Board Nominations Frequently Asked Questions


Q01. How is the Nominations Committee established?
AThe Bylaws establish the Nominations committee as an autonomous body set up by the Board. Its principal responsibility to the SMUS Society is to ensure that suitably qualified candidates are nominated to fill vacancies on the Board.
Q02. How are candidates for Governor nominated?
A

Candidates are nominated by:

A) The Board appointed Nominations Committee. The SMUS Society Bylaws were drawn up to ensure that sufficient nominees would be available to fill vacancies on the Board of Governors. The Bylaws (Article 5) prescribe institution by the Board of an autonomous Nominations Committee.

B) A Society Member or Members following the publication of the Nominations Papers.

Q03. Who are the current members of the Nominations Committee?
AThe Committee is appointed by the Board for a one-year term, starting in October each year. For a list of current members, see the Board Committees section of the website.
Q04. How does the Nominations Committee select the candidates?
A

The Nominations Committee is charged each year with the critical task of assessing the composition of the Board in light of vacancies caused by departing governors and then selecting suitable candidates for nomination. This is an ongoing task that continuously occupies the Nominations Committee and is undertaken with great diligence and deliberation. As an autonomous body set up by the Board its workings are necessarily confidential and its principal responsibility to the SMUS Society is to ensure that qualified candidates are nominated to fill vacancies on the Board.

The Committee identifies suitably qualified candidates for nomination and approaches them individually to consider serving the school. Not only are the short, medium and long term operational requirements of the School considered, careful assessment is also given to the specific skills and experience necessary in each potential candidate in order to serve the school most effectively as it moves forward with the execution of the Strategic Plan to fulfill the Mission of the school.

Candidates are considered who are willing and able to volunteer their expertise, time, energy and resources to the school, who are strategic thinkers, who are fully engaged with the school (or who will become so engaged) and whose maturity, expertise and wisdom will contribute significantly to the effective governance of the school.

The Nominating Committee also considers the diversity of representation on the Board with regard to many factors such as multi-disciplinary backgrounds, gender, alumni, and parents, both day and boarding.

Q05. Why does the Nominations committee select and recommend a slate of candidates?
AThe Nominations committee looks to the composition of all its nominated candidates to achieve the desired balance in terms of experience, skill and diversity required on the Board. These four candidates together form a slate that the Nominations committee recommends to the Society and suggests that the entire group be evaluated on their combined ability to fill the governance requirements of the School. The Nominations committee does not recommend one candidate over another on the slate; all are recommended equally.
Q06. When are nominations of candidates by Society members due and what is the procedure?
AAnnually in the spring, the Nominations committee mails Nominations Papers to all Society members outlining the number of candidates needed to fill vacancies on the Board of Governors, together with the committee’s list of nominated candidates to fill these vacancies. The Nomination Papers give full details and deadlines, together with a nomination form, so that if Society members wish to nominate additional candidates, they may do so at that time.
Q07. Is there an annual election of Governors?
AIn a typical year the positions of four Governors come up for election as Governors are elected to a three-year term and there are 12 elected Governors. If the number of nominations does not exceed the vacant Governor positions by the nominations deadline, the election is by acclamation, otherwise an election is held by Mailed Ballot.
Q08. What is the length of term of a Governor and how many terms may a Governor serve?
AGovernors are elected to a three-year term and may be re-elected for a maximum of three consecutive terms, with the exception of the Chair who may be re-elected for four consecutive three-year terms.
Q09. What are the expectations of governors?
A

Governors are guided by certain principles of good practice with regard to school governance which, prior to nomination, candidates are asked to subscribe to. These principles encompass current best practice relating to governance of independent schools, and are adapted from those developed by Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS). They include:

  • active support and promotion of the school’s vision, mission, and strategic plan;
  • undertaking to keep all board deliberations and correspondence confidential;
  • separation of the interests of the school from the specific needs of a student or school community constituency and observation of the proper lines of communication;
  • participation in Board deliberations and decisions and agreement to accept the majority decision, once taken; and
  • contribution of significant time, effort and financial support to the school.

Governors are expected to commit to significant time and effort in serving on the Board. The commitment encompasses full preparation for, attendance at and effective participation in:

  • monthly committee meetings (with service on at least one committee);
  • multi-day retreats twice a year.

Additional expectations include:

  • positive contribution to the development of the school by the use of specific knowledge and skills;
  • contribution to the development of the school through annual giving and other campaign financial support;
  • contribution as a fiduciary of the school, setting the course for sound fiscal and educational policy.
Q10. Are school governors evaluated on their effectiveness?
AEach year a comprehensive appraisal of progress relating to the governance of the school takes place. It takes the form of an evaluation by governors of achievements made in the execution of the strategic plan and the fulfillment of the mission, and includes an appraisal of the performance of individual governors, as well as the Board Chair. Additionally, each year the Nominations Committee as a separate, confidential exercise, carefully evaluates retiring governors as a pre-requisite to re-nomination. This objective appraisal is numerically balanced and carefully weighted to encompass leadership, contribution and effort, adherence to good governance principles, financial contribution and teamwork.
Q11. How are the nominations and elections procedures communicated to Society Members?
ANominations are required each year and the Nominations Committee, which is charged by the Bylaws for responsibility for both processes, ensures that both nominations and elections are well communicated to Members. Specific mail communication is stipulated by the Bylaws to make sure requirements and responsibilities are fully explained and informed to Members. Members may wish to refer to the Bylaws of the Society, which contain the basic information and framework under which the processes of nominations and elections are implemented. Also, with the ongoing development of the school's web page, information is posted there for ready reference.
Q12. If a mailed ballot election is conducted, what is the procedure?
AIf, at the end of the nominations period (twenty-one days following the mailing of the Nominations Papers) the number of nominations exceeds the vacant Governor positions, the Nominations Committee mails resumes and brief statements of interest of candidates to all Society Members no later than fifty days following the date of original mailing of Nomination Papers. Also included in the mailing are a list of the continuing members of the Board, and instruments for the Mailed Ballot (voting forms, return envelopes, etc.) Society Members then have until the date specified in the Instruments for the Mailed Ballot to return their votes for counting.
Q13. Who is entitled to vote in elections of Governors if a mail ballot election is required?
AAll Members of the SMUS Society in good standing are entitled to vote and will receive instruments for the Mailed Ballot in the event of an election. Eligibility for membership in the Society is specifically defined in the Bylaws (Article 2), being: (a) The parents or guardians of any current student (b) Alumni who have reached the age of 16 years (c) Parents or guardians of alumni, and (d) Any other person who is invited to become a Member by the Board for good and sufficient reason.
Q14. What is the difference between Nominations committee candidates and Society member-nominated candidates?
A

The Nominations Committee is mandated by the Bylaws to ensure that candidates are nominated to fill vacancies on the Board. This is considered a critical task involving the assessment of the composition of the Board in light of vacancies caused by departing governors and then, in the best interests of the school, in selecting suitable candidates for nomination. It is an ongoing task that continuously occupies the Nominations Committee and is undertaken with great diligence and deliberation. As an autonomous body set up by the Board, the Committee identifies suitably qualified candidates for nomination and approaches them individually to consider volunteering to serve the school. Not only are the short, medium and long-term operational requirements of the School considered, careful assessment is also given to the specific skills and experience necessary in each potential candidate in order to assist the school most effectively as it moves forward with the execution of the Strategic Plan to fulfill the Mission of the school. In discharge of its mandate the Nominations Committee identifies those candidates, which it has nominated.

Candidates nominated by individual Members are not subject to the same selection process and voters must rely on the skills and experience profiles, as well as the expressions of interest that are provided by such candidates. In the instruments for the Mailed Ballot, all candidates’ biographical skills and experience profiles, and expressions of interest in serving the school are given equal weight.

As a footnote it should be understood that the right of any Member to be nominated for election as provided by the Bylaws, is not only recognized, but also rigorously observed in the nominations and elections procedures. While being fair to all candidates the Nominations Committee is still bound by its duties as prescribed by the same Bylaws to put forward a slate of suitably qualified candidates to the Society.

Q15. Do Members get to meet and hear from candidates prior to the election?
A

In the past the question has arisen whether or not a meeting of candidates should be held. It is considered to be in the best interests of all Society members to judge the candidates, and vote based on the skills and experience information profile provided in the biographies included in the instruments for the Mailed Ballot. Election by mailed vote is prescribed by the Bylaws since it reflects the make up of Society membership and recognizes that it would be unfair to boarding parents, for whom attendance at such a meeting would be impossible in most cases, the same being true for many other members of the Society such as alumni and past-parents no longer living in the Victoria area.

Candidates nominated by the Nominations Committee are very carefully considered as to suitability prior to nomination; with candidates nominated by Society members as much care as possible is taken by the Committee to ensure their skills experience profiles adequately enable Members to judge the relative merits of all candidates when voting. The same information is provided in writing to all Society members in order for them to make a fair decision when voting. The best practices followed by other comparable independent schools shows that candidates meetings are not held, probably because such meetings tend to be politically charged and inappropriate for the purpose of electing volunteer governors for a school.

Q16. How is the integrity of the handling of mailed votes assured if an election is required?
A

The integrity of the voting process is very important and the Nominations Committee takes steps to ensure that proper process is followed throughout. A summary of the process follows:

Ballots sent or delivered to the School:
The return envelopes containing the ballots arriving at the School are stored in the school’s safe at the end of each day. (Members wishing to check to see if their envelope has been received are given an email contact for this purpose).

Handling of the Return Envelopes:
Any ballots received by the date set out in the election mailer or with a postal return date also designated, or earlier will be counted. All return envelopes received by the due date are sealed in a box and the seal signed by two scrutineers (one from the Board and one from the Society) and held in the school's safe awaiting the arrival of other mail postmarked by the required date. This is to allow time for mail to arrive from distant parts (e.g. mail from some Asian countries takes l0-14 business days to reach Victoria).

Ballot counting day:
Under the Bylaws the scutineers at an election of Governors shall include three (3) Board members including the Vice-Chair and the Secretary unless they are running for re-election and three (3) other Society Members. The six scrutineers count the ballots contained in the sealed box from the safe. At the time of counting, the scrutineers check off the sender’s printed name on the ballot envelope against the Society membership list. The Board's Secretary will have verified the Society membership list used by the scrutineers as correct on the date the mail ballot package is posted.