Each July, the ACR Committee on Nominations, chaired by the ACR’s immediate past president, meets to recommend candidates to fill upcoming vacancies on ACR committees, the ACR and REF boards, and the slate of officers. At the same meeting, the committee selects the recipients of the various ACR awards and the new group of ACR Masters.
This is no small task. The Committee on Education, for example, attracted 69 candidates this year for three open positions. The selection of new Masters and award recipients involves scrutiny of dozens of CVs and detailed nomination letters. This year, members of the Nominations Committee had a significant homework assignment for the weeks preceding the meeting—about 4,000 pages of reading.
The selection of the Masters is especially difficult. Any ACR member who is 65 or older at the time of the annual meeting is eligible, and the number of distinguished and deserving candidates is far greater than the allotted 15 slots (stretched to 16 this year). Masters can be selected based on contributions in research, clinical care, and/or professional service, and comparisons of candidates whose career emphasis has been very diverse is highly subjective. The current Nominating Committee hopes that several candidates who were not chosen this year will be selected in the future. What is clear is that designation as a Master of the ACR is a highly prized and sought after honor.
What’s more important for most members, however, is to understand how to become a participant in ACR activities. Some eager volunteers who do not get selected write to the ACR office to express their disappointment and (occasionally) ask for advice. As a member of the Nominating Committee and its chair for 2009, I have a few suggestions.
1. Don’t volunteer for everything: It may be hard to fathom, but some members volunteer for every committee, the REF and the ACR boards, and each officer position—simultaneously! In such circumstances, the Nominations Committee might be forgiven for concerns about a potential lack of focus. I suggest that you select a maximum of three possible positions for which to indicate your interest. Pick the roles that would allow you to contribute your special skills, talents, and experience that the ACR ought to want and need. Explain how your prior activities have equipped you to be of value.
2. Get letters of recommendation from colleagues or mentors who have held positions in the ACR: The Nominations Committee comprises a finite number of people who collectively know lots of ACR members, but far from all of them. The committee does reflect the professional diversity of the ACR—rheumatologists and allied health professionals, academic researchers and those in private practice, pediatric and adult rheumatologists—but we still need help in getting to know you.