AHA Election: Report of the Nominating Committee

Jane Landers, January 2009

On behalf of the 2008 Nominating Committee, I am pleased to report the results of the 2008 election for AHA offices. The committee is extremely grateful to all the candidates who agreed to stand for Association elective office and committee positions despite their many other obligations. The Association depends for its continued well-being on the willingness of its members to serve. Elected candidates are indicated in blue boldface.

President (1-year term)

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (Harvard Univ.), early America, comparative women’s, material culture

President-elect (1-year term)

Dipesh Chakrabarty (Univ. of Chicago), colonial and postcolonial histories of South Asia, historiography, history of Bengal (including Bangladesh), labor history and histories of indigenous and marginal groups, public history, postcolonial and critical theory

Barbara D. Metcalf (Univ. of Michigan and emeritus, Univ. of California at Davis), modern South Asian history, Indo-Muslim history, Islam

Vice President, Research Division (3-year term)

Edward A. Alpers (Univ. of California at Los Angeles), Africa, slave trade and slavery, African diaspora, Indian Ocean

Iris Berger (Univ. at Albany, State Univ. of New York), African history, South Africa, comparative gender history, labor history

Council/Divisions (3-year terms)

Councilor Profession

Carolyn A. Brown (Rutgers Univ. at New Brunswick), African labor and urban social history, colonial period, gender (masculinity) and nationalism

Sarah Maza (Northwestern Univ.), France, social and cultural, theory and methodology

Councilor Research

Laurent Dubois (Duke Univ.), Caribbean history and culture, Haiti, Atlantic Revolutions, French empire and race in contemporary France, Afro-Atlantic religion and culture

John Kelly Thornton (Boston Univ.) Africa, African diaspora, Atlantic, warfare, demography, missionary, religion

Councilor Teaching

Theresa Ann Smith (Oakwood School, North Hollywood, California), women’s and gender history, the Enlightenment, Spain and Latin America

Barbara L. Tischler (Horace Mann School, Bronx, New York), American cultural, American legal and constitutional, contemporary United States

Committee on Committees (3-year terms)

Slot 1

Lawrence B. Glickman (Univ. of South Carolina), American cultural history, labor history, consumer history, Gilded Age and Progressive era

Kriste Lindenmeyer (Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County), U.S. history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, history of childhood, women and gender

Slot 2

Martha Hanna (Univ. of Colorado at Boulder), 20th-century French history, World War I

Lloyd S. Kramer (Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), modern European intellectual history, French culture and politics (1789–1850), nationalism, history of crosscultural experiences and exchanges

Nominating Committee (3-year terms)

Slot 1

Marshall C. Eakin (Vanderbilt Univ.), Latin America, Brazil and Central America, post-independence

John Frederick Schwaller (State Univ. of New York at Potsdam), colonial Latin America, Mexico in the 16th century, Nahuatl and the history of the Nahua (Aztecs), Franciscan Order in colonial Latin America

Slot 2

Parks M. Coble (Univ. of Nebraska at Lincoln), modern China, East Asia, history of business in China, Sino-Japanese relations, war and war memory in 20th-century East Asia

Poshek Fu (Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), modern China, Hong Kong culture and society, film and popular cultures, World War II in China, pan-Asian and pan-Chinese cinemas

Slot 3

Carol Anderson (Univ. of Missouri-Columbia; Emory Univ. beginning Jan. 2009), international relations, human rights, African American history, U.S. foreign policy, 20th-century America)

Alexander X. Byrd (Rice Univ.), Afro American

Election Process and Results

Ballots were mailed to 16,170 members, with 3,488 casting ballots before the AHA constitution deadline of November 1. That is, 21.57 percent of the members who received ballots cast their votes, compared to the 21.96 percent casting ballots in 2007. The past four years have marked the highest level of participation in an AHA election in more than two decades. The rate of return fits closely to the median range of voter participation in major associations, which is 24 percent.

The 2008 election marked the fourth year that AHA members had the opportunity to vote online to elect the Association’s officers. The AHA once again used Election Services Corporation (ESC) of Garden City, New York, to prepare and distribute election ballots to AHA members and to receive, validate, and tally the votes. This year, as last, members who furnished valid e-mail addresses and agreed to receive messages were asked via e-mail poll their preference for online or paper ballot. 3,295 members voted online and 193 voted by paper ballot.

All AHA members who opted to vote electronically received an e-mail message with a unique computer-generated user name and password, good only for the online balloting system. Once successfully logged in, members could read the election rules, and link to the ballot, which was linked, in turn, to candidate biographies. Members who lacked a valid e-mail address, or who requested the paper ballot, were mailed a paper ballot no later than September 1. The procedures for paper ballots were essentially the same as in previous years: after filling out the ballot, members returned it to ESC, which entered the information into the system. In theory, a member could receive both an e-mail and a paper ballot. Since the system tracked whether someone voted, separate from specific votes, the system accepted the first vote received and entered into the system from that voter (but without identifying the specific voter).

Individuals who renewed their membership or joined the AHA for the first time after the initial mailing of ballots were also allowed to vote in the election. Anyone who renewed or joined before October 17 was able to vote online or to request a paper ballot. Although no paper ballots were mailed after October 17 (because the remaining time would be insufficient for members to receive and return the ballots to ESC before the constitutional deadline of November 1), those who renewed or joined before October 17 could vote online until midnight of November 1.

Committee Deliberations

The Nominating Committee met in Washington, D.C. on February 2–3, 2008. Present were chair Jane G. Landers (Vanderbilt Univ.); Lisa Forman Cody (Claremont McKenna Coll.); Jan Golinski (Univ. of New Hampshire); Susan R. Grayzel (Univ. of Mississippi); David G. Gutiérrez (Univ. of California at San Diego); Steven Mintz (Univ. of Houston); David Newbury (Smith Coll.); Evelyn Rawski (Univ. of Pittsburgh); and Laura Ackerman Smoller (Univ. of Arkansas at Little Rock).

After meeting for many years from Saturday noon to Monday noon, the committee adjusted its meeting schedule to start at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, continuing through mid-afternoon on Sunday. Members of the committee found that this revised schedule allows them to better reach potential nominees at their homes over the weekend. The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for February 7–9, 2009; the chair of the 2009 Nominating Committee will be Laura Smoller.

On Saturday Executive Director Arnita Jones joined the meeting for lunchtime discussion of matters relevant to nominations, offices and responsibilities, and elections.

The Nominating Committee then moved on to its principal task: nominating candidates for office. With approval of the AHA constitution by the membership in January, the committee began to implement changes to the leadership structure. Modifications will be phased in during the 2008, 2009, and 2010 elections. Beginning January 2011, the Council will consist of 15 members (instead of 12) and each of the three divisions will have four members (who are also Council members), instead of five members.

As in the past, the committee was very concerned that all AHA members should have input into the process. Every year the Nominating Committee issues several appeals to the membership at large for nominees. These appeals also stress the committee’s commitment to diversity of all kinds. In addition to soliciting nominees in an open letter published in the January 2008 Perspectives on History, this year’s chair again urged committee members to poll as many of their colleagues and associates as possible for nominees and to gather vitae before our February meeting. A number of AHA members responded to the open letter with suggestions; others, with expressions of willingness to serve. The committee also retained and reviewed suggestions and vitae of people considered over the previous five years. The nominations we received reflected the diversity of our organization with respect to gender, race, type of institution, field, and rank.

Fulfilling its constitutional responsibility, the committee selected two nominees for each Association office and elective committee position to be filled by election in fall 2008, with terms to begin in January 2009. The committee sought to identify able and energetic members who could work well with colleagues, and who were, where relevant, familiar with broad sections of the profession beyond their immediate fields of expertise. In the case of the president and other top positions, the committee recognized the importance of selecting nominees who could represent the interests of historians to the public at large, and who had demonstrated some degree of administrative skill. In all its selections, the committee was anxious to reflect the broad diversity of the historical profession in terms of type of institution served, geographic location, subdiscipline, interests, gender, and cultural background.

The committee wishes to thank the staff of the Association, and especially Assistant Director Sharon K. Tune, for her invaluable guidance and efficiency, as well as her patience and good cheer. Sharon’s expertise and knowledge of the Association and its membership have been critical to our deliberations over the years. I would also like to thank the other members of the committee and the members of the past two Nominating Committees. Their good humor, hard work, good judgment, and broad knowledge of the profession made it possible for us to work swiftly and effectively. It was a real pleasure to have served with them and I wish them all future success.

—Jane Landers (Vanderbilt Univ.) was the chair of the 2008 AHA Nominating Committee.