Board of Directors Conference Call: June 20, 2012

Minutes
Conference Call of the Board of Directors of the
American Philological Association
June 20, 2012

The Board of Directors of the American Philological Association met by conference call on June 20, 2012.  Those participating were Profs. Jeffrey Henderson, President, Ronnie Ancona, and Peter Bing, Dr. Adam D. Blistein, Profs. Kathleen M. Coleman, Joseph Farrell, Sara Forsdyke, Bruce W. Frier, Michael Gagarin, Mary-Kay Gamel, Jonathan M. Hall, Kathryn Morgan, Matthew Roller, and Ann Vasaly.  Profs. Roger S. Bagnall, Denis Feeney, James M. May, and S. Georgia Nugent, did not participate.  Prof. Henderson called the meeting to order at 12:30 p.m.

Action:  The Board approved the agenda for the meeting that it had received the previous week.

Action:  The Board approved minutes of its meeting of January 5, 2012.

Action:  Subject to corrections from Profs. Ancona and Roller, the Board approved minutes of its meeting of January 8, 2012.

Action:  The Board approved minutes of its meeting of March 24, 2012.

President’s Report

Prof. Henderson reported that the Association had just submitted a proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation requesting a capstone gift of $300,000 to the Gateway Campaign.  If the Foundation funded the proposal, it would enable the APA to surpass all requirements for its NEH challenge grant.  While the Foundation would not make a final decision until September, the Campaign Steering Committee was optimistic about the success of the proposal, and, because of the Foundation’s interest, the NEH had extended the deadline for the receipt of donations to the Campaign from July to December 2012. 

In May Prof. Henderson had reported to members about the Board’s retreat in March.  One response to the section of his report about the importance of data collection had been a request that the Association reconsider the questionnaire about fields of interest that members currently fill out on their dues bills.  Prof. Henderson would organize a group to revise the survey.

One outcome of the retreat had been a decision to form a cabinet consisting of the President, President-Elect, Executive Director, and vice presidents to meet regularly by conference call to facilitate communication among divisions and to monitor progress on the goals established by the retreat.  This group had met for the first time in May and had discussed the need of the APA Office to have access to more expertise in information technology.  In its next call it would discuss specific needs in this area and ways to afford and obtain that expertise.  The group would also discuss its possible expansion to include other Association officers.

Humanities Indicators Project

Dr. Blistein reported that the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) had asked the APA to participate in a survey of departments that would collect information about enrollments, staffing, and policies in a variety of subjects in the humanities.  Specifically the APA was asked to provide contact information for Classics departments; AAAS would send its survey to a sample of those departments.  AAAS intended to gather data every five years.  Because of this time frame and because AAAS would collect data from only some of the departments, this project would not provide all the data that the APA hoped to obtain from its triennial census of Classics departments.  Directors agreed, however, that it would be important for Classics to be included in any report issued by AAAS.

Action:  The Board approved the participation of the APA in the Humanities Indicators Project.

Textbook Series

In recent months both the Board and the Publications Committee had been discussing via e-mail the purpose and future direction of the Textbooks Series.  Prof. Gagarin reviewed those discussions and asked that Directors consider the issues raised before the Board’s meeting in September.  Prof. Sander Goldberg’s term as Editor of the series would expire in January 2013.  The Board therefore needed to agree on a course of action regarding the Series at its next meeting.

Development

Annual Giving. Dr. Blistein reported that the APA had received just under $27,000 in annual giving receipts as compared to nearly $36,000 in the previous year.  This was not a bad performance in light of fact that the Gateway Campaign had been an option for members on dues and registration forms for the first time, and that the Spring appeal had been devoted to the Campaign instead of annual giving.  In addition, since both membership dues and annual meeting revenue were higher than anticipated, unrestricted annual giving funds were not as important for the budget.  What would suffer from the lack of a Spring annual giving appeal would be the projects (TLL, Minority Scholarship, etc.) that typically receive designated gifts as a result of such mailings.  The Development Committee had therefore approved doing an e-mail only appeal over the summer for those projects. 

Gateway Campaign.  The Association currently had $2,335,000 in pledges for the Campaign, and new gifts continued to be received.  All but about $28,000 of the amount received so far had already been paid, and only $5,000 of the unpaid amount appeared to be uncollectable.  As Prof. Henderson had noted, the grant anticipated from the Mellon Foundation would allow the APA to exceed all NEH matching fund requirements.  In addition, there was still the possibility of a major gift for the summer training project the Board had approved by e-mail.  The Campaign Steering Committee would meet during the next week to discuss any final fund-raising efforts and other communication with members.  Dr. Blistein reminded directors that employment agreements with both Julie Carew and Laura Mandeles concluded at the end of June.

Action:  The Directors asked Prof. Henderson to write letters of thanks to Ms. Carew and Ms. Mandeles for their considerable assistance during the Gateway Campaign.

Financial Matters

Prof. Frier reported on the meeting of the Finance Committee that had taken place on May 31.  The Committee had met with both the Association’s auditor and its financial advisor.  The auditor had noted the dependence of the Association on its investments to maintain its current level of activity.  He also had pointed out that expenses had remained at about the same level in 2010 and 2011, and that salaries made up 42% of those expenses.  Supporting services (fund raising, member services, and general administration) represented 21% of all expenses.  During its discussion with the auditor the Committee had agreed to write off the small amount of inventory consisting of books produced at Scholars Press that remained on the APA’s financial statements.  It also discussed with him the schedule for review of the next audit and improvements to the oversight of Association finances by the Financial Trustees.

Ms. Patricia Schneider, the Association’s investment advisor from BNYMellon Corporation, had described the strategies she would follow in a period in which she anticipated slow growth and volatility in financial markets.  The APA’s portfolio was being invested in a more conservative manner than usual.  Despite some recent gains, a loss of about 5% in investment values was anticipated for the fiscal year.  The Committee considered this to be a tolerable result in a difficult time for investments.  At the suggestion of the auditor, the Committee instructed Ms. Schneider to make disbursements from its investments only to the APA’s main banking account at TD Bank.

Directors had received a preliminary financial statement for the current (2012) fiscal year showing budgeted amounts and projected revenues and expenses as of June 30.  The projected deficit for the fiscal year was just under $18,000, in a year in which the initial budget had projected a deficit of over $135,000.  Dr. Blistein described the increased revenues and decreased expenses that had produced this result.  He noted that to meet cash flow needs the Finance Committee had authorized him to draw down an amount equal to 6% of the trailing three year average of the value of the General Fund instead of the customary 5%.  Without the additional disbursement, the deficit would have been about $42,000. 

The Board had also received a budget for the 2013 fiscal year that had been approved by the Finance Committee.  Dr. Blistein noted that the budget did not contain expenses for the Digital Latin Library project because these would all be offset by Mellon Foundation grant funds.  In addition, because the APA and AIA were now negotiating their own annual meeting contracts, it was possible that they would obtain more income from the Seattle Convention Bureau and the hotels used by meeting registrants than would be needed to offset the costs of convention center rental and meeting planning assistance.  Because the Association had no experience with a contract with such provisions, neither that income nor those costs had been included.

The budget projected a deficit of about $15,000, in large part because of a one-time increase in the amount allocated for the Presidential Reception so that the Association could celebrate the successful conclusion of the Gateway Campaign.  The budget called for increases in placement fees and life and institutional membership dues.  Other new expenses in budget included computer programming to improve the online placement service and to accept annual meeting submissions internally and printing and postage costs for a booklet to acknowledge Gateway Campaign donations.

Action:  The Board approved the budget for the 2013 fiscal year.

Report of the Executive Director

Dr. Blistein reported that he had spent a considerable amount of time during the last six months working with staff of the Mellon Foundation on proposals for both the Digital Latin Library and the Gateway Campaign.  In the next six months he anticipated some reduction in his fund-raising work despite the departure of development staff.  He would first produce a combined Winter-Spring Newsletter and then attempt to resume quarterly publication.  He would also work with Information Architect, Sam Huskey, to make it easier for officers to post to the APA web site and to inform members how to use the site.

The office had successfully changed its procedures to accommodate the Program Committee’s new system for reviewing individual abstracts, and, thanks to hard work by Heather Gasda, the firm processing panel and abstract submissions had provided a better system for both users and reviewers.  Prof. Huskey expected to develop his own submission procedure for the following year.  For the 2013 meeting the Association had received about the same number of panel submissions as the previous year; individual abstract submissions had declined but only slightly.  The budget approved by the Board anticipated, optimistically, 2,300 paid registrants in Seattle.

It would be possible for APA and AIA to move the 2016 meeting from San Diego to San Francisco provided that they also signed a contract for San Diego in 2019.  (Dr. Blistein noted that the 2019 meeting would be the APA’s 150th anniversary meeting.)  The San Diego Marriott, currently the site for the 2016 meeting, had encountered a delay in building new meeting space needed by the associations, and the San Francisco Marriott was offering the same reasonable hotel rates that APA and AIA had obtained for 2016 in San Diego.  Other recent attempts to secure good rates in San Francisco had been unsuccessful; so, this offer was very attractive.  For a variety of reasons, particularly the uncertain climate for funding for travel to academic meetings, it was unclear whether the meetings would continue to attract roughly the same number of registrants later in the decade.  The societies were therefore negotiating clauses that would permit reductions of sleeping room commitments but that would also reduce meeting space commitments by the hotels. 

Dr. Blistein stated that in September he would bring a proposal to the Board to form a membership committee that would help with the recruitment of members and the retention of mid-career and senior scholars.  In the past few years the APA had benefitted from having members of the Capital Campaign Committee sit at the APA table in the book display.  These members had been able to answer questions about APA activities as well as its fund-raising needs.  The new committee could fulfill this function once the Campaign was over.  Directors suggested that the committee include directors at large, representatives of each division, and secondary school teachers.

Other Business

New Procedures for Review of Individual Abstracts.  In response to a question, Prof. Farrell stated that the Program Committee’s new review procedures for individual abstracts appeared to have worked well although he would not have firm data until the Committee met the following week.

Next Board Meeting.  Dr. Blistein stated that the Board would meet in Philadelphia on September 28 and 29.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:25 p.m.

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