From the Executive Director
Washington Notes, October 1992
Samuel R. Gammon, October 1992
With Labor Day coming late this year, deadlines for copy for this issue of Perspectives come before that weekend, which traditionally marks the end of summer and the back-to-the-campus movement.
For the Association headquarters, the weekend also marks the end of all those once-a-year summer tasks that are fitted into what would otherwise be a "slow" season. The two largest undertakings are to bring the annual meeting Program to completion and send it off to the printers, and to facilitate the annual report of the auditors, which also is traditionally included in the Program. The amount of work by the staff is immense. Not only must our own 149 sessions be finalized by communication with the panel members, proofread, and assigned time-slots and meeting rooms (with an educated guess at how large a crowd and hence meeting room for each event), but sixty-five sessions of forty-five affiliated societies that will meet with us in Washington this December have to be similarly accommodated. The History of Science Society, with fifty sessions of its own, will be meeting concurrently and both their and our attendees will enjoy full access to each other's sessions. The demands of the auditors for partly processed, rather than raw, fiscal data tie up our controller and his staff for much of July and August. The return of Labor Day therefore marks for the AHA staff both the end of a major labor commitment as well as a return to the normal labor cycle.
The end of the summer has also brought an interesting development to the National Science Foundation, a traditionally well-funded source of research grants in the physical sciences to which the social sciences have also had some access. The establishment of a separate NSF division for the social, behavioral, and economic sciences gives promise of better access to the table in the future. Social and quantitative historians together with historians of science may well benefit from the organizational change and from the appointment of a distinguished sociologist, Cora B. Marrett, to head the new division.
Also in August, headquarters staff were consulted by the leadership of the National Archives and Records Administration and pledged to cooperate in publicizing for historians the schedule of segmented moves of much of the nation's vast archival holdings. Beginning late next year they will move to the handsome new Archives II Building near the University of Maryland campus. Since the move will entail the withdrawal of access to very large records groups for two to three months at a time, it is vitally important that researchers both in the U.S. and abroad be given maximum advance warning before they shape their research and travel plans for 1993–95. (For more on Archives II, see Noteworthy, page 19.)
Headquarters staff also participated in the planning of a new initiative with potential long-term implications for our academic members. With financial assistance from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, the American Association for Higher Education has undertaken a three-year effort to reexamine policies and practices affecting faculty roles and rewards, and as a first step invited the AHA and three other learned societies/professional associations to join college and university faculty and administrators at a mid-August planning retreat at Airlie House, a conference center in Northern Virginia. The meeting focused on the development of the agenda for the project's first national forum, scheduled for the end of January. This effort relates directly to two other projects in which the AHA is involved: a Syracuse University-sponsored initiative that focuses on enhancing the status of teaching within the faculty rewards system and a collaborative project on scholarship-based professional service sponsored by the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, the University of Maryland at College Park, and Wayne State University. The Association's three divisions, an ad hoc committee, and staff share responsibility for these three projects.