History of AAPT — Constitutional and Committee Structure

Following the adoption of a new Constitution and By-Laws in 2000, the legal governing body of the Association is the Executive Board, made up of all the officers, the chair and vice chair of the section representatives, and the three elected members at-large. These elected members represent three areas, namely pre-college, two-year college, and four-year college or university. The Executive Officer and the Editors of the American Journal of Physics and The Physics Teacher are non-voting Executive Board Members, ex officio. The more broadly based AAPT Council is made up of the Executive Board and the representatives of the regional sections. The purpose of the Council is to give advice and counsel to the Executive Board on the affairs of the Association. In addition the Council is given responsibility of several issues in the constitution, and in particular the Council (as advised by the Meetings Committee) determines the locations and dates of national AAPT meetings. The Council meets officially once each year during the Annual Winter Meeting of the Association, and in addition it may vote on issues by electronic ballot.

Committees have always been necessary to the functioning of the Association, but until 1972 they had been created only as their need became apparent. Special purpose committees, appointed by the President or the Executive Board, included those that set up journals, or organized the preparation of publications such as books, manuals, special reports, etc. There were also continuing committees, such as those on apparatus, on visual aids, and on the maintenance and solicitation of membership. Two committees came to be prescribed by the constitution: that on awards and that on nomination, the latter to be appointed partly by the Executive Board and partly by the regional section representatives.

The pattern of other committees adopted by the Executive Board in June 1972 comprised seven "action" committees, more accurately "Area" committees, as they were renamed in 1976. Recently there have been 18 Area Committees: Apparatus, Diversity in Physics, Educational Technologies, Graduate Education in Physics, History and Philosophy of Physics, Interests of Senior Physicists, International Education, Laboratories, Physics in High Schools, Physics in Pre-High School Education, Physics in Two-Year Colleges, Physics in Undergraduate Education, Professional Concerns, Research in Physics Education, Science Education for the Public, Space Science and Astronomy, Teacher Preparation, and Women in Physics. Each committee has nine members with staggered three-year terms: One new member is appointed each year by the Nominating Committee, and two are appointed by the incoming President.

The advisory committee responsibilities correspond to their names: Publications, Membership and Benefits, Programs (national meetings formats and schedules), and the Meeting Committee (advising Council on locations and evaluations of national meetings). There is also an overall Review Board, chaired by the Past President. The Association since its inception has been affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and it is represented on Section B (Physics) and Section Q (Education). Other organizations to which AAPT appoints representatives include the U.S. National Committee of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, and several committees on metric practice and education.