Annual Report 1998
Minutes of the Council Meeting, May 31-June 1, 1998
The Council met in the Caucus Boardroom of One Washington Circle
Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, May 31, and Sunday, June 1,
1998. President Joseph C. Miller called the meeting to order at
2 p.m. on May 31. Present were: Mr. Miller; Robert Darnton, president-elect;
Joyce Appleby, immediate past president; vice presidents Carla Rahn
Phillips (Professional Division), Stanley N. Katz (Research Division),
and Leon Fink (Teaching Division); Council members Douglas Greenberg,
Nadine Hata, Emily Hill, Cheryl Martin, Colin Palmer, and Marilyn
Young; Sandria B. Freitag, executive director; Michael Grossberg,
editor, AHR; Randy Norell, controller; Sharon K. Tune, assistant
director, administration; Noralee Frankel, assistant director on
women, minorities, and teaching; and Robert Townsend, manager, information
systems and communications. AHA Counsel Albert J. Beveridge also
attended a portion of the meeting.
Mr. Miller welcomed Council members and introduced members of the AHA staff attending the meeting. He reported that Mr. Norell had been re-appointed as controller for a second five-year term.
1. Approval of the Minutes of January 8 and 11, 1998: Ms. Tune noted corrections to two sections of the minutes: section F should indicate that Ms. Appleby delivered the Finance Committee report, and section H.2 should correct the spelling of Ed Ayers’ last name. Upon motion by Mr. Greenberg and second by Ms. Phillips, the minutes were unanimously approved as corrected.
2. Consent calendar: Consideration of two items was removed from the Consent Calendar since materials had not been available for review prior to the meeting: A. Composition of the 2000 Program Committee and C. Appointment of the 2001 Program Committee chair. Both are discussed in the Research Division’s report (agenda item 11.B.)
Upon motion by Ms. Young and second by Ms. Hill, the following items
were unanimously approved under the consent calendar: B. Research
Division recommendation to approve AHR Board of Editors members:
Confirming the Research Division’s selection of R. Stephen
Humphreys, University of California at Santa Barbara; Margaret Jacob,
University of Pennsylvania; Robert Moeller, University of California
at Irvine; and Maria Todorova, University of Florida. These appointments
bring the board membership total to twelve as approved by Council
on January 2, 1997. Three “classes” of four board members
each serve staggered three-year terms.
D. Approval of 1999 Local Arrangements Committee chair: Confirming appointment of Howard F. Gillette, Jr., George Washington University, as 1999 Local Arrangements Committee chair.
3. President's Report: Mr. Miller discussed: A. Initiative on Affiliates: Mr. Miller noted that this initiative was the emphasis for his presidential year, and that he and Mr. Darnton had been in touch since several of the activities would take more than one year to complete. Mr. Miller reported that he had met with AHA staff three times, and that much of the year involved planning and revising processes. Changes made for the 1999 Annual Meeting include two adjustments in the printed program: (1) typefont for the affiliates’ section will be increased to the same point size as the number session listings, and (2) signage will be provided for all sessions, AHA and affiliate. July 6, 2007 2:15 PMs would be posted for each session.
Mr. Miller remarked that the longer-term goal was to find solutions that benefit both the AHA and affiliates. He called members’ attention to the two “President’s Desk” articles included in the agenda book. He also reported that an affiliate listserv would be established during the fall and would be used by affiliates and the Committee on Affiliated Societies to develop an agenda for the annual meeting with affiliates at the 1999 Annual Meeting. Mr. Darnton will moderate the listserv and chair the meeting in January. From that meeting the AHA and affiliates can plan joint initiatives. Mr. Darnton reported that he had been surprised at how few responses there had been to a request to join the listserv considering the rather spirited feedback about annual meeting issues. Ms. Appleby suggested reissuing the request in another mailing or including a reminder in the newsletter. Mr. Miller reported that he had also been in touch with several affiliates, including the Conference on Latin American History and the World History Association, as well as Sally Marks, who had written Council about subject coverage on the annual meeting program and problems with the Beer Prize (see January 8, 1998 minutes, section P.1.). In concluding his remarks about the affiliate initiative, Mr. Miller stated that he believed the AHA was on track to establish improved communications.
B. Award(s) for Scholarly Distinction: Consideration of the Award(s) for Scholarly Distinction for 1998 was removed from the agenda since the nominating jury had not yet completed its work. Staff will forward materials to Council for mail vote during the summer months and prepare letters of notification for Mr. Miller’s signature.
C. General report on President’s activity: Mr. Miller summarized other presidential initiatives which included introduction of two Council listservs. He remarked Council would need to discuss what kind of business should be considered by the full Council via the listserv, and what should continue to be handled by the Executive Committee. He noted that he had drafted a listserv protocol for consideration during “New Business” (agenda item 12.B.).
Mr. Miller also reported on visits to the AHA headquarters in late February and March. During the March visit, he spent part of the day with John Hammer of the National Humanities Alliance and called upon Senate and House of Representatives offices. During the spring months he had been in touch with Mark Kornbluh of H-NET. He briefly discussed one or two problems that developed with the advent of the AHA’s department chairs’ listserv as part of the Institutional Services Program (ISP). Mr. Miller reported that H-NET had also planned to develop a similar listserv, and was upset to learn about the AHA’s initiative. Ms. Freitag reported that the listserv had developed from a request at the January 1998 department chairs’ luncheon and that H-NET had proposed a joint listserv some six months earlier. After careful consideration, staff had regretfully declined to create a joint listserv on the following grounds: (1) It had been proposed by members of the AHA’s ISP as a new service for members. Since revenues from ISP serve as the backbone of the publications stream, this response to a request was viewed as very important. (2) The request was made that the listserv be confidential for chairs and AHA staff, and this would be contrary to H-NET practices. (3) The refusal of H-NET to impose any organizational policies on listserv moderators (e.g. recent electioneering issues) would make it impossible to work with moderators as parallel to Perspective’s contributing editors, in ways that ensure AHA institutional commitments and goals are met. Ms. Freitag described ISP benefits for newer Council members, and noted that listserv participants had informally surveyed themselves in May and had expressed a high level of satisfaction, particularly at small campuses.
Mr. Miller summarized additional business discussed on the Council listserv: approval of editorial revisions to the Statement on Standards, agreement to join a lawsuit on the Alger Hiss case as recommended by the Research Division, approval of the revision of candidate biography materials, reappointment of Mr. Norell to an additional five-year term as AHA controller, acceptance of San Francisco as the 2002 meeting site, and clarification of the “total return policy” approved at January meetings.
In concluding his report, Mr. Miller noted that there were two items still remaining: (1) developing a procedure to revise membership categories on the membership renewal form, and (2) revising procedures used by the Committee on Committee (ConC) to recommend members for appointive offices. As a “veteran” of the ConC process, Mr. Miller stated a review of the process could mean less work for the staff and increase efficiency for committee members.
4. Executive Director's Report: Ms. Freitag provided additional comments to her written report: A. Update on programmatic initiatives: (1) Grants: Ms. Freitag noted that the NEH survey course project had been funded, although at a slightly lower level than requested in the application. She reported that the AHA should be able to accomplish what had been planned; however, there were additional plans built into the original proposal that would move the AHA forward on the web site and the kinds of materials it could offer teachers and the general public if additional funds were made available from the Disney gift. She noted that three “clusters” of faculty were in place and already hard at work, and pointed out reviewers’ evaluations in the agenda book. With regard to the Ford grant, Ms. Freitag noted that there was no reason not to assume the AHA would receive funding, and that final review of the AHA’s application was forthcoming within the week. She also noted that both the NEH and Ford projects had interesting components. As a result of the NEH grant, the AHA would be able to see what it could do around clusters of faculty in different parts of the country as well as enhance the AHA’s web site. As a result of the Ford proposal, the AHA would be able to bring together six different national organizations to work on the connections between world history in the discipline and area studies on a national level (rather than be limited to campus-based activities). She remarked that both projects allowed the AHA to move forward intellectual agendas and to foster intellectual communication, and that the planning process had often been exhilarating. Each organization appointed a representative to a group planned to serve as a steering committee, but members had become so involved that they had volunetter to act as a program committee as well. Ms. Freitag will circulate the project’s final description as soon as available. Ms. Freitag also reported on the Spencer/Carnegie grants brought to the AHA by former Teaching Division vice president Peter Stearns, Carnegie Mellon University. She noted that after a first, planning conference in November, the AHA would need to decide if it wanted to continue as a sponsor for a second, larger conference. In concluding her remarks about projects and funding, Ms. Freitag noted two additional projects would be reported on during the publications section of the agenda. [See agenda item 9.C.]
B. Part-time/adjunct progress report: Ms. Freitag reported on discussions at the spring meeting of the American Conference of Learned Societies (ACLS), and noted that a number of new organizations had signed on to follow-up activities to the part-time/adjunct conference: American Academy of Religion, American Anthropological Association, American Chemical Society, American Musicology Society, and College Art Association. She noted that the next phase of the project would bring the September 1997 conference statement to the attention to boards, accrediting societies, and university administrations. Ms. Appleby suggested adding members of higher education committees of state legislature to the distribution list. Ms. Freitag concurred, and reported on two bills now in the California legislature. Ms. Appleby noted that at one point the AHA had been interested in clustering various levels of faculty in a teaching alliance, and suggested that she, Ms. Hata, and Gary Reichard, California State University, Long Beach, could develop a model in Southern California.
Ms. Freitag asked members how the AHA could begin to connect this initiative to the AHA membership. Mr. Katz remarked that this would be a trickier prospect since not all universities view it as a quality issue but rather as a labor issue. Ms. Phillips concurred, noting that members of the Professional Division had probably been the most sensitive to this point. She reported that the division had talked about this issue to some extent, and had decided to refer to it explicitly in the “good practices” document brought for Council’s approval during the division’s report. She stated that the division focused on the quality of history instruction issue. Ms. Freitag noted that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) had been one of the more active organizations and that the larger group had worked hard to keep them involved but at a certain distance. Ms. Freitag reported that the Modern Language Association board had believed in the project so strongly that they had provided extra staffing in the MLA office specifically to support the implementation process and noted that the AHA might not need to expend the $1,000 approved at the January 1998 meeting for implementation projects.
C. Connections between AHA and larger publics: Ms. Freitag noted that information provided in this section of Council’s agenda book was for background, and moved to the proposal for collaboration between the National Museum of American History (NMAH) and the AHA. Ms. Frankel reported that the proposal came about from a conversation with the NMAH assistant director on curatorial affairs who had informed her that the Museum planned to propose six themes to accomplish two important goals. One would give the museum coherence about how and where the different exhibits fit together, and the second would give the museum coherence of collections. When the assistant director mentioned the plan to Ms. Frankel, she responded that the AHA might be of assistance and the museum staff had been quite receptive. From these conversations a proposal had developed calling for AHA staff to work with museum staff in identifying scholars to meet with museum staff in small workshops to talk about the themes and to attend a series of national conferences. AHA staff would assist in writing grant proposals, which would include funding support for AHA staff time to identify and to contact scholars for each of the themes. Also included in the grant proposal would be a jointly sponsored senior fellowship at the NMAH. With Teaching Division and Council approval, the AHA would cosponsor the project and provide publicity.
Mr. Greenberg remarked that he did not understand the planned outcome of the process, and asked if six new exhibits or input into current exhibits was planned after the six conferences on the six themes were held. Ms. Frankel replied that the museum hoped to accomplish three things: (1) to develop a few new exhibits, although they would be relatively small, but more importantly, (2) to provide connective tissue to what is already there, and (3) to give coherence to the collections. Mr. Greenberg stated that it was still not clear to him since collecting policies were completely separate issues from connective tissues for current or new exhibits. Ms. Frankel noted that AHA staff would contribute names of scholars and make preliminary phone calls, and would also lend its name. She remarked that the AHA might face resistance, and briefly recounted the controversy surrounding the Enola Gay exhibit.
Ms. Hata stated that she had been intrigued by the proposal but from a different perspective, and asked if others outside NMAH would be able to benefit from the process. Mr. Darnton agreed, and noted that a tremendous amount could be accomplished by working with all types of museums. Ms. Freitag stated that AHA staff had talked about a series of articles in Perspectives authored by historians like Eric Foner about how you can take training for research and translate it into ideas that would benefit museums. She remarked this could also be a way to tap into AHA member expertise. Mr. Greenberg asked if there were any costs to the AHA for the project. Ms. Frankel replied that her staff time should be the only cost, and that should be no more than three weeks. She noted that the proposal when funded would give the AHA a grant of $3,000-$5,000 toward underwriting her time. Mr. Fink stated that he was excited about the potential for a site that was so important to history education for the public. Ms. Appleby, noting that she served on the Smithsonian’s board, pointed out that the Smithsonian director had been on the job for more than a year now, and that she thought there would be new opportunities for the AHA to be influential.
Mr. Miller asked Ms. Frankel how the project would be defined in terms of the AHA structure. Ms. Frankel replied that it would be a Teaching Division project, both because the division had raised it but also because it is charged with the dissemination of knowledge. Ms. Young stated that the division could call upon Council members who are Americanists. Upon motion by Mr. Katz and second by Ms. Young, Council unanimously endorsed AHA participation in the project and requested further definition of contributions and responsibilities of the various elements within the AHA.
5. Finance Committee's Report: Mr. Miller presented the report of the Finance Committee, which met at the AHA headquarters office from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon on May 31. He stated that the committee had agreed that the materials provided by the staff, and included in Council’s agenda book, included virtually all the information sought by the committee, and that additional information had been furnished about cost centers. Mr. Miller reported on the committee’s meeting, noting that members had worked through previous minutes and had developed standard procedures for future meetings. Council members agreed to begin with a general discussion about the current fiscal year, and then move to Finance Committee recommendations for the 1998-99 fiscal year before taking action on the proposed budget.
A. 1997-98 Fiscal Year budget: Mr. Miller noted that the committee had reviewed third quarter results, and that members had agreed that the report was entirely satisfactory and that projections were online. He congratulated Ms. Freitag and Mr. Norell for their part in creating much improved reports. Ms. Freitag thanked Mr. Miller, and began her remarks with comments about the “exit” report of Caroline Bynum who rotated off Council in January. Ms. Freitag pointed out that the Association was not in deficit as stated by Ms. Bynum. She added that the Association’s budget was built upon the principles that (a) the AHA was a membership-based organization that should focus on member services; and (b) that the priorities and work environment were those of a not-for-profit organization. Following advice from finance professionals specializing in these kinds of organizations, staff focused on increasing revenues through expanded member services, rather than cutting (which immediately threatened member services). Ms. Freitag noted that Council members had been provided with projections for the remainder of the fiscal year as well as the third-quarter report.
In discussing the status report of the current fiscal year, Mr. Katz asked whether it might be helpful to include a cost-benefit chart, one that would illustrate what happened when you subtract “pile 1” from “pile 2.” Mr. Miller concurred, citing as an example AHR expenses and revenues. Ms. Freitag responded that she had not done this since Council, divisions, and committees, unlike the Review, do not bring in money and that the only revenue identified directly with the AHR was advertising and institutional subscriptions. It was impossible to know what proportion of dues should be seen as AHR subscriptions. Ms. Freitag and Mr. Townsend agreed that it would be relatively easy to create a bar chart of more general comparisons. In concluding the discussion of the 1997-98 budget report, Ms. Appleby reported that she thought a majority of the Finance Committee had felt containing costs was as important as raising revenues. Ms. Freitag noted that every cost-center manager works hard on cost containment, both in building the budget and in anticipating and reviewing quarterly numbers.
B. Proposals from the Finance Committee re the 1998-99 budget: On behalf of the Finance Committee, Mr. Miller presented the following recommendations:
(1) Proposals for dues’ changes in two ways: First, dues adjustments in incremental increases for a five-year period and second, adding a new top category of “contributing member.” Dues increase: In January 1996, Council had discussed the possibility of changing the approach to dues increases, and had agreed that moving from significant increases periodically to modest increases each year would be an experiment worth trying. To allow a sufficient “recovery” period from the last dues increase in 1994, Council had asked that the new incremental process be postponed until 1998.
The Finance Committee proposed a five-year experiment that would: (1) incorporate a 2.3 percent rate hike of all membership categories (based on an increase that would roughly approximate the cost of living); the percentage would remain constant for the five years of the experiment. Staff noted that this method of calculating had the advantage of keeping the increases quite small for the lowest-income categories in the AHA’s scale. (2) yield projected revenues of $838,935 in the first year. Staff noted that the first -year revenues were underestimated because increases would not be realized until part-way through the fiscal year. A possible drop in membership of up to 2 percent was incorporated, and adjustments were made for the impact of accrual reporting. In the second year, staff noted that projected revenues would be around $869,220. (3) recover any loss by the third year, with revenues around $890,928. At the end of five years, the experiment would be evaluated to see if it should be continued. The pattern of membership renewals would be evaluated as well as the relationship of cost-per-member and membership revenues (especially for the bottom two categories).
Adding new top category of “contributing member”: The committee also recommended that a new top category be added for those interested in contributing a larger amount of money each year. This would only involve one more “box” on the membership form, with a heading of “contributing member” and the amount, $150. Staff noted that the change had originated from suggestions from AHA members with higher incomes than those specified in the AHA’s scale of dues.
In discussing the two proposals, Ms. Hata questioned how Council should inform the membership. Mr. Darnton noted that Council owed members a frank report that discussed the experiment. Ms. Phillips suggested a newsletter article with a graph that would compare the dues structures of various organizations. Mr. Miller agreed, suggesting that several examples could be included in his September “President’s Desk” column. Following additional discussion, Council unanimously approved the Finance Committee’s two-part recommendation for dues adjustments.
(2) Proposals for annual meeting fee increases in two ways: First, increases in registration fees for attendees and second, an increase in the fee for exhibitors: Attendee registration fees: The committee proposed (a) $10 increases for members and non-members, increasing amounts paid for preregistration and registration and maintaining the $15 differential to encourage preregistration, and (b) $5 increase for students/unemployed, with a $5 differential maintained between preregistration and registration at the meeting. Exhibitor fee: The committee proposed increasing the exhibitors’ booth fee from $950 to $1,050.
Following discussion, Council unanimously approved the Finance Committee’s two-part proposal to increase annual meeting fees.
(3) Proposal for add-on fee for publications: The Finance Committee recommended a Publications Advisory Committee (PAC) proposal to create a program for individual members that parallels the Institutional Services Program, called the Member Services Program (MSP). For a small added fee, that would be earmarked to support additional publications production, the AHA would offer members a subscription to all AHA publications (pamphlets and directories) that are not included in the base membership (AHR, Perspectives, and the annual meeting Program). Since the logistics means this would kick in with the renewals received in January 1999, the staff would monitor the reactions over the last six months of the 1998-99 fiscal year, and then plan budget allocations, etc. beginning with FY 1999-2000. The benefits could be that more members would discover how valuable the publications program was, and this MSP revenue could provide a small “research and development” fund for publications. Given the high cost of the Directory of History Departments, the Finance Committee recommended a two-tier structure: one plan with the Directory, priced at $70, and one without the Directory, priced at $35. The program would be advertised through in-house publications and on the membership renewal form at little or no additional cost.
Ms. Freitag noted that the staff would need to monitor two unknowns: First, possible lost revenue from direct sales of AHA publications to members, and second, loss in the Institutional Services Program if departments substitute the MSP to receive all publications. Given the overall institutional goals addressed by the MSP and the ability to monitor the program for the first six months before shaping any budget decisions on responses, the PAC and Finance Committee recommended approval.
Following discussion, Council unanimously approved the Finance Committee recommendation to create a Membership Service Program.
Mr. Darnton noted that he had discussed with the Finance Committee the creation of a membership directory with each member permitted a 25-word-or-less statement on their specialty. He stated that he had seen a similar directory in other organizations and had found it very useful. Mr. Miller noted that the Finance Committee had been enthusiastic, and had asked Mr. Darnton to bring a more clearly defined proposal to the January meeting.
(4) Method and calculation for determining investment return: The Finance Committee brought for final approval a methodology for the “total return” calculation for the AHA portfolio, noting that the policy would be based upon conservative calculations of its “total” value. Ms. Freitag noted that the total-return policy was recommended and approved by Council on June 7, 1997, and that the committee’s current recommendation dealt with the method for calculating that policy. If approved, the calculation would govern the disposition of portfolio earnings and supersede all previous Council methodologies relating to this subject. She also noted that the policy, which relates to the operating budget, was accompanied by a similar Council decision affecting the assignment of monies in support of the AHA small grants programs connected to the Beveridge, Kraus, Littleton-Griswold, and Schmitt funds. Ms. Freitag reminded Council members that for the grants programs purpose, the Council had approved at its June 1997 meeting a Finance Committee recommendation to allocate 2.5 percent of a three-year rolling average of the earnings of each fund for distribution to grant recipients. Amounts of up to an additional .5 percent were allocated to cover direct and indirect administrative costs related to the awarding of grants.
For the portfolio’s investment return, an amount determined by the following methodology would be devoted to the annual operating budget: a rolling average calculated on the basis of the auditor’s report of the market value of the portfolio as of June 30th on each of the previous three years. It would be calculated during preparation of the budget for the next fiscal year. The average would be calculated at 5 percent of the total value: (a) on the two unrestricted-designated funds, i.e. the Endowment and Schmitt funds, the 5 percent can be calculated and drawn directly. (Legally, the provisions of these funds were determined by Council and so would be superseded by the new policy.) (b) on the three board-designated funds that were labeled “temporarily restricted,” i.e., the Littleton-Griswold, Beveridge, and Matteson funds, the 5 percent will also be calculated on all non-restricted funds. (Legally, there are phrases in the Matteson will and oral reports to Council regarding the intentions of the Beveridge and Littleton-Griswold widows, to use these funds for broadly identified areas: Matteson--bibliographic work; Beveridge--in support of American history; and Littleton-Griswold--in support of American history; for legal history). Even though these funds have not been drawn from the investment pool, the donors’ restrictions have been satisfied by previous AHA operating expenditures toward these three purposes. Thus the funds should be reclassified as “board-designated” rather than “restricted” as part of the portfolio. They therefore can serve as a basis for a 5 percent calculation. On advice of finance professionals not included in the base for calculations would be the portions of the funds designated “permanently” restricted (i.e. original gift sums), unless the donors indicate in writing to the AHA that these funds may be used for calculation purposes.
Following discussion, Council unanimously approved the Finance Committee’s recommendation for the methodology described above.
(5) Redesignation of funds to savings account: Mr. Miller presented the Finance Committee’s recommendation to fund future capital expenses. The 1995 Finance Committee had discussed ways to build up the AHA’s capital reserve and set a goal of $10,000 each year for five years. Since current Finance Committee members were reluctant to designate development money toward this purpose, the staff developed and the Finance Committee recommended to Council a two-part proposal targeting current and potential life members for support of the building fund. First, a fundraising drive among current life members focused especially on capital costs and featuring the building and its history. There would be one mailing each year for five years, and any contributions realized from the campaign would be directed into the capital reserve fund. Second, a recruitment drive of new life members would be conducted among those who have been members for forty years (since 1958). Ms. Freitag noted that this cohort of 463 members might respond well to becoming life members, and that their decision to do so would not represent a significant drain on future resources of the AHA. She also noted that just four responses per year would yield the additional $10,000 goal for that year. Ms. Freitag reported that the current policy, established some years ago by Council, segregated life membership payments to the Endowment Fund. Approval of a five-year plan would redirect those funds for the specified five years into the capital reserve fund. At the end of five years, the previous policy would obtain once again.
Following discussion, Council unanimously approved the Finance Committee’s recommendation to redesignate life member dues to a capital fund savings account.
C. Approval of 1998-99 Fiscal Year budget: With the approval of the preceding revenue components, the Finance Committee recommended, and Council unanimously approved, the 1998-99 budget as proposed. Mr. Miller also reported that the Finance Committee had approved the executive director’s salary-pool recommendations for 1998-99. The total included cost-of-living increases as well as merit or equity pay adjustments for staff salaries.
D. Approval of new methodology for book prizes: At its May 1995 meeting, Council implemented a policy of self-supporting book prizes to ensure that the principals would not be invaded, and directed that no award was to be made if the endowment’s income was not sufficient to support a minimum award of $250 and administrative costs. Mr. Miller reported that Council had reacted to the spending down of principals, since most awards were $1,000 regardless of the endowment’s size. He noted that the “pendulum” had now swung the other way, and that the policy had begun to cost the Association in terms of public relations. Mr. Miller stated that he had thought to examine the award amounts within the context of the total return policy (5 percent of a three-year moving average of funds available). After reviewing numbers supplied by Mr. Norell comparing actual and projected 1997 award amounts, he noted that application of the total -return policy would only have cost an additional $6,000. The Finance Committee therefore had thought it worth the investment to modify the policy, and noted that funds do not come out of the operating budget.
Following additional discussion, the Council approved the Finance Committee recommendation that the Association follow the same 5 percent total return policy and methodology, less allocated administrative fees, with the exception of three funds where the total is too small. Prize amounts for 1998 book awards should be calculated under this new formula. In addition, staff was asked to round prize amounts, thus eliminating, for example, $823 awards.
E. Report on selection of external auditor: Mr. Miller reported that the Finance Committee had thought it would be a good practice to test the market periodically and ascertain what services were available. He noted that during the spring a set of procedures were developed to appoint an auditor on a routine five-year basis. The process would include the controller, executive director, and Finance Committee. Mr. Miller noted that Mr. Norell and Ms. Freitag had developed a Request for Proposals, and that six firms had responded. The field had been narrowed to four firms, each had been interviewed and references checked, and they had been recommended to the Finance Committee.
Mr. Miller reported that the committee had decided that it did not have sufficient time to assess whether the committee’s standards had been met. He remarked that if a change were to be made for the 1997-98 audit, a decision would have to be made by the end of the current month. If the Finance Committee and staff could not reach a conclusion this quickly, then the current auditor would continue in place. Although the matter will not be referred back to the full Council, Mr. Miller noted that members would be kept informed about the decision on the upcoming audit.
6. Implementation proposals from the subcommittee report (“Palmer Report” on changes in Council/AHA practices: At its June 1997 meeting, Council discussed the AHA’s role as an association, and appointed a Council subcommittee to define how the AHA should be positioned in the future and how Council should determine program initiatives. Members had agreed that Council should develop a more comprehensive set of strategic objectives not only for the divisions but also for the Council to better respond to opportunities. A subcommittee of immediate past president Caroline Bynum, Mr. Katz, and Mr. Palmer, who served as chair, was asked to examine the constantly moving “wall” of priorities of the Association and to address the degree that the AHA should originate and/or facilitate projects and initiatives. The subcommittee was also asked to assess how the AHA should set priorities and how these priorities relate to the membership. Following consideration of the subcommittee’s recommendations, formal policies and procedures would be considered. Given the rotating nature of AHA elective offices, members thought that Council needed to provide continuity in setting Association priorities and maintaining initiatives.
Mr. Palmer presented the report of the subcommittee. He noted that the subcommittee shared the view that the AHA staff had been effective in introducing new members of Council to their various duties, and that it saw no need to alter the existing process, except to recommend that the orientation package be mailed well in advance of the first meeting. They suggested, in addition, that the president write a letter of welcome to new members.
Mr. Palmer noted that the subcommittee had spent a considerable amount of time examining the ways in which the AHA could improve its services to the profession it serves and to the general public. He noted that subcommittee members had recognized that the effectiveness of the AHA’s programs would be enhanced by the degree to which it attracted and maintained the active involvement of members from all types of institutions. Accordingly, one of the challenges is how to make the organization more inclusive as the representative of historians from all kinds of institutions and fields. Mr. Palmer stated that the subcommittee felt the AHA should initiate discussions with historians on the crucial question of the meanings of professionalism in the discipline. As part of this, the members suggested taking steps to enhance the attractiveness of the annual meeting, thereby improving attendance and participation. The subcommittee also recommended that greater care should be taken in the selection of members of the Program Committee, including revision of committee guidelines; that the Program Committee should work more closely with affiliated societies in planning sessions and ensuring that affiliate proposals reflect the intellectual tone and emphasis the AHA seeks to promote; and that procedures be modified to require distribution of papers before the session, to discourage reading of papers, to limit panelist time so that more time is devoted to audience discussion, and to solicit especially papers dealing with thematic/interpretive/methodological/comparative questions.
While the subcommittee noted that the AHA is associated with a range of advocacy groups and others, it expressed concern that, taken together, they seemed to lack intellectual focus or coherence. They urged Council to endorse only those projects that were consistent with the AHA’s mission and to discuss thoroughly new initiatives before undertaking. Additional recommendations regarding governance and outreach issues include revisiting the importance of the nature of the undergraduate major for the twenty-first century and becoming more sensitive to the nature of its image and how it relates to the various public it serves. In addition, Mr. Palmer stated that elected members should be more readily accessible to the membership and general public. He noted that an important part of this point focused on the changing nature of the presidency, and suggested that Council should rethink the duties of that office with a view to ensuring that the president is not overly consumed with administrative responsibilities at the expense of other deserving endeavors. Mr. Palmer reported that the subcommittee also recommended that Council explore the possibility of joint memberships with similar organizations and consider re-establishing the Speakers’ Bureau.
Adding to Mr. Palmer’s remarks, subcommittee member Mr. Katz noted two additional points. First, he agreed that the AHA needed to find ways to address issues and that he worried as well that the AHA Council was too driven by agendas. Second, given the special concerns of the Research Division and some members of Council, he thought that issues around the Program Committee should be the focus of special attention during the Research Division report.
Mr. Miller began by thanking Mr. Palmer, Mr. Katz, and Ms. Bynum, and asking members what Council could do as an initial step. Mr. Grossberg stated that his initial reaction had been to the suggestion to send the president to visit campuses. He reminded members that he and the Journal of American History editor had done something similar, and had found the visits to be more useful than general surveys. Mr. Miller suggested that such visits would be more useful during the president-elect year since it was the most intensive learning period. Mr. Beveridge reminded members that the general public had little information about the AHA, and that the Association was most often perceived as a trade organization. He encouraged members to speak outside their natural constituency, although he noted there could be significant budget implications to this kind of outreach. Mr. Palmer noted that the subcommittee had recommended a part-time public relations person for theses endeavors. Ms. Appleby stated that many departments and organizations would be willing to pay expenses and suggested inserting an announcement in the newsletter and limiting visits to no more than eight.
Mr. Darnton stated that he had been impressed by Mr. Palmer’s written report and oral presentation. He remarked that it had struck him that one problem was that the Council got so caught up in particular issues that it did not have time to discuss history. He asked if Council should work harder to get to engage members on important issues in the profession and not what a member receives when s/he belongs to the AHA. Mr. Palmer said the subcommittee had not discussed this, but had instead recommended a part-time person to conceive the possibilities and support logistical aspects.
Mr. Miller asked members how Council could bring the initial phase of the subcommittee’s work to a close and begin to assign tasks to various divisions and committees. Ms. Hata suggested that she could work with Ms. Tune to put together a handbook for new Council members. Members thanked Ms. Hata for her offer, and Mr. Miller suggested that a draft table of contents could be available for review at the January meeting.
Mr. Fink suggested that the AHA serve as catalysts for departments, developing an agenda to encourage them to engage in a series of discussions, and then pool the information to be shared by all. He noted that the AHA could serve as a catalyst to challenge departments to set aside time to discuss key issues. Ms. Phillips agreed, stating that the AHA’s web site was an obvious place to begin some of the conversations. Mr. Greenberg raised two points. First, he noted that the subcommittee’s point encouraging the AHA to serve the profession more effectively and the president to visit campuses worked well with Mr. Beveridge’s advice that the AHA speak to the broader public. He noted the AHA faced a tougher challenge precisely because it was the professional organization for all historians. Second, Mr. Greenberg commended the subcommittee’s report, but dissented on the point about the president’s role in the Association. He stated that the president was, in fact, the chairman of the board; a board charged with extremely important fiduciary responsibilities that are not merely minutiae but really have to do with the health of the only learned society that represents the entire historical field in the United States. He also stated that it was an extremely important responsibility to be president of the AHA, both because there is an opportunity for intellectual leadership and because there is another kind of leadership that is just as important, administrative or “bureaucratic” leadership. He noted that the chairman of the board function was an extremely important one now, especially since the environment in which nonprofit associations function has changed radically and their finances have changed radically, and that required a different kind of responsibility. Mr. Palmer said he thought it was a question of balance, that there needed to be a definition of boundaries, to free the president to do other things, such as visiting campuses. Ms. Young remarked that the conflicts in the AHA were reflected in her department, and that these issues should be discussed. Summing up, Mr. Miller stated that the subcommittee had brought back a sufficiently concrete and thought-provoking report to carry Council forward. Members expressed appreciation to Mr. Palmer and the subcommittee.
7. Annual meeting site: Ms. Tune delivered a report on the site selection processes for future annual meetings: A. Update on 2002: Ms. Tune began with an update on the 2002 meeting. She reported that ten Council members had responded to the mid-April memorandum regarding the site for the January 3-6, 2002 Annual Meeting. Members who had responded unanimously agreed that Ms. Tune could proceed with negotiations and sign contracts with San Francisco properties. Ms. Tune reported that within the past two weeks, negotiations had been concluded with the San Francisco Hilton (1,600 rooms) to serve as headquarters hotel, with the Renaissance Parc 55 (800 rooms) to serve as co-headquarters, and with the Hotel Nikko (200 rooms) to provide overflow accommodations. She reported the terms and concessions of the contracts, which included guaranteed rates of $99 single and double at the Hilton and Parc 55 and $109 rates at the Nikko, with rates applicable 3 days before/after meeting; earned complimentary rooms based upon the total number of rooms sold plus additional suites “over and above” earned rooms; upgrades for Council members; twenty-five rooms at 50 percent off the convention rates for staff, honorees, and others on the AHA’s housing list; complimentary facilities rental for the exhibit hall, Job Register, and meeting space; hotel-hosted president’s and executive director’s receptions, and other concessions such as gratis telephone installation/set rental and rekeying of offices and reduction in charges for microphones.
B. Sites for 2003: At the January 11, 1998 meeting, Council had asked staff to explore the following cities for availability, to collect information as required by site selection procedures, and to report at the spring Council meeting: Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and San Antonio. Members were provided with information on each site as required by site selection procedures.
Before developing a “short list” of cities to begin contract negotiations, Council members addressed two policy issues as they relate to the AHA’s Meeting Policy and Site Selection Procedures, sodomy laws and right-to-work laws. Since many of the sites under consideration were affected by one or the other, or both, of these kinds of provisions, Council discussed the extent to which these points should remain a part of the review process. Thereafter, cities would be reviewed within the policy decisions.
Ms. Tune noted that up to this point, and following the policy guidelines and procedures approved by Council in January 1994, states actively enforcing laws on these two issues had been ruled out as annual meeting sites. With regard to consideration of sodomy laws, she noted that the process had been rather complicated, and rested as much on active enforcement in the city as the presence of specific laws on the city or state books. Ms. Tune provided members with a written, state-by-state evaluation of relevant legislation and court cases, and noted that the anti-gay tilt in most sodomy legislation was clearly covered in the policy statement. With regard to consideration of right-to-work provisions, she also provided a state-by-state report and noted that these laws were also covered by the Council-devised guidelines.
Sodomy laws: Ms. Tune reminded members that the Committee on Lesbian and Gay History had decided not to make an issue of the 1996 Atlanta meeting site since the AHA had just paid a $100,000+ premium to withdraw from 1995 Cincinnati contracts after that city approved legislation similar to that in force in Georgia. Mr. Katz agreed that returning to Atlanta would send an unfavorable message to the membership, and Ms. Young and Ms. Appleby concurred that the AHA should not go to states that have these laws on the books. Upon motion by Mr. Katz and second by Ms. Young, Council unanimously agreed that the AHA should not schedule its annual meeting in cities or states that enforce or have recently adopted sodomy laws. In discussing the motion, Ms. Appleby questioned implications and asked what would happen if a state changed its laws after the AHA signed contracts. Ms. Freitag reported that the current contract addendum allows the AHA to withdraw without penalty up to eleven months before the meeting and thereafter with a 40-percent penalty. Ms. Phillips asked if this issue should be put to a vote of the membership since the decision about Cincinnati might continue to serve as a flash point for discontent. Mr. Greenbrg argued that Council did not need to consult with the membership since Council members were the elected representatives and would abrogate their responsibility if they didn’t act.
Right to work laws: Ms. Tune reported that federal law permits states to adopt right-to-work laws, and noted that twenty-one states had passed laws affirming an employee’s “right to work” regardless of union membership. Ms. Freitag reported that the injunction here had been incorporated into the policy in 1994 on the recommendation of the then president. Mr. Fink asked if other issues had been addressed, such as labor stoppages. Ms. Tune replied that this had not been a problem in the past, but that the contract addendum asks hotels to keep the AHA informed so it can keep its members informed as they make decisions about hotel choice. Mr. Fink remarked that he felt quite strongly about labor issues and that it struck him that ongoing worker grievances was a crucial issue, but that a prohibition of right-to-work states would seem to exclude the South. Following additional discussion, and noting that the AHA did not have a policy prohibiting it from contracting in states with right-to-work laws, members agreed to make no change in that policy but did ask staff to continue collecting information to report to members about labor disputes in hotels.
Council discussed its selection of a “short list” of cities to continue negotiations for the 2003 meeting. In light of policy direction just adopted, Atlanta was excluded from the list. Dallas did not have dates available. Ms. Tune also noted that two additional cities--Cleveland and Houston--did not have sufficient meeting facilities and/or hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center. Members narrowed discussion to Chicago, San Antonio, and Minneapolis. After discussing potential problems in recruiting sufficient number of Local Arrangements Committee members and hourly workers in San Antonio, and upon motion by Ms. Appleby and second by Ms. Young, members unanimously agreed that Ms. Tune should continue negotiations with Chicago and Minneapolis.
Members agreed that since the vetting process was now complete, staff could continue under normal internal decision-making procedures to bring negotiations for the 2003 meeting to conclusion by the end of the summer.Last Updated: July 6, 2007 10:45 AM