Being Vice President According to Robert’s Rules

By C. Alan Jennings, PRP

The one function of a vice president as provided in Robert’s Rules is to serve in the absence of the president and to automatically succeed to the office of president in case of that officer’s death or resignation. In fact, members can’t elect a new president to fill a vacancy in that office unless the bylaws expressly call for it.

Thanks to the automatic succession rule, you never really have a vacancy in the presidency. Your vacancy immediately becomes one in the office of vice president (unless, of course, the offices of president and vice president become vacant at about the same time).

You may have several vice presidents in your organization. Sometimes these officers have specific responsibilities, overseeing certain aspects of the organization’s committees or programs. Unless the bylaws provide otherwise, succession to the presidency is in order of vice presidents, with the last vice president’s position being the one vacated as he moves up the food chain.

Your bylaws may dictate other specific duties for a vice president and often authorize the board or the president to assign certain duties. For this reason, it’s a good idea to know just what your bylaws say about the office of vice president before accepting the position!