The Academy of American Poets' Board of Chancellors serve several functions. They advocate for the programmatic work of the Academy; act as consultants to the organization on matters of artistic direction and programming; elect the recipients of some of our awards, including the Academy Fellowship; and serve as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large.The Board of Chancellors was formed in 1946 in accordance to the guidelines set forth by the Academy's founder, Mrs. Marie Bullock, who stated:
"These men and women must be chosen from amongst literary persons of the highest standing. They must themselves be known for their good judgment and eminent integrity of opinion. They should geographically represent the entire United States, so that their choices will be representative of the nation as a whole, and not of one trend of thought, or literary clique, or section."
New chancellors are elected by the current Board of Chancellors and serve a term of six years. Between twelve and twenty chancellors may serve at any time. A chancellor may be re-elected, so long as three years pass following the end of that chancellor's previous term. Roughly three chancellors per year rotate off and new chancellors are elected to replace them. This rotation plan was created to establish a gradual replacement of the chancellors serving on the Board in order to maintain as much continuity as possible, while ensuring that the body is regularly renewed with fresh ideas and new energy.