Saturday 2 September 2017

What next for the FAS?

The Federation of Astronomical Societies, of which CAS is a member, needs volunteers to take on the roles of executive officers who are retiring at the AGM ( to be held at the University of Birmingham on 22-Oct-2017).  Here is what the President of the Federation says:
As I mentioned in my May email update to All FAS Societies there will be a number of positions vacant at the AGM. There have been no expressions of interest and at our last Council Meeting, we discussed what we should do.  I myself am standing down as I was invited to stand for BAA President in its next session. Shaun O'Dell is standing down from Secretary - Shaun has been a stalwart of the Federation for many, many years and will be sorely missed. Mike Pritchard (Membership Secretary) has been doing his role for many years, and has made a great contribution. Also Sean Elvidge our website manager has too many commitments to give the role the attention it needs - but again we really do appreciate all the work he has done in this role and in helping to organise the annual convention.
So we will be without President, Vice-President, Secretary and Membership Secretary - these are all 'exectutive officer' positions which leaves just two in post (Treasurer and PLI Secretary). And our Website Manager position will also become vacant at the AGM.

Without people in these positions, it is very difficult for the FAS to continue. I remember a couple of years back at the AGM Frank Johns raised this issue then, and to use a rugby analogy the future was 'use it of lose it'.

At the council meeting, one member raised the interesting questions 'should the FAS continue? and can the FAS continue?' We did not have much time to discuss the 'should' question - but the landscape of astronomical societies in the internet age has changed a lot since the inception of the FAS in 1974.

However we spent much more time on the 'can' question - there has been difficulty attracting people to serve on council and attempts to make this easier (such as using Skype instead of face-to-face meetings) has not helped much. With a need to attract at least three executive officers plus the website manager (an essential position these days), and with the unlikely-hood of this, we had to give realistic consideration to the possibility of winding up the FAS. There is provision in the Constitution for this, though not much in the way of process to achieve this. Probably the key service the FAS provides to members is the Public Liability Insurance (PLI) - so with any winding up of the FAS we would want to ensure that PLI continued in the short term, and there was a home for this in the future, and there would be a smooth transition. It is also important for societies to express their opinion on the proposition, and so it would be intended to ballot societies.

This is not a decision the FAS council has made lightly - and to some extent this is a backup position. However, if there are no volunteers to take on the executive officers vacant posts, the FAS will have to close.

So, if you do wish the FAS to continue the time to step forward is NOW.

Clear skies,
Callum Potter
President: Federation of Astronomical Societies
If you could help in any way it would be much appreciated by all members.

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