Alfred S. Martin, ARS President
Ballots are still trickling in but there is no doubt about the final decision by the membership on the proposed amendment to the by-laws which would have allowed them to be amended by a two-thirds vote of all officers and directors present at a designated meeting when a quorum was present. The latest tally showed a total of 530 votes against 201 for the amendment. The margin of 2½ to 1 has to be considered decisive.
The number of ballots returned, even though less than a quarter of the membership voted, was a very encouraging sign. The only disappointing aspect of the entire question was the unfortunate and apparent tendency by some chapters to make the issue more complex than it really was. In some areas, there seemed to be a feeling that a vote in favor of the proposed change was a vote in favor of dropping chapter presidents as members of the Board of Directors. This was completely untrue. There had at one time been a proposed amendment not to drop chapter presidents as members of the Board but only as non-voting members of the Board. This proposal was tabled at the Pittsburgh meeting in May and completely dropped at the October meeting in Portland.
The most essential point would appear to be that our communications with the general membership still leaves something to be desired. Over the past several weeks, both through letters and conversations with a good many people. I developed a general feeling that the Society's membership did not know enough about what the National Board was actually doing. All chapter presidents do receive minutes of the Board meetings, whether they attend or not, but it was thought to be a good idea if some of the more important points were included in this column.
The Philadelphia meeting held February 24 was an extremely valuable and interesting one. Twenty people were in attendance. Due to the widespread geographical character of the Eastern chapters, the group had to travel an approximate total of 10,600 miles to attend the meeting. Considering the present difficult problems connected with travel, such individual devotion to the affairs of the Society certainly deserves appreciation of the entire membership.
There was a full slate of committee reports including a very complete report by the Research Committee which will be forwarded along with the minutes to all chapter presidents and hopefully will receive wide dissemination through the individual chapters. The work of the Twenty-five Year Index Committee is also nearing completion and hopefully, the Society will be able to publish this Index during the latter part of 1974. The Publications Committee reported that the next Society publication would probably be in the Spring of 1975. Work of the Registrar was highly commended and supported by a unanimous resolution to have the American Rhododendron Society adhere strictly to the International Rules of Nomenclature. He was also authorized to cooperate with the Plant Record Center of the American Horticultural Society in computerizing information on registered rhododendrons.
The Seed Exchange Committee reported another successful but extremely trying and hectic year. Unfortunately the dimensions of space do not allow us to comment on the reports of other committees but this information will be forwarded to all chapter presidents.
One of the more pleasant actions taken in Philadelphia was to approve chapter membership for the Denmark Rhododendron Chapter headquartered in Copenhagen. This is our first international chapter.
An Evergreen Azalea Committee was formed and will function effectively to promote special and general information articles on this group of plants for the Bulletin. There is a current widespread interest growing in this group of plants, particularly on the West Coast. The Editorial Committee noted a need for articles on Evergreen Azaleas as a first priority in their report.
Salary increases were approved for both the editor and the executive secretary. Mr. James Quigley of Arthur Young and Company attended the meeting at the request of the Board to discuss the progress of the application for a blanket tax exemption from the I. R .S. This has been a considerably more complicated matter than initially thought but the application is now in final form and will shortly be forwarded to the appropriate office of the I. R. S. Hopefully, a determination will be received some time this Fall.
Inevitably the question arose concerning finances and the adequacy of the dues structure to meet the rising expenses of the Society. A committee will be appointed to hold an in-person meeting during the Annual Meeting in Portland in May. This committee will investigate the entire question thoroughly and have a final report and recommendations available for the Fall meeting of the Board.
The response to the questionnaires of Research 100 has been favorable. At the present time, better than a third of the membership has responded and the questionnaires are still being received. We cannot overemphasize that it is still not too late for anyone to complete and return this questionnaire as we still hope for a high final percentage of returns.
By this time, all of you have received ballots for the election of directors. Information on the candidates was published in the last Bulletin. We are hoping for a very high return percentage. Certainly the ballot on the bylaw amendment indicates that individual members want participation in national affairs. The election of national directors has to be an extremely important part of this participation.