Summer at the AHA: Preparations for the Committee Election and AHA Council Meeting
How do you know when it’s summer at the AHA headquarters? The telltale signs aren’t just the occasional staff brown bag lunches on the terrace outside, or the humming of the AC kicking in in the old townhouse offices. You know it’s summer when you see the staff writing memos on activities completed in the past 12 months. You can tell when you walk by the conference room and see executive director Jim Grossman and associate director Dana Schaffer poring over spreadsheets. And you’re very sure it’s summer when AHA president Vicki Ruiz sends the office cookies to thank you for your hard work over the year.
Like many other nonprofits, the AHA starts a new fiscal year on July 1. In the months leading up to this “New Year’s Day,” the rhythms of work change. Our activities shift into high gear as we prepare to host historians from across the country for the June Council meeting. This means the budgets have to be finalized, reports submitted, and the agenda set.
The AHA Council—comprised of 15 historians—is the primary governing body of the Association. Alongside their jobs at universities, colleges, high schools, and museums, AHA Council members devote their time to the serving the AHA and its members. Through committees and the Teaching, Research, and Professional divisions, the Council conducts the business, manages the property, and cares for the general interests of the Association. The group meets twice per year: once in January at the annual meeting and again in June at AHA headquarters in DC.
When the AHA Council met on June 6–8, it faced many important issues and decisions. High on everyone’s mind was the proposal working its way through the Wisconsin state legislature to diminish the scope of tenure at universities in the Wisconsin system. The council members discussed the best response to this problematic development, resulting in the statement joined by 21 other scholarly associations.
The council also heard a report from the AHA’s LGBTQ task force, a body seeking both to promote LGBTQ history and to advocate for historians who identify as LGBTQ. Council agreed to establish a permanent LGBTQ committee, and members will be appointed by the Committee on Committees. The Council is currently drafting a specific charge for the body.
AHA working groups are busy throughout the year responding to developments in the discipline. In June, the Council also approved the creation of the Digital History Working Group to advise Council and maintain a directory of historians qualified to assist departments looking for expert outside reviewers for candidates whose portfolios include digital scholarship at times of tenure or promotion. The Council also approved the creation of a committee on K–12 standards, which will respond to requests to review state standards, textbooks, and history exams, as well as maintain a list of willing individuals to review these items.
The summer Council meeting is an exciting event for AHA staff. The AHA Council sets the staff’s priorities and guides our resources. What they do in June sets our agenda for the coming fiscal year. As an AHA member, you have a say in the composition of the AHA Council and committees. All members have received ballots and can cast their votes until July 15. As historians, we all know the importance of engaged citizenship. We hope all members vote in the election in order to help guide the organization in a manner that best serves all historians. We look forward to seeing the democratic process in action among our own community.
This post first appeared on AHA Today.
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