Leaders of the AOU and COS met together at the annual meeting in Norman, Oklahoma to review the progress and success of our partnerships: the joint publication of our journals, joint communications and website (American Ornithology.org), and our joint annual conference. During the leadership meeting, a motion was made for the two societies to pursue a merger. Both societies formally approved moving ahead with this pursuit in the coming year. During the Oklahoma conference, this action was announced at the AOU Fellows meeting and the COS business meeting. Both societies will be seeking input from their members, multiple times, as they take the necessary steps in this pursuit. The goal is for the societies to reach consensus on the advisability of merging to best serve our membership, our missions, and ornithology as a profession. Any questions at this early stage should be directed to SCOTT LANYON, President, AOU (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or MARTIN RAPHAEL, President, COS (email@example.com).
Oct 14 request for input:
AOU and COS Members,
The AOU Council and the COS Board met together in July at our annual meeting in Norman, Oklahoma to review the progress and success of our partnerships: the joint publication of our journals, joint communications and website (www.americanornithology.org ), our joint Science Arbitration initiative, and our joint meetings. During this meeting, one board member posed the question, “shouldn’t we merge?” The members of each governing board of COS and AOU discussed this proposal at great length and the many potential benefits with great enthusiasm. The Council and Board jointly and unanimously approved moving ahead to study the possibility of a merger. This development was announced and discussed at the AOU Fellows meeting and the COS business meeting in Oklahoma.
Over the coming months, COS and AOU members will receive communications soliciting your input. Initially, leadership wants to hear both what excites you and what concerns you about the idea of merging the two organizations. Once we’ve collected your feedback, leadership will work to resolve identified concerns. We will then communicate our proposed solutions to these concerns and solicit member reactions. By late fall we hope to finish gathering input and reactions, and to finalize a recommendation to AOU Council and COS Board - either to merge (and if so what a merger would entail) or to remain separate.
If the governing boards of the two societies agree on a solid proposal for merger, the final step will be a vote by membership. The Cooper Ornithological Society bylaws and the State of California, where COS is incorporated, call for a vote by the COS membership. The AOU bylaws require that the AOU Fellows vote on an issue of this magnitude. Although the AOU bylaws do not require a vote of the general membership, Council would nevertheless like to conduct such a vote, to inform the voting of the AOU Fellows.
Our goal is to conduct the vote this winter so that we can proceed quickly – either to merge, or to work independently but continuing our joint ventures in meetings, publications, website, and science arbitration.
To jumpstart the discussion, here are some of the suggested reasons why a merger might be in the best interest of the membership of both organizations:
Lower Dues for Individuals
Members of both organizations would pay one membership fee, not two, to the merged organization.
Increased resources to support members at all stages of their careers. By combining programs and leadership efforts, a single organization would be in a better position to offer quality mentoring and development activities for students, early career professionals, teachers, mid-career professionals and retirees at annual meetings, more research and travel grants, recognition awards, editorial support for Latin American authors and online resources for teaching, research and outreach. All members would have access to The Auk: Ornithological Advances, The Condor: Ornithological Applications and The Birds of North America. In a merged organization, fewer resources would be applied to administrative and operating expenses by combining functions, leaving more resources to be applied to ornithology (Note that finances of a merged organization are being evaluated by a subcommittee at this time).
Greater agility in publishing. A primary function of our societies is to produce journals that provide high quality science to aid authors, scientists, agencies, and the public. Journal publishing is changing rapidly and evolution of the digital platforms, rapid online availability, open access, archive access, print-on-demand, etc, are needed to continue to enhance the visibility, impact and usability of the journals, and these possibilities will be strongly facilitated by the increased resources of a merged society. In a merged organization, strategic decisions would be more streamlined than the current situation with two societies.
Increased likelihood of success in fundraising. The act of merging the two societies would be a significant statement to potential funders of our commitment to and vision for the future of ornithology.
Since we met in Oklahoma, a small team of AOU representatives (Steve Beissinger, Scott Lanyon and Melinda Pruett Jones) and COS representatives (Martin Raphael, Kim Sullivan, Tom Martin, and Blair Wolf ) has been discussing the merger concept and a preliminary set of issues raised by leadership and members of AOU and COS. Those issues and their tentative resolution are described in the following table.
Now is a good time for us to receive your input. Are we addressing your concerns in the issues and resolutions identified above? What excites you and what concerns you about the prospect of a merger? Just as importantly, what are the great things about each society that you would want leadership to be sure to preserve in a merged organization? We ask that you respond to the President of the AOU and/or the President of COS (addresses are below) by email, a phone call, or letter by Oct. 19, 2015.
We expect this to be the first of several opportunities for the memberships of both societies to participate in the process underway. Our next steps include analysis of the financial impact of a possible merger, and continued discussions by representatives of both societies to resolve the remaining issues identified in the table above and others that may arise. We expect to communicate our findings again to membership by late-November.
Scott M. Lanyon
President, American Ornithologists' Union
University of Minnesota
1987 Upper Buford Circle
St. Paul, MN 55108
Martin G. Raphael
President, Cooper Ornithological Society
3625 93rd Ave SW
Olympia, WA 98512
For questions or comments about your OSNA society membership, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.