Publication Date

October 1, 1994

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

The Council of the Association is pleased to report that Sandria B. Freitag has accepted its invitation to assume the position of executive director of the Association for a five-year term beginning October 1, 1994. Ms. Freitag succeeds Samuel R. Gammon, who retired earlier this year. Deputy Executive Director James Gardner served as acting executive director in the interim. Ms. Freitag was recommended to the Council by the Search Committee appointed last April by AHA President Thomas C. Holt. Its members were John H. Coatsworth (chair), Pete Daniel, Darlene Clark Hine, Mary Elizabeth Perry, and Frederic Wakeman.

Ms. Freitag received her Ph.D. in South Asian history from the University of California at Berkeley in 1980. Her 1989 book, Collective Action and Community: Public Arenas and the Emergence of Communalism in North India, 1870–1940 (University of California Press and Oxford University Press, Delhi), analyzes the transformation of historically localized religious conflict and accommodation into the nationwide pattern of “communal” strife of the twentieth century. In addition to this major work, Ms. Freitag has edited three anthologies of essays on modern Indian history and contributed important articles to comparative as well as South Asian historiographical discussions.

Ms. Freitag’s experience as a professional administrator includes eight years of work in the Office of the President of the University of California, where she rose quickly to take charge of “intersegmental relations,” that is, the relations between the nine-campus University of California system and the other “segments” of the California educational system, including the California state universities, the community college system, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the K–12 public schools. She served as the University of California’s principal spokesperson when representatives of these institutions formulated their objectives and communicated them to the state legislature and to the California Postsecondary Education Commission. She also served as the representative of the university on the Policy Board of the California History-Social Science Project, an agency created to improve the quality of history and social science teaching in the public schools. In her recent work at the University of California Press, she served first as acting associate director and then as strategic planning manager. In the latter position, she played an important role in the development and implementation of a long-range operating plan that helped the press respond creatively to a period of financial stress.

The Search Committee’s work was guided by a report of the AHA Executive Review Committee, mandated by the AHA Constitution and chaired by past president Louise Tilly, that evaluated the organizational structure of the AHA and compared it to that of other scholarly and professional associations. The Search Committee began its work after procedures governing the search were discussed and agreed to at the Council meeting in Washington on May 8. Announcements published in Perspectives and the Chronicle of Higher Education elicited twenty-seven applications by the June 1 deadline. Two other individuals were suggested to the committee, but declined to apply. On June 25, the committee met in Washington and reviewed all of the applications. After informing the Council of its choice of four candidates as finalists and soliciting comments from both the Council and the staff, it interviewed all four in Washington on July 15 and 16. Prior to their appearances before the committee, each candidate visited the AHA offices, met individually with senior staff, and then attended an informal gathering to which all AHA staff were invited.


Gardner Reappointed

On the recommendation of the executive director designate, Sandria B. Freitag, the AHA Council has voted to reappoint James B. Gardner to a five-year term as deputy executive director of the Association. The Council expressed its confidence in his work as deputy executive director and voted to reaffirm its earlier decision to submit an amendment to the Constitution designating the deputy executive director as an officer of the Association to the Business Meeting next January and upon approval at that meeting to a vote of the membership.

The Council also voted to express its deep appreciation for Mr. Gardner’s stewardship of the Association as acting executive director during the past eight months.

Mr. Gardner’s appointment will “ensure that the Association continues to benefit from Jim’s knowledge, expertise, and judgment,” said Ms. Freitag, who assumes office as the AHA’s executive director on October 1, 1994. Mr. Gardner’s duties will continue to consist chiefly of programmatic work with the committees and divisions of the Association. He will also continue to act as official representative of the AHA to other bodies.

James Gardner joined the Association as its deputy executive director in 1986. He was educated at Rhodes College and Vanderbilt University, where he received his Ph.D. in United States history in 1978. Before coming to the Association, he served as director of education and special programs at the American Association for State and Local History.