From the AHA Activities column of the January 2010 issue of Perspectives on History
Report of the 2009 AHA Nominating Committee
Laura Ackerman Smoller, January 2010
On behalf of the Nominating Committee, I am pleased to report the results of the 2009 election for AHA offices. The committee is extremely grateful to all the candidates who agreed to stand for the Association’s 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 boldface.
President (1-year term)
Barbara Metcalf, University of California, Davis, emerita (modern South Asian history, Indo-Muslim history, Islam)
President-elect (1-year term)
Anthony Grafton, Princeton University (Renaissance Europe: intellectual and cultural history; history of science; history of scholarship and education)
Thomas W. Laqueur, University of California at Berkeley (modern Europe, cultural history, gender and sexuality, 18th- and 19th-century Britain, medicine and society)
Vice President, Teaching Division (3-year term)
Orville Vernon Burton, Coastal Carolina University (19th- and 20th-century U.S. history; American South, especially Civil War, civil rights movement, race relations, family, community, politics,religion, digital history)
Patricia Nelson Limerick, University of Colorado at Boulder (American West, environment, ethnicity, politics)
Council/Divisions (3-year terms)
Laura Isabel Serna, Florida State University (cultural, transnational, film)
Megan Threlkeld, Denison University (U.S. women and gender, U.S. foreign relations, women’s transnational activism, 20th-century Mexico)
Richard H. Immerman, Temple University (history of U.S. foreign relations, 20th-century United States, international history, intelligence history)
Thomas J. Sugrue, University of Pennsylvania (20th-century U.S., urban, political, civil rights, comparative race and ethnicity)
Cheryll Ann Cody, Southwest College, Houston Community College (19th-century American South, plantation societies, demography, family and women’s history)
Charles Anthony Zappia, San Diego Mesa College (U.S. immigration, ethnic, and labor history; corporatization of higher education)
Committee on Committees (3-year term)
Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, University of Texas at Austin (Atlantic history, Latin American colonial history, history of science)
Daryle Williams, University of Maryland, College Park (19th- and 20th-century Brazilian cultural history; modern Latin America)
Nominating Committee (3-year terms)
Jan Ellen Lewis, Rutgers University-Newark (early America, early national U.S., gender, race, political thought)
Janice L. Reiff, UCLA (urbanization, migration, and work; history and new media; 20th-century U.S.; quantitative methods)
Page Herrlinger, Bowdoin College (modern Russia, Russian Orthodox culture and identity, labor and revolutionary movements, women’s and gender history, socialist culture)
Pieter M. Judson, Swarthmore College (Central and East European; 19th and 20th centuries; political, social, cultural; nationalism, sexuality)
Donald Quataert, Binghamton University-State University of New York (Ottoman economic, social, and labor; global and comparative; modern Middle East)
Julia Adeney Thomas, University of Notre Dame (modern Japan, intellectual and political history, visual culture and photography, concepts of nature and environmental protection)
Election Process and Results
Ballots were sent to 15,389 members, and 3,467 cast ballots before the AHA constitution deadline of November 1. This was 22.53 percent of the total receiving ballots, compared to the 21.57 percent casting ballots in 2008. The past five years have marked the highest levels of participation in AHA elections 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 2009 election also marked the fifth year that AHA members had the opportunity to vote online to elect the Association’s officers. The AHA once again used Election Services Corporation 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. 3,285 members (nearly 95 percent) voted online and 182 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 also linked to the 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.
The Nominating Committee met in Washington, D.C., on February 7–8, 2009. Present were chair Laura Ackerman Smoller, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Carol Anderson, Emory University; Lisa Forman Cody, Claremont McKenna College; Marshall C. Eakin, Vanderbilt University; Poshek Fu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Susan R. Grayzel, University of Mississippi; David G. Gutiérrez, University of California at San Diego; Steven Mintz, University of Houston; David Newbury, Smith College; and AHA Assistant Director for Administration Sharon K. Tune.
Deliberations began at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, and continued through mid-afternoon on Sunday. Members also circulated names and c.v.’s of potential nominees via e-mail prior to the D.C. meeting. The committee’s next meeting is January 30–31, 2010, and the chair of the 2010 Nominating Committee is Lisa Forman Cody.
On Saturday Executive Director Arnita Jones joined the meeting for a 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 2008, the committee is in the second year of implementing changes to the leadership structure. Modifications are being 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 2009 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, and 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 2009, with terms to begin in January 2010. 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 assistance in fulfilling our charge. Sharon provided invaluable guidance in the complex task of compiling a suitable slate of candidates. Her sense of humor and perennial good cheer, along with her considerable expertise and knowledge of the Association and its membership, has been critical to our deliberations over the years. I would also like to thank the other members of the committee, as well as those who served with me on the past two Nominating Committees. Their good humor, hard work, keen judgment, and broad knowledge of the profession made it possible for us to work swiftly and effectively—and to enjoy the work. I’ll feel a little pang of nostalgia this January while the 2010 committee is meeting. It was a real pleasure to have served the Association in the company of such a fine group, and I wish them all future success.
Laura Ackerman Smoller (Univ. of Arkansas at Little Rock) was the chair of the 2009 AHA Nominating Committee.