Annual Report 1998
Report of the Executive Director
During the year just concluded, we began to bring to fruition the efforts organized over the last four years and focused on the activities at the heart of the Association-its member services and programmatic initiatives. Given that many of these efforts have taken the full four years to develop, we have also gained valuable experience in designing and pursuing new ways to accomplish the ongoing mission of the Association. For that reason alone, it gives me pleasure to outline the broad range of issues and programs the AHA has succeeded in mounting on behalf of its members and the field. The details given below also illuminate aspects of recent debates on the value of contributions made by scholarly societies: discussion in the press has focused almost entirely on annual meetings and the journal. Both of these enterprises form core activities for the AHA, and this program illustrates well the depth and breadth offered to the field by this opportunity to meet annually. (See also the report by AHR editor Michael Grossberg, which demonstrates the type of leadership among journal editors that reaches even beyond the pages of the publication.) Nevertheless, I hope the much more complex reach and more encompassing vision of the Association is delineated by the descriptions of our work on programs and member services, detailed below. Annual meetings and scholarly publications gain much by operating in the larger context of an organization concerned with the broadest range of professional and intellectual issues.
Expanding the Reach of the AHA
1. COALITIONS, COLLABORATIONS, AND LEADERSHIP FOR THE FIELD
Forming productive partnerships has emerged over the last several years as the key strategy for the AHA. Only in this way can "umbrella" organizations, determined to serve a field through a broad array of activities, afford to expand their reach in a period of increasing costs and steady-state financing realities. Collaborative work on several fronts has enabled the AHA to accomplish several key goals identified in its earlier planning discussions (see last year's Executive Director's Report).
We made significant steps forward on professional and intellectual programmatic fronts last September through two conferences organized with other societies from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and similar partners. Pursuing an issue identified more than four years ago by the Professional Division, the AHA mobilized a number of other ACLS societies to work on the growing use of part-time and adjunct faculty. This ongoing effort provides an informative model of national organizations working together-in this case, to tackle changes in the way campuses operate across departments. It is clear that there will be a number of such changes in the coming decade, as aspects of downsizing and corporate measures of "accountability" and "productivity" come to be felt more dramatically. (For details on the part-time/adjunct project, see section on Professional Division, below.)
Similarly, the AHA played an active role in organizing and participating in a conference on the endangered monograph, organized under the auspices of the ACLS, American Association of University Presses and Association of Research Libraries (ARL). Authors and readers of monographic research will not be surprised that the conference presentations sketched a complex interplay of developments that has led to the current, sharp downturn in the publication of monographs, ranging from dramatic shifts in the library market as libraries struggle to pay high prices for commercial science journals, to campus demands that academic presses become self-sustaining businesses, to the unnecessary reliance of tenure committees on decisions made by presses about publishing the research of those up for tenure (see Director's Desk column, Perspectives, November 1997). Presented during the meeting was a proposal crafted by the AHA and ARL to form a new partnership organizatiJuly 6, 2007 2:15 PM research alive and well-disseminated by bringing together an entirely new constellation of partners, including scholarly societies, academic presses, libraries, and some commercial print-on-demand businesses.
In each case, these national conferences help to solidify the AHA's working relationships with other organizations and delineate the next steps that we can take in concert with our collaborators. This approach has been particularly productive around the monograph discussions, which have now become situated in conversations jointly sponsored by the ACLS and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Searching for a way to direct intellectual partnerships between humanists and computing specialists, the ACLS/NAS Steering Committee is fostering a series of "Building Block" projects within specific fields that will describe how each field represents the knowledge it develops and disseminates in the traditional print context. Based on these characterizations (which will also chart change over time), the projects will then try to anticipate the introduction of new technologies in order to identify what needs to be protected and perpetuated in the new environment and what values can be gained by harnessing new technology to achieve core goals in the discipline. History has been a leader in these discussions, and its Building Block project will, hopefully, lay the groundwork for anyone disseminating historical studies to do so in a way that ensures the widest access.
This large project achieves important intellectual gains through humanists working together and enlisting the aid of computing specialists in creating new technological advances shaped by the humanities' intellectual needs. In addition, it appears to point the way out of a longstanding dilemma in America, in which research on science receives funding support from a wide variety of federal and private sources, while that in the humanities does not. Initial conversations, at least, have been extremely promising-in large part because the ACLS/NAS work clusters together the intellectual practices and needs of a variety of humanistic disciplines (and interdisciplinary work) to trace larger patterns. The central organization facilitating these developments, I might note, is one in which the AHA became a founding member two years ago-the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH)-which has become a natural meeting point for those interested in connecting the humanities with new technologies (on policy grounds as well as specific experiments that advance technological applications).
Beyond these activities conducted at the national level, the AHA has succeeded in winning funding support for two experimental collaborations that link national- and departmental-level efforts, and that bring historians together with area studies specialists under the rubric of world history. Both of these projects were designed especially to accomplish the goal, articulated during AHA planning discussions, that the AHA expand its membership by demonstrating the relevance of its programs and services to three underrepresented populations-community college faculty, area studies historians, and public historians (for the last group, see below).
With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to revamp the history survey course, the AHA will work with three clusters of history faculty located in Wisconsin, California, and North Carolina. This project, overseen by the Teaching and Research divisions, creates a space within which community college and four-year faculty meet in exciting experiments in new forms of partnership that will bring together differing kinds of campuses in a locality, the respective clusters on a national level, and campus-based efforts with a national organization to encourage replication of the successes achieved in the project.
Similarly, with encouragement from the Ford Foundation, the AHA has expanded the Globalizing Regional Histories project created by the 1995 Program Committee (under the Research Division's auspices and with Council approval) to address the lack of participation by area studies historians in the annual meeting. From a modest series of co-sponsored sessions at the annual meeting, the project now has several substantive activities planned for 1998-2000, all thematically focused on material and cultural interactions over time. This focus on interactions is used to situate historical developments and events, independent of the nation-state as a framing device. The activities include a summer seminar for community college faculty at the Library of Congress's area studies reading rooms, a conference, panel sessions at a number of the annual meetings of participating organizations, print and electronic publications, and a web site for discussion of the research and teaching materials created for the seminar, conference, and meeting sessions. The Steering Committee providing oversight to the project is an especially interesting aspect of the project: it is composed of representatives chosen by the eight participating organizations, which include several area studies associations, two affiliated societies, the Community College Humanities Association, and the Library of Congress.
Also following this new pattern of broad partnerships to serve our field and attract new members (in this case, public historians) is a new initiative being organized between the AHA and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The project will treat six different themes over several years. Workshops focusing on both theoretical and practical issues will explore new trends in scholarship and their implications for the acquisition and presentation of museum collections in existing and future exhibitions. Each thematic set of discussions will involve academic- and museum-based historians, and will culminate in a public conference. The first conference will focus on American Identity in the Millennium, and the AHA's participation in the project will commence in February 1999. What marks this particular project is the systematic efforts by two national organizations to foster broad-based dialogue that draws on the respective strengths of the partners.
More traditionally, the AHA has participated in coalitions to pursue advocacy concerns. This work has certainly continued, albeit in an environment in which several legislators have tried to muffle the voices of nonprofit organizations (as compared to for-profit contractors). The newest effort in this respect has been legislative language that would have forced an unwieldy and dysfunctional form of member referendum regarding every policy stance taken by a board of a nonprofit; at current writing this proposal has as been defeated on several occasions, but it will certainly return in new guises in the future.
Despite the (deliberate) chilling effect imposed by such legislative efforts, the AHA continues to work within its coalitions to (1) protect the balance between fair use and intellectual property rights in an electronic environment; (2) work on restoring funding support for research (e.g., through NEH but also in other venues); (3) push for continued funding for the collection and analysis of national data on academic training and careers. Our long-term coalitions, especially the National Humanities Alliance, serve as the essential forums in which to craft policies and strategies for us to join with other scholarly organizations. However, we have expanded in recent years by joining new organizations such as the Digital Future Coalition, which specializes in legislative language and has brought us in concert with a much broader range of organizations concerned with the climate in which intellectual property issues will be defined, and NINCH, which also serves as a clearing house for both programmatic and advocacy policy activities.
These broad-based collaborations provide the frame for our work, where we can make common cause with others on issues that will benefit historians. In addition, two organizations within which the AHA has worked long and hard for issues of special concern to historians continue to serve as key elements in our advocacy arsenal, the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History (NCC) and the National History Education Network (NHEN). The AHA continues to respond to the ongoing range of emerging issues connected to preservation, declassification, support for documentary editions, and access to government records; the Research Division and Council have sent letters and authorized the participation of the AHA in several lawsuits relating to these concerns, working especially through the NCC. Similarly, the current strength and effectiveness of NHEN has enabled our Teaching Division to work consistently through a large range of uneven state standards in history, and to turn its attention toward assessment-very likely to be the next fundamental battleground in the schools for the good teaching of history.
2. EXPANDING OUR INFRASTRUCTURE FOR MEMBER SERVICES
Of necessity, all too many words have been devoted in previous Executive Director's Reports to our need to improve the AHA's infrastructure. The traumas associated with upgrading our technical capacities and remedying neglect of our building, while agonizing to live through and presenting real financial costs to the Association, have been central to the AHA's ability to do its work better and more efficiently in the future. It therefore gives me great pleasure to turn from this kind of emphasis to the longer-term focus on improving and expanding member services-a capacity we gained when we upgraded our infrastructure.
Two new committees are hard at work this year, examining the myriad of aspects related to the Association's publishing program-which offers the most tangible of member benefits. A subcommittee of the Research Division has begun exploring the shape and impact of the transition to electronic dissemination of the journal, while the ad hoc Publications Advisory Committee has been reviewing our pamphlet and newsletter publications in all their ramifications, from our marketing efforts to the expansion of member services possible through simultaneous electronic and print publication. Taken together, this work will help the Association create a new and expanded approach to member services. Benefits of membership will become more tangible. In addition, enhanced access will support historians in all their activities, from teaching to writing, research, and work with the public. Central to this effort will be new functions on the Internet, including a search and reference service that we hope will interconnect book reviews, journal articles, pamphlets, and newsletter pieces, and a new fee space the Association is developing that will enable faster access of job listings to members, a directory of members, and-in the longer run-other publications (from pamphlets to collections of Perspectives pieces around particular topics).
These new and integrative approaches to the publishing program of the AHA have been occasioned, in part, by our much greater activity over the last two years in expanding the material we offer. Our various pamphlet series, for instance, will offer up to 20 new titles each year over the next several years. (The promising new partnership with an affiliated society described below indicates that new materials in this unique form of publication could sustain this level of production for some time.) One innovation we will introduce during 1998-99 gives members the opportunity to sign up for copies of everything we publish (including the Directory of History Departments and Organizations; Grants, Fellowships, and Prizes of Interest to Historians; and all other pamphlets printed in that year) for a price substantially below the per-item costs members would otherwise pay. We hope this new opportunity will expose many more members to the high quality and immense usefulness of our publications, and will also generate some "Research and Development Funds" that we can use to further enhance our capacities to disseminate good scholarship in new ways.
The Association has long had an Institutional Services Program (ISP) directing services and benefits to departments. For most of that time, however, ISP was a relatively low-key effort. Given the large number of educational policy issues that now confront departments, and that the AHA can best address by working in concert with departments, we have in recent years begun to deepen the connection with departments that the ISP enables. Three times each year we circulate to departments all of our recent publications (a number, as I noted above, that has been increasing steadily); we now use those mailing occasions to alert department chairs to policy issues being taken up by the AHA Council and committees. (These issues are discussed in more detail in the next section.) Acting on a strong request made to us during a department chairs' luncheon at the 1996 annual meeting, we set up a department chairs' listserv for ISP members last year; this forum has treated many of the policy issues with which AHA committees are grappling (from relationships with adjuncts to spousal hiring) and several others the AHA must, inevitably, take up (such as distance learning). The listserv accomplishes other AHA goals, as well: it enables chairs to seek advice directly from each other (in an ongoing and consistent way not achievable through other occasions and media) and it helps to differentiate the problems and concerns specific to distinctive types of institutions (a service harder to accomplish in the large-audience activities of the AHA's publications and annual meeting). The chairs' lunch, itself, has focused increasingly on a discussion format that benefits from a close fit between the topics of sessions organized by AHA divisions and committees, thus providing a new opportunity for chairs to benefit from others' experiences and for the AHA to gain insights on issues facing departments-and what chairs would want the AHA to do about these issues. This year, for instance, the chairs' lunch will dovetail with the Professional Division's session on production of Ph.D.'s.
3. WORK WITH AFFILIATES AND BEYOND
As a new presidential initiative under the direction of President Joseph Miller and President-elect Robert Darnton, the AHA is working to improve its relationship with affiliated societies in an emphasis similar to that focused on its relations with departments. The Association long has had constructive and cordial working interactions with a number of its 104 affiliates. One of our most popular pamphlets, for instance, is Careers for Students of History, which was co-published with the National Council on Public History. As demonstrated in the listings at the beginning of this program, we offer free meeting space to affiliates at each annual meeting. Under the new initiative, we are trying additional experiments to make these arrangements more helpful to the societies, including larger typeface in the program text and meeting signs for each of the sessions they offer. We have also set up a listserv to explore together what other mutually beneficial actions can be taken.
Another experiment-under discussion for the last four years, and with final details still to be worked out-may suggest an equally advantageous form of partnership between the AHA and some affiliates. Filling a role similar to that played in the past by our divisions and committees, the Society for the History of Technology will organize and oversee a co-published series of pamphlets of broad and general interest on technology in history. Like our other series, these pamphlets will be written by experts in their fields but targeted for non-specialist readers; they will provide a synthetic overview and an evaluative introduction to the literature. We anticipate meeting the needs of our regular pamphlet audiences, who range from graduate students and faculty interested in adding a new set of issues and materials to their teaching, to K-12 teachers and overseas scholars. Not all affiliated societies would be interested in providing this kind of broadly focused publications, but it seems likely that a similar undertaking could be planned with at least a few of the other specialized organizations who affiliate with us.
Governance and programs, through the Association's structures
The constitution assigns to each of the divisions and committees a specific set of responsibilities, generally shaped by the constituencies and/or realm of professional activity for which it is responsible. In the last two years, these assignments have been enriched by additional activities that systematically and coherently address the interests of all the committees.
First, they have built on their ability to offer sessions at the annual meeting, making this a key stratagem for opening up discussion in the field on important policy issues that they have identified. Second, they have fulfilled their constitutional assignments by creating and overseeing important contributions to the AHA's publishing program, simultaneously serving members and increasing the AHA's financial stability by broadening its revenue base (see Finance section, below). Third, they have responded to requests from Council that each committee also explore the issuance of appropriate documents describing "Good Practices" or even "Guidelines" for policy issues under their purview. Taken together, these emerging documents provide valuable guidance for historians and history departments, as well as crucial "ammunition" for departments to use in campus discussions that threaten to erode quality and the importance assigned to teaching students to think historically.
1. TEACHING DIVISION
The Teaching Division was, perhaps, the first to identify key areas in which guidance would be helpful. Over the last two years, it has issued guidelines for good textbooks, revised the existing guidelines for AHA endorsement of external projects, and written guidelines for standards of history/social studies. Its latest contribution has been an influential and persuasive statement on "Excellence in Teaching" that delineates the institutional as well as individual contributions necessary to ensure that students are taught well. This statement has been taken up widely (the National Archives, for instance, has organized many of its learning materials around the statement), and it stands as a model for the other divisions' statements, as well.
Equal attention has been focused on the teaching of history beyond the four-year institutions. For instance, the division also continues to be actively involved in reviewing state-level history/social studies standards for K-12 students, working with historian-members in those states and with other organizations (through the coordination of NHEN). It has brought several community college initiatives to fruition, including a pamphlet co-published with the Organization of American Historians and the Community College Humanities Association intended to guide graduate students and their advisers, and to connect community college faculty to each other and the three professional organizations. The NEH-sponsored project described earlier represents one of the most ambitious efforts fostered for several years by the division, as it was designed to create a shared space for four-year and two-year faculty to work together. The division also has met regularly with those affiliated societies that emphasize teaching in their mission (especially linkages with K-12), to discuss shared concerns and to pursue possibilities for collaboration.
Division members also devoted considerable time and energy to publications. A number of single pamphlets, in development for more than five years, are finally being concluded this year. Some of these will be available in the "free" space of the Association's home page (including advice for minority students who want to get the most from their education, suggestions for potential majors on what they could hope to acquire with a history major, and teaching graduate students to teach. A forthcoming pamphlet will deal with the responsibilities of departments to those teaching history in K-12). The division also began reviewing past Perspectives articles to see if it would serve members well to have collections on specific teaching subjects published together to be made available in pamphlet form.
Certainly one of the greatest measures of success for the division is the shift in its role at the annual meeting. Four years ago, it was essential that the division prompt session proposals focused on teaching, and advocate for them within the governance structure. Now, not only do a significant number of proposals come forward from the membership at large, but these sessions consistently enjoy overflow audiences. This presents the division with the luxury of focusing its sponsored sessions on particular policies and approaches that it wishes to explore. This year, for instance, the division developed two sessions focused on the use of primary sources in the classroom, creating a classroom situation and modeling the approaches they think will work best (see sessions 57 and 84, Teaching United States History: Politics and Culture of the 1930s and Teaching World History: Ibn Battuto and the Cosmopolitan Fourteenth Century).
Now under the direction of a new vice president, the division is exploring the best ways to implement its interests in linking history departments and K-12 (see the September issue of Perspectives, p. 19). With the increasing depth of the AHA's ties to departments, and its new capacities to share experiences and models through the Internet, members may expect this to be a major new initiative.
2. RESEARCH DIVISION
In a process parallel to that now being undertaken by the Teaching Division, the Research Division defined for itself last year two top policy issues: attention to intellectual property rights and the future of area studies and their relation to history. Both have been growth areas for scholars as well as the AHA. Both are now being pursued through major AHA projects to be underwritten with external funding and worked through collaborations. As always, the division continues to be the chief conduit for the AHA's advocacy activities, particularly as these relate to the broad field of intellectual property legislation and to the narrower topic of archival and library access for scholars (and, especially, historians). Finally, its oversight responsibilities for the journal and the annual program have led it into new kinds of deliberations and governance demands.
The management of intellectual property is an important issue for the RD, both in the abstract and in concrete terms regarding dissemination of the journal. Efforts to foster a good balance between fair use and control over intellectual material, in the inchoate mix of politicized, commercial, and often adversarial conditions of the current debates, will profoundly affect historians in their many guises as creators, users, and owners of intellectual property. Clearly nothing will affect historical scholarship and its dissemination more profoundly. Division members have been exploring with external experts a range of developments in this world, as well as monitoring closely the legislative developments emerging from this Congress (for regular updates, see fall issues of Perspectives). In addition, all of these issues have been brought close to home for them, especially, by the need to recommend to Council how best to disseminate current issues of the American Historical Review (see also Michael Grossberg's report in this report). Through an ad hoc subcommittee, the division is working with the editor and headquarters to establish the grounds for decision-making that will best serve the intellectual mission of the journal (and the Association) while protecting the significant financial investment (and return) represented by the journal. Beyond Council and division members, the ad hoc group includes experts in journal publishing and legal issues, and will consult financial advisers as well. Its final report will be framed in a way to be helpful to other associations (such as affiliates) in identifying the key issues to address, and the range of options to be considered.
As described in the first section of this report, a Research Division project will be undertaken over the next two years that addresses the changing paradigm of "area studies" and how history fits into this intellectual arena. Particularly promising in this project is the experiment of working with other organizations-area studies learned societies as well as AHA affiliates in history-to explore on a national (rather than campus) level the intellectual promise in this approach, especially as it interacts with the expansion of interest and involvement in world history.
The division's work with the annual meeting program committee has embodied a shared concern (held by program committees, Council, and the division) to be sure that the program, befitting an umbrella organization, encompasses the broadest possible range of historical fields and interests. These results are made concrete in this year's program and in the call for proposals publicized in fall issues of Perspectives by next year's committee. The 1998 Program Committee should be recognized, especially, for working on underrepresented fields and in a much more intensive way with affiliated societies-and I think the sessions listed in this booklet illustrate what good results have emerged from this hard work. In addition, the RD demonstrates in this program the potential for its own sponsored session, which has moved rather dramatically from a policy focus to one on intellectual content (see no. 2, Historians' Use of Non-textual Materials).
Finally, in response to the call from Council, the division has been deliberating on one or more statements regarding the good practices that support scholarship and the fundamental role played by research, through its connections to such matters as good teaching. (See, for instance, no. 85, co-sponsored with the Graduate Student Task Force, on What Constitutes a Good Graduate Department? Graduate Students' Perspectives.) It has also discussed how it might underscore the significance for historians of the changing circumstances in which libraries and librarians operate. These deliberations suggest that very promising documents will emerge from this division as well.
3. PROFESSIONAL DIVISION
The Professional Division continues to meet its constitutional assignment to investigate complaints about unprofessional conduct. However, the revised procedures introduced two years ago have successfully limited the members' caseload to complaints and processes within their expertise and capacity as a committee. In turn, this smaller caseload has enabled them to respond to a burgeoning series of policy issues ranging from downsizing to overproduction of PhD's and, as a concern of long standing, the expanded use of part-time and adjunct faculty. Expanded need to deal with issues related to the professional life of historians is a measure of the complex changes now taking place in the academy, and underscores the central importance to the Association of having a division that grapples with these issues in forms and forums far beyond individual cases.
The work undertaken this past year has set firm foundations for an enhanced role for the division in professional policy issues. Arguably the issue most consistently pursued by the division (work next year will take place in a third vice president's term), the expanded use of part-time and adjunct faculty stands as an example of the best way the Association can tackle professional policy issues, by reaching out to other associations (see first section of this report). The conference offered in September 1997 brought together not only the 11 national associations who planned and sponsored the three-day meeting, but solicited position papers on 12 different aspects of the issue, and invited as participants a wide range of association members who could voice the experiences and insights of deans, department chairs, faculty members, adjuncts, and graduate students. The report issued by the conference (and subsequently adopted by boards of a number of scholarly associations) defined the issue, described "good practices" across the disciplines, and suggested next steps the collaborators could pursue. This statement has generated good press coverage (ranging from the Chronicle of Higher Education to Science and an NPR station), and has prompted additional activity within the partner associations. In the follow-up phase, an even larger number of ACLS societies have joined in (as well as those outside the ACLS fold, such as Math and Chemistry), to work on the "next steps" outlined in the report. (The collaboration is also facilitated by the Modern Languages Association council commitment to provide staff support for the cooperative work undertaken by the group.) Four ad hoc work groups are presently focusing on specific next steps, including working with accreditation organizations (recognized as the best way to put pressure on campuses) and creating a press release that can be used with state legislatures, governing boards, and the like. The group also hopes to collect a number of 'good practices' examples from model campuses, so that publicity can be given to those campuses who use adjuncts well. It also will explore the possibilities of conducting special research to document the economic and other hidden costs involved in this expanding practice.
Within the AHA, the division has followed up this report, first, by crafting a "Good Practices" statement on the use of adjuncts that Council approved at its June 1998 meeting. These "good practices" cover both academic and work-related treatment of part-time and adjunct faculty. In addition, Council approved a PD recommendation to add a notation to the listings in the Directory of History Departments that indicates how many courses taught by part-time and adjunct faculty are included among each department's offerings. This data, helpful to those who consult the Directory, will also enable the AHA to track use of part-time/adjunct faculty more systematically in the future.
Another significant success achieved by the division has been the expanded use of the sponsored session as a way to work with the membership on knotty professional issues. (Whenever possible, sessions have been integrated into a three-part strategy that also includes consultation with departments-during the department chairs' lunch, over the listserv, or through the ISP mailings-and coverage in the newsletter.) The sessions offered in this program illustrate the complex and controversial topics the division must take up if it is to satisfactorily serve AHA members and the field (see, for instance, session no. 30, Doing American Diplomatic History in the Twenty-First Century; no. 56, The Job Market and the Production of Ph.D.'s in History; and no. 83, Roundtable on Unionization and University Governance.
A longstanding division commitment at the annual meeting is session number one-the interviewing workshop for graduate students, co-sponsored with the affiliated society, the Coordinating Council on Women in History and the Task Force on Graduate Student Education (see below). Organizing this complicated undertaking is an example of the larger concern with graduate student issues that the division has also demonstrated over the past several years. Arguing that graduate student issues affect the profession now as well as later, the PD, above all other divisions, has worked especially hard with the graduate student elected to Council and, through her, with the Task Force on Graduate Education.
While the division decided not to pursue pamphlet publications, it has worked continuously on the widely distributed statements and policy guidelines issued by the AHA. This year, beyond the new "Good Practices" statement on part-time and adjunct faculty, it has revised the job listings statement, reviewed the interviewing guidelines, and issued the 1998 Statement on Standards. To the extent that departments and individuals follow the good advice captured in these documents, the case work of the division can dwindle to an even smaller proportion of its workload.
4. COMMITTEES ON WOMEN AND MINORITY HISTORIANS
As committees that report directly to the Council, the two standing committees on Women and Minority Historians have also labored within the context described in the introductory paragraph of this section, working through annual meeting sessions, publications, and statements to encourage good practices in the profession. Central to their concerns, of course, are the changing challenges, presented by current legal and social realities, to the commitment to diversify the history profession. Their institutional assignment within the AHA governance structure includes searching for ways to effectively monitor and encourage institutions toward this goal of a highly diverse profession.
Both committees have made good progress on pamphlet series: a number of pamphlet manuscripts have been received for the Teaching Diversity series of the Committee on Minority Historians (CMH); they will be published throughout the year. Authors have been selected and are at hard at work in the Committee on Women Historians' (CWH) series on the history of women and feminist theory in global perspective; we expect to begin publishing this pamphlet series before the end of the 1998-99 academic year, and will conclude the series in the next year. Taken together, these two series greatly enrich the AHA publishing program, simultaneously accomplishing two fundamental goals for the Association-they directly meet members' needs, and they provide significant assistance in making publication revenues a larger proportion of the overall income. (This diversification of the revenue base ensures more stable funding for the Association over the long run. See Finance, below.)
The presence of both committees at the annual meeting is among the several important responsibilities they assume. Each sponsors a social gathering-the CMH's reception is probably the best attended and convivial of those on offer, and the Women's Breakfast speaker each year has provided some of the most thought-provoking observations for us all to ponder. The sessions organized by the two committees often demonstrate the fruitful overlap of professional and intellectual issues with which these two committees grapple each year. This year, for instance, the CMH is sponsoring a session (no. 3) entitled Seeing Is Believing: Presenting History and Culture in Public Places, while the CWH has organized no. 4, Women and Violence in Comparative Perspective.
That the committees also take on fundamental policy issues and their implications for the AHA and the field may be attested by two projects on the agenda of the Committee on Women Historians. For some time now, the CWH has been exploring with public historians and their organizations how best to serve (and, especially, to chart the careers of) public historians, who tend to be statistically and institutionally invisible in the structures that serve the field. (It has not been possible, for instance, to address this cohort in the invaluable report on diversity issued periodically by the CWH.) While no definitive answer has yet emerged, these discussions are beginning to identify particular projects and partnerships that may be able to address these lacunae. Similarly, the CWH published in Perspectives and on the web site a draft statement on spousal hiring, and called for comments from the field. It hopes, based on the discussion prompted in this way, to create a document on "Good Practices" that could be used by campuses and departments interested in tackling this problem. Judging by the number of exchanges on this issue last spring on the department chairs' listserv, it is clear that this issue does, indeed, capture the concern and interest of our departments.
5. TASK FORCE ON GRADUATE EDUCATION
Along with a name change, the ad hoc task force focused on graduate students also changed composition and form of working this year; its substantive contributions to the AHA remain the same, and its long-term potential is still being explored. In its new organizational guise, the committee is predominantly composed of graduate students who come by virtue of their positions on the council and the CMH and CWH, with additional at-large members named by the Committee on Committees. To replace the automatic connections achieved through the presence of division members on the task force, at-large members have been assigned to serve as liaison with each division.
In this second phase, the taskforce continues to work hard on sessions for the annual meeting. This year, for instance, they continue to co-sponsor the interviewing workshop, and have also organized sessions on Graduate Student Unions (no. 32), Alternative Careers for Historians (no. 59), and What Constitutes a Good History Department? (no. 85 with the Research Division). In addition it expects to expand coverage of graduate student issues in Perspectives, a new graduate student contributing-editor will be named to this responsibility. Finally, a number of potential issues have emerged from recent Council discussions, and it is anticipated that the graduate student Council member who chairs the task force will take these issues to the group for further deliberation and response.
Even the discussion of AHA financial advances brings pleasure this year! After three years of planned deficits, necessary to reposition the Association for the future, we are now well placed for years of balanced budgets, based on stable funding that should generate sufficient revenues to underwrite the costs necessitated by a changing technological environment and the desire to expand our services to members and the field. (For specific details, see the annual auditor's report that is now published each winter in Perspectives.) We are particularly gratified that, in the course of consulting last year with external accounting firms, we were assured by two of the best that the AHA is in good financial health. The good news comes on many fronts, most explicable if we divide the issues we have faced over the last several years into three topics-operating budget, one-time expenditures, and capital budget.
The operating budget of the Association began to be imperiled about five years ago, because (a) there had been no attempt for two years to bring in outside money; (b) we were in the midst of the reaction to a substantial dues increase and so had a downturn in membership; and (c) no planning had been done to stabilize and expand the sources of our revenues. The numbers that will be reported for FY 1997-98, when placed in this five-year context, are very encouraging, as all three of the characteristics described have been reversed, and we are beginning to see positive results that will grow in coming fiscal years. That is, (a) we now have significant infusions of funds from external funders; (b) our membership numbers are also up a bit: we may take them as an indication that we have growing support from the field for the activities and leadership demonstrated by the AHA (e.g., the membership report for March 30, 1998 indicates that each of the categories for area studies historians is up by 2 percent over the last five years); and (c) our revenue streams beyond membership have been solid and are expanding, giving us a much broader and more stable base to work from, in future. This is particularly true for the publications cost center, which we had targeted four years ago as the primary focus for growth: expenditures are a bit lower than anticipated, thanks to good competitive bidding processes for printing and mailing costs. Even more encouraging is that revenues are already (at the end of this fiscal year) up to what we had projected for three years out, enabling us to move faster towards our goals of expanded publicity (to bring our publications to the notice of the field), additions of more titles, and increased access to our publications program.
Beyond these improvements in revenues, we have also benefited from very successful cost containment measures and even cuts, where we could make them without hurting member services. For instance, the large expenses involved in bringing committees together for twice-yearly meetings has been substantially reduced, for the foreseeable future, by a new policy that combines one annual face-to-face and one teleconference call meeting for each of the main divisions and committees. In addition, staff have identified some significant changes in operations over the last several years that save us thousands of dollars each year-these range from a more cost-effective health benefits program, to altered pre-registration arrangements, to new processes in membership and the Business Office that reduce staff costs. Without question, future success will depend in part on the ongoing oversight and careful cost containment now exercised by headquarters' staff. Our track record is very good on this account, however, and so we can focus most of our energies on the expansion of revenues that will enable the AHA to meet new needs of its members and the field.
As for the one-time expenditures that led to planned deficits in the past; four years ago Council adopted a policy of utilizing untapped resources in the portfolio in order to resituate the AHA to meet the future. We can put this decision in a larger context: the current Council decided last year to set aside 5 percent of the value of the portfolio every year to help meet our costs (both new capital costs and new operating costs). This was never done before. Had it been done, it would not have taken very many years of taking out the 5 percent to accomplish the goals we accomplished, instead, in three short years of improvements. Because it was not done, the money was taken all at once-and in this the timing was fortuitous, because it was also a period of up-market so that the impact on the portfolio was minimized (we had $2 million in the account when we started; we now have $3.6 million). While it is always better not to use money in the portfolio, so that it can earn additional money to add to the pot each year, the current Council has adopted a policy of steady, predictable withdrawals from the portfolio earnings to ensure the good operating budget health of the Association. This is not far removed from the earlier decision to draw on previously untapped earnings to provide the Association with new and critically important capacities. In any case, the best news about all of this is that we do, now, have a policy that will enable the AHA to increase the size of its portfolio while having a predictable and stable source of income to add to its operating budget, and through which it can tackle new challenges as they arise.
Finally, the capital expenditures: Until the fiscal year just concluded, the AHA did not have a systematic way to handle a capital budget. We have now put in place long-term projections to ensure timely and well-budgeted maintenance, replacement, and upgrades. We are saving toward a depreciation allowance that will give us much more financial flexibility in the face of future technological and other capital budget demands. Once again, our progress in four short years leaves us much to be pleased with.
Taken all in all, the report for this year, my last report as executive director, is an encouraging one. I would like to take the opportunity to note that, within the policy guidelines established by Council and the programmatic initiatives defined by the divisions and committees, much of our extraordinary success in expanding the reach of the Association must be credited to the very good staff at headquarters. It is they who consistently seek out opportunities for collaboration, and pursue the best ways to implement the policy goals articulated by elected officials, even after those officers' terms have concluded. Staff who have worked for the Association for many years have demonstrated new creativity, learned new tasks, and achieved significant cost-savings to make the innovations possible. Newer staff members have brought to the building sets of skills and enthusiasms required by the new infrastructure, and these have added immeasurably to the mix. As noted last year, the Association accomplishes an extraordinary range of work with a lower staff-to-membership ratio than any comparable scholarly association. It has been a great pleasure working with these great-hearted and talented people.
What the headquarters staff, elected officers, and hard-working divisions and committees have accomplished makes it clear that the AHA has the capacity to offer significant leadership to the field in intellectual, professional, and technological matters. I wish it well in the future.Last Updated: July 6, 2007 10:45 AM