Guidelines to CASCA Committees Chairs

Initial draft and revisions by Samar Safi-Harb
Additional revisions by Erik Rosolowsky
Adopted by the CASCA Board on March 11, 2022.

CASCA committees ( work with, and report to, the CASCA Board. Given the large and growing number of CASCA committees, this document has been developed with the goal to (a) provide guidelines for committees’ chairs as they take up their role and (b) provide consistent practices among all committees (as feasible).

Mandates and Terms of Reference

The Board sets Mandates (“what the committee does”) Terms of Reference (ToR, “how the committee should accomplish its work”) for the Committees. Reflecting elements of autonomy of Board committees (such as preferred meeting schedule, Chair and other appointments) and Bylaw 6.5.2, the ToR of committees are developed via a collaborative process between the Board and relevant committee. Final approval of ToR falls to the Board.


All committee members and Chairs should be CASCA members in good standing and adhere to CASCA’s Ethics Statement. To the extent possible, CASCA committees should be diverse, with clear and significant representation of equity-seeking groups within the astronomical community, such as racial and gender diversity, a voice for Indigenous people, as well as representation from different regions within Canada, career stage, research area, and the capacity to communicate in both English and French.

  1. Membership on CASCA committees is normally for a three-year term, normally starting immediately after the AGM. Extensions are at the discretion of the committee Chair and the VP, but a member’s term can never exceed two full terms. Anyone who shifts from being a committee member to committee Chair, should normally do so within their standard three-year term.
  2. There is no standard size of committees and the Chair of the committee will coordinate with the Board through the CASCA VP to grow or reduce the size of the committees to fit their Mandates. While it is appreciated there is often a major benefit to having a large number of distinct voices on a committee, as a general rule committees should be as small as is reasonably possible to reduce member “committee fatigue”.
  3. Committee participants are in one of the following categories:

    Voting Member
    Principal members of the committee appointed by the Board based on volunteers from the Membership. Voting members cast their votes when required to by committee business.
    A Voting Member proposed by the committee to be responsible for organization and communication of committee business.
    A member of the committee who attends meetings as a stakeholder based on another position that they hold. Ex-Officio members are Non-Voting unless otherwise specified.
    A person added to a committee in an advisory role, e.g., to provide specific expertise or experience not otherwise available to the committee. Observers are always Non-Voting and can be asked to leave the meeting at the discretion of the Chair. Observers need not be Members in Good Standing of CASCA. Observers are added to committees by the Board, often at the request of the committee.
    Board Representatives
    Some committees have a member of the CASCA Board appointed to the committee so that the Board is actively participating in committee work. Board Representatives are normally Non-Voting.
  4. The process for appointing new members to a committee is outlined in the Appendix.
  5. Chairs, in collaboration with the VP, are asked to identify upcoming vacancies in their committees in time for the Winter board meeting preceding the AGM. To ensure a timely recruitment of new members, the VP will reach out to the Chairs in the Fall term and Chairs should plan to include this information in their Winter committee report.
  6. By default, Committee Chairs are continuing, Voting Members of the committee chosen by consensus before the AGM to serve for the following year. However, the committee can request that the Board appoint a Chair. The Board will also appoint a Chair if a committee does not reach consensus.
  7. Chairs serve for one year terms but can be reappointed for as long as they are members of the committee.
  8. The specific responsibilities of the Chair are detailed in the ToR, and at a minimum, they include:

    a. Organizing Committee communications and meetings.
    b. Running committee meetings with a goal to ensure the perspectives of all committee members are shared.
    c. Providing reports to the CASCA Board about the activities of the committee.
    d. Liaising with the CASCA VP regarding committee business and membership renewal.

Conduct of Committee Business

Committees are given broad latitude to self-organize to address their charges from the Board, although Terms of Reference should address operational issues as much as possible. For example, The Chair, in consultation with the committee, should establish meeting cadence and method, which in turn should be detailed in the Terms of Reference.

Confidentiality: By default, CASCA committee business is considered confidential since most committees handle sensitive or personal information. Committee members should not discuss committee business outside of the meetings unless approved by the Board. Confidential discussion nonetheless has the expectation of professional behaviour consistent with the Ethics statement.

Public Posts: In line with the committee’s ToR, unless an individual has been pre-approved as a spokesperson for the Society, any letter or statement coming out of a CASCA committee should be first approved by the CASCA Board. All committees are expected to support the mission of CASCA (

When a committee website gets developed (with resources and links beyond the committees’ reports and ToR), a disclaimer should be added (as done in emails circulated by members to the membership), that materials of a committee do not, a priori, have endorsement from the Board.

Committee Report: Committee chairs are expected to submit to the Board, on behalf of their committee, two reports a year: one in time for the Winter board meeting and another for the AGM. These reports should be submitted to the VP by no later than one week prior to the Board meeting, to allow enough time for the Board to read the reports.

Although submitted to the Board, CASCA Committee reports become public documents after approval by the Board. Any confidential information in the reports should be submitted as a clearly identified Board-only Appendix. After approval, reports are posted by the VP to the CASCA website.

Appendix: Committee Recruitment Process

  1. Identification of vacancies: The CASCA VP, working with committee chairs, will identify committee members whose terms are expiring. Committee chairs will indicate to the VP areas where their committee is specifically seeking membership or representation.
  2. Solicitation of interest: Once vacancies are identified for all committees, a general call for expressions of interest from CASCA members will be put out to the membership via the email exploder. The call for new committee members will normally happen in February. The call will identify the committees with vacancies and should note that not all applicants can be assigned to a committee. Additional candidates can be proposed by the committee/Chair in consultation with the VP. Any CASCA members in good standing who want to participate in a CASCA committee will respond to the solicitation email by sending a message to the CASCA VP, indicating their interest and the committee(s) in which they want to participate. This email should contain a list of the committees for consideration and a brief explanation of their motivations to join the committee(s). This email can highlight any other factors the CASCA Board should consider in making committee appointments (e.g., relevant expertise or only being able to serve for a shorter period of time).
  3. Committee selection: The CASCA VP will present the full list of interested members to the CASCA Board. The Board will review the list of volunteers and vacancies and make a proposed assignment to committees. The Board may seek additional members beyond those who volunteer to fill committee vacancies based on the need for expertise and diversity. Given the committees should be representative, not all members who volunteer will necessarily be able to be assigned to a committee.The Board will approve the list of proposed committee members and alternates
  4. Appointment: The CASCA VP will contact each of the proposed committee members with a request to serve on the committees. If there are members who volunteered but were not assigned to committees, the VP will contact them to indicate the outcome of the process.

Comments are closed.