AGU announces David Shaw as general secretary


On behalf of the Leadership Development / Governance Committee and the AGU Board, I am pleased to announce that David Shaw has agreed to serve as General Secretary through 2022. He will be joining the Board at the meeting next week.

David is the Provost and Executive Vice President at Mississippi State University, a land grant institution, where he has been a longtime faculty member. In his current role, he has been leading his institution through the pandemic by focusing on success for students, faculty and staff while remaining committed to his institution’s mission of research, teaching and service. He sees his work through the lens of academic integrity, quality and inclusion. David has been deeply involved in the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill including serving on Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Board, which oversees research programs and funding from the fund established by BP Oil. He has been awarded fellowships of the AAAS and the Weed Science Society in recognition of his scientific leadership.

David has the financial experience as well as consensus building and leadership skills we were looking for as AGU implements a new strategic plan and navigates a world still dealing with a pandemic. As the General Secretary, David will chair the Finance and Investment Committee as well as the Audit Committee. He will serve on the Board and Executive Committee.

The General Secretary position was vacant after Jana Davis resigned due increasing demands on her time due to the pandemic. We are grateful to Jana for her more than 16 years of service to AGU and wish her well with her myriad of responsibilities. While we miss her, I know we can always call her if needed.

According to the AGU bylaws that states how vacant officer positions are to be filled, the General Secretary position is to be filled for the remainder of the term by the Board (Article IV, Section 4.3).

The Leadership Development / Governance Committee, chaired by me, is responsible for running the nominations and selection process for most Board positions. The committee has filled two previous vacancies in director positions (2017 and 2019) and had a process in place. The process was slightly revised to handle the officer vacancy; the difference being that the recommendation was made to the Board for approval as outlined in the bylaws rather than holding an election.

Here are the high-level steps the committee took to identify, vet and select the new General Secretary:

  • Set the criteria for the position.
  • Research potential candidates. Since this term will end on 31 December 2022 and is not renewable without being elected, the committee looked for people familiar with AGU’s governance model and also asked the Board members for nominations. Five people were asked to apply; three applied and were interviewed; and one candidate was recommended to the Board.
  • The recommendation was sent to the entire Board who voted unanimously to accept the recommendation.

Leadership Now and in the Future
The Leadership Development / Governance Committee is charged with ensuring that AGU has the leaders it needs to accomplish its mission and vision. The committee works year-round to help identify and develop volunteer leaders at multiple levels of the organization, as well as to nominate a slate of candidates for AGU’s election every other year. The last AGU election took place in 2020. The committee encourages all members to complete their profile at AGU Volunteer Central so they will be aware of opportunities that might interest them. Volunteer opportunities range from a few hours of time to a 2-year commitment. Members can also recommend someone else as a volunteer by using a simple online form.

Leadership Development / Governance Committee
The Leadership Development and Governance Committee is always chaired by AGU’s past president. Current committee members are Aisling Dolan, Bob Duce, Eileen Hofmann, Luis Gonzalez, Peter Griffith, Betty Johnson, Sarah Kruse, Jim Pizzuto, Sabine Stanley, and Meng Zhou. Randy W. Fiser, CEO; Janice Lachance, Executive Vice President, Strategic Leadership and Global Engagement; and Cheryl Enderlein, Director, Leadership; serve as staff partners to the committee.

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