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Committee Resources


October 1 marks the start of the fiscal year for the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of ASCE and the start or continuation of your term as an SEI Committee Chair. I would like to congratulate you on your appointment and thank you for your commitment to the Institute. The SEI staff and I are looking forward to working with you and are here to support you in your efforts as chair. The information and resources provided in this online Chair Handbook will help you succeed in your work. Your SEI staff contact will be able to assist in any specific questions you may have and please contact me directly at any time if I can be of assistance or to share your successes. Congratulations once again and thank you for your service.
Cheers –
Jennifer Goupil, P.E.
Director, Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE

Chair Handbook Contents:

1. Mission of SEI Committees
2. Chair Responsibilities
3. ASCE & SEI Organizational Structure and Terminology
4. ASCE & SEI Policies and Processes
5. Resources
 • Chair and Committee Goals and Reporting Resource
 • Work Product Resource
 • Meeting Planning Resource
 • Templates Resource
 • eRoom Resource
 • ASCE Web/Teleconference Resource
 • ASCE Library
6. SEI Staff and Where to find help

Mission of SEI Committees

The mission of the Structural Engineering Institute is to advance and serve the structural engineering profession. This broad mission is primarily fulfilled through the activities and projects developed by the many SEI committees. Currently more than 100 committees support SEI’s mission.

Therefore, the mission of an SEI committee is to identify and accomplish projects and activities consistent with its stated purpose that advance and serve the profession. Integral with these efforts, SEI committees are critical in identifying new developments or needs within the profession that should be considered or addressed by SEI.

Committee Mission and Workflow

Purpose—Each committee’s purpose is defined by the committee and approved by the Division Executive Committee (or SEI Board of Governors) upon establishment. The committee chair is responsible for re-evaluating the committee purpose at the beginning of his or her term. If the committee’s work or other external influences dictate a revision to the committee purpose, the chair can modify the committee’s purpose upon approval of the Division Executive Committee (or SEI Board of Governors). Each SEI committee is listed, along with its purpose, on the website; Search for a specific committee and view its roster.

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SEI Committee Chair Responsibilities

The responsibilities of the committee chair include leading and managing the efforts of the committee. The list below further defines the duties of the chair:

1. Set goals for your term to advance the mission and serve the purpose of the committee —including specific time lines and assignments to committee members.
2. Define work products and plans for how to execute or accomplish them.
3. Encourage new ideas and work products within the committee.
4. Instigate and supervise the activities of their committees.
5. Inform the committee of changes in the industry and ASCE/SEI initiatives.

6. Ensure that the committee remains focused on its purpose and recommends changes in that purpose (when warranted).
7. Supervise the committee in technical, business, and administrative matters.
8. Verify the membership of the committee during the yearly roster update in August.
9. Recruit new members for the committee and evaluate member applications.
10. Create subcommittees and task committees to bolster the efforts of the committee (when warranted).
11. Evaluate the productivity of committees and committee members, and where necessary, recommend membership revisions to keep the committee productive.
12. Plan and organize meetings of the committee, including setting clear goals for what will be discussed and accomplished, and record and distribute the minutes of committee meeting (either yourself or via your designee); ensure SEI staff contact is involved appropriately.
13. Work to ensure good communication with committee members, SEI staff contact, parent and child committees within the Division or TAC.
14. Plan for quarterly (or semi-annual) conference calls with Division ExCom liaison or TAC Chair for two-way communication, reporting, and updates.
15. Assemble a semi-annual (or annual) committee activities report to be submitted to Division ExCom liaison or TAC Chair.
16. Establish a succession plan to enable a smooth transition to a new chair at the end of your term; mentor incoming chair.
17. Strive to identify commonalities among and facilitate cooperation among other SEI committees (where appropriate).
18. Assist associate editors of SEI Journals in maintaining up-to-date lists of competent reviewers, and as far as possible, to ensure that reviews are completed in time (where applicable).
19. Communicate committee actives to SEI staff for SEI Update and STRUCTURE magazine.
20. Give appropriate advanced notice to SEI staff for activities requiring SEI staff support.

SEI Staff Responsibilities
1. Provide information or advice on ASCE & SEI policies, processes, and best practices.
2. Advise and support on work product processes; see Work Product Resource for details.
3. Assist in meeting planning logistics and approvals; see Meeting Planning Resource for details.

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ASCE & SEI Organizational Structure and Terminology

As a committee chair for SEI, understanding the relationship between ASCE and SEI is important.

ASCE—The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) was founded in 1852 and presently includes more than 140,000 members worldwide. ASCE's mission is to provide essential value to its members and partners, advance civil engineering, and serve the public good. SEI is one of eight, specialty-discipline institutes within ASCE that focus on the needs of a subset of the civil engineering profession. In addition to SEI, other ASCE Institutes are established to advance the profession in the following topics: architecture engineering (AEI); coasts, oceans, ports and rivers (COPRI); construction (CI); engineering mechanics (EMI); environmental and water resources (EWRI); geotechnical (GI); and transportation and development (T&DI).

As a member of ASCE, membership in one of the eight Institutes is free. Most of SEI’s members are also ASCE members; a fraction of SEI’s members are SEI-only members and therefore do not belong to ASCE.

SEI—The Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) is a vibrant community of more than 20,000 structural engineers within ASCE. SEI started on October 1, 1996 in order to serve the unique needs of the structural engineering community while influencing change on broader issues that shape the entire civil engineering community. SEI’s mission is to advance and serve the structural engineering profession and has established a strategic vision to serve that mission.

Organizational Structure:

SEI’s organizational structure includes a Board of Governors, Board Level Committees, and four Divisions — Business & Professional Activities, Codes & Standards Activities, Local Activities, and Technical Activities. Within each Division, an Executive Committee manages the Committees and reports back to the SEI Board of Governors, see figure below.

SEI Org Chart

Organizational Terminology:

Within the organizational structure of SEI, many terms are used to define specific groups and/or activities. The list below includes many that you will need to know:
Board of Governors: Per the SEI Bylaws, the affairs, activities, and concerns of the Institute shall be under the direction of the Board of Governors (BOG). The BOG is comprised of 10 members, eight of whom represent the SEI Divisions (two members from each Division).
SEI Divisions: SEI advances the structural engineering profession through the activities of its four divisions as follows:
    - Business and Professional Activities Division (BPAD) promotes change in business and professional development issues unique to the structural engineering profession including SE licensing
    - Codes and Standards Division (CSAD) through more than 20 committees, develops and maintains leading design standards that are used worldwide such as ASCE 7
    - Local Activities Division (LAD) provides technical and professional services to local SEI Chapters and Structural Technical Groups
    - Technical Activities Division (TAD) advances the profession with the dedicated work of its 72 technical committees that produce technical papers and publications, as well as produce the Journal of Structural Engineering, the Journal of Bridge Engineering, and the Practice Periodical on Structural Design and Construction.
Division Executive Committee: Organization of the Executive Committee (ExCom) is established by each Division Policies & Procedures Manual and it reports directly to the SEI Board of Governors. Each ExCom is responsible for managing the committees within the division and communicating directly with the SEI Board of Governors.
Committee: Established with authority of Division Executive Committee (or SEI Board of Governors) the committee is comprised of as many members are permitted by the Division bylaws or as needed to fulfill the purpose.
Committee Chair: The person responsible for the committee’s activities; see Committee Chair Responsibilities.
Control Group: Selected by the chair, this is a subset of committee members who assist the chair to guide the committee, and are eligible for travel reimbursement.
Task Committee: A subset of the full committee that are assigned a specific task to complete in a finite period of time; additional funding may be requested from the Division ExCom if appropriate.
Subcommittee: A subset of the committee organized for a specific, sub-purpose of the committee.

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ASCE & SEI Policies and Processes

ASCE and SEI policies and many established process will assist in committee work. Below are a few that all committee chairs should be well aware including Travel Reimbursement, Committee Application, and Committee Roster Management.

Travel Reimbursement

Select SEI committee members are eligible for limited travel reimbursement to attend committee meetings.
How it works:
A subset of the committee is identified and approved in advance of the meeting, and then that subset of members submits receipts for reimbursable expenses to the committee’s SEI staff contact.
Note that reimbursable travel expenses are limited per the ASCE Travel and Reimbursement Policy (See Section 8.5 of ASCE Rules of Policy and Procedure) and typically includes major transportation costs (such as air, rail, or vehicle travel with 14-day advance purchase) and a per night maximum based upon meeting requirement (to reimburse such expenses as local transportation to or from airport and hotel). Typically one night allowance is provided for a one-day meeting; reimbursement will not cover all travel expenses.
1. The chair will select members to receive travel reimbursement (typically the committee chair and control group members) and submit to SEI staff for approval 30 days in advance of the meeting.
2. Once approved, SEI staff will distribute a Committee Meeting Authorization & Reimbursement Form to the selected members in advance of the meeting.
3. SEI members will complete and return the form to SEI staff within 30 days of travel.
4. SEI members receive a check directly for the specified amount to the specified address.
***To ensure success: Read and understand the limits of the ASCE Travel and Reimbursement Policy (See Section 8.5 of ASCE Rules of Policy and Procedure) and collaborate with your SEI staff contact for clarification and approval.

Committee Membership Application

The process for members to join a committee includes an application and approval by the chair.
How it works:
Any interested person can apply to a committee to be considered for membership via the online forms; see Committees page for a list of all Divisions and links to the online application forms.
1. The SEI staff contact will forward the committee chair the application for review to determine if the applicant would benefit the committee.
2. If the committee chair does not approve the application, the chair must send a letter (via email) to the applicant informing him or her that the application was denied and why.
3. If the committee chair does approve the application, the chair forwards the application to the correct governing oversight committee for further approval (either Administrative Chair or Executive Committee Chair depending upon specific Division Policies and Procedures).
4. Once approved by the committee chair and the governing oversight committee, the committee chair sends a letter of acceptance with the membership terms to the applicant and ccs the SEI staff contact.
5. The SEI staff contact will update the committee roster.
***To ensure success: Understand the process for your specific Division and collaborate with your SEI staff contact for clarification. Strive for the full process to take up to two weeks but not longer in fairness to the applicant.   

Committee Roster Management

Annually, each committee chair is asked to review and update the committee roster to ensure that ASCE/SEI has the roster correct at the beginning of the fiscal year.
How it works:

The SEI Staff contact will provide you with a roster for your committee for your review and update per your Division Policy and Procedures.
1. The SEI staff contact will provide you with a printout of members currently included in the ASCE database for your committee. Alternately, you can review your roster anytime by searching for your committee and viewing the roster.
2. As chair, you will need to confirm the members are identified per the needs of your committee which may include vice chair, control group members, journal or associate editors, or others.
3. Ensure that the emails are correct for your members by contacting your committee via email as this is how the majority of communications to them will be distributed; if email is missing or incorrect, the member must contact ASCE via 1-800-548-2723 or go online to update his or her contact information (Note: only members are permitted to update their own information, SEI staff is not permitted to do this).
4. Communicate all updates (except individual email corrections) to your SEI staff contact.
***To ensure success: Understand the process for your Division and collaborate with your SEI staff contact for clarification.

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SEI has developed many resources to provide information and best practices in areas committee chairs need most.

Chair and Committee Goals and Reporting Resource
An important chair responsibility is to set goals and to report committee activities. This resource includes best practices and templates for establishing and reporting goals and progress.

Work Product Resource
Committee projects, products —such as books, manuals of practice, committee reports, white papers, webinars, seminars— and events and conference sessions are collectively referred to as work products. Which work product your committee chooses to pursue is up to you. This resource will inform and guide you on the variety of work products available to advance the purpose of your committee. Choose whichever one or ones are right for achieve your goals and collaborate with your SEI staff contact to ensure success.

Meeting Planning Resource
Meetings are an essential component to accomplishing committee work. Whether your group meets in person or via teleconference, this resource will guide you in the planning, facilitating, and recording a successful meeting.

Templates Resource
Templates such as MS Word committee letterhead and MS Power Point slides are available in this resource.

eRoom Resource
ASCE provides a virtual workspace for all SEI committees. The eRooms can be a valuable tool for communicating with your committee and sharing documents. Learn how to leverage the many features of the ASCE eRooms with this resource.

ASCE Teleconference and Web Conference Resource
ASCE can provide teleconference and web conference services to you for your meetings. Learn more about how to request these services for your meeting as well as how to use these tools.

ASCE Library
ASCE Library is the digital home for journal articles, proceedings papers, standards, and e-books. The ASCE Library hosts more than 1 million sessions a month and serves individuals, companies, government agencies, and libraries. Visitors can view tables of contents and abstracts and access other types of free content once they have registered.

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SEI Staff and Where To Find Help

Chairing a committee is an important responsibility and SEI has many resources to support your efforts and guide your success. SEI staff is here to support your efforts as chair, but we do not have the technical expertise or manpower to do your job for you.

Following resources contain a wealth of information that can help you with your questions:
•SEI Committee Resource content online
•Division Policy & Procedures Manuals
•SEI Website
•Division ExCom contact or TAC Chair
SEI staff

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