Role of the Chairman

Authors: Phil Kenkel, Oklahoma State University,, and Bill Fitzwater,
Oklahoma State University

The chairman has a special role in the voting procedures of the board. The chairman is responsible for enforcing good decorum in the board room. He may appoint committees or decide points of order.

Voting by the chairman is a sensitive issue in many cases. According to Robert’s Rules of Order, the chair can make motions, speak on one side or the other on every motion, and vote. It is commonly accepted that the chairman only votes in the case of a tie. While this may be incorrect, according to Robert’s Rules of Order, there is an exception.

This rule may be subject to the rule or custom within the particular board. If the board chairman has never voted and people believe he/she should not vote, then it is probably better to follow custom. The chair can discuss this issue with the board at the beginning of his/her chairship. The chair cannot end debate on an issue without a motion from the floor.

The authority a board has, as well as its entire nature, is described in the bylaws that create it. The chair should be familiar with these bylaws. The more familiar a chair is with the bylaws, the easier it will be to implement parliamentary procedure.