

Thus my question about its use in this article.  If we say "Any person who is a former President of the organization shall be a member of the Board if his/her dues are current," I guess we have to say that they are "ex officio members" because of an office they used to hold?

You raise an interesting question. Perhaps they should be called "ex ex-officio" members.

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The original poster is confusing two concepts

• The term "ex officio" does NOT mean "former officer" or "former office holder".

• The term "ex officio" means "by way of holding office" or "through the office" -- and thus one simultaneously holds a second position automatically.

E.g., If I sit ex officio on a committee or board, then that MUST imply I am holding another office/position/honor/stewardship at the same time.

And, when I lose that stewardship, honor, etc., then I automatically lose my seat on that board/committee. Instantly and automatically.

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On 11/7/2018 at 12:53 PM, Glen Hall said:

Thus my question about its use in this article.  If we say "Any person who is a former President of the organization shall be a member of the Board if his/her dues are current," I guess we have to say that they are "ex officio members" because of an office they used to hold?

I may have mis-read the original poster.

You are thinking that "ex officio" must refer to a specific NAMED office. -- No! "Ex officio" can refer to any status.

E.g., If you have a customized rule which implies "All past presidents shall sit on [body X]", then this is true ex officio, too, because as soon as one loses the status of "being a past president", then one simultaneously loses the second position.

E.g., Assume a customized rule, "All spouses of gentlemen members are automatically members of the Ladies Auxilliary." -- This is an ex officio position. -- Why? Because as soon as one loses (a.) the status of being the spouse of a gentleman-member, then one loses (b.)  the right of membership to the secondary body.

***

"... by way of holding office ..."

"... by virtue of the office ..."

It is a pathway. A conduit. A branch. Always automatic. Always contingent.

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Hi Glen,   Also see my follow-up two posts below

Not having seen that issue of NP yet, I'd say it this way: You have created the office of Past-President. It has the privilege of being a member of the Board (assuming dues are current). It is an interesting office because more than one person can fill it simultaneously. (I really wanted to say that "you have de facto created the office" but thought the new Latin term would lead us into spiralling out of control)

On 11/7/2018 at 3:53 PM, Glen Hall said:

For example, "The President shall be a member of the Budget Committee."  There is no question about whether the President can vote or make motions, etc

What you have written there would mean that the President counts towards the quorum requirement for Budget Committee meetings. That's fine, if it is what you want to do.

But see my follow-up two posts below

Edited by Atul Kapur
advertising my follow-up post

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Guest Zev
1 hour ago, Atul Kapur said:

What you have written there would mean that the President counts towards the quorum requirement for Budget Committee meetings.

Not only that, but by not making him ex-officio he is actually required to attend the committee meetings.

1 hour ago, Atul Kapur said:

That's fine, if it is what you want to do.

 

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In my post above, I said that if the President was made ex officio a member of one particular committee (as opposed to all committees save Nominating) that they count towards the number required for quorum and whether a quorum is present. In other words, they are the same as any other member. However, p. 457, ll.1-6  says, "As an ex-officio member of a committee, the president has the same rights as the other committee members, but is not obligated to attend meetings of the committee and is not counted in determining the number required for a quorum or whether a quorum is present."

(BTW, it does not matter whether the bylaws use the term ex officio or not -- they are there by virtue of the office so by definition it is ex officio)

I'm wondering if there is a conflict with two other references in RONR.
P. 497, ll. 579, ll. 24-29 says that the president has the rights but not the obligation to participate. P. 579, ll. 26-29 says the same thing. Both references state this in the context of a provision that the President is ex officio a member of all committees (with one or two exceptions).

If the President is obligation-free whether they are appointed to a specific committee (p. 457) or to all committees (p. 497 and 579), then why make the specific reference to "all committees" in the latter two references?

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7 hours ago, Atul Kapur said:

If the President is obligation-free whether they are appointed to a specific committee (p. 457) or to all committees (p. 497 and 579), then why make the specific reference to "all committees" in the latter two references?

Possibly because that is the most common way that this happens.  

But if any bylaws provision says that a particular person, identified by title, is a member of one or more committees, such as the treasurer being a member or chair of the Finance Committee, that is an ex-officio assignment, whether the language uses the Latin term or not.

I don't mean to imply that the language you cited applies to treasurers--merely to agree that the situation is ex-officio in either case.

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Guest Zev

Curiosity question. If an individual can be an ex-officio member whether he is identified that way or not, why does RONR say ex-officio thirty-two times if the term has no particular influence on anything? How do I go about appointing the treasurer to the finance committee without him being ex-officio, that is, he is compelled to attend and is counted for quorum purposes. What term do I use in such a case? Not-ex-officio? But if ex-officio does not mean anything ... Oh dear. My head hurts.

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1 hour ago, Guest Zev said:

How do I go about appointing the treasurer to the finance committee without him being ex-officio, that is, he is compelled to attend and is counted for quorum purposes. What term do I use in such a case?

Good question.  I may have more to say about that question and the thread as a whole later, but to answer your particular question off the top of my head, you might try using the term "regular, full member".    Although I question whether it is really necessary, I think saying something like "The Treasurer shall be a regular full member of the finance committee" will make it plain that he is a regular member who counts toward the quorum, has a duty to attend meetings, etc.   That was off the top of my head and I'm mentally drained from a two hour RP seminar.  Perhaps others will have better suggestions.

Another way of doing might be to name him (or his title) along with the other members:  "The members of the finance committee shall be Treasurer John Tightwad, Secretary Lucy Goosey, Jim Jones and Al Smith".

Of course, if you are looking for language for a bylaw provision, that last suggestion won't work. :unsure:

Edited to add:  However, if you look at both pages 487 and 493, you should see that when a member of the assembly is made an ex officio member of a board or committee, he is treated just like all of the other members with all of the same rights, privileges and responsibilities.  The way I read it, he does have a duty to attend meetings and does count for quorum purposes.  It is people who are not under the jurisdiction of the society who do not have the duty to attend and who do not count for quorum purposes.  You need to read both pages.

Edited by Richard Brown

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4 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

It is people who are not under the jurisdiction of the society who do not have the duty to attend and who do not count for quorum purposes

But the President is under the jurisdiction of the society and is, at the same time, relieved of this obligation.

I, too, will have more to say tomorrow. Want to sleep on it a bit more.

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The only point that RONR is trying to make in this connection is that when, as so often happens, an organization's bylaws provide that the President shall be a member of all committees (with limited exceptions), as in the sample bylaws on page 587, lines 34-36, the evident intent and purpose of such a provision is to permit the President to act as a member of these committees, but not to require that he or she do so.

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15 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

Curiosity question. If an individual can be an ex-officio member whether he is identified that way or not, why does RONR say ex-officio thirty-two times if the term has no particular influence on anything? How do I go about appointing the treasurer to the finance committee without him being ex-officio, that is, he is compelled to attend and is counted for quorum purposes. What term do I use in such a case? Not-ex-officio? But if ex-officio does not mean anything ... Oh dear. My head hurts.

Why?

English grammar/syntax observation:

• "Ex-officio" is an adjective.

• "Ex officio" is a noun.

One hyphen makes the difference.

• RONR uses the adjective to describe quickly what otherwise would be done in  a sentence.

• RONR uses the noun to describe the party involved.

***

RONR has a special case for presidents who sit ex-officio.

RONR implies that non-presidents do not pick up the same perqs -- as your hypothetical treasurer would have.

That is, it is NOT the case that "all parties who sit ex officio do not count toward the quorum". -- RONR reserves the "not counted toward quorum" perq as being a "presidents only" perq of office.

 

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5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

The only point that RONR is trying to make in this connection is that when, as so often happens, an organization's bylaws provide that the President shall be a member of all committees (with limited exceptions), as in the sample bylaws on page 587, lines 34-36, the evident intent and purpose of such a provision is to permit the President to act as a member of these committees, but not to require that he or she do so.

 

That is what I understood initially: When the President is made a member of all committees (with limited exceptions), they are not subject to the usual obligations and that this privilege only applies to the President.

However, page 456, line 35 - page 457, line 6 seem to say that this applies even if the President is made ex officio a member of a single committee by a particular action of the assembly - outside of the bylaws.

So back to my questions: Does that relief of the obligation apply to any situation where the President is an ex-officio member? And, if so, why the emphasis on the situation where the President is made a member of all committees in the bylaws? An emphasis that I suggest leads to confusion.

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25 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

However, page 456, line 35 - page 457, line 6 seem to say that this applies even if the President is made ex officio a member of a single committee by a particular action of the assembly - outside of the bylaws.

Yes, this is regrettably true, but the rule is correctly and fully stated on page 497, lines 22-29. Actually, the proper factual context is also set forth on page 456, lines 28-34, immediately preceding the troublesome statement to which you refer, but I agree that what follows can be misleading.

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It seems to me that it is a compromise between a) not having the rule at all, and forcing it to be included in every set of bylaws which wishes to, possibly causing quorum problems and/or burnout in the President of organizations that forgot, b) having a rule with this unfortunate side effect, and c) leading to a vague outcome.

Personally, I'm more miffed that (if memory serves, as I don't have my copy of the book with me) the rule applies specifically and only to the President.

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On 1/16/2019 at 8:55 AM, Alexis Hunt said:

It seems to me that it is a compromise between a) not having the rule at all, and forcing it to be included in every set of bylaws which wishes to, possibly causing quorum problems and/or burnout in the President of organizations that forgot, b) having a rule with this unfortunate side effect, and c) leading to a vague outcome.

Personally, I'm more miffed that (if memory serves, as I don't have my copy of the book with me) the rule applies specifically and only to the President.

Your bylaws could always exempt whichever ex-officio members from quorum when absent the society deems fit.

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On 11/15/2018 at 1:06 PM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Yes, this is regrettably true, but the rule is correctly and fully stated on page 497, lines 22-29. Actually, the proper factual context is also set forth on page 456, lines 28-34, immediately preceding the troublesome statement to which you refer, but I agree that what follows can be misleading.

Hmmm.... Do I sense a change to be found in RONR, 12th Ed?  If only in wording?

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I like the OP's idea of removing ex-officio references. I find that in my organization it is implied that "ex-officio" implies "not a full member"*.  

But what about this: defining ex-officio in the Standing Rules, Special Rules of Order or Bylaws so that everyone is clear what it means now and in the future.  It would also give the body freedom to define ex-officio to suit their needs so for example Past Presidents that are ex-officio members of the Board don't count for the quorum (that could be bad if there is a small Board and are a lot of PPs that never go to meetings).

 

 

 

*Of course I correct them.

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2 minutes ago, Drake Savory said:

But what about this: defining ex-officio in the Standing Rules, Special Rules of Order or Bylaws so that everyone is clear what it means now and in the future.  It would also give the body freedom to define ex-officio to suit their needs so for example Past Presidents that are ex-officio members of the Board don't count for the quorum (that could be bad if there is a small Board and are a lot of PPs that never go to meetings).

An organization is free to adopt such rules if it wishes. Generally, I would suggest that such rules would need to be in the bylaws. I do not think that a special rule of order, let alone a standing rule, would be sufficient.

In the absence of such rules, the rules in RONR are controlling.

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On 11/7/2018 at 3:53 PM, Glen Hall said:

Ex officio describes a method of becoming a member of a group by a method other than appointment or election; the person becomes a member by virtue of an office held.

That definition seems fine.  A Past President is, ex-officio, a member of the board by virtue of an office held, viz. President--in the past.

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Thank, Gary.  I was of the understanding that it was due to an office presently held, and that unless there were an office of Past-president, that ex officio would not apply.  Your explanation makes perfect sense, and makes it a "forehead slapper" for me.

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