RSA Constitution

(revised February 2017)


Section A. The name of this organization shall be: The Rhetoric Society of America (hereafter referred to as the Society).

Section B. Official use of the Society's name shall be made only through the authority of the Board of Directors (hereafter referred to as the Board) or the President.

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Section A. The purposes of the Society shall be to gather from all relevant fields of study, and to disseminate among its members, current knowledge of rhetoric, broadly construed; to identify new areas within the subject of rhetoric in which research is especially needed, and to stimulate such research; to encourage experimentation in the teaching of rhetoric; to facilitate professional cooperation among its members, to organize meetings at which members may exchange findings and ideas; and to sponsor the publication of such materials dealing with rhetoric. These are the exclusive purposes of the Society and they shall be accomplished by the Society only in a charitable manner.

Section B. The Society will sponsor the publication of its official journal, Rhetoric Society Quarterly (hereafter referred to as RSQ). Applications for editorship will be made to a standing committee called The Publications Committee, which shall be composed of at least three members appointed by the President, at least one of whom must be a member of the Board. The Publications Committee shall announce, solicit, and review applications and make recommendations to the Board, who shall have the authority to appoint the Editor or Coeditors. An Editor or Coeditors shall be appointed for a four-year term through the authorization of the Board and, if appropriate, reappointed for (a) similar term(s) after a review by the Board. The Editor or Coeditors of RSQ may have their appointment terminated before the four-year period by no less than a three-fourths vote of the Board.

Section C. The Society will sponsor a biennial conference called The Rhetoric Society of America Conference (hereafter referred to as the Conference). The President-Elect is the Conference Director and is in charge of running the Conference. The Board shall appoint a subcommittee called the Conference Site Committee. The Conference Site Committee shall be composed of the President-Elect, a Member-At-Large, and a member of the Board. The Conference Site Committee shall announce, solicit, and review applications and make final recommendations to the Board, who will vote on the site. A site must be selected by the Board no less than one full year before the Conference but preferably at a much earlier date. The normal month of the Conference, subject to Board review, is May.

Section D. The Society will sponsor a biennial institute called The Rhetoric Society of America Institute (hereinafter referred to as the Institute). The Institute will consist of working meetings where junior and senior scholars join in a study of selected topics in rhetoric. The Board shall select sites and the President shall appoint Institute Steering Committees at least two years in advance of each Institute.

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Section A. Membership in the Society and its divisions is open to persons interested in promoting the Society's purposes. The annual fees and procedures for the Society shall be published in each issue of RSQ.

Section B.
The Board may, upon petition from an association whose objectives are in harmony with those of the Society's, grant to such an association the status of Affiliate Organization.

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Section A. The officers of The Society shall be:

  • Immediate Past President
  • President
  • President Elect
  • Executive Director
  • Editor/Coeditors, RSQ
  • Membership Officer

Section B. The President shall be appointed from among current or former members of the Board. A subcommittee of the Board, called The Nominating Committee, composed of the Immediate Past President, a member of the Board, and a Member-at-Large, shall nominate a current or former member of the Board for the office of President Elect. Ratification of the nominated Board member is constituted by securing a majority of votes from the Board. The President Elect shall succeed to the office of President. The President Elect shall be announced in the Spring of even numbered years and shall assume office effective July 1 following the RSA conference. The Immediate Past President, President, and President Elect shall all hold such positions for two years. They shall sit ex officio as voting members of the Board.

Section C. The President shall be the presiding officer of the Board and the representative of the Society. The President Elect shall assist the President and has responsibility for planning the Society's biennial conference. The Immediate Past President is charged with the duty of assisting and advising the President on matters dealing with policy and procedures.

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Section A. The Board shall consist of ten (10) members of the Society elected by members of the Society. The Nominating Committee will post a "call for nominations" and compile a slate from names submitted. No number of supporting signatures are required and members are encouraged to self-nominate. Ballots will be sent to the Society members in fall/winter and election announcements made in the spring. Efforts will be made to have members of the Board represent various disciplines, such as communication, classics, English, and philosophy, as well as region, race, and gender. Each member will serve a four-year term. At least two of the members of the Board (designated student/early career members) shall be students at the time of their election. The Board shall be the principal policy-making body of the Society and shall be responsible for promoting the Society's purposes.

Section B. Elections to the Board are held every two years, so that approximately half the members of the Board are retained and the other half terminated at each election (i.e. 4/5 members). There shall be an electoral contest for the expiring student/early career Board position, subject to the provisions of ARTICLE V, Section G. The Nominating Committee is responsible for announcing, soliciting, and managing the election of the Board. If for any reason deemed appropriate by the majority of the Board, a member is unfit, unwilling or otherwise unable to perform duties of the Board the member may be replaced by an individual appointed by the Board and that appointed member shall serve until the next regularly scheduled election. Excluding extraordinary conditions, it is the responsibility of members to attend the Society conferences.

Section C. The Board shall, at its discretion, appoint an Executive Director, who shall be reviewed periodically by the Board and assigned duties deemed appropriate by the Board.

Section D. The Board will appoint one member of the Society to act as Membership Officer and assist in acquiring and retaining members of the Society. The length of this term will be at the discretion of the Board.

Section E. The Executive Director, Membership Officer, and Editor of RSQ will sit ex officio as non-voting members of the Board.

Section F. The Board at its discretion may invite the Book Review Editor of RSQ, the Webpage Coordinator, and/or any other relevant member of the Society to attend a Board meeting as a resource person.

Section G. The student/early career members of the Board shall serve a four-year term. Nominations for elections should indicate the status of the student when appropriate. In addition to the student/early career members, it also is possible for a student to be elected to the Board for a normal four-year term, providing that the student declares nomination for that role and is elected on that condition.

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Section A. The Editor and the Editorial Board of RSQ are charged with the duty and privilege of awarding The Charles Kneupper Award for the outstanding contribution made to RSQ of that year. Any contribution deemed appropriate to the Editor and the Editor’s Editorial Board—essay, review, bibliography, etc.—is eligible for consideration. Official notification of the award will appear in RSQ.

Section B. The President shall appoint a committee, to be called the Committee on Awards, consisting of at least three members and chaired by a current member of the Board. The Committee shall serve a term of two years, with the immediate past chair, upon request of the incoming chair, agreeing to serve a 3rd transitional year as a member of the Committee. The Chair of the Committee may act with discretion to appoint additional committee members and establish subcommittees to review nominees for awards.

The Committee is charged with the duty and privilege of soliciting and receiving nominations, and recommending to the Board candidates for the following awards:

  1. The George E. Yoos Distinguished Service Award for a member of the Society who has made sustained contributions to the Society and the field;
  2. The RSA Dissertation Award for the best dissertation in the field of Rhetorical Studies completed by a student member of the Society within the past two years;
  3. The RSA Book Award for a distinguished book length contribution to scholarship in Rhetorical Studies authored by a member of the Society and published within the past year.

The Committee may at its discretion also nominate candidates for the honor of Fellow of the Rhetoric Society of America (see Article VI, Section C).

The Committee on Awards shall report its recommendations to the Board at least two months prior to the RSA Conference. The Board shall receive, review, and vote on the Committee's recommendations, and upon a vote of the Board members shall make awards in the name of the Society at its Conference.

Section C. Recipients of the George E. Yoos Distinguished Service Award shall, by virtue of the award, become Fellows of the Rhetoric Society of America. Additional Fellows of the Society may from time to time be created by the Board in recognition of sustained and distinguished scholarship, teaching, and/or service to the field of rhetorical studies. Designation as a Fellow by the Board of Directors shall be upon nomination by the Committee on Awards or by at least three members of the Society not members of the Board, and shall require a favorable vote by of the members of the Board. Persons designated as Fellows of the Society shall remain so in perpetuity. The Fellows of the Society shall have no formal duties, but may from time to time be called upon by the officers and the Board for counsel and assistance. The Fellows of the Society may also, at their own discretion and initiative, deliberate on issues of concern to the field and make recommendations to the Board and officers.

Section D. The Board may create additional awards and honors, together with procedures and criteria for them, at its discretion.

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Notwithstanding any other provision of these articles, the Society shall not, except to an insubstantial degree, engage in any activities or exercise any powers that are not in furtherance of the purposes of the Society. In particular, the Society shall not attempt to influence legislation or participate to any extent in a political campaign for or against any candidate for public office.

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Section A. No part of the net earnings of the Society shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to its members, officers, or other private persons, except that the Society shall be authorized to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in Article II, section A.

Section B. In the event that the Society is dissolved, assets shall be distributed for one or more charitable purposes.

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Section A. A majority of the Board may initiate the process of amendment to the Constitution.

Section B. After no fewer than thirty (30) days following the distribution of a proposed amendment, a full-membership ballot shall be distributed by the President. A two-thirds majority of those voting shall be required for adoption of an amendment.

Adopted May 1993
Amended September 2002
Amended December 2008
Amended February 2017

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