About the APA's Divisional Structure
The APA has a federal structure, composed of three divisions—the Central, Eastern, and Pacific—and a national office that together make up a single national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
The APA informally adopted a divisional structure when the Western Philosophical Association, which had been founded in 1900, joined the newly founded American Philosophical Association in 1901, the former becoming known as the Western Division and the latter becoming known as the Eastern Division. These two divisions of the newly united American Philosophical Association cooperated closely thereafter. The Pacific Division was founded in 1924 as an independent society for philosophy on the Pacific coast, but it soon joined its sister divisions, adopted its present moniker, and began to hold annual conferences. A constitution adopted by the APA in 1927 enshrined a federal governance model that the APA still uses. In 1985, the Western Division was renamed the Central Division.
The APA as a whole is governed by a board of officers in accordance with the association’s bylaws. Five of each division's officers—the president, immediate past president, vice president, secretary-treasurer, and divisional representative—sit on the APA's national board of officers as well as their respective divisional executive committees. The divisions are governed in accordance with the APA bylaws as well as their own divisional bylaws. The executive functions of the APA as a whole are carried out by the chair of the board of officers and the executive director. The divisions’ day-to-day operations, including the planning of their divisional meetings, are carried out by their respective secretary-treasurers.
Regular members of the APA choose a division with which to affiliate (often but not necessarily based on geography). Associate members are not affiliated with a division.
The mission of the divisions, as stated in the APA bylaws, is to arrange the annual divisional meetings: "one on or near the Pacific Coast, one in the Midwest, and one on or near the Atlantic Coast.” This mission includes, for each division respectively, "insofar as is feasible, the raising of such funds as are needed for defraying the expenses of the meeting.” However, in practice, the divisions often act for and in the interest of the APA as a whole and the APA often acts through the divisions.