Standing Committees

Governance Council


Committee on Committee Governance

Executive Committee

Long-Range Planning Committee

Finance Committee

Development Committee

Nominating Committee

Conference Site Selection Committee

Committee on the Conference



1. Committee on Committee Governance

a. Charge

The Committee on Committee Governance, an advisory committee to the President, works in consultation with the President and the President-elect or Past President to recommend members for Society committees.

b. Membership

The committee includes three appointed members who serve for three years each on a rotating basis: two senior members and one junior member. Committee members should be active in the Society and know a wide range of the Society’s members. The Committee also includes the President, either the Past-President or the President-elect, and the Executive Director (ex officio). Each of the two senior members will serve as chair for the final two years of appointment (with the exception of the first person to serve as chair of the committee, who will serve as chair for the first two years of appointment). The terms of these two members are staggered so that years one and two of a new senior member’s term coincides with years two and three of the other’s term (when that individual is chair). The junior member’s term is served without reference to the rotation of the chair among senior members, since the junior member will not rotate into the chair position.

c. Duties

The Committee on Committee Governance—in conjunction with the President (who makes committee appointments)—maintains an up-to-date list of members of the Society’s committees. At least a month prior to the annual conference, the Chair of the Committee should provide to the rest of the committee (by email) a list of the various committee positions that will   become vacant at the conclusion of the conference and should subsequently solicit a list of potential names to be considered for appointment to the various committees.  These names can be shared with the entire COCG.  The committee should meet in person  early in the conference (preferably on Wednesday after the Board meeting) and discuss various potential  appointees.  The members of the COCG should  take into consideration issues of diversity on the various committees (including gender and ethnic diversity, seniority, geographical distribution, and variety in area of scholarship, especially for prize committees). 

During the conference the President can approach  many of the recommended individuals and ask if they would consider serving on a particular committee. Some of this work will have to be done after the conference.  Once all committee vacancies are filled, the President should communicate this information to the Chair of the COCG (in order to update the records) and the Executive Director, who will ensure that the webpage reflects current committee membership.

The Committee can also recommend to the Board the creation of new committees or elimination of one that is no longer active.  Furthermore, if the President or the Board wishes to create or disband a committee, the COCG, in an advisory capacity, will help to craft the charge, the list of duties, and the makeup of the committee (number of members; terms, etc.)

2. Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is a standing committee of the Board of Trustees, and may exercise all the powers of the Board during the interim period between meetings of the Board.


3. Long Range Planning Committee

a. Charge

The committee assesses long-range needs and goals for the purpose of realizing the mission of the Society for American Music. It works with all the committees of the Society to develop the policies that will effect these long range needs and goals. The Long Range Plan should be re-evaluated every five years.

b. Membership

The Long Range Planning Committee is chaired by the Vice-President and includes the Executive Committee of the Board, the chair of the Development Committee, and two other members as deemed appropriate by the President. The term of members of the committee is four years, staggered so as to provide continuity.

c. Procedures

1. Each revision of the Long Range Plan must be approved first by the Board and then by the general membership at the annual meeting.

2. The committee spends its first year reviewing the plan and the second year in dialogue with the Board and the Society's membership on the implementation of the plan.

3. The ongoing evaluation and reporting on the implementation of the Long Range Plan is the duty of the Vice-President of the Society.


4. Finance Committee

a. Charge

The Finance Committee develops and recommends a budget to the Board at its fall meeting. The committee receives quarterly reports from the Treasurer and assesses the financial state of the Society and the accuracy of income and expense projections as the year progresses. If adjustments must be made, the Finance Committee recommends such actions to the Board or the Executive Committee for action. The committee oversees annual audits of the financial records of the Society. The Finance Committee is also charged with considering applications from scholars who want to use the Society as a fiscal agent.

b. Membership

The Finance Committee consists of the Executive Committee of the Board with the Treasurer as Chair of the committee, and the Executive Director.

c. Procedures and Budgeting Schedule

1. Budget request forms should be distributed to the chairs of the membership, development, public relations, and long range plan committees at the annual conference, or no later than May 1st.

2. June 1: The Finance Committee Chair receives budget requests. The Executive Director will provide the Finance Committee Chair with a conservative estimate of money available for the next fiscal year in all Funds (given the unknown number of renewal/new members and the total gifts to the Society).

3. After June 1: A packet of all budget requests is sent to all members of the Finance Committee. Each member is to use a four-tier system in prioritizing requests:

A – “Top priority” – items that should be budgeted based upon the projections of the Executive Director;

B – “Second priority” – items that should be budgeted if funds are or become available (listed in priority order).

C – “Lowest priority” – items to budget only if funds become available (listed in priority order).

D – “Do not fund.” The members of the Finance Committee will then work together to reconcile their individual rankings, and develop a final budget proposal to be submitted for the Board's approval at the fall meeting.

4. Fall Board Meeting: The proposed budget from the Finance Committee will be on the agenda for discussion and approval. This should include granting the Executive Committee the power to approve items in B & C priorities upon the recommendation of the Finance Committee, as funds become available. The proposed budget should be distributed to the Board prior to the meeting.

d. Procedure for Payment of Bills

Bills are sent to the Executive Director, who verifies that the charges contained therein are both legitimate and based on the budget approved for that fiscal year. The Executive Director pays them and charges them to the appropriate accounts.

e. Other Operating Procedures

1. Funds remaining in the Discretionary Fund after the budgeting process will be controlled by the Finance Committee to be used for the payment of incidental expenses that arise after the budgeting process.

2. The Finance Committee Chair will receive a quarterly financial report and a copy of the Society's annual Income Tax Return from the Executive Director.

3. An annual audit of the Society's books shall be conducted by the Finance Committee.


5. Development Committee

a. Charge

The development committee is responsible for developing the resources (exclusive of dues) for furthering the goals of the Society and ensuring financial stability for key programs. The goals of the committee are:

1. to develop guidelines and strategies for fund-raising and to serve as liaison with funding institutions, grant-giving agencies, foundations, and patrons;

2. to formulate policy and make recommendations for the solicitations for, receipt of, and response to gifts to the Society;

3. to be aware of and acknowledge formally all gifts to the Society.

b. Membership

The Development Committee is comprised of a Chair who is not on the Board, the Treasurer, the Vice-President, one other Board member, and two non-Board members. The President and Executive Director will serve ex-officio. The term of office of committee members is four years, and it is a rotating committee with staggered membership. The Chair is a member of the Long Range Planning Committee.

c. Procedures

1. Annual Giving: Continue solicitation of annual gifts with the dues renewal notice, providing a detailed slate of specific giving options.

2. Major Gifts: Develop a list of priority projects consistent with the direction and programs of the Society. Determine the appropriate endowment levels as funding goals. Identify potential major donors and plan solicitations toward those goals.

Other considerations:

1. Each of the major gifts approved for the prioritized slate should be accompanied by a short description of the nature and significance of the gift. A list of the annotated priority needs should be prepared by the committee and made available to the membership.

2. Each major gift will require a memorandum of understanding, stating the purpose of the gift, its amount, the terms, etc. Legal counsel, with expertise in endowment management, should be retained in drafting/checking these memoranda.


6. Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee is responsible for the annual slate of candidates for the Board of Trustees.

a. Membership

1. The Chair presides over a committee of four to seven members (see item B, “Term of Office,” below). Members of the committee and their spouses/partners cannot be considered for elected offices in the Society during their term on the committee.

2. The Chair must be a member in good standing and an active participant at Society meetings and in other business of the Society. Experience as a member of the Board is highly desirable. The Chair should be generally acquainted with a large number of members of the Society and have knowledge of members’ professional work and aptitude for, and willingness to work for the goals of the Society.  The Chair of the committee has often been the unsuccessful candidate for the office of President during the just-completed election cycle.

3. Committee members must be Society members in good standing and should represent as broad a spectrum of the Society’s membership as possible, balanced in terms of geography, age, gender/ethnicity, interests, backgrounds, and experience. Members should be regular attendees at Society conferences and have a wide acquaintanceship within the Society. It is desirable that at least one member of the committee, in addition to the Chair, have previously served on the Board.


b. Term of office

The committee is newly constituted every two years by the President in consultation with the President-Elect and in accordance with Article VI, Sect. 1 of the bylaws. The committee’s term begins in December of the first year of the appointing President’s term; the Chair and other members of the committee must be appointed shortly after the election (by December 1). Normally no more than one member of the previous committee should be reappointed.

c. Qualifications for Office and Guidelines for Selection of Board Candidates

Qualifications are listed under each office in the Society’s Handbook (  Every effort should be made to seek a broad range of diverse candidates, in terms of professional activities, research interests, geography, race/ethnicity, gender, and age. The slate should, insofar as possible, include candidates who complement the skills of the continuing members of the Board.

1. Each year, four candidates for two slots as Members-at-Large stand for election; winners will be the two candidates with the highest number of votes.  

2. In the first year of the committee's term, two candidates for the office of Vice-President are nominated, along with two candidates for Treasurer, if the incumbent of either office chooses not to continue.

3. In the second year of the committee's term, two candidates for the office of President-Elect are nominated, as well as two candidates for the office of Secretary, if the incumbent Secretary chooses not to continue in office.

4. According to the bylaws, an incumbent Secretary or Treasurer may run unopposed with the approval of the Board. The Treasurer and Secretary may serve for more than two consecutive terms in their respective offices (Bylaws, Article IV). The Vice-President may serve for no more than two consecutive terms. 

5. Unsuccessful candidates from previous years are eligible for re-nomination.

d. Schedule and Procedures

1.         December to four weeks before the conference
The newly constituted Nominating Committee should meet immediately after its appointment by internet, conference call, or other means; it should then construct a list of candidates, and submit the list to the Secretary four weeks before the conference.  The list should include a short paragraph for each candidate with the following information: rank, institution, areas of specialization, prior service to the Society, and strengths that the Nominating Committee believes the candidate would bring to the Board.  For the position of Treasurer, information on the candidate’s experience managing budgets would be useful. (See the Society’s Handbook for qualifications.)  For the position of President, the paragraph should also include information on organizational skills.

Depending on the offices needed (see Section C above), the Committee’s list of candidates will  include four names for each Member-at-Large position, six to ten names each for the offices of President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary.

2.         During the SAM conference

i.Wednesday Board Meeting --  The Chair of the Nominating Committee will attend the Board’s Wednesday meeting at the invitation of the President, in order to be available for consultation during deliberations about potential candidates for the slate.  The President-Elect (if there is one) will also be strongly encouraged to attend this meeting.  Other newly elected officers and Members-at-Large are not required but are also welcome to attend.  These individuals may participate in the deliberations, but they do not vote on the slate because they are not yet members of the Board.  The Board may delete or add names to the nominated lists.

ii. The Board will finalize the slate of candidates, rank them, and vote on the ranked slate before the end of the Wednesday board meeting.

3.         Post-conference:  March—September (i.e., prior to fall Board meeting)

i. The ranked list is returned to the Chair of the Nominating Committee by the President.

ii. The Chair of the Nominating Committee then contacts potential nominees, in the ranked order, to ascertain the individual’s willingness to run for office.  It is important that the Chair describe the work expected of Board members or officers and the responsibilities involved in the position, including attendance at all Board meetings.  (Check the Handbook for the complete lists of responsibilities.) 

iii. The potential candidates should also be apprised of the fiscal responsibilities of each individual member:

  • For the fall Board meeting: half of the airfare is paid by the Society; Board members are responsible for all other expenses, including accommodation and meals.
  • For the spring Board meeting during the conference: members are responsible for all expenses.

iv. If the Chair of the Nominating Committee is unable to find sufficient numbers of individuals willing to stand for election, s/he should notify the President, who then consults with the Board for suggestions for additional potential candidates. These additional ranked names are sent to the Chair.

4. The fall Board meeting to October 10

i. A final slate is submitted to the Board (via the Secretary) by August 15 in the form of a motion from the Nominating Committee (therefore presumed seconded).  Since this is a final slate of nominees, there is no further discussion before a yea or nay vote, requiring a simple majority.

ii. Once the slate has been approved, the Chair of the Nominating Committee contacts candidates for a statement (including both biographical information and comments about why they are suitable for and wish to serve in this position) and a photograph, both of which will be uploaded to the SAM website.

iii. The elections are carried out under the direction of the Executive Director.

iv. The election is conducted electronically; paper ballots are sent to those members without email addresses on file.

v. The election should open no later than October 10, and the polls should remain open for no more than one month.  The final date by which ballots must be received should be included on the ballot.
vi. Electronic ballots are counted automatically; the Executive Director tallies the paper ballots with the help of a teller appointed by the President.  The Executive Director communicates the results to the President and the Nominating Committee Chair.

5.         After the election

i. The President notifies all the successful candidates and the unsuccessful candidates for President and Vice-President. The successful candidates for Secretary, Treasurer, and Members-at-Large are also notified by the President.

ii. After the President has finished the notification, the Chair of the Nominating Committee notifies the rest of the unsuccessful candidates. 

iii. All successful candidates must be notified by December 1, so that newly elected individuals can make travel plans for the spring conference in a timely fashion. 

iv. The results of the election are announced on the Society webpage and via the listserv as soon as all candidates have been informed of the results; the announcement should come from the Chair of the Nominating Committee.  At the annual business meeting, the Chair formally announces the election results.


7. Conference Site Selection Committee

a. Charge

The Conference Site Selection Committee solicits, screens, and recommends Board action on invitations from potential hosts for annual conferences.

b. Membership

The Chair should be well known to the Society's membership, since the Chair's chief charge is to solicit ideas for locating conference sites, site hosts, local arrangements and program committee chairs, and the like. The Chair likewise should have an aptitude for organizing a wide range of activities and coordinating them with several other members over a protracted period of time. Likely candidates for membership on this committee include former local arrangements and program chairs. Ideally, the chair should inherit, maintain, and bequeath a minimum three-year lead time for agreed-upon conference cities upon assuming, keeping, and leaving the office.

c. Procedures

In consultation with the President, the chair assembles a committee of three or more members to seek out conference sites, in conjunction with Society members residing in the area of the hoped-for site to act as hosts, and ensure that invitations are conveyed to the Board. A recommendation for a conference site should be ready to present to the Board three years in advance of the conference. Presentations can be made at a Board mid-year meeting (three and one-half years before the proposed conference). Readiness comprises the securing of an invitation from a host institution; identifying organizations intending to meet jointly, if applicable; clearing potential scheduling conflicts in the host city; and identifying a potential local arrangements chair.

d. Invitation to meet

A complete invitation consists of a formal letter from a host institution, inviting the Society to meet for specific dates; a commitment for availability of housing, meeting rooms, and other facilities; and background information on the site, events planned concurrently, organizations meeting jointly, and other factors of interest in attracting attendance at the conference.

Once a recommendation is accepted by the Board, the chair notifies the individual responsible for the invitation in writing, and the President writes an official letter of acceptance on behalf of the Society to the host institution.

e. Timing of the conference

The annual conference is held in the spring, and by Board policy should be planned to be over by April 1. Special conferences are usually planned for the summer. In planning conferences, special care should be taken not to conflict with annual or regional meetings of other societies, particularly with the AMS, MLA, CMS, MENC, AFS, SEM, ICTM, IAML, and IASPM.

f. It is customary to vary the location and the nature of the conferences. Chairs need to be sensitive to the need for geographic balance, interesting conference themes inspired by the location of the conference or organizations wishing to meet jointly, and any other factor that would satisfy the Society members in their work with American music.

g. Conference Site Selection policy.

1. General principles governing selection of sites and host institutions for national conferences of the Society.

a) The choice of sites should reflect the geographic and cultural diversity of North America, with the conference site normally moving from region to region from year to year.

b) Every effort should be made to select sites that will encourage participation by as much of the Society as possible, and to ensure that all persons interested in the subject matter of the conference will be made to feel welcome.

c) The Society does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or physical disability, and will exclude from consideration any potential host institution that practices discrimination on any of these grounds.

2. Procedure for selection.

a) The Conference Site Selection Committee, in conjunction with the Conference Manager, consults with the President and members of the Board during the site selection process so that a consensus on the desirability of potential sites can be reached as early as possible.

b) All potential sites for national conferences should satisfy the general principles listed above. Prospective host institutions will be asked to address the Society's non-discrimination policy in their proposals, and should provide the names of other representative groups that have used the site in the past for reference.

c) Proposals from prospective host institutions should also address the following specific areas of concern: attractiveness of the site, accessibility of transportation, availability of accommodations that are centrally located, potential dates, and likelihood of financial or other support.

d) Once a proposal for a national conference site has been received, or before the Society actively solicits such a proposal, any questions or concerns about the suitability of a site should be informally aired among elected or appointed officials of the Society and such other members of the Society as deemed appropriate. The chair of the Site Selection Committee, with the aid and advice of the Conference Manager, the President, and the Board, will be charged with exploring any expressed concerns, with the results of such inquiries maintained in the records of the Site Selection Committee and summarized in its report to the Board. All such inquiries will be conducted confidentially, expeditiously, and with sensitivity and fairness to both Society members and the prospective host.

e) The Site Selection Committee will present recommendations for future sites to the Board well in advance of projected conferences. The Board's decision to accept or reject the committee's recommendations is normally made three years before a specific conference.

3. Policy after a conference has been contracted.

a) Once a contract for a hotel at an approved conference site has been signed, the Society is not free to cancel a conference unless the terms of the contract have not been met.

b) Should circumstances arise that would alienate a sizeable number of potential attendees from a contracted conference site, the membership must be advised of the financial and/or legal consequences to the Society of sharply reduced attendance or outright cancellation of a conference, so that individuals may weigh their moral or ethical obligations against their interest in ensuring the continued viability of the Society.

c) Should the Society decide to proceed with a conference over the objections of part of the membership, the Board will encourage the Program Committee to create special forums addressing the issues under concern in the program of the conference.

h. Conference management policy

1. Finances.

a) The Society will control and manage its own conferences.

b) Financial control of conferences rests with the Society's Executive Director with the oversight of the Treasurer. All income for the conference is deposited to the Society's conference account, and the Executive Director makes all payments.

c) Contracts are required for all hired services, including performers, special speakers, space, equipment, and facilities.

d) The Society's policy is that conferences should not operate at a loss.

2. Site selection, timing, and venue.

a) The dates for conferences should fall between the last week of February and the first week of April if possible. Care is taken to avoid conflicts with religious holidays and overlaps with conferences of similar societies. Deviations from this time frame should be cleared with the Board. Advantages of earlier or later conference dates should be weighed against disadvantages; of particular importance are potential problems associated with early conference dates, including a telescoped schedule for acceptance of papers, publication of program, preparation and distribution of conference materials, etc.

b) Combined meetings with other societies are encouraged, but plans must be made early and approval for the joint meeting received from the Board.

c) Conferences normally should be held in hotels rather than on university campuses. Among the factors to be considered in hotel selection should be cost; proximity to main sites of local interest; easy access to a variety of food services; ready availability of public transportation and free parking for day attendees. Attendees are responsible for making their own reservations for lodging.


8. Committee on the Conference

a. Charge

The Committee on the Conference is charged with making recommendations on the format of our annual conferences, including investigation of alternative means for sharing scholarly knowledge (beyond traditional sessions of read papers) and greater and more inclusive use of technology and social media. Topics for consideration include (but are not limited to) assessment of the seminar format and poster presentations, the integration of live performances in a more-significant manner, use of technology to enhance the workings of the conference (e.g., videotaping sessions for archival purposes or for use on the Society webpage; electronic handouts), the place of Interest Group sessions in the conference, incorporation of plenary sessions, continuance of the Friday-afternoon excursion time, and setting aside blocks of sessions for in-depth examination of a particular topic (possibly jointly sponsored by another scholarly society).  Recommendations should be based on results of formal assessments, such as surveys of attendees.

b. Membership

The committee is made up of five members, including one junior member and one non-academic member, and the Associate Conference Manager in an ex officio capacity. All appointed members serve three-year staggered terms.  Two members will not rotate into the chair position; each of the other members will serve as chair in his/her third year of appointment.  At least one member of the committee should have served as the program chair for a national conference.