Presidents of the Royal Historical Society serve a four-year term. That of the current President, Professor Emma Griffin, will end in November 2024. The Council of the Royal Historical Society is now beginning the search for its next President to serve from November 2024 to November 2028.
In addition to its own search, the Society’s Council here issues an open call for nominations for the Presidency, 2024-28. Fellows of the Society are invited to nominate potential candidates. Nominees for the RHS Presidency must be current Fellows of the Society, resident in the UK.This email provides further information on the position of RHS President and the required specifications and attributes of this role.
Nominations of potential candidates may be sent to the Council’s Presidential Selection Committee via email@example.com, and should arrive on or before 27 August 2023.
Questions about the role and the process, from either nominators or potential nominees, may be directed to the Selection Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the role
The President of the Royal Historical Society has two distinct responsibilities: to work with trustees to support and enable the direction, vision and values of the charity; and to work with the Society’s professional staff to oversee good governance, financial management, compliance with charity law etc., and to implement the trustees’ broader vision for the Society. For the first, the President requires stature, dynamism and eloquence sufficient to hold the trust and respect of Council, and in turn to inspire confidence from the membership and wider profession. For the second, the President needs an active, hands-on, collaborative stance in order to work effectively with a small team of professional staff.
The President is a leadership role for a broad profession. The incumbent needs to be able and willing to speak in ways that demonstrate leadership, while remaining within the boundaries and role of a charity and respectful of the wide diversity of opinions and values amongst our membership. S/he requires the confidence and willingness to speak with policy makers within and beyond HE, as well as to establish new partnerships and relationships as required. Recent Presidents have effectively developed, in collaboration with Council and other stakeholders, new strategic initiatives for the Society. We are looking for someone with a coherent and realistic ambition for the Society of their own, which is realisable over the four-year term of their Presidency and through working with Council and staff.
The President is also the face of the Society. The RHS delivers a wide range of events both online and in-person – at its UCL premises and elsewhere in the UK. The President is the host/chair of the majority of its events and needs to be a confident chair of academic and public events. The President represents the Society at various external events, conferences and other outward facing contexts. S/he needs to be willing to speak on behalf of the Society and to network in a variety of professional and academic settings, both national and international. The President will join a Society with a recently restructured Office and staff and be committed to the following:
- advocacy for the discipline and profession;
- innovation (new activities in line with the Society’s charitable purpose, and activities);
- expansion (in terms of membership, activities and audiences);
- equality and opportunity for all practitioners of the discipline/profession;
- balance, appreciating and sustaining the Society’s socially and intellectually diverse membership;
- professionalisation, of the Office, communications with members, operations.
Within this broad current framework, and working with Councillors and staff, the role affords considerable scope for the new President to develop their own vision and distinctive strands of activity.
Nominees and nominators for the President role must be current Fellows of the Society. The successful candidate will likely have some prior experience of a leadership or management position within the RHS or within a historical society or organisation with similar structure and values.
Considerable people-management is required for the role, and we are looking for an individual with the tact and diplomacy to manage multiple relationships and (potentially) conflicting demands effectively. The new President will have the confidence to support committed and energetic Councillors and staff within their roles and remits and to champion the respective requirements / contributions of both the Office and Council. They will have the personality and skills to work professionally with both academics and staff and a willingness to delegate to others in the organisation. The President works closely with, and line-manages, two senior members of RHS staff, and with them shares responsibility for the smooth running of the Office.
Personal and professional qualities
- Capacity to create, maintain and lead a sufficiently representative Council body to ensure Society activities reflect the needs and profile of the profession and membership;
- Proactivity to create new initiatives, partnerships and opportunities;
- Tolerance of a wide range of opinions for the sake of the Society;
- Understanding and generosity to handle enquiries and requests for support from Fellows and Members;
- Appreciation of the diversity of the profession and membership within and beyond Higher Education;
- Readiness to engage with the oversight of the day-to-day management of the charity, supporting and enabling the work of the CEO and Academic Director, and chairing the Council in its responsibilities for overseeing the Society’s financial management, audit and compliance with charitable regulation;
- Patience for line-management responsibilities and resilience for handling any interpersonal conflicts that may arise.
The Presidency requires a considerable time commitment. It is an active, hands-on role, not an honorary position. The role is unpaid, but, where feasible and/or necessary, the Society can offer a stipend paid to the incumbent’s employing institution to help free them from institutional commitments.
The current President, who is not part of the selection committee, is happy to talk to interested candidates about the role. To do so, please email: email@example.com.