Statement on Diversity in AHA Nominations and Appointments (2001)

Editor’s note: The following statement was drafted by the AHA’s Professional Division and approved by the Council in 1990 and revised by the division and Council in 2001. The Council directed its publication in Perspectives on History in the hope that it will encourage members to suggest more individuals from diverse backgrounds for both appointments and nominations. The statement is meant to accompany the requests from the Committee on Committees and the Nominating Committee that are published annually in the October Perspectives on History. If there are individuals that you would like to suggest for appointment or nomination, please contact the Executive Director, AHA, 400 A St. SE, Washington, DC 20003.

Criteria for elected and appointed office within the AHA must be consistent with the goals and purposes of the Association. The AHA can only function as the umbrella organization for the profession if it brings together and represents historians from all work settings and in all chronological, geographical, and topical specializations, across gender and color lines. The Association has made considerable progress in recent years in opening up its leadership ranks, but much remains to be done. The AHA is committed to inclusiveness in its membership and in its leadership.

The way to achieve greater diversity is not quotas. But name recognition, field specialization, and the amount and quality of publications should not be the only criteria for nominations. Also important are the differential needs of the profession’s and the Association’s various constituencies and the particular responsibilities and concerns of the office or position in question. The AHA is a professional membership organization with a broad agenda that encompasses more than scholarly research, and nominations and appointments must not be made solely on the basis of standards for university hiring and promotions.

Within this context, the Council and the Professional Division provide the following guidelines for the Nominating Committee and the Committee on Committees.

  1. Nominations and appointments should be consistent with the principle of diversity including such considerations as:
    1. Work context, including secondary schools, two-year colleges, four-year colleges, graduate institutions, public history, and independent research; as well as employment status, such as full-time, part-time, and temporary
    2. Gender
    3. Race and ethnicity
    4. Age
    5. Rank, including junior as well as senior historians
    6. Regional distribution
    7. Area of specialization, where pertinent to the position
  2. Issues of diversity and representation should be addressed within the context of the total composition of each committee or other body affected, not on a piecemeal or case-by-case basis.
  3. All nominations and appointments should take into account the agenda of the committee or other body within which an individual would function and the individual’s ability to speak to and contribute to that agenda.
  4. The American Historical Association represents the diverse interests of all historians in this country. Scholars who work in fields outside U.S. and European history represent a growing presence in the organization. To better insure that the interests of these scholars are being met, the Nominating Committee of the American Historical Association will nominate for the position of president-elect of the organization historians whose research is outside the fields of either American or western European history at least once every five years.
  5. Except under unusual circumstances, no individual should serve simultaneously in more than one position or be nominated or appointed for more than one term in any capacity. This does not prohibit the nomination or appointment of an individual for a position while serving in some other capacity, as long as the current term of service will end prior to the new position beginning or the individual agrees to resign from the first position before assuming the second.

In addition, the Council and the Professional Division provide the following guidelines for nominations for specific positions:

  1. Given the different professional needs and concerns of historians, particular attention should be given to racial and ethnic diversity as well as to scholarship, in the composition of the three elected divisions.
  2. Because of the responsibilities of both the Nominating Committee and the Committee on Committees in recruiting individuals for leadership positions, it is particularly critical that these two committees include individuals with close working relations with the various communities and constituencies listed above under general guidelines.

Finally, both committees are asked to keep in mind the difference between the Association’s guidelines and committee lore and custom. The latter does not have the endorsement of the AHA’s elected leadership and is not binding on any committee.

Adopted by Council on December 27, 1990; revised on June 16, 2001.