RI now employs Regional Membership and TRF Officers and has Rotarian Zone Coordinators with three-year terms. Districts are encouraged to have District Trainers, Membership, TRF, and Public Information chairs, all serving multiple year terms. Many districts sponsor Rotary Leadership Institutes. Considering these developments and present day technology, what is the purpose of having district governors? Is it possible that the position is becoming more symbolic than functional, and why do some districts have difficulty recruiting - yes, recruiting - applicants for the position?
Perhaps the administrative position of district governor could use an overhaul. Consider that a Rotarian, usually a past assistant governor, is interested and chats with district leaders about the position. Often leaders tell the Rotarian that they would be a wonderful governor. They download, or are given, a copy of Leading Your District: Governor, an initially intimidating 166 page document. Upon a brief scan, most Rotarians would realize that it is a prescriptive planning and training manual and do further research, usually referring to the Manual of Procedure. It mentions Rotary's Code of Policies, in which they download and read Article 19.020 Governor's Specific Duties and Responsibilities. The article's second of eight (8) paragraphs says, quote "Governors will adhere to the provisions of the RI Constitution and Bylaws." They proceed to RI's Constitution and By-laws to learn what they will adhere to. The Constitution's Article 3 spells out RI's three purposes, the first of which is, quote, "(a) to support the clubs and districts of RI in their pursuit of programs and activities that promote the Object of Rotary." That's an idealistic, somewhat exciting vision that opens their mind a bit more.
Then they go to the By-Law's Article 15.090 Duties of a Governor, to which they will adhere. After surfing the opening paragraph, they proceed through fourteen (14) scriptures of which any one of the first three, all related to developing membership, could distort visions of being an effective governor because, even as assistant governors, they frequently had not been involved in more than one of the prescribed activities. Serious doubts about being an effective governor set in, and they cast aside such thoughts.
Leaders panic and go into recruiting mode. They promise to help while selling the candidates on the positive social and travel benefits and continually stress that those prescribed duties to which they will adhere to are merely guidelines. Then the closer - success is in the eyes of the beholder - not the district, not RI. One or more recruits apply; one is selected and proceeds to follow the examples set by previous governors, all of whom, of course, had successful years (even though membership continued its decline.) This cycle continues until the position loses functionality and becomes a time and resource consuming symbol.
The position of District Governor is a time-honored tradition in need of re-examination. If Rotary were being created today, would it even have district governors? What would be their purposes? Their objectives? Their term of office? Their incentive to serve? What would be the most effective way for RI to educate and support them? And the closing RI self-examination - how will RI measure its own effectiveness at supporting the clubs and districts in their pursuit of programs and activities that promote the Object of Rotary?