about GSA

By-Laws

I. The Association

The name of the Association shall be German Studies Association.

II. Purpose

  1. The purpose of the German Studies Association shall be to promote the study of history, political science, language and literature, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, geography, economics, musicology, cultural studies, media studies, art and architectural history, and all other learned pursuits relating to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other German-speaking regions. The Association particularly encourages inter-disciplinarity and seeks to foster dialogue among disciplines.
  2. To this end, the Association shall hold conferences, sessions, publish newsletters and/or journals, disseminate information, award prizes for distinguished contributions to German studies, support or sponsor fellowships and scholarships, and carry on any other activities which relate to and promote its purpose.
  3. English and German may be used equally for all activities of the Association.

III. Membership

Membership shall have no restrictions based on race, creed, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, disability, age, national origin, or place of residence. Membership shall be open to persons who subscribe to the purpose of the Association (section II) and pay annual membership dues.

Categories of Membership:

  • Regular Membership: Anyone interested in German Studies may become a regular member of the Association upon payment of the annual dues. This membership category is intended generally for full-time employees of educational institutions, organizations, or agencies or for those who do not qualify for one of the other categories described below.
  • Student Membership: Full-time graduate and undergraduate students may join the Association upon payment of the annual dues for Student Membership. No one may remain a Student Member who is no longer a full-time student. For the purpose of membership, Teaching Assistants are defined as full-time students.
  • Independent Scholar Membership: Members who are not affiliated with an educational institution or another agency or organization in a full-time capacity and are, therefore, at least partially “self-employed.”
  • Emeritus Membership: Members who are retired from their full-time employment with an educational institution or another agency or organization.
  • Joint Membership: Spouses or life partners may hold a joint membership at a reduced rate; each joint membership will receive only one copy of the German Studies Review.
  • Sustaining Membership: Anyone interested in German Studies who pays augmented annual dues for the support of the Association’s programs may become a sustaining member.
  • Life Membership: Anyone interested in German Studies may become a life member by paying special one-time dues.
  • Institutional Members: Institutional members are non-voting members who pay special dues and receive all publications.

Dues and fees shall be established by the Executive Board. Any changes to the dues structure will be communicated to the membership electronically in the Association Newsletter in as timely a way as possible. The payment of annual dues, as established in the Bylaws, shall entitle a member to receive the German Studies Review, the Association Newsletter, participate in meetings of the Association, and exercise all other privileges of membership.

IV. Governance

The Association is governed by an elected Board. The officers of the Association are the President, Vice President, Immediate Past-President, Executive Director, Secretary, Treasurer, and GSR Editor. Officers shall reflect the diversity of the organization. The Presidency shall alternate between a) literature and culture, and b) history and the social sciences.

Elected Officers:

  • President: The President articulates the intellectual course of the Association and presides over meetings of the Executive Council, the Board, and the membership. The President, in consultation with the Executive Director, sets the agenda for meetings of the Executive Council, the Board, and general meetings of the membership. The President shall inform the Board and the membership of all vacancies for appointed offices and initiate the search and appointment process in each case. The President, along with the Executive Director, shall be responsible for implementing actions and policies approved by the Executive Council and Board. The President represents the Association to external interests, appoints members of committees and representatives of the Association to other organizations.
  • Vice President: The Vice President assists the President in the performance of all duties and represents the President if the latter should be either incapacitated or absent. The Vice President shall accede to the Presidency at the conclusion of the President's term. In the event of a vacancy in the post of Vice President, the Board shall choose one of its members to serve as Interim Vice President until the next general election. The person elected to fill the vacancy shall serve as Vice President for any time that remains of the original term and shall accede to the Presidency at the end of the current President’s term.

Immediate Past President: The Immediate Past President carries out duties as assigned by the President.

The President, Vice President, and Immediate Past President shall serve for terms of two years each and are regular voting members on both the Board and the Executive Council.

Secretary: The Secretary is elected by the general membership and coordinates the communications of the Association. The Secretary is responsible for conducting elections and keeping the records of the Association, including membership records and the minutes of the meetings of the Board, Executive Council, Investment Committee, and General Membership. The Secretary shall present reports on all major duties under his or her purview to the Board and Executive Council at each meeting of those bodies. The Secretary circulates the minutes to the Board for approval within three weeks of any meeting and submits the approved minutes for publication in the Association Newsletter. The Secretary is responsible for ensuring that the Association’s Bylaws on the GSA’s website are kept current. The Secretary also participates in the review of the appointed officers of the Association. The Secretary shall serve for a term of three years, renewable once. Two years into the Secretary’s first term, the Board shall review the service of the Secretary during the annual Board meeting and vote on renewal.

The Secretary serves as a regular, voting member on both the Association’s Board and Executive Council.

Executive Board:

The Executive Board is the decision-making body of the Association and is responsible for establishing general policies, setting dues and fees, and carrying out other general duties for the good of the Association. The Board approves the selection of appointed officers by majority vote.

The Board shall consist of nine at-large persons and one graduate student elected by ballot of the Association membership. The at-large members of the GSA Board shall serve for three years, with three members being elected each year. The graduate student member of the GSA shall serve for two years, irrespective of change in status. No member shall serve more than two consecutive terms.

All elected officers of the Association shall serve as full, voting members of the Board. All appointed officers of the Association shall serve as ex officio, non-voting members of the Board. The Board is also charged with making suggestions for changing and amending these Bylaws as may be necessary due to changing conditions. A simple majority vote by the Board is sufficient for submitting such suggestions to the GSA membership for vote.

Appointed Officers:

Executive Director: The Executive Director administers the operations of the Association. The Executive Director shall administer the Annual Conference, edit the Newsletter, maintain the Association’s website, respond to queries to the Association for information, manage office activities of the Association, monitor the investment of the Association’s funds in consultation with the Investment Committee, and carry out other functions as approved and mandated by the Board. With the approval of the Executive Council, the Executive Director may also hire part-time staff to help him or her in carrying out these duties. The Executive Director shall present reports on all programs and activities under the Executive Director’s purview to the Board and to the Executive Council at each meeting of those bodies.

The Board, upon nomination by a search committee appointed by the President, shall approve by majority vote the appointment of a member of the German Studies Association as Executive Director. The Executive Director shall serve for a term of five years, which can be renewed. During the fourth year of any term, the President convenes a review committee consisting of the Immediate Past President, the Secretary, and a delegated member of the Board. The committee shall submit its review of the Executive Director’s service to the Board, which votes on renewal for the next five-year term. If an Executive Director is unable to complete the five-year term, the President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer shall appoint an interim Executive Director who will serve until the Board can approve a new nomination by a search committee appointed by the President.

The Executive Director serves as an ex officio, non-voting member of the Board, but as a regular, voting member of the Executive Council.

  • Treasurer: The Treasurer is responsible for the funds of the Association. He or she maintains the Association’s financial records, pays bills, and, together with the Executive Director, prepares the annual budget of the Association for approval by the Board. He or she chairs the Investment Committee and provides oversight of any funds collected through grant or fundraising activities of the Association. The Treasurer is selected from the membership by a search committee appointed by the President and presented to the Board for confirmation. The Treasurer shall serve for a term of five years, which can be renewed. During the fourth year of any term, the President appoints a review committee consisting of the Immediate Past President, the Secretary, and a delegated member of the Board. The committee shall submit its review of the Treasurer’s service to the Board, which votes on renewal for the next five-year term. In the event of a vacancy in the post of Treasurer, the President shall, in consultation with the Executive Council, appoint a member of the GSA to serve as interim Treasurer until the Board can confirm a new Treasurer. The Treasurer serves as an ex officio, non-voting member of the Board, but as a regular, voting member of the Executive Council.

Editor of the German Studies Review: The Board, upon the nomination of the Executive Council, shall approve the appointment of an Editor, who shall be responsible for editing the scholarly journal. The Editor shall appoint an Editorial Board and Book Review Editors, who shall serve for terms established by the Editor. The Editor may also appoint an Associate Editor. The Editor shall serve as the Business Manager of the publication. The Editor shall serve for a renewable term of five years. During the fourth year of any term, the President appoints a review committee consisting of the Immediate Past President, the Secretary, and a delegated member of the Board. The committee shall submit its review of the GSR editor’s service to the Board, which votes on renewal for the next five-year term.

The Editor shall serve as a non-voting ex officio, member of the Board, but as a regular, voting member of the Executive Council.

Executive Council: The President, Vice President, Immediate Past President, Executive Director, Secretary, Treasurer, and Editor of the German Studies Review shall constitute the Executive Council. The Executive Council meets as necessary to consider issues facing the Association and acts on behalf of the Association between meetings of the Board within the framework of policies set by the Board. The members of the Executive Council shall communicate regularly with one another during the course of the year and consult with the Board in a timely manner. Should any votes be taken by the Executive Council, all seven members have full voting rights.

V. Standing Committees

The Association shall have the following standing committees, chairs and members of which shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Executive Council:

Nominating Committee: The members of the Nominating Committee shall serve for one-year terms. The Committee shall present two candidates for each elective office according to a reasonable deadline set by the Executive Director. Committee members should nominate scholars who are esteemed in their disciplines and have distinguished themselves in the past by their contributions to, and active participation in, the Association. Normally, candidates nominated for Vice President will have served previously on the Board.

In the event that the Nominating Committee is unable to meet the deadline, the Executive Council will supply nominees. Additional nominations may be made by members of the Association with nominating petitions signed by ten percent of the membership for each nominating petition and office. No member may sign more than one nominating petition for each office. The Nominating Committee shall include on the ballot individuals nominated by petition.

The Nominating Committee is charged with ensuring that nominees for officers and the Board reflect the diversity of the organization. The membership of the Board shall normally be divided among a) literature and cultural studies, and b) history and the social sciences. At least one member shall be in an area of contemporary politics, economics, or society and at least one member shall represent Austrian/Habsburg or German-speaking Swiss studies. One member of the nominating committee should be a former member of the Executive Council. The Nominating Committee is composed of 3-6 members.

Program Committee: The members of the Program Committee shall serve for one-year terms, but may be reappointed.

Interdisciplinary Networks Committee: The Interdisciplinary Networks Committee is primarily responsible for organizing and overseeing the GSA’s thematic Networks, which are intended to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. Chairs or co-chairs serve three-year terms and may be reappointed. The President creates new networks and appoints network coordinators, who serve three-year terms and may be reappointed, in close consultation with the Executive Director and the chair or co-chairs of the Interdisciplinary Networks Committee. In creating networks and appointing network coordinators, the President, Executive Director, and chair or co-chairs of the Interdisciplinary Networks Committee shall be guided by the goal of establishing and maintaining dialog and collaboration among scholars across temporal epochs, disciplinary boundaries, and methodological approaches. All networks shall be evaluated every three years to determine whether they should be continued or discontinued.

Prize Committees: The members of the Prize Committees shall serve for one-year terms:

  • GSA/DAAD Book Prize Committees
  • Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize Committee
  • GSA/DAAD Article Prize Committee
  • GSA Graduate Student Article Prize Committee

Archives Committee: The members of the Archives Committee shall serve for renewable terms of three years. This committee shall present an annual report at the General Meeting and publish in the Newsletter a report on the status of archives of major interest to the Association membership.

Fundraising Committee: The members of the Fundraising Committee shall serve for renewable terms of three years. The President shall appoint a Chair of the Committee, also for a three-year, renewable term. The Committee Chair shall provide a quarterly report to the Executive Committee and the Board.

Investment Committee: The Investment Committee shall regularly review the Investments of the GSA and submit recommendations for any significant changes to the Board. The Committee shall meet at least once per year to review the status of the funds. Membership in the committee consists of the Treasurer (chair), Executive Director, President, Vice President, and at least two other members of the GSA who will be appointed by the President to three-year terms but may be re-appointed to an additional term or terms, in consultation with the Executive Council. The Secretary of the Association attends the Investment Committee meeting as a non-voting member.

Berlin Program Selection Committee: Members of the American selection committee for Berlin Program Fellowships are appointed by the President in accordance with the goal of maintaining a disciplinary balance on the committee. Two committee members are appointed each year for three-year terms.

Ad Hoc Committees or Task Forces: Such committees may be appointed as needed. The Executive Council, with the approval of the Board, may establish additional standing committees. If such committees are made permanent, however, they need to be approved by a majority vote of the membership and specified in the Bylaws.

Officers of the Association and members of the GSA Executive Council shall not also serve as members of the Prize Committees, the Berlin Program committee, or the Nominating Committee.

VI. Elections: Each year, the nominating committee shall send its slate of nominees, including short biographies of each candidate, to the Secretary by the deadline set by the President. The Secretary shall distribute electronic ballots to the membership of the Association no later than April 15 of each year. A simple majority of all votes cast is required for election.

VII. General Meeting

  1. The President shall call a General Meeting at the Annual Conference of the Association for purposes of discussing issues of current concern to the Association presented by the Board. Where possible, any prospective changes of the Bylaws or significant changes of association policy will be presented for discussion at a General Meeting before being submitted to the membership for a vote by ballot.
  2. The General Meeting shall hear the reports of the President, the Secretary, the Treasurer, the Executive Director, the Editor, the Archives Committee, and others as may be required, and shall discuss and pass resolutions in accordance with Article II for submission to a vote of the general membership by ballot. The General Meeting may designate a committee to prepare a statement of up to 300 words on each such matter, and the Board should likewise compose a statement of up to 300 words either supporting or opposing the proposed changes. Both statements shall accompany the ballot. The General Meeting shall be conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order.

VIII. Conferences and Sessions

  1. The GSA Board shall call at least one conference per year. Every effort shall be made to rotate the meeting place of the conference among the various regions of North America.
  2. The conference shall contain sessions devoted to various disciplines relating to Article II, affording opportunities for members in a variety of fields to disseminate their research.
  3. The President, in consultation with the Executive Council, shall select a Program Committee for each conference.
  4. The Program Director shall issue a call for papers in the Newsletter and other appropriate venues (including electronic distribution), and endeavor to assure that representation is given to a variety of disciplines and topics. The Association may sponsor sessions at conferences of other organizations.

IX. Amendments

Amendments may be proposed by the Board, the General Meeting, or ten percent of the Association membership. Amendments to the Bylaws proposed by the General Meeting or ten percent of the Association membership must be reviewed by the Board, which will, in a timely manner, either forward the proposed amendment to the Association membership for a vote with no more than non-substantive improvements of language, or determine that the Board is unable to forward the amendment to the membership because the proposed amendment, by itself or taken with other amendments, poses a threat either to the Association's compliance with public law or to its continued operation as a tax-exempt organization.

If the Board is unable to forward such an amendment to the membership for a vote, it will present its reasons at the next General Meeting and communicate its findings to the membership as soon as reasonably possible. The Secretary shall submit proposed amendments to a vote of the association membership by ballot. A simple majority of the votes cast is required for approval of an amendment. If amendments are approved by the membership, the Secretary is required to post such changes immediately to the GSA website.

X. Dissolution of the Association

The Board may, by a two-thirds vote, supported by a vote of a simple majority of the membership, determine to dissolve the German Studies Association. In that event, all assets of the Association must be distributed to another organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c) (3) organization.