Committee on the Selection of SAA Fellows

I. Purpose

The Committee on the Selection of SAA Fellows selects Fellows of the Society in accordance with criteria and procedures established and approved by the Council and in accordance with the Society's Constitution and Bylaws. From time to time the committee also performs other tasks assigned by the Council.

II. Committee Selection, Size, and Length of Term

The committee is composed of the three most recent past presidents of the Society, three Fellows who are elected by the Council at its winter meeting and who serve one-year terms, and the immediate past chairs of the Appointments Committee and the Nominating Committee to serve one-year terms. Current members of the committee, current members of the Council, and Society staff members are not eligible for election. The past president who has served the longest on the committee serves as chair of the committee.

III. Duties and Responsibilities

The Committee on the Selection of SAA Fellows elects new Fellows from individuals nominated by members of the Society. Individual members, primary contacts of institutional members, student members, and associate members are eligible to nominate SAA Fellows. The committee establishes a deadline for receipt of nominations well in advance of the Annual Meeting and develops a standard form for use in nominations in consultation with the Executive Director. The committee also ensures that the deadline is publicized and that the form is readily available. Nominations must include complete biographical information, including academic degrees and honors, pertinent professional and technical training, professional publications, Society activities, and a narrative description of the professional contributions that merit designation as a Fellow.

The Constitution provides that no more than five percent (5%) of the total individual membership reported at the last annual business meeting of the Society shall be elected as Fellows; that at least seventy-five percent (75%) of the members of the Committee on the Selection of Fellows must approve each candidate for a nomination to be approved; and that no member of the Society shall be elected a Fellow who has not been a full member of the Society in good standing for at least seven (7) years immediately preceding election. In approving nominations, the Committee shall be guided by achievement in each of the following criteria:

  • Appropriate academic education and professional and technical training in any of the fields of the Society's interest;
  • Professional archives experience in any of the fields of the Society's objectives for a minimum of seven years, which shall include evidence of professional responsibility;
  • Contributions to the profession demonstrating initiative, resourcefulness, and commitment;
  • Writings, presentations, and/or educational services (such as workshops or webinars) of superior quality and usefulness contributing to the realization of the Society's objectives;
  • Contributions to the archives profession through active participation in the Society of American Archivists and innovative or outstanding work on behalf of the Society.

While serving on this committee standing members may not formally endorse the candidacies of any of the nominations for consideration by the committee, nor participate actively in organizing the submission of an individual nomination. Similarly, when accepting appointment to the committee, Fellows selected to serve by Council should be required to accept as a condition of service that they will not formally endorse the candidacies of any of the nominations for consideration by the committee, nor participate actively in organizing the submission of an individual nomination.

A 75% favorable vote by members of the Committee on the Selection of SAA Fellows is required for election as a Fellow.


Nominations should provide all the information necessary for evaluating the nominee. The evaluation should focus on the quality, quantity, and applicability of the nomination to the criteria. The evaluators should not “fill in” evidence that may be missing. This helps ensure that all nominations are evaluated from a common perspective. Evaluators may or may not personally know or be closely familiar with a nominee and their professional career, so in any given year, those who are on the evaluation committee could influence a decision if factors not included in the nomination are part of the assessment.

Focus of the award is for service to the Society of American Archivists. The nomination needs to demonstrate that the individual has made sufficient contributions to the Society to be named an SAA Fellow. This is an award that honors outstanding contributions through active participation in and efforts on behalf of SAA as well as to the broader archival profession. This is not an award for outstanding contributions to the archival profession nationally or in a region or state without demonstrable contributions to SAA as well. While a nominee’s activities in other venues strengthens the evidence in some of the criteria areas, they do not replace evidence of service in SAA. There are individuals who may be “well-known” but have not participated in the functions and activities of SAA. Such individuals may be appropriate for other awards such as the J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award or distinguished recognition from the SAA Council.

Nominations should demonstrate the nominee meets all criteria.  The nomination should demonstrate both how the nominee meets criteria as well as explaining the strengths and impact of their contributions. The nomination should not simply list those items, but explain in a clear and compelling manner how they are superior or exceptional. Nominees will likely have more contributions in some areas compared to others; the final decision to approve a nomination should be based on the whole of contributions demonstrating a significant overall contribution, while meeting the requirement of contributions in each criterion. 

Letters provided should demonstrate the quality of the nominee’s contributions.  Letters may come from a range of individuals including professional colleagues, individuals in other professions or communities, and users who have worked with or benefited from the nominee’s efforts. These letters do not need to be from Fellows, Past Presidents, or those who might be perceived as having status in SAA. The purpose is to demonstrate the quality of the nominee’s contributions, not restate how the individual meets the criteria.

Comparability of assessment. In evaluating each nomination, evaluators should strive to ensure that their assessments are consistent and comparable between nominations. An  evaluator’s knowledge of an individual’s career, or their particular area of expertise and professional focus, should not lead to a more (or less) favorable assessment.

Recusal. Evaluators should recuse themselves from evaluating a nomination when they have a direct working relationship or other professional or personal relationship that may be perceived as too close for objectivity. This might include an individual’s supervisors, supervisees, partners in current or recent professional positions, or partners/spouses or other close relatives.  Recusal by any member of the evaluation committee is not a negative factor for the evaluation, but reflects the intent to ensure fair evaluation for all.

See the SAA Governance Manual Section XI: Fellows for more information. 

IV. Reporting Procedures

The committee chair informs the Executive Director of election results as soon as possible so that certificates may be prepared. The chair confidentially informs new Fellows of their election in advance of the Annual Meeting and publicly presents certificates to them at a ceremony at the Annual Meeting. The chair also ensures that nominators of other individuals are informed of the results of their nominations.

V. Meetings

The Committee consults by mail, telephone, and/or in person after nominations have been received so that each nominee's qualifications can be discussed and evaluated. The election of Fellows also may be held by telephone or in person, confirmed in writing, or by mail.


Approved by the SAA Council: February 1990
Revised: January 1992
, August 2008, February 2010, March 2020, May 2022.


See also:

Distinguished Fellows
Fellow Nomination Form