Meeting of the Board of Directors of the
American Philological Association
January 5, 2012
The Board of Directors of the American Philological Association met at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, on January 5, 2012. Those present were Profs. Kathleen M. Coleman, President, Ronnie Ancona, Roger S. Bagnall, and Peter Bing, Dr. Adam D. Blistein, Profs. Dee L. Clayman, Joseph Farrell, Bruce W. Frier, Jonathan M. Hall, Judith P. Hallett, Jeffrey Henderson, John Marincola, James M. May, Kathryn Morgan, Carole E. Newlands, James J. O’Donnell, and Ann Vasaly. Prof. S. Georgia Nugent was absent. Also present by invitation were the following officers and directors who would take office on January 8, 2012: Profs. Denis Feeney, Michael Gagarin, Mary-Kay Gamel, and Matthew Roller.
Prof. Coleman called the meeting to order at 3:30 p.m. She welcomed the incoming officers and directors and expressed the thanks of the Association to the members of the Board who were completing their terms at this meeting: Profs. Clayman, President for 2010; Hallett, Vice President for Outreach from 2008 to 2012; O’Donnell, Vice President for Publications from 2008 to 2012; and Marincola and Newlands, Directors from 2009 to 2012.
Action: The Directors approved the agenda for the meeting, which had been distributed in advance.
Action: The Directors approved the minutes of their meeting of September 16-17, 2011.
Report of the President
Prof. Coleman described work she had done in preparing a proposal for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that sought a grant to conduct a study of the feasibility of creating a digital library of Latin texts (Digital Latin Library). The proposal had gone through several revisions with, she anticipated, the final one being due the week after the annual meeting. She thanked Profs. Bagnall and O’Donnell, Dr. Blistein, and Information Architect, Prof. Samuel Huskey, and Dr. Thomas Elliott for their assistance. If the proposal were funded, Prof. Huskey would serve as its principal investigator.
Prof. Coleman had continued to devote considerable attention to a claim of plagiarism that the Association had been handling for several years. This matter now was close to a conclusion, and the Board would vote on a recommendation to publish findings later in the meeting. She had also participated in the development of a number of Gateway Campaign solicitations and reminded the Directors of the importance of all current and former Board members making contributions to the Campaign. Prof. Coleman had completed a series of interviews with winners of last year’s Association awards, and Prof. Huskey had recently posted these on the APA web site. He had also posted a page on the site containing practical information that she and a graduate student had compiled as an on-going resource to complement the Presidential Panel, “Images for Classicists,” the following day. She thanked particularly the vice presidents and Dr. Blistein for their help during her year as President.
Reappointment of the Executive Director
Dr. Blistein absented himself from the meeting. His term as Executive Director was due to expire in June 2012, and several months earlier he had submitted a request for reappointment. In accordance with Association regulations Prof. Coleman had compiled a dossier on Dr. Blistein’s performance from vice presidents and other committee chairs and had distributed this dossier to the Executive Committee.
Action: At the recommendation of the Executive Committee, the Board voted to appoint Dr. Blistein to serve a four-year term as Executive Director from July 2012 to June 2016.
Dr. Blistein returned to the meeting.
Reports of Outgoing Vice Presidents
Outreach. Prof. Hallett described a successful conference in October on the topic of classical influences on musical texts, a performance of the Aquila Theatre Company at the White House in November, and her work as a consultant to the Broadway play Lysistrata Jones. New editors were reviving Amphora and expected to publish a new issue during the year. She also described the Division’s activities at the annual meeting: panels organized by its committees, the annual performance organized by the Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance, and the training sessions that Aquila Theatre personnel would conduct with APA members who would offer pre- and post-performance sessions as part of Aquila’s Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives program. Prof. Hallett expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve as Vice President for Outreach.
Publications. Prof. O’Donnell noted the frequent overlap of activities in the Publications and Research Divisions which had led to the proposal to amend the By-Laws to merge those two division. Members would vote on this proposal at the Business Meeting. Both the Textbooks Series and TAPA continued to thrive, but a search for a new Editor of the Monographs Series had been suspended both because of a lack of candidates and because of the difficulty in articulating what made the Series distinct. In the period since the previous Editor, Kathryn Gutzwiller, had concluded her term, Prof. O’Donnell had served as series editor and had guided one proposal to acceptance. The Publications Committee would discuss the future of the Series and the possibilities of digital publishing. No progress had been reported on the edition of Servius that the Association had authorized. Prof. O’Donnell acknowledged the excellent work of Prof. Huskey on both the web site and the Digital Latin Library.
Disposition of Plagiarism Case
The Subcommittee on Professional Ethics had concluded that a dissertation published at an institution in Finland had plagiarized the work of an APA member. The Board had asked Prof. Coleman to submit the Subcommittee’s findings to that institution which had agreed with the Subcommittee and had issued a report finding plagiarism not only of the author who had originally brought the case to the Subcommittee but of several other authors as well. Prof. Coleman had drafted a statement about this matter for review by the Board and for determination of how it would be published.
The Board discussed the draft statement at length. Directors were not sure how much of its report the Finnish institution would publish and in what language it would appear. They were also uncertain whether the author who had originally brought the complaint would wish to be named in any APA statement.
Action: The Board asked Prof. Coleman and Dr. Blistein to draft a statement for publication on its web site and in the Newsletter after a review by both the Association’s attorney and the author who brought the complaint. Prof. Coleman was also asked to determine how the Finnish institution would publish its report, so that the APA could decide how and whether it could link its own notice to that publication.
Audited Financial Statement for 2011 Fiscal Year. Dr. Blistein reported that the Association’s auditors had been in the office during the fall and had produced a draft of their report for the fiscal year that had ended on June 30, 2012. He anticipated that this draft report, which he had distributed to the Board, would undergo few subsequent changes, if any. He noted that all three types of assets (unrestricted, temporarily restricted, and permanently restricted) had increased during the year. He also pointed out the section of the audit showing the considerable growth in investment values during the year. Expenses overall had stayed at the same level as in 2010 as a result of not publishing an issue of Amphora, publishing one Newsletter fewer, and lower costs in San Antonio.
In September the Board had agreed that the audit should be produced earlier in the year, and the draft represented a step in the right direction. Dr. Blistein hoped that in January 2013 he would be able to distribute a final version instead of a draft. Earlier production of the audit, however, would not solve the problem of scheduling a meeting when the auditor himself could report to the Board once statements were final. It was impossible to complete one year’s audit by September, but that meeting was the only one in the Board’s current schedule of meetings with sufficient time to meet with the auditor. The Finance Committee would discuss this problem. Prof. Frier reported that he and Prof. Nugent had discussed with the auditor their oversight of the office’s financial operations and would continue this discussion when he met with the Finance Committee in May.
Internal Financial Report for 2011. Dr. Blistein also regularly prepared a report for each fiscal year showing how budgeted revenues and expenses compared with actual results. In addition, this statement presented data about grant revenue, investments, and fellowship payments in a different format from the one used by the auditors, in order to give the Board a clearer idea of how the Association used and spent funds during a given year. The statement showed that the Association had enjoyed a surplus of about $30,000 on its operations, where a small deficit had been expected. This was a result of the lower costs already mentioned in discussing the audit.
Budget for 2012 Fiscal Year. The Directors had received an updated version of the budget that the Board had approved in June 2011. The new version reflected changes in expectations about revenue, plus any new expenses that the Board had approved. The version approved in June had anticipated a deficit of around $135,000 because of the expenses of continuing the capital campaign for another year. In the current version the deficit was just under $100,000, because the annual meeting would be better attended than expected, and because of printing and postage savings on the Newsletter and Amphora.
Association Investments. Dr. Blistein had distributed a table showing that the value of the Association’s investments had declined between 6 and 9 percent in the first six months of the fiscal year. Prof. Frier reported that the Finance Committee had met with the Association’s investment advisor via conference call in October to discuss her management of APA funds in light of the current volatile financial markets. The Committee had decided that the APA’s current investment strategy, with around 60% of its holdings in equities and "alternative investments" such as commodities, and 40% in fixed income instruments, i.e., bonds and cash, was still appropriate despite current market fluctuations.
Interactions with Other Organizations
Appointment of Delegates to FIEC. Action: At the recommendation of Prof. Coleman, the Board appointed Profs. Kurt A. Rafflaub and Michael Gagarin to be the Association’s Delegate and Alternate Delegate, respectively, to the Federation Internationale des Associations d’Etudes Classiques (FIEC).
Request from Modern Language Association (MLA). Action: The Board endorsed a statement on language learning published by the MLA and discussed the possibility that the APA would develop a similar statement.
Philadelphia Meeting. Dr. Blistein reported that, a few hours earlier, the total number of paid registrants was 2,550; he therefore expected the final number to be about 2,700, the largest meeting, by far, that he had ever worked on and almost a third larger than the 2011 meeting. [The final number for paid registration was 2,830.] Possible explanations for this growth included holding the meeting in a popular location after two years in unpopular ones, a modest improvement in what had been a very poor job market, and promotion of the meeting by AIA, mainly overseas. Prof. Farrell had suggested that good word-of-mouth stemming from the relatively recent 2009 meeting in Philadelphia had also contributed to the good attendance.
The online system for submission of abstracts and proposals had been easier for submitters to use than the previous one but considerably more difficult behind the scenes. The system had allowed the APA to produce a better abstract book. Dr. Blistein thanked the Program Committee, especial Prof. Farrell, and Information Architect Samuel Huskey for their help and patience. It would be necessary to select a provider for the following year very soon.
About one hundred people were currently registered for Daniel Mendelsohn’s presentation that evening. Additional registrants at the event were likely. Despite notices in local print and radio listings, not many people were coming to the event from outside of the field. There had likely been insufficient lead time for effective publicity, and the end of the holiday season might have depressed attendance as well.
Future Meetings. Dr. Blistein listed the sites of future meetings: 2013 in Seattle, 2014 in Chicago, 2015 in New Orleans, 2016 in San Diego, and 2017 in Toronto. The Association’s experience in Seattle would be a good test of this year’s recovery in attendance. It would be more difficult and more expensive for the majority of registrants to get to the meeting, but the city seemed to be extremely attractive to APA members.
Report of the Executive Director
Dr. Blistein stated that the past year had been as busy a year as he could remember and pointed to the Gateway Campaign, preparation for the strategic planning retreat, work on the Digital Latin Library, and especially automation of annual meeting submissions and the Placement Service. Production of the Newsletter and his end of year report had suffered, and several officers, starting especially with Prof. Coleman, had taken on tasks this year that he normally would have handled. On the other hand, thanks to Prof. Huskey’s work on the web site, it was now easier to communicate with members, particularly because new postings to the APA blog go directly to APA accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Members probably needed to be better informed about these new features of the web site, and it would still be necessary to serve those members who continued to rely on e-mails from the office and the Newsletter.
Gateway Campaign and Annual Giving. Directors had received a document showing gifts received through December 15. The Association had received just over $14,000 in Annual Giving contributions, as compared to about $18,000 at the same time the previous year. The total amount received in the Gateway Campaign was just over $2,150,000. Current and former directors were responding well to a recent appeal from Prof. Coleman for Campaign gifts. To meet all NEH challenge grant requirements, it would be necessary to find some additional donors of large gifts, something that had been particularly difficult in the last few years.
Placement Service. The new online Service had registered 530 candidates, as compared to 427 the previous year, and 51 institutions were conducting interviews in Philadelphia, as compared to 41 in San Antonio. It had taken considerable work on the part of both Dr. Blistein and Placement Director, Renie Plonski, to make the new system function, and the developer who had created the system had made good on his promise to provide rapid repairs to the system as needed through the annual meeting. Some users had been complimentary about the system, particularly candidates who had paid dues by the time the system had launched in late October and appreciated the new web site available only to registered candidates, where jobs are posted almost as soon as they are submitted. The biggest problem with the system, however, was the difficulty of making it available to candidates who were paying dues and registering at the same time. During December, when a number of candidates decided to renew their memberships after being offered an interview, staff had had to delay the scheduling of interviews until such eligibility questions were resolved.
The Placement Committee continued to recommend a system in which candidates and institutions would schedule their own interviews, but Dr. Blistein explained why he and Ms. Plonski did not believe that this would always make scheduling information available more rapidly, and why it might cause other problems of its own. Dr. Blistein would discuss this matter with the Committee at its upcoming meeting.
Office at the University of Pennsylvania. Ventilation was still a problem in the Association’s new offices, but the building management appeared to be making a serious effort to fix it, and in other respects the new space facilitated operations. Dr. Blistein had been a member of a panel, otherwise consisting of faculty, that addressed upper level graduate students in Penn’s Classical Studies Department about the hiring process in the field. The Department had reorganized its proseminar for entering students so that Dr. Blistein no longer gave a presentation to incoming graduate students about the history of the APA and the position of Classics in higher education. (He continued to give it to postbaccalaureate students in the Department.) Dr. Blistein had given the presentation in other departments and was willing to do so elsewhere.
Central Web Site. Prof. Ancona and Dr. Blistein continued to discuss this project, a central resource for information about classics, with the American Classical League. It would also be on the agenda of the meeting of the Caucus of North American Classics Associations on Sunday.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:25 p.m.