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Creation of the CAP Assembly and House of Delegates

Speakers’ table at the fall 1963 Assembly meeting in Chicago, Illinois

In the mid-1950s, the Board of Governors and others called into question the effectiveness of some regional committees, their structure, and the method of appointing members, as well as the use of ASCP Councilors to deal with CAP issues. A search began for an alternative, more broadly representative “grassroots” body in the CAP, and the concept for the Assembly emerged. The original proposal for the Assembly called for the election of one delegate for every 50 CAP Fellows in a given state, and the body would assume the duties previously assigned to the regional committees and the ASCP Councilors.

The Board approved the creation of the Assembly in February 1957, with the stated purposes of improving communication between the Board and membership, identifying members who could be potential Governors and/or committee members, involving more members in CAP activities, and strengthening the regional committees. The body first met at the CAP/ASCP fall meeting with the CAP president as the presiding officer. Most delegates reportedly neglected to read preparatory materials, resulting in some confusion and prolongation of the proceedings. The Assembly did object, however, to being presided over by the CAP president.

Marjorie J. Williams, MD, Virginia representative to the CAP Assembly, preparing to present the motion to change the Assembly to the House of Delegates in 1970

Confusion emerged over the role of the CAP Assembly, including questions about whether committees reported to the Board or Assembly, if the Assembly set policy or was purely advisory, and if the Assembly could appoint its own reference committees. As time went on, the constitution and bylaws were amended to provide for an assembly, terms of office for Assembly officers were designed, and election procedures were codified.

In 1970 the Assembly converted to a House of Delegates. Its policy-generating function was made explicit in a set of objectives reading, in part, “The House is identified as a body within the College which formulates policy so that the actions and policies of the College of American Pathologists may reflect the needs and wishes of its Fellows. The House of Delegates…shall act as a legislative body of the College, initiating business, considering the reports of the College’s Officers, Executive Director, Councils and committees, and the Officers and Committees of the House, passing such actions on to the Board of Governors.”

The House in session, fall 1988
In 1972, Ex-officio Board membership without voting privileges was granted to the speaker of the House of Delegates, with voting privileges being granted in 1984. At the same time, a proviso was included that the vice-speaker would serve as an alternate in the absence of the speaker. The position of vice-speaker received ex-officio membership in its own right in 1989.