From the 2004 Annual Meeting column in the September 2002 Perspectives

Revisions to AHA Program Committee Guidelines

AHA Staff, September 2002

Editor's Note: In spring 2002 the Research Division drafted, and the AHA Council approved, substantial revisions to the guidelines for the AHA Program Committee. These revisions implement a new process to streamline the selection of the Program Committee. In the future, the president elect will select the chair and co-chair and assist closely in the selection of the other members of the Program Committee, subject to the final approval of the Council. The revised guidelines will also allow the president to put a bit more of a personal stamp on the meeting over which he or she presides. This will be done in large measure through the addition of up to six "Presidential Sessions," specifically designed to draw in senior historians and address broad themes of interest to the profession. These sessions will be added to the program without reducing the number of panels available for selection by the Program Committee. At the same time, the guidelines include safeguards to ensure that the meeting program represents the broad diversity of the profession and the many specialized areas of interest covered by the broad umbrella of the Association. To ensure this, in planning future meetings, we are working to maximize space, so that if needed we can accommodate a larger number of panels. The Research Division welcomes further suggestions for improvement, which can be mailed to Robert Townsend, Assistant Director, at the AHA headquarters office or by e-mail to Rob Townsend.

1. Purpose and Goals: The Program Committee develops a program for the annual meeting that promotes excellence in research and teaching and discusses significant professional issues, rights, and responsibilities. In keeping with the diversity of the Association's membership and its particular responsibility to foster communications and broaden understanding among historians, the annual meeting program should present significant and innovative scholarship while also highlighting comparative, theoretical, and international perspectives that cut across specializations. In shaping the annual meeting program, the Committee will take into consideration significant anniversary observances and past programs. The Program Committee will also seek presentations that address the entire community of historians and provide opportunities to examine the larger concerns of the profession.

2. Oversight: The Program Committee is responsible for the selection and timing of panels and sessions for the annual meeting. The Research Division oversees policies and guidelines governing the deliberations of the Program Committee. However, the Council is ultimately responsible for articulating the policy goals to be achieved by the annual meeting program, and thus has final policy approval. The President-elect, working with the Program Committee co-chairs, facilitates the interaction of these two forms of oversight.

3. Composition: Shortly after his/her election to office, with advice and assistance from the Executive Director and the concurrence of the Council, the incoming President-elect will select the co-chairs of the Program Committee planning the meeting at which he or she will deliver the presidential address. Selection should be made on the following timeline:

a. Shortly after election, the incoming President-elect will work with the Executive Director to select potential candidates to chair the Program Committee. It is expected that the chair will reflect the geographic and methodological interests of the President-elect, while having sufficient breadth of knowledge to represent the entire field of history in the selection process. (First meeting of Council after the election.)

b. The chair will then select a co-chair with the assistance of the President-elect, subject to final approval by Council. The chair and co-chair should be selected from different institutions and represent distinctively different fields. (Spring, two years out)

c. Chair and co-chair will work with the President-elect and Executive Director to develop a committee comprised of up to nine additional members who will represent a wide breadth of fields and ensure that the Committee would be fairly representative of the diversity of the profession (as detailed in section d., below). To be nominated, all candidates must be members of the Association at the time of their nomination, and continue as members during their term of service.

d. When selecting committee members, the Program chair and co-chair, shall choose the best qualified members consistent with the diversity of AHA membership, taking care that an appropriate representation of members in secondary schools, two-year colleges, four-year colleges, graduate institutions, and public history are included. The chair and co-chair should keep in mind that the great majority of the Committee's work consists of evaluating and assembling sessions reflecting new and original work. The Committee also assists the three divisions—Professional, Research, and Teaching—in organizing sessions relating to the work of the divisions and of particular and timely concern to members.

e. Chair and co-chair will contact potential nominees about service on the Committee. When approaching potential nominees, it should be made clear that no recommendation is final until Council approval has been given. However, given the prior involvement of the President-elect and Executive Director in developing the list it is anticipated Council will disapprove names on this list in cases of grave
concern. (Prior to May/June meeting of Council, one and one-half years out.)

f. Letters of appointment, signed by the President-elect, are prepared by staff and sent out to Program Committee members. (Fall one and one-half years ahead.)

g. The Program Committee thus constituted will number up to thirteen members, including the chair, the co-chair, the chair-elect, the co-chair-elect, and up to nine other members. Members of the Program Committee are permitted to participate in the program only under exceptional circumstance because of possible conflict of interest and the scarcity of space available on the program to other AHA members.

h. The President-elect serves as Council's representative to the Program Committee planning the meeting at which he or she will deliver the presidential address, advising on goals to be met by the annual meeting.

4. Function: Within the policy guidelines articulated by the Council, the Program Committee has autonomy in the selection of sessions and participants, subject to the following limitations:

a. All participants, except for foreign scholars and those from other disciplines, must be current members of the Association.

b. Unless the Program Committee deems that the overall quality of the program requires it, individuals should not participate two years in succession in any capacity.

c. Except under extraordinary circumstances, participants in any annual meeting program should be limited to one appearance. Presentation of a paper or comment on a session shall constitute an appearance, and no one should appear in more than one of these capacities.

d. The Program Committee will actively seek to avoid gender-segregated sessions. It shall encourage proposers of individual sessions to ensure that whenever possible sessions include members of both sexes.

e. The Program Committee shall likewise encourage proposers of sessions to include participants representing the full diversity of the AHA membership, such as ethnic and racial minorities and junior historians.

5. Sessions by AHA Divisions and Committees: The Committee also assists the divisions and standing committees of the Association in organizing sessions relating to their work. The three divisions of the Association—Professional, Research, and Teaching—the Committee on Minority Historians, the Committee on Women Historians, and the Committee for Graduate Students each has the opportunity to present relevant and timely matters of concern to the profession in panel sessions. These divisions and committees must submit proposals for coordination and assistance by the Program Committee and must meet all applicable deadlines for program preparation. The President also has the option of creating up to six additional "Presidential Sessions," or one for each time slot on the program. Individuals participating in these sessions in ex-officio capacities or by invitation shall be exempt from 4b and 4c.

6. Sessions from Affiliated Societies: The Program Committee, at the earliest practicable date, will contact the affiliated societies to provide information about the forthcoming program and solicit program suggestions. While special consideration will be given to proposals for joint sessions sponsored by the AHA and an affiliate, the Program Committee will apply the same criteria for acceptance applied to all other proposals. Affiliated Societies are also encouraged to hold their own sessions in conjunction with the annual meeting; these sessions will be listed separately in the printed program. These societies will be responsible for all organizational and financial details of such ancillary sessions, and for keeping the AHA central office informed of their plans. Although time slots cannot be guaranteed to the affiliated societies, the Association will make an effort to create a hospitable environment for affiliates. The Program Committee will designate one of its members to act as a liaison to the affiliates, give the affiliates priority in notifications about the acceptance or rejection of proposals, and keep thorough records of acceptances to the program in order to prevent any pattern of discrimination or neglect.

7. Funding for Foreign Scholars: The Executive Director will inform the Program Committee about resources available from Association revenues or outside grants to assist foreign scholars invited to present papers.

8. Governance: The Committee shall operate within these guidelines and the "The Organization, Jurisdiction, and Operation of Association Divisions and Committees" document adopted by the Council.

—Last revised by the AHA's Research Division April 5, 2002 and approved by the AHA Council June 29, 2002.