[Mansa-l] MANSA elections

David Conrad basitigi at sbcglobal.net
Tue Sep 23 13:13:16 CDT 2008


MANSAdenw,

The November ASA meeting in Chicago will be upon us before we know  
it, and we need to prepare for the election of a new MANSA President.

At some point during early discussions last year, I had indicated  
that I would prepare a description of the President's duties, and I'm  
long overdue in sending that out.
During the past week I've been jarred awake and set on course once  
again by Barbara Hoffman, upon whom I have always relied for guidance  
on issues involving the MANSA by-laws (not to mention problems and  
crucial issues that have arisen from time to time).

Following Barbara's advice, I will now issue a job description,  
followed by a solicitation for nominations. Also following Barbara's  
suggestion, at  the end of this memo I will cut and paste the  
relevant portions of the by-laws that she sent to me a few days ago,  
in order to remind everyone of how the process is supposed to work.
According to Barbara, once I send out this memo, "all those  
interested in presenting their candidacy will need to write a  
statement for [me] to put in the newsletter."

The part of her instructions regarding the forthcoming printed  
newsletter poses a bit of a problem for me, because I was hoping to  
get he newsletter out in the next few weeks. On October 20th I have  
to leave for Morocco for another two-week lecture gig there, and will  
not be back until a couple of weeks before the ASA meeting. So I (and  
my wife Barbmuso) have to get the newsletter into the mail before I  
leave. If that proves impossible to do with the candidate's  
statements included, I'll follow another suggestion of Barbara's,  
which is to issue a special edition as a PDF file.

[Note: Barbara Hoffman has also outlined what should be done about  
proxy votes, but I will focus on that in a later, separate memo.]

As for the job description, I've started to prepare the list of  
duties several times, but repeatedly found it extremely difficult to  
do so because of the multitude of minor, rather intangible elements  
involved in the way I've conducted MANSA affairs over the years. What  
it really amounts to is virtually constant communication with members  
of the organization and fielding questions on subjects of extremely  
wide scope, from esoteric scholarly subjects to practical matters  
involving dues, membership questions, etc., etc. There is also a  
considerable amount of e-traffic from non-members who were told about  
the organization and want information about it including how to join,  
as well as enquiries from a wide range of non-Mande specialists  
requesting information on related topics. Membership and related  
questions are referred to the Secretary-Treasurer, serving as a  
constant reminder of how crucial that position is in our  
organization, and how it requires someone with the time and requisite  
skills to deal with it, plus endless patience. If I were to try to  
present a detailed outline of everything involved in the MANSA  
Presidency over the years since it's founding (not to mention the  
sleepless nights agonizing over real and imagined problems and  
crises), it would be overly anecdotal and undoubtedly appear self- 
serving.

Given the present urgency of this business, I'm just going to list  
the most obvious things as I think of them right now, and send out  
the call for nominations and candidate's statements.

1. Contact the appropriate ASA meeting personnel and book a meeting  
room for the annual MANSA meeting each year before the March 15  
deadline.

2. Prepare the required report for ASA updating their information on  
MANSA as an ASA affiliated organization, including figures on the  
number of MANSA members who belong to ASA, and the percentage of our  
members who are sponsored.

3. Prepare periodic updates on MANSA membership for publication in  
the Directory of International Organizations.

4.. Attend the annual ASA meeting to chair the MANSA meeting,  
regardless of the availability or non-availability of required travel  
and accommodation funding. Be prepared to make up the difference from  
personal funds whenever necessary (as I did when I traveled from  
Kuala Lumpur to Atlanta and Chicago in successive years).

5. Continue with the unfinished business of revising the by-laws  
which were originally established using the ASA as a model, and which  
now contain elements not appropriate to our own organization.

6. Keep an ongoing list of important agenda items for the annual  
MANSA meeting, avoiding entangled committee-type confusion and  
disputed decisions and conduct all business within an hour and a half.

7. Keep track of which members have served on the Advisory Board and  
think about who deserves that honor on future boards, keeping in mind  
sponsored African colleagues who have in some way distinguished  
themselves, gender balance, academic distinction, and (among younger  
colleagues) leadership potential and the likelihood of practical  
contributions when needed.

8. Periodically check the web site and communicate with the webtigi  
regarding corrections, improvements, and updates for the web site.

9. Deal with the constant problem of members changing land mail  
addresses and failing to notify the Secretary-Treasurer, which  
inevitably leads to returned newsletters, loss of MANSA funds, and  
complaints about non-communication.

10. Deal with the ongoing problem of changed or multiple e-mail  
addresses and keeping track of them with the webtigi and Secretary,  
so people continue to receive list-serv memos.

11. In communication with the Secretary-Treasurer, keep track of the  
treasury balance and issue periodic reminders and memos about  
membership dues coming due at the end of each calendar year.

12. Carry out continuous ongoing communication with the Secretary- 
Treasurer, exchanging and updating membership information and dealing  
with dues issues including (a) the regular problem of European  
members figuring out ways to submit their payments and (b) sponsored  
West African members who were once research assistants but have moved  
on to other aspects of their lives and have lost interest in us and  
are out of touch with their sponsors, but on whom we are wasting  
money by continuing to send them newsletters.

13. Be sure that the e-mail addresses of new members are passed on to  
webtigi Rich Warms to be inserted into the list-serv data base.

14. Edit new numbers of MANSA Newsletter three times per year  (four  
issues were put out in some years, but expense has become an issue,  
so three has become the optimum number).

15. Receive newsletter items from early submitters who missed the  
previous newsletter and place them in a current file for the  
forthcoming issue, sometimes beginning the day after the previous  
newsletter was printed. Essential to open a new file of "items" for  
the next newsletter and immediately deposit incoming materials as  
they arrive so they are not misplaced.

16. At the appropriate time, issue requests for newsletter items with  
reminders about required details.

17. During the last 4-6 weeks before each issue of the newsletter,  
repeat solicitations for items, receive submissions, and begin  
formatting the next issue, corresponding with individuals regarding  
publication details, etc., etc.

18. For each new issue of the newsletter, calculate the number that  
should be printed, according to the changing number of members since  
the previous issue, remembering to print c. 20 or more extra copies.

19. On regular trips to Mali, Guinea, Gambia, etc., carry extra  
copies of the newsletter for distribution among interested people and  
appropriate institutions like ISH in Bamako.

20. Keep in touch with the publisher and "Godfather" (David Henige)  
of the journal MANDE STUDIES at the University of Wisconsin regarding  
the publication schedule (always behind).

21. Keep in touch with Stephen Belcher, the main editor of MANDE  
STUDIES. about status of the next issue's submissions and projected  
date of publication.

22. Issue memos reminding MANSAdenw of the need for submissions to  
MANDE STUDIES.

23. Think ahead to the timing and location of the next International  
Conference on Mande Studies and begin communicating with key people  
in potential venues -- especially important in alternate-year West  
African locations. In these cases it is necessary to begin planning  
two-three years in advance, and to manage a visit to the location in  
question.

24. In daily practice, over-all policy decisions, and communications  
with members, constantly stress the importance of encouraging  
graduate students and sponsored West African members, taking time for  
thoughtful, supportive responses to their communications and requests  
for help and information.

25. Return to the Mande heartlands and/or neighboring regions at  
least once per year, maintaining relations with locals and  
colleagues, visiting the universities, libraries, archives, museums,  
renewing old acquaintances and making new ones, thus establishing  
meaningful, long-term relations with people who trust you because  
they know they will see you again.
	

MANSA members are hereby invited to submit nominations for the  
presidency.
All dues-paying members are eligible for nomination, and all those  
nominated must submit statements of candidacy for publication in the  
newsletter (SOON, PLEASE).

Here I am pasting in portions of the memo sent to me by Barbara  
Hoffman that are directly relevant to the issues at hand:
Article V. Meetings
Section 1. A meeting of the members shall be held annually. At the  
annual meeting, any vacant post on the Executive Committee will be  
filled.
Candidates for office shall submit brief statements for publication  
in the
last newsletter preceding the annual meeting. Members not in attendance
may vote by written proxy.

Section 3. For the transaction of normal business and the election
of officers and approval of members of the Advisory Board, a simple
majority vote by members of record present shall suffice.

My read on this is that our current bylaws mandate that candidates  
for office publish brief statements in a newsletter prior to the  
meeting. My suggestion would be for David to produce a special issue  
of the newsletter for just this purpose to be sent out on the  
listserv as a PDF.

Voting will have to take place at the meeting in Chicago. We should  
designate someone who will be attending the meeting but not running  
for office to serve as recorder of the proxy votes, which could be  
sent via email. The Secretary-Treasurer seems a likely candidate for  
this task if she is going to be attending. I would think the proxy  
votes should be printed out and brought to the meeting to be counted  
with the other votes. Voting at the meeting should be done on paper  
so folks can vote freely.

I agree that changes to this system should be made by changing the  
bylaws. I propose that we put discussion of a new draft of the bylaws  
on the agenda of the Chicago meeting, to follow the elections.
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