AHA Activities

Report of the 1996 AHA Nominating Committee

Jose Cuello | Jan 1, 1997

On behalf of the Nominating Committee, I am pleased to report the results of the 1996 election for AHA offices. (Elected candidates are indicated with an asterisk.)

Total Ballots Cast: 2,730

President (one-year term)

*Joyce O. Appleby, Univ. of California at Los Angeles (early modern England, colonial America, revolutionary era of the United States): 2,227

President-elect (one-year term)

Joseph E. Harris, Howard Univ. (Africa, the slave trade, African diaspora): 1,099

*Joseph c. Miller, Univ. of Virginia (Africa, world, history of slavery and the slave trade, social and economic): 1,265

Vice President, Research Division (three-year term)

Mary Maples Dunn, Schlesinger .Library, Radcliffe Coll. (social, intellectual, and religious history of colonial America, history of women in America): 1,235

*Stanley N. Katz, American Council of Learned Societies/Princeton Univ. (early America, 20th-century America, American legal and constitutional, philanthropy): 1,340

Council Members (three-year terms)

Place 1

Richard J. M. Blackett, Indiana Univ. (African American, Caribbean): 729

*Colin A. Palmer, Graduate School and Univ. Center, City Univ. of New York (African diaspora, African· American, Latin American, Caribbean): 1,554

Place 2

Eric Fure-Slocum, Univ. of Iowa (20th-century U.S. social and political; urban, labor, and women's history): 1,055

*Emily Hill, Yale Univ. (modern America, international and foreign relations): 1,251

Division Members (three-year terms)

Professional

Engin Akarli, Washington Univ. in St. Louis (sociopolitical history of the Middle East and the Balkans since 1700): 748

*Leila Fawaz, Tufts Univ. (social and political history of the modern Middle East, Middle East urban): 1,467

Research

*Barbara A. Molony, Santa Clara Univ. (social and economic history of modern Japan, women and gender): 1,233

George Wilson, Indiana Univ. (late Tokugawa and modern Japan, intellectual): 1,024

Teaching

*Ron Briley, Sandia Preparatory School, Albuquerque, N. Mex. (American West, modern European, American): 1,183

Marianne Geiger, Sousa Elementary School, Port Washington, N.Y. (colonial United States, 18th-century cultural, women): 1,028

Committee on Committees (three-year terms)

Place 1

*Edward Muir, Northwestern Univ. (Renaissance and Reformation, modern Italy): 1,261

David Harris Sacks, Reed Coll. (early modern Britain): 999

Place 2

*Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (U.S. women, U.S. South, U.S. labor, oral): 1,544

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Harvard Univ. (African American, women, social, religious, and legal history): 808

Nominating Committee (three-year terms)

Place 1

*Jan E. Goldstein, Univ. of Chicago (modern European intellectual and cultural, modern France, history of the human sciences): l,201

Robert G. Moeller, Univ. of California at Irvine (modern Germany, European social, European women): 1,186

Place 2

Michael J. Gonzales, Northern Illinois Univ. (social, economic, and political history of modern Latin America): 1,049

*Linda Hall, Univ. of New Mexico (modern Mexico, U.S.-Latin American relations, women in Latin America): 1,207

Place 3

Jerry H. Bentley, Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa (early modern Europe, world): 1,147

*Leo Spitzer, Dartmouth Coll. (comparative of Africa, Latin America, Central Europe; Holocaust; history and memory): 1,176

The total number of ballots cast was 2,730, 86 fewer than in 1995. Forty-nine ballots arrived after the November 1 deadline and could not be counted. Survey and Ballot Systems, Inc., of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, scanned the ballots and tabulated the results. Only 11 ballots needed to be counted by hand. Some voters registered their opinions about candidates, and the committee will review these criticisms and comments at its next meeting in February 1997.

The Nominating Committee met in Washington, D.C., from Thursday, February 1, through Saturday, February 3, 1996, to produce a slate of candidates for AHA elected offices. Two committee members were unable to attend, but they sent their recommendations by fax and were available for consultation by telephone. In accordance with tradition, AHA executive director Sandria Freitag joined the commit- tee for the first hour to review the mission of the committee and the issues facing it of concern to the executive director. Sharon K. Tune, assistant director, administration, was present throughout the committee's deliberations to manage the logistics of the meeting and to provide information and advice when requested.

In addition to determining the slate of candidates for the 1996 election, the committee also deliberated on a number of questions for its report to the Council. One section of this report is made up of informational points that do not require Council action. A second section is composed of committee recommendations for deliberation and action by the Council.

Points of Information on Committee Decisions and Actions

  1. Institutionalizing Nominating Committee Policies and Procedures. The committee took the first major step in developing a policies and procedures manual for its meetings and related activities, using as a foundation the "notes on the process" compiled by the 1996 chair on the basis of three years of previous experience" on the committee. Sharon Tune will coordinate with future committees the mechanics of updating the manual from year to year.
  2. New Meeting Schedule. As part of a revised process to ensure fuller committee participation and facilitate making contact with potential candidates, the committee changed its meeting schedule from a Thursday through Saturday format to a Saturday through Tuesday format and set its next meeting to begin at 3 P.M., Saturday, February 1, 1997.
  3. Changing Nature of AHA Offices. AHA director Sandria Freitag and the committee agreed that the changing nature of leadership in the AHA, especially in the current political and economic climate in which the AHA must survive and prosper as an organization representing the profession, requires °that the nominees for the presidency and other offices couple scholarly achievement with understandings about how organizations function and prosper.
  4. Qualifications for President-elect. In carrying out its charge for this year, the committee was careful to select the candidates for president-elect on the basis of the following criteria: (1) scholarly achievement and reputation; (2) sophistication about how organizations work and knowledge of how to assess the workability of projects; (3) past service (especially AHA-" committees); (4) public presence; (5) ability to speak for the profession as a whole, not just a narrow field; (6) reputation of not being an ideologue; (7) reputation as a team player; (8) knowledge of the commitment and ability to devote time and energy to the job for three years as president-elect, president, and immediate past president member of Council.
  5. Balance in Candidacies for President-elect and Other Offices. The committee recognized the importance of fielding two candidates from the same area when non-United States, non-Europe specialists are involved in order to have a balance in the races for president-elect and other offices. More Latin Americanists belong to the AHA than do Africanists or Asianists and have a bigger annual conference affiliated with the AHA, so that Latin Americanists have more weight in the elections.
  6. Nominations of Non-United States, Non-Europe Candidates. The committee recognized the need to build on the momentum set in motion by its predecessors to nominate candidates from these areas more frequently. In the past 10 years, there have been a total of only 52 nominees from "other areas." Most of these competed against one another, guaranteeing fewer than 25 officeholders for that entire period.
  7. Supporting Statistics for Points 5 and 6. See chart, "Past Pattern of 'Other Areas' Nominations and Elections 1986-95," on page 26.
  8. New Nominations in Comparative World History. In recognition of a growing trend, and in order to place a greater diversity of area scholars, the committee has nominated for the first time two specialists in comparative world history for the same position.

Recommendations for Action by the Council

  1. Packaging of the Annual Ballot. The ballot for the annual elections needs to be sent alone, without other materials. The committee believes the decrease in voter participation can be attributed to a dilution of the ballot's importance and visibility by its packaging with other material
  2. Educational Campaign for the Electorate. An educational campaign needs to be undertaken to highlight for the membership (1) the changing nature of the political and economic environment, (2) the changing nature of the presidency, and (3) the nature and importance of the other elective and appointive offices.
  3. The committee, in consultation with the executive director, recommends the following actions as the minimal components of the educational campaign: (1) an explanation of the changed environment by the executive director in Perspectives; (2) a letter from a past president in Perspectives explaining his or her real-life experiences in the office; (3) similar short descriptions for the divisions and other committees (The present reports by the, vice presidents of the divisions are published but not in a form or in a time frame suitable to the enhancement of the electoral process.); (4) one or two introductory paragraphs on the ballot explaining the committee's criteria in selecting candidates; (5) integration of these components into the already revised series of calls for nominations and informational notices being published in Perspectives; and (6) the synthesis and compilation of all the related information into a handbook for prospective candidates, perhaps even for the electorate.
  4. Recruitment of Africa and Asia Area Specialists into AHA. The committee concluded that since the Africanists and Asianists have not joined in large numbers before, the AHA needs to pull them in through a coordinated campaign involving visibility as elected officers, relevant subject matter in the AHR, and panels at the annual meeting. The leadership represented by the Council and the executive director is best able to coordinate, enhance, and publicize the efforts already being made by separate components within the AHA. We acknowledge and laud the efforts of the AHR to diversify the topics of articles it publishes as well as the intent of the Program Committee to bring in area studies sessions. The Nominating Committee believes its own efforts are in tune with the new direction set by the AHA leadership. It would still be useful for officers of various AHA divisions to have serious discussions with representatives of the area associations to discuss ways of making the AHA more relevant to those organizations and their members. Sandria Freitag suggested that several of these recommendations could be included in a marketing plan being developed to target area studies.
  5. User-Friendly Election Pamphlet. The committee recommends that the election pamphlet be redesigned into a more user-friendly, effective communication tool. Its current format is very hard to interpret and contributes to a lack of interest in elections. The format needs to be reworked and the statement of credentials needs to be simplified. The biographies are even more crucial now that we are trying to nominate members outside of the two dominant fields. They should open with a statement of what has been significant about what the candidates have done in the past (in research, teaching, and/or service) and what their vision is for the AHA. Ideas for a new format may be gained from samples from the 50 other historical associations.

Finally, I want to express to the Council my pleasure at being able to work with such a wonderful and impressive professional group of colleagues in both the AHA leadership and in the Nominating Committee. Sharon K. Tune was her usual model of discreet professionalism in providing the committee with insights and information on past practices and current options. And I know that I speak for the rest of the members of the Nominating Committee in extending a word of praise to the Council itself for the positive leadership it has exercised in such challenging times for the nation and for the profession.


Jose Cuello (Wayne State Univ.) is chair of the 1996 Nominating Committee.


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