Minutes of the 120th Business Meeting

Recorded by Sharon K. Tune

President James Sheehan (Stanford Univ.), called the annual business meeting to order at 4:45 p.m. on January 7, 2006, in Salon D of the Grand Ballroom of the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. Michael Les Benedict (Ohio State Univ.) served as parliamentarian for the meeting.

Report of the Executive Director: Arnita A. Jones circulated copies of the written report of the executive director (see pages 4–7), and highlighted several issues for those in attendance. She reported that the Association is in good health and finances generally but that membership was not growing and that there were disturbing trends. To assess matters while the AHA is in relatively good order, the Council has created a new working group on the future of the Association to focus on membership. Group members will be appointed during the spring and will report to Council at its January 2007 meetings. Ms. Jones stated that the shift to Lazard Asset Management of New York as new managers of the Association’s portfolio, announced at the 2005 Business Meeting, had been completed. She reviewed several ongoing activities and projects, including the successful workshop for directors of graduate studies held August 4–5, 2005 in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Jones noted that 4,618 individuals had preregistered for the 120th meeting, and that final registration was 5,667. Once again the AHA offered a special registration rate for high school and undergraduate teachers who are accompanied by their students. Teachers could bring up to five of their students to the annual meeting for the special fees of $50 for grades 9–12 and $100 for undergraduates. She commended the Program Committee for presenting an engaging and wide-ranging roster of sessions, the Local Arrangements Committee for its hard work and logistical support, and AHA staff members for their usual superlative service.

Following Ms. Jones’s remarks, Mr. Sheehan observed that she was an absolutely critical element of the AHA’s leadership and that she deserved the appreciation and thanks of the membership.

Report of the Editor: Robert Schneider (Indiana Univ.) delivered his first report as editor of the American Historical Review, remarking that he had inherited a marvelous staff in Bloomington and 12 dedicated members of the board of editors when he began his five-year term on August 1, 2005. Highlighting points from his written report (see pages 13–14), he stated that the journal had been produced on schedule and under budget for the year. More than 200 articles were submitted and 1,000 books reviewed from the 2,500 books submitted. Mr. Schneider observed that the staff continues to solicit forums and asked members to submit suggestions for upcoming issues. Mr. Schneider is considering several new initiatives, such as commissioning synthesis-based research articles and sponsoring online forums of five or six historians. He reported that the staff planned a change of policy on the review of historical films and announced a temporary suspension of film reviews, with a report to the membership forthcoming in a spring issue of Perspectives.

Mr. Schneider thanked members of the board of editors rotating off in May 2006: Jan Lewis (Rutgers Univ. at Newark); Robert A. Nye (Oregon State Univ.); John Van Engen (Univ. of Notre Dame); and R. Bin Wong (Univ. of California at Los Angeles). In addition, he thanked the AHR and AHA staffs as well as the members of the Association who had submitted articles and book reviews.

Report of the Nominating Committee: Committee chair Kenneth Pomeranz (Univ. of California at Irvine), announced the results of the fall election. Linda K. Kerber (Univ. of Iowa) and Barbara Weinstein  (Univ. of Maryland at College Park) were elected president and president-elect, respectively. Teofílo Ruiz (Univ. of California at Los Angeles) was elected vice president of the Research Division. Elected to the Council were Alice Kessler-Harris (Columbia Univ.), and Elise S. Lipkowitz (Northwestern Univ.). Divisional members elected were Professional: Jane Hathaway (Ohio State Univ.); Research: Nick Salvatore (Cornell Univ.); Teaching: Allison Kay Ivey (Kealing Middle School, Austin). Ruth Mazo Karras (Univ. of Minnesota) and Daniel Littlefield (Univ. of South Carolina) were elected to the Committee on Committees. Elected to the Nominating Committee were Jan Golinski (Univ. of New Hampshire); Jane Gilmer Landers (Vanderbilt Univ.); and Evelyn Rawski (Univ. of Pittsburgh). The committee’s full report appears on page 21.

Reports of the Vice Presidents: Vice-presidents Roy Rosenzweig (George Mason Univ.), Patrick Manning (Northeastern Univ.), and Anthony T. Grafton (Princeton Univ.) reported on their respective divisions’ activities and projects. Their reports appear elsewhere in this publication (on pages 8–12).

Other business:
(a) Expressions of Appreciation: Mr. Sheehan thanked Association members who planned the 120th annual meeting: the Program Committee, chaired by Celia Applegate (Univ. of Rochester) and cochaired by Kären Wigen (Stanford Univ.), and the Local Arrangements Committee, chaired by Andrew Lees  (Rutgers Univ. at Camden) and cochaired by Kathryn Wilson (Historical Society of Pennsylvania).

(b) Resolutions: AHA members present adopted a resolution opposing academic and student bills of rights and similar regulations of the academic community and a resolution about the United States Government’s abusive policies toward foreign prisoners. (The text of the resolutions is on pages 31 and 32; the AHA Council considered the resolutions at its January 8, 2006 meeting, and accepted them).

Concluding his term as president, Mr. Sheehan thanked AHA staff members and introduced incoming president Linda K. Kerber (Univ. of Iowa). Accepting the gavel and noting there was no further business, Ms. Kerber declared the meeting adjourned at 6:20 p.m.

Recorded by Sharon K. Tune, Assistant Director, Administration, and Convention Director.


Resolution Opposing Academic and Student Bills of Rights and Similar Regulations of the Academic Community

Whereas, so-called Academic and Student Bills of Rights legislation, investigations, and similar measures will give power over such matters as curriculum, course content, and faculty personnel decisions to governmental authorities and other agencies outside the faculty and administrations of institutions of higher learning; and

Whereas, Such measures would violate academic freedom and undermine professional standards by imposing political criteria in areas of educational policy that faculty members normally and rightly control; therefore, be it

Resolved, That the American Historical Association opposes the passage of Academic and Student Bills of Rights and all similar attempts to regulate the academic community.

—Accepted by Council, January 8, 2006.

Resolution on the United States Government’s Abusive Policies Toward Foreign Prisoners

Whereas, as professional historians, we share the special responsibility of identifying and condemning actions that violate elementary standards of human decency that have evolved over centuries and represent the common heritage of all human kind;

Whereas, the fight against terrorist attacks has encouraged our government to override the nation’s long-standing adherence to the Geneva Conventions and tolerate abusive treatment of prisoners in its custody as well as open itself to charges of using rendition to send its prisoners to foreign countries where they may be tortured and maintaining secret detention centers outside our borders;

Whereas, this conduct jeopardizes the nation’s profound and historic commitment to human rights; and

Whereas, the American Historical Association is committed to government openness and to the belief that public disclosure of documents relating to allegations of torture will speed the government’s ability to track down and stop abuses;

Resolved, that the American Historical Association encourage a public debate about the legitimacy of the government’s policies towards foreign prisoners while making clear its censure of the use of torture and affirming a commitment to the joint Congressional Resolution opposing torture signed into law by President Reagan in 1984 as well as to the United Nations Declaration and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading treatment.

—Accepted by Council, January 8, 2006.

Resolution Passed at the 119th Business Meeting

The text of the resolution passed at the 119th Business Meeting of the AHA (held on January 8, 2005), and accepted by the Council at its meeting on January 9, 2005, is as follows:

Whereas, the AHA has since 1994 explicitly considered labor issues in its selection of annual meeting hotels and vendors; and

Whereas, hotel union representation raises wages, supplies benefits, and protects worker dignity, thereby ensuring that economic growth benefits a workforce often composed of people of color, and particularly women of color; and

Whereas, the AHA decision to hold meetings in union or non-union hotels strengthens or weakens the ability of these workers and their unions to secure better working conditions and contribute to equitable urban growth; therefore be it

Resolved, that the AHA reaffirms its longstanding support of the right of workers to organize by continuing its practice of union preference in negotiating hotel and service contracts for the Annual Meeting and for any other meetings organized by the AHA; therefore, be it further Resolved, that AHA continues its practice of including labor disputes in the standard escape provision in any AHA contract for annual meeting hotels and meetings.

—Accepted by Council, January 9, 2005.