AHA Activities

Council Considers New Directions and New Locations for the AHA

AHA Staff, March 1994

The AHA Council met on January 6, 7, and 9, 1994, on the margins of the Association's annual meeting in San Francisco. Normally the Council completes its work in two sessions, but this year it had to add a third because of an unusually full agenda.

The Council's action regarding the site for the 1995 annual meeting was reported in the February issue of this newsletter. In brief, the Council decided that it must relocate the meeting from Cincinnati, Ohio, because of a November 2, 1993, referendum in that city that eliminated sexual orientation as a basis for protection against discrimination. While the amendment to the city's charter has been challenged in the courts, it is not clear whether the issue will be settled by January 1995, and the Council concluded that it had to take immediate action, both to minimize the financial consequences of cancelling hotel contracts and to reaffirm the Association's long-standing commitment to human rights and opposition to discrimination in all forms. The Council not only took action on the 1995 annual meeting but also adopted a policy statement regarding future sites, which was reported in the February Perspectives. In the upcoming months, the executive committee of the Council will work with staff to develop more specific criteria and guidelines to implement that policy.

The Council's actions were not confined, however, to the Cincinnati controversy. Over the course of its meetings, the Council heard reports from Christine Compston, director, National History Education Network and the History Teaching Alliance; Pamela Gerardi, associate editor, AHA Guide to Historical Literature; Robert Harris, 1995 program committee chair; Lawrence Jelinek, secretary-treasurer, AHA Pacific Coast Branch; and Page Putnam Miller, director, National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History. A sixth guest at the meeting was Albert J. Beveridge III, a longtime member of the Association and for several years our generous pro bono lawyer. Now formally designated by the Council as "Legal Counsel of the American Historical Association," Mr. Beveridge provided much-needed legal advice regarding the Association's contractual obligations in Cincinnati, the development of a policy statement in regard to future meetings, and the enforcement of the Association's Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct.

The Council also heard reports from each of the division vice presidents and took action on matters in their respective areas of work. The central issue for the Professional Division was a proposed revision of the "Addendum on Policies and Procedures" of the Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct. In response to concerns raised by Mr. Beveridge and others, the Council decided to defer action on the revision and asked the division to study the matter further in light of the points raised in the discussion, examples of other organizations' procedures compiled by staff, and responses to Vice President Drew Gilpin Faust's article in the November issue of Perspectives. The division also asked the Council's advice on how to address concerns raised by Council members Mary Elizabeth Perry and Sam Bass Warner about part-time and non-tenure-track employment and family leave policies. The Council authorized the establishment of two task forces to study the issues and develop policy statements and plans of action. Each task force has been asked to develop a plan of work for review by the Council at its May meeting.

On behalf of the Research Division, Vice President Blanche Wiesen Cook asked for Council action on a variety of matters. The Council approved the division's revision of the "Program Committee Guidelines" to clarify the status of ex officio appearances and asked it to develop a new guideline that would address how the interests of the AHA president should be reflected in the program. The division also asked the Council to review the status of the American Historical Review and its editor at Indiana University. David Ransel has indicated that he will not seek another term as editor, and the relationship between the university and the AHA must be confirmed before proceeding with a search committee for his successor. President Thomas C. Holt and incoming Vice President for Research William G. Rosenberg agreed to contact the university on behalf of the Council. The Council also endorsed the division's proposal that the American Council of Learned Societies conduct a study of services and resources within the Library of Congress.

On the recommendation of the Teaching Division, the Council adopted a "Statement on Involvement in or Support of Educational Projects," which will provide guidelines for Association collaboration in projects such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress and National History Standards. The Council also affirmed executive committee approval of revised guidelines for the Asher Prize, and Vice President Robert A. Blackey provided an update on plans for two new endowed teaching prizes.

Other Council business included approval of the nominations made by the Committee on Committees to fill vacancies on Association committees, adoption of a new nomination process for the Award for Scholarly Distinction, and approval of a new membership dues structure designed to be both more progressive in structure and provide additional much-needed revenue for Association activities. Unlike other organizations that have automatic cost-of-living increases each year or frequent adjustments, the AHA has not increased dues since 1989. The specifics of the new dues structure will be announced in the May/June issue of Perspectives.

Finally, the Council expressed its thanks to members rotating off with this meeting: Frederic E. Wakeman, Jr., Blanche Wiesen Cook, Carole K. Fink, and Nell Irvin Painter.