ARCUS is currently composed of 51 voting and nonvoting member institutions including U.S. universities and research institutes, and international affiliates with interests in arctic research. The organization's mission is to "strengthen and advance arctic research to meet national needs." A 14-member Board oversees the affairs of the corporation. The Members' Council elects 12 Board members to three-year terms. Four seats are open for reelection each year. Board members may be reelected for additional terms. The Board elects its chair, who also serves as President of the Corporation, for a two-year term. The Executive Director of ARCUS also sits on the Board as an ex-officio member.
ARCUS receives its income from members' dues, other organizations, and several federal agencies. In connection with the former source of income, ARCUS has undertaken a variety of projects through a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and contracts with the National Park Service, the Alaska Federation of Natives, and the National Fish and Wildlife Service.
In addition to governance of the corporation, the ARCUS Board has addressed a number of issues key to its members' interests. These include the Arctic Research Vessel (ARV), the logistics needs of the arctic research community, equal access to arctic research platforms, expanded opportunities for researchers and their institutions, and arctic science education. Over the next three years, the Board is likely to continue to address these issues, but to additionally consider the integration of U.S. research with international efforts and to increase the profile of arctic research on the national agenda.
ARCUS' efforts to improve the national recognition and support of arctic research include formal and informal education, liaison with other national polar research entities, working with government agencies, providing a central point of contact for inquiries, facilitating community science planning efforts, and disseminating information through reports, a newsletter, and the ARCUS website.
ARCUS does not have Board seats designated for particular disciplines or areas. The primary qualification is an interest in and commitment to arctic research and education and a willingness to commit time and effort to developing and promoting ARCUS' programs. The Council does try to maintain a broad disciplinary and geographic mix. Board membership is not restricted to people from member institutions; people from non-member institutions can hold up to three Board seats.
Board members are instrumental in identifying, evaluating, and promoting new initiatives that significantly advance our scientific understanding of the Arctic. Individual arctic researchers or institutions may put these initiatives forward, but the Board is also pivotal in seeking out such initiatives from ARCUS members. In so doing, Board members play a major role in fulfilling ARCUS' bridging function of translating broad scientific goals into implementation.
The primary job responsibilities of the Board are:
- Holds fiduciary responsibility for the corporation;
- Creates and serves on committees of the Board;
- Actively works to develop broader program, membership, and funding support for ARCUS activities;
- Promotes the interests of its member institutions and the larger arctic research community by taking positions on and promulgating position statements about important issues related to arctic science;
- Identifies opportunities for new initiatives and for collaboration in the arctic community in research, dissemination, and education;
- Advocates for funding to support community initiatives;
- Assists the research community in liaison with indigenous communities in the North;
- Promotes, articulates, and advocates a vision of arctic research and its contribution to society.
A formal description of the Board powers, drawn from the Bylaws, follows:
Article IV, Section 1. Powers. There shall be a Board of Directors in which shall be vested the government and general management of the affairs, powers, funds, and property of the Corporation, except as otherwise provided by law or by these Bylaws. To this end and without limitation of the foregoing or of the Board's powers expressly conferred by these Bylaws, the Board shall have power to authorize others to act on behalf of the Corporation, to make rules and regulations for the Corporation's management, to create such additional offices or committees as it deems appropriate, and to select, employ, or remove such of its agents or employees as it shall deem best.