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Trustees: Should UUA give Distinguished Service Award at 2012 GA?

At March meeting, board approves collection for Arizona Immigration Ministry, plans transition to smaller board.
By Michelle Bates Deakin

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UUA General Assembly 2012 logo

During its March telephone meeting, the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees discussed several matters in preparation for its April meeting in Boston, for the June 2012 UUA General Assembly in Phoenix, Ariz., and for the transition to a smaller board in 2013.

The board also approved a recommendation on the UUA retirement plan and approved monitoring reports related to executive limitation policies in its March 22 phone conference.

With an eye toward the “Justice GA” in Phoenix, the board approved a proposal to take a collection at GA to support the work of the Arizona Immigration Ministry for the second year in a row. AZIM, led by the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, organizes collaboration among Arizona congregations around immigration reform and human rights. At the 2011 GA in Charlotte, N.C., a collection for AZIM raised $31,276.

The board also discussed whether the UUA will present the Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism at this year’s GA. The annual award recognizes people who, “over a considerable period of time, have strengthened the institutions of [the] Unitarian Universalist denomination or clarified [its] message in an extraordinary way.” Board members briefly discussed whether the award was appropriate at the Justice GA, which according to a 2010 GA business resolution must limit business to “the minimum required by our bylaws.” Board members agreed that they would first consult with the GA Accountability Group about the appropriateness of making the award this year. If the Accountability Group determines that it is acceptable, then the Distinguished Service Award committee will present a recommended nominee to the board at its April meeting.

At the April meeting, board members will also engage in volunteer service, as they did at their January meeting in New Orleans. Trustees plan to tour the UU Urban Ministry in Boston on the Thursday morning before the board meeting goes into session.

A smaller board

In 2013, the size of the board will shrink to 14 members from the current 26, following a bylaw change approved by delegates to the 2011 GA. The board has been in discussions on how to ensure that it can function efficiently when reduced in size by almost half.

During the March phone call, Nancy Bartlett, trustee from the Mid-South District, discussed instituting changes to how the board makes appointments to committees. She said that the board’s Committee on Committees has been discussing the possibility of creating a Committee on Appointments, which could make recommendations to the board about candidates for board-appointed committees. She said that she anticipated presenting “further thinking” on the topic at the April meeting and possibly a proposed policy change for the May or June board meeting.

Bartlett said that the Committee on Committees is also looking into how to select which four members of the current board will continue to serve on the smaller board starting in 2013. The UUA Nominating Committee is charged with selecting candidates for election to the remaining seats by GA delegates. That discussion will also continue at the April meeting.

Other business

The board voted to approve monitoring reports regarding compensation for UUA staff. In addition, it approved a change to the UUA Retirement Plan fund.

It also continued a discussion, begun in New Orleans in January, about whether a motion was needed to help the board and the staff work together more collaboratively, following tense discussions about monitoring reports and real estate decisions. Linda Laskowski, trustee from the Pacific Central District, had said that she wanted to work more closely with the staff and work toward more collaboration.

The board agreed in January that the Governance Working Group would study the issue. On the March call, Donna Harrison, trustee of the Southwestern Unitarian Universalist Conference, reported that the working group concluded that policies were already in place that allow for collaboration and that a new policy was not needed. She said that requests for collaboration should originate from the administration, and that staff should have discussions—whether by phone or in person—with the full board, not a subset of it.

Harrison also urged the board to work to develop a covenant of right relations for the UUA community. Delegates approved a Responsive Resolution at the 2010 GA asking the board to develop one, but the board did not act upon it. Harrison suggested forming a group to address the request in the resolution prior to the 2012 GA. Trustees who volunteered to be on the committee include: Harrison; the Rev. Catherine Cullen, of the Ballou Channing District; David Friedman, of the St. Lawrence District; David Jackoway, of the Heartland District; and the Rev. Dr. Michael Tino, of the Metropolitan New York District.

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