From the Executive Director
Washington Notes, November 1992
Samuel R. Gammon, November 1992
Anecdotal evidence of the recession-linked tightening of the job market for historians can now be substantiated by hard data. The number of openings listed in the September and October issues of Perspectives' EIB section is more than 18 percent smaller than for the comparable period in the fall of 1991. Since we believe that the great majority of vacancies in academic history departments are listed, this painful evidence has to be taken seriously. Last academic year, 1991–92, saw an almost 7 percent decline from 1990–91, which admittedly had been the most active job market in the last twenty years, but this year's early evidence is grave indeed. There are some interesting regional variants. The Northeast and foreign listings are off 12 percent, the Middle West down 14 percent, and the West shows a staggering 48 percent drop. However, the Southwest is unchanged from September and October 1991, while the Southeast has an increase in job listings of 37 percent! Horace Greeley, shut up!
The Association's Teaching Division met in Washington September 26–27 under the chairmanship of Vice President Robert A. Blackey, California State University, San Bernardino. With an enormous agenda of broad, teaching-related topics, the division spent much of its time developing its long-term agenda for the invigorating of the Association's activity in this often undervalued part of our disciplinary interests. It approved several teaching pamphlet projects and laid plans for a revision of the procedures for awarding the Eugene Asher Teaching Award, sponsored jointly by the Society for History Education and the AHA. It approved a plan to publicize historian winners of campus teaching awards and decided to explore the feasibility of a more active outreach to two-year college history faculty members.
The division also reviewed the progress of a number of major history-focused projects, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the American Association for Higher Education's work on assessment, and the National Center for History Education's project on standards for U.S. and world history, approving the efforts made thus far by the Association to improve the end product and enhance the value of these projects.
As the autumn months ticked away, arrangements for the December annual meeting and the annual AHA elections also were completed. The Local Arrangements Committee for the December meeting held its organizational session, chaired by Avery Andrews, George Washington University, a veteran who also chaired the 1982 LAC at the Sheraton Washington Hotel; the program was at the printer for mailing in October, while election ballots were similarly mailed to all members a few weeks earlier.
In mid-September, headquarters staff attended a major conference in Washington sponsored by the Corcoran Museum and the Giovanni Agnelli Foundation on "America's Italy: Classic, Romantic, and Modern," which brought together historians, art historians, and architectural historians as well as literature specialists.
The AHA was also represented at a U.S. Department of Defense meeting on plans for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of World War II. Unlike recent bicentennial and quincentennial observances, this long commemorative effort has been turned over by the federal government to a DoD-led group, instead of creating a legislatively-mandated federal commission. The Defense Department is eager for advice and assistance from educational and other groups.