Secretary General (SG)

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Ideally before being nominated for an ExCo position, and certainly after being elected to such a position, the Officer should familiarise themselves with the Constitution and Bylaws of IVSA, and with the relevant Manual(s) to their position.

In order to be considered suitable for nomination for a position on the ExCo or Secretariat, the member should have sufficient English language skills to communicate effectively with the other members of the IVSA governing entities. This is because English is the official language of IVSA and it is the language in which all official ExCo and Secretariat communication is in. English language skills should therefore be considered necessary for all nominees. Other language skills, while they may be useful, are optional.

All ExCo members should seek advice on problems they encounter from the Trust, as the Trust is an advisory body which has experience to support the ExCo. Personal contact with the Trust is encouraged in the case of difficulties.


The SG is responsible for the taking and archiving of minutes of ExCo meetings and GAs of Congresses and Symposia. The SG should circulate all minutes to the other ExCo members to ensure they are satisfied there is no inappropriate material included before making them publicly available.

The SG should have a good grasp of RONR, especially where minutes are concerned but also in general. The SG will likely take some responsibility in the background for the running of GAs, and it is useful for the SG to support the Chair during ExCo meetings, and remind them about the correct procedures during meetings.

RONR are applied slightly differently in small meetings, such as ExCo meetings. These differences are explained in full in the President-Elect Manual, but the major points are as follows:

  • People don’t have to stand up
  • Motions don’t have to be seconded
  • There aren’t normally any limits on speech while debating an issue
  • Things can be discussed when there is no proper motion on the floor
  • When people agree on a plan, you can move forward without an exact motion and figure out wording later
  • The Chairman can join in debate and can vote

If a decision is made in an ExCo meeting, the SG should write it in the minutes as a motion (either assume that the person whose idea it was made the motion, or check who would like to move something)

  1. The full minutes of a Symposium or Congress shall be made available to members of the public no later than 30 days after the last GA of a Symposium or Congress. These shall be posted on the IVSA website. If required, a summary version of the minutes may also be made available at this time. These are actually draft minutes until approved by the GA at the next Congress or Symposium (after which the draft minutes should be replaced with the approved minutes).
  2. At each Congress or Symposium the SG is to present the (draft) minutes of the GA of the previous Congress or Symposium to the GA for approval.
  • If minutes are corrected, correct them in the text of the minutes being approved. The minutes of the meeting in which the corrections were made just need to say they were approved "as corrected".
  • If minutes require correcting after approval, the motion to amend something previously adopted is required (which is a main motion, so its exact wording should be included in the minutes for the meeting in which the approved minutes were corrected).
  1. The full minutes of all live meetings, Skype meetings and other important meetings, e.g. with sponsors, should be made available within the ExCo no later than 10 days after the meeting. These minutes should be posted on the IVSA Podio group and emailed to the ExCo mailing list.
  2. The draft minutes of ExCo meetings, after any amendments suggested by the ExCo have been included, should be posted on the IVSA website within 14 days of such meetings being concluded and archived in the ExCo dropbox folder. These should be updated with the approved minutes when they are approved.
  • It is technically improper to summarize matters discussed at a meeting in the minutes - minutes are a record of what was done, not what was said. However, IVSA minutes normally contain some summary of discussion to help those who weren't at the GA understand or to help those looking back on the minutes of a meeting 6 months ago to remember, for example, why certain decisions were made.
  • When taking minutes from ExCo Meetings, the Bylaws state that they need to contain a summary of the discussion and any presentations presented as well as all decisions made by the ExCo. This should be kept objective and care should be given to the wording of any points on sensitive/confidential issues. Discussion summary is not compulsory for GA minutes.
  • When writing down motions in minutes, you have to get the exact wording of the motion.
  • Minutes should include the text of main motions as finally voted on, not the text of secondary motions (including motions to amend, points of privilege, parliamentary inquiries, etc. The only exception is points of order and appeals - see later). Minutes should be written in the past tense, in the third person, and should not include subjective language.
  • Format of minutes:
    • First paragraph - type of meeting, name of organisation, date, time, place, presence of President and Secretary General or names of their substitutes, whether minutes of the previous meeting(s) were sent out in advance and approved, or "approved as corrected"
    • Body of minutes - separate heading for each agenda item.
      • Give the name and subject of a guest speaker or similar item, but no summary of the talk (or brief key points if necessary, e.g. date and location of an event that was mentioned).
      • Similarly, the content of reports only needs to be mentioned when needed to cover any motions arising from the reports.
      • Main motions should be included except (normally) those withdrawn by the maker (apply with common sense!), with the name of the nominator but not the seconder, and stating whether the motion was adopted or rejected after debate, after amendment or after debate and amendment. “Debate” can be interpreted as at least one speech after the motion had been made, save for a brief clarification on intent or meaning by the mover of the motion.
      • Secondary motions are only included when they are pending when the main motion is carried over to another meeting, or when needed for clarity (e.g. a ballot vote having been ordered, ...). Apply with common sense! If a secondary motion generated significant debate, it may be worth recording in some form, but this is not compulsory.
      • State the result of votes (adopted or lost, if a count or ballot was ordered, the numbers of votes, full details for roll call votes).
      • Content of any notices of motions given to provide "previous notice" that the motions will be considered at the next meeting.
      • Points of order and appeals, whether sustained or lost, and the reasons given by the Chair for his/her ruling.
    • Last paragraph - time of adjournment (no mover or seconder recorded, just "The meeting adjourned at X p.m.").
    • Signature - signed by Secretary (can be President too).
    • Recording the time that each agenda point was started is recommended, and can be especially useful for planning future General Assemblies

Other points about IVSA Minutes:

  • For ExCo meeting minutes, state everyone’s position in the “Present” section at the start, then just use their names from then on. Use the full name every time it is first mentioned in an agenda point, then just the first name for the rest of that agenda point (unless there are 2 people with the same first name). There is no need to record country or MO, unless someone is a guest without a position as an IVSA Official.
  • For “Apologies”, put all those who were specifically invited to attend but are not attending – always ExCo, normally Secretaries, Trustees and Committee Chairs as well
  • ExCo Officers must be invited to ExCo meetings, and others may be invited (up to the ExCo). The policy is normally adopted that all Secretaries, Trustees and Committee Chairs should be granted the right of speech at ExCo meetings if present, and any other guests only if there are no objections to them speaking
  • For GA minutes, each time someone’s name is mentioned for the first time in an agenda point, the following format should be used to record their name, title(s), etc.:
    • <full name>
    • <Chairman, Parliamentarian or Election Committee (if applicable)>
    • <position on ExCo, Secretariat, Trust or Committee Chair (if applicable)>
    • <Individual Supportive Member, Honorary Life Member or IVSA <country>>
    • <nothing here if they are a national MO, ISM or HLM, city here if they are a local MO>
    • It is not necessary to mention if someone is a committee member, except for the Election Committee, unless especially relevant, e.g. they delivered a presentation on that Committee.
    • For ExCo, their IVSA MO should not be stated, as they are not representing them as a delegate and they don’t have the right to vote.
  • Then if their name is mentioned again in that agenda point, just the first name may be used, e.g. “Sara accepted”. For stating that someone was elected to a position, even if it’s in the same agenda point, the previously mentioned format should be used again.
  • For GA minutes, record the time each agenda point was started.
  • For ExCo meetings, record the starting and finishing times and the times of any recesses (of >~5 minutes).
  • If ever there is an action, it must be clear who is responsible for doing it, or it may not get done. Either define within the motion itself who is responsible, or after stating “This was adopted (after debate/amendment)”, write who will perform any necessary action. If it is not clarified in the meeting itself who should do something, then the SG can just assign the task to someone sensible on Podio after the meeting, and they can assign it to someone else or ask for someone else to take over if they are unable to do it.
  • For ExCo meetings, if possible, include what time someone was present from and until (if they weren’t present for the whole time) in the “present” section. You could also note what time someone leaves or arrives in the main body of the minutes (brief absences excepted).
  • For GAs, recording this information is not practical, so it’s possible that the total number of votes cast in a vote might be different to the number expected from those present at roll call, if someone turns up late or if someone leaves.
  • If you are concerned that you have dropped below quorum due to some absences, another roll call is necessary to check before anything happens, as no substantial business should be conducted in the absence of quorum. If having online attendants who have a vote, their arrival and departure times should be noted.
  • Draft minutes should always be on non-headed paper, and approved minutes on headed paper, and all minutes sent out should always be in pdf form, so only the SG may edit the documents.

Ideally, the SG should be present at all the live meetings and GAs to take the minutes.

  • The SG should have another IVSA Official taking back-up minutes (these are especially useful when the SG is unsure of something they wrote when looking back at it) and should be autosaving the minutes document every 5 minutes so that it is instantly uploaded online (e.g. autosave to google drive shared folder), so that the document is not lost in case of computer problems.
  • If the SG knows they cannot be present for any such meeting, they are responsible for ensuring someone with a sufficient grasp of the English language, and who knows how to take minutes, can take the place of the SG.
  • As the Secretary to the GA, the SG may be called on to help the Chairman count votes (e.g. hand raise votes).

As SG, it is important to know how to make official decisions correctly. Official decisions should always be made in a meeting, unless the Bylaws specifically allow otherwise (e.g. approval of ExCo reimbursements). However, if everyone agrees on something, especially if it requires immediate action, you can act as though a decision has been made or changed (e.g. officially approving an IVSA event so that they can start the applications), but this decisions should be ratified in the next ExCo meeting. If you decide in a meeting that a specific decision can be made after the meeting by individual agreement of the members of the ExCo, you should state in the minutes something like “to be decided by individual agreement of the majority of the members of the ExCo”. Minor decisions like deadlines should only be considered guidelines, and can be changed easily, whereas something more major, like the location or date of a live meeting, should probably be decided (or at least confirmed) in an ExCo meeting.

Regarding quorum in GAs, you may be confronted with the situation where new MOs are approved and immediately pay their fees to the Treasurer, thus granting them the status of MO. However, such organizations do not have a vote as they are still a candidate MO, so quorum should not change during Congress or Symposium.


The SG is responsible for the certification of all delegates prior to every Congress and Symposium.

  • Certification shall include confirmation from each student delegate's MO that they are in fact a member of that particular, active, IVSA MO. Generally this is done by the MOD - the SG should ensure this is done.
  • Confirmation may also be required from each delegate's University that they are currently a veterinary student - in practice this would be a lot of work so is only checked in cases where a satisfactory reply is not received from the MO, or in cases of student Individual Supportive Members (ISMs).
  • In the case of student ISMs, confirmation is also required of ISM student fee payment.
  • In the case of non-student ISMs, confirmation is required of ISM non-student fee payment and a valid veterinary degree.
  • In the case of Honorary Life Members (HLMs), confirmation is required of the identity of the individual (e.g. scan of passport)
  • The SG should keep a list of previous ExCo members (who are automatically ISMs for 2 years after graduating and exempt from paying membership fees), and also a list of HLMs.
  • In practice, a lot of certification is handled by the MOD, and the lists are kept by the Treasurer, but the SG should ensure that these lists are maintained and that the certification happens.


The SG is in charge of overseeing the Secretariat and responsible for making sure that it runs efficiently.

  • This will include managing the communication within the Secretariat and between the Secretariat and the ExCo, keeping track of their work and seeing that they are meeting their deadlines.
  • A Secretariat Facebook group is recommended for this

1 Secretariat handover meeting is recommended to be held after the main handover meeting including the incoming and outgoing SGs and Secretaries. A minimum of 2 Secretariat meetings are to be held during the year online - one between Congress and Symposium, and one between Symposium and Congress. Extra live meetings may be held if several Secretaries are in one location, e.g. for Symposium, Congress, or an additional live meeting.

The agenda for a Secretariat meeting is recommended to include:

  • How everyone is doing, how they are finding their work (both the amount and the specifics/difficulties)
  • How communication with their ExCo Officer(s) is going (amount of communication, perceived approachability of Officer), and any suggestions for improvements re: communication?
  • Feedback on the ExCo – how they feel ExCo is doing (specific projects, communication), and any ideas for improving IVSA in general or the work of the ExCo
  • Secretariat project(s) – As well as Secretariat projects, could also discuss potential ExCo projects that the ExCo are not working on at the moment.
  • Anything else you want to discuss?

Other duties

With the President, the SG should ensure that the Steering Meeting is prepared for the first session of the GA at Congress or Symposium.

The SG should ensure that relevant information is circulated to all delegates and MOs in advance of Symposium and Congress (to delegates via a delegate list from the OC, and to MOs via the MOD), including where possible:

  • A recommendation that everyone should familiarise themselves with the GA Manual for the Members in order to help GAs run smoothly, and a link to where that can be found.
  • Links to the IVSA Governance Manual, and ExCo position Manuals and other Manuals where relevant
  • Links to the Constitution, Bylaws and Strategic Plans
  • Links to appropriate pages of IVSA website for more information in general
  • Any Constitutional amendments (must be sent out to MOs 60 days before the first GA session)
  • Any Bylaws amendments (must be sent out to MOs 30 days before the first GA session)
  • Financial information (e.g. budget, preliminary financial statement, financial report)
  • IVSA Abbreviations document
  • Preliminary GA agenda
  • All MoUs, other partnership agreements, sponsorship contracts, etc. to be voted on
  • Draft minutes of previous Congress/Symposium
  • Before a Congress, specification of ExCo positions
  • A note that each country will be required to select a delegate for each GA session whose responsibility it will be to vote on behalf of their country (representing the votes of the country as decided between the delegates from that country)

The SG should collaborate with the ERO to ensure the Hill’s Press Release is completed after Congress, before the end of their term.

The SG is responsible for all the administrative work of the ExCo.

This includes:

  1. Creating, maintaining and encouraging IVSA Officials to fill in an online schedule for the entire year, which is useful to see when people may be unable to do IVSA work or answer emails for long periods of time, and to plan possible dates for meetings. This should be pinned to the top of the ExCo Facebook group so it can always be easily found.
  2. Assisting the President in sorting out the date and time of meetings by sending out polls (e.g. Doodle polls) to the relevant parties. The SG is responsible for ensuring a Trust representative is invited to all ExCo meetings. The SG should also arrange a date and time of one informal ExCo-Trust meeting between Congress and Symposium and one between Symposium and Conrgess. This can be held preceding an ExCo meeting.
  3. Compiling the agendas of all IVSA meetings and making these available to the relevant parties prior to the meeting, under the direction of the President. In the case of ExCo meetings, a provisional agenda must be sent out at least 7 days before the meeting. In the case of GAs, a provisional agenda should be sent out to the attendees not less than 30 days before the first GA
    1. Check the President’s Manual for what should be included in a standard GA agenda
  4. As soon as the OC confirm a provisional list of attending delegates for a Congress or Symposium, the SG should send out an email to all the delegates, advising them to send in any motions they would like added to the agenda in advance of 30 days before the first GA, when the SG will send out the provisional agenda. The SG should direct them to a page on the IVSA website explaining how to properly word motions (including Constitution or Bylaws amendments).
  5. Answering any queries directed to the SG via email.
  6. Circulating any and all proposed amendments to the IVSA Constitution and Bylaws, 60 days and 30 days respectively, to all IVSA members before the start of the first session of the GA at the next Congress or Symposium. This should be done via email, on the IVSA website and on the IVSA facebook page.
  7. Throughout and especially towards the end of their term, ensuring that all the Manuals are up-to-date and in proper English, reminding people to update the one(s) they are responsible for and updating any others as necessary that do not have a specific person responsible for them.
  8. Ensuring that the Constitution and Bylaws are updated, via a special login to the website. The SG should also ensure that the explanatory comments with the Constitution and Bylaws are updated as necessary and are in accordance with information in the Manuals (not all the info from the Manuals needs to be in the explanatory comments!).
  9. For updating things on the IVSA wiki, some tips on formatting can be found here:
  10. During an IVSA Symposium or Congress, it is recommended that the SG collects all presentations given during the GA, and checks with presenters that they give consent for the presentation to be sent out to the delegates. After the event, the SG can then send out all presentations and other important GA files to the delegates (files such as approved MoUs or adopted documents can be an appendix to the minutes), in pdf format.
  11. Archiving all IVSA minutes, reports and documents to ensure they are not lost and also that useful documents are ready for use by the next ExCo, future OCs, the Parliamentarian, the Auditors, etc.
    1. All IVSA Minutes and ExCo, Secretariat, Trust and Committee reports should be archived in the SG files (e.g. on the google drive account), along with other files.
    2. All SG files should be handed over to the next SG. All other ExCo Officers should be reminded to hand over their files to their successors.
    3. The SG should ensure that each ExCo Officer puts all of their files onto the ExCo DropBox (or SG Google Drive account, or whatever is being used to centrally store files), either directly, or via the SG. The SG should ensure that the ExCo Dropbox folder (or similar) is ready for handover to the next ExCo at the end of the year
    4. The SG should ensure that all files handed over on the DropBox folder are archived on the SG hard drive for handover to the next SG. There should be a separate “Archive” folder on the hard drive for IVSA minutes, reports, press releases, newsletters and proceedings booklets, in addition to the other locations of such files.
  12. Assisting the President and Vice-President according to their requests.

It is recommended that the SG be an individual with an excellent grasp of the English language as this is the official language of the IVSA and the language in which all documents composed by the SG will have to be written.

  • The SG may also be required to edit documents for the ExCo, Secretariat or IVSA as a whole to improve the understanding of the text in English.

At the end of a Symposium or Congress, the SG should ensure any relevant contracts, such as for Congress or Symposium hosts (which should be given to the MOD to get signed), are printed.

At the Handover meeting at the end of their term, the outgoing SG should take minutes while being observed by and giving instruction to the incoming SG on the correct taking of minutes. The outgoing SG should ensure contracts are printed for the incoming ExCo, Secretariat and Trust to sign.

At the Handover meeting at the beginning of their term, the incoming SG should collect the contracts signed by the incoming ExCo, Secretariat and Trust.

Immediately after the results of the ExCo, Secretariat and Trust elections have been announced at Congress, the outgoing SG should ensure that the President-Elect liaises with the incoming SG and the incoming Secretariat to ensure the assigning of the positions of Secretaries to members of the new ExCo goes as smoothly as possible in the handover meeting.

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