Board of Directors Meeting of September 16-17, 2011

Minutes
Meeting of the Board of Directors of the
American Philological Association
September 16-17, 2011
Philadelphia, PA

The Board of Directors of the American Philological Association met at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, on September 16, 2011.  Those present were Profs. Kathleen Mary Coleman, President, Ronnie Ancona, Roger S. Bagnall, and Peter Bing, Dr. Adam D. Blistein, Profs. Dee L. Clayman, Joseph Farrell, Bruce W. Frier, Judith P. Hallett, Jeffrey Henderson, John Marincola, James M. May, Kathryn Morgan, Carole E. Newlands, James J. O’Donnell, and Ann Vasaly.  Profs. Jonathan M. Hall and S. Georgia Nugent were absent.  Prof. Samuel J. Huskey, Information Architect, was present via speakerphone.

Discussion of Digital Initiatives

Prof. Coleman called the meeting to order at 8:10 p.m.  The agenda for the evening's discussion called for Board review of several online projects in which the APA might become involved.

Digital Latin Library.  Earlier in the year Prof. Coleman had received a request from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that, following a feasibility study conducted with support from the Mellon Foundation in 2006, the APA apply for a planning grant to explore the feasibility of creating a digital library of Latin texts.  During August she had visited the Foundation's offices along with Profs. Bagnall and O'Donnell, and they were now seeking the Board's approval to submit this grant.  The major goals of the planning process would be to recommend the overall scope of the library, identify existing resources (both texts and technologies) that could be used in building the library, establish criteria and a process for the selection of personnel and one or more host institutions for the library, and recommend a structure for the operations of the library that would ensure its sustainability.  The APA officers had made it clear to the Foundation that, while the APA could oversee the planning process, they did not envision the Association managing the creation of the library itself.  Once that project began, the APA's appropriate role would be to provide ongoing intellectual guidance by way of an advisory board of some kind. 

Action:  The Board authorized Profs. Coleman, Bagnall, and O'Donnell to form an advisory committee that would help them to submit a planning grant to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to explore the feasibility of creating a digital library of Latin texts. 

Report of Task Force on Peer Review.  One of the task forces formed by the Research Division after its retreat in September 2009 had examined the APA's role in conducting peer review.  The three issues it had considered most closely were: creating and maintaining lists of high-quality digital resources; providing a peer-review mechanism for digital resources; and establishing a system for ranking journals in the field.  The Board had received that report, as well as Prof. Bagnall’s summary of the Research Committee's discussion of it. 

Action:  Directors expressed concerns about how journal rankings were being established and used, and asked the Research Committee to develop a statement describing these problems and suggest better methods that tenure and promotion committees, for example, might use to evaluate the publications in which scholarship had appeared.

The Board discussed the difficulties in creating and maintaining lists of web sites of high quality, and also questioned whether a wider public would look to the APA for such a resource.  Further, many such lists already exist, and the APA might do well to list these other aggregators on its own web site.  Prof. Bagnall stated that he would discuss this possibility with the Forum for Classics, Libraries, and Scholarly Communication.  The Research Committee would continue to consider the possibility of developing a mechanism for conducting peer reviews of digital projects.

Proposal for Central Referral Web Site for Classics.  The Directors briefly but enthusiastically discussed an initial proposal to develop a central web site that would offer information about conditions and programs in the field and the benefits derived from studying classics.  Prof. Ancona had begun discussions with the American Classical League about collaborating on this project.

Prof. Huskey disconnected from his call, and the meeting was adjourned for the evening at 10:05 p.m.

The Board resumed its meeting on September 17, 2011.  Prof. Coleman called the meeting to order at 8:30 a.m.  All Directors present on the previous evening, plus Prof. Nugent, were in attendance.  In addition, Mr. Ronald Scaramuzza, of Briggs, Bunting & Dougherty, the Association’s auditors, was present by invitation.  The Board had received an agenda for the meeting.

Action:  The Board approved the agenda for its meeting on September 17, 2011

The Directors had also received a report of several decisions it had taken by mail vote between January and June 2011, and minutes of its conference call of June 13, 2011. 

Action:  The Board affirmed its decisions made by mail vote: to solicit gifts to the Research and Teaching Endowment in order to support brief visits to the Fondation Hardt by American scholars at early points in their careers; to co-sign a statement issued by the Archaeological Institute of America concerning protection of antiquities in Egypt; to authorize Prof. Coleman to take certain actions recommended by the Subcommittee on Professional Ethics in a case of plagiarism; and to accept a recommendation by the Task Force on Performance Archives that the APA endorse a proposal from New York University to set up a digital archive of modern performances of ancient drama.

Action:  The Board approved the minutes of its conference call of June 13, 2011

Financial Matters

Auditors' Report.  The Directors had received copies of the financial statements prepared by Briggs, Bunting and Dougherty for the fiscal year that had ended on June 30, 2010.  Mr. Scaramuzza noted that the statements were unqualified.  He reminded the Board that the statements gave a snapshot of the Association's financial condition as of June 30, and went on to describe the three different types of assets (unrestricted, temporarily restricted, and permanently restricted) that the APA held.  Unrestricted assets had increased by $145,000 from July 2009 to June 2010, to a total of $1,439,426.  The corresponding figures for the period 2008 to 2009 had been a loss of $443,000 for a total of $1,294,000, largely as a result of the severe decline in financial markets during that year.  The current unrestricted asset figure represented 14 months of operating expenses at current budget levels, an increase from 13 months the year before. 

The total of all three assets had increased by $459,000 to $5,131,000, although the Statement of Activities showed that, once the impact of investment activity was removed, total assets had decreased by $20,000.  The Statement had been designed in this way both because investment performance was largely out of the control of the APA and because this would remind the Board of the extent to which the APA relied on its investments to fund its operations.

Mr. Scaramuzza reviewed the treatment in the statements of grant funds due to the Association, with particular attention to the requirements of its NEH challenge grant.  He noted that the value of the Association's investments had grown by $380,000 during the fiscal year, and described the treatment of the TLL and Pearson Fellowships as liabilities, because they are awarded in one fiscal year but usually paid in the next.  The total amount of revenue received in 2010 was lower than in 2009 because of a smaller annual meeting and smaller capital campaign gifts.  Expenses for supporting services, i.e., general administration, membership management, and fund raising, represented 19% of total expenditures for the 2010 fiscal year.  This figure indicated that the largest portion of expenditures was devoted to program costs. 

The auditors had not issued any letter expressing concerns about the Association's financial controls.  A "professional standards letter" did accompany the statements.  This letter reminded the Board that the statements were the Association's and not the firm's; that the auditors had "reasonable" but not complete assurance that they were correct; that the statements depended to a certain extent, as was common, on estimates made by APA's management, particularly with regard to the allocation of staff time among the APA's various programs; and that the auditors had made only minor adjustments to figures provided by staff, from whom they had received good cooperation.  Mr. Scaramuzza then absented himself from the meeting.

Association Investments.  The Directors had received summaries of the Association's endowment for the period July 2010-June 2011 and for the first two months of the new fiscal year, July and August 2011.  The former showed portfolio growth in the range of 19% to 21% for the year, while the latter showed losses of 7% to 10% for the two-month period.  This reversal reflected the impact of rapid changes in financial markets.  Prof. Nugent stated that the Finance Committee would hold a conference call with the Association's investment advisor during the Fall to discuss investment strategy during this period of turbulent markets. 

Preliminary Financial Statements.  It now appeared that the Association would end the 2011 fiscal year with a surplus of about $40,000 instead of the small deficit that had been anticipated.  Membership renewals had been lower than expected in the first few months of 2011 but had recovered in subsequent periods.  Also no issue of Amphora had been produced during the year.  The Association still expected to incur a deficit of $135,000 during the 2012 fiscal year, despite keeping expenses at their prior levels.  The deficit was almost completely a result of the extension of the capital campaign for another year and the fund-raising expenses connected to that extension. 

Development.  The Directors had received a report on amounts raised to date for both the Gateway Campaign and annual giving, and discussed the progress of these campaigns.  Prof. Henderson described plans for a Gateway Campaign fund-raising event in Boston the following month.  The Board also discussed the use of a "Friends of Zeph Stewart" fund being raised for the Gateway Campaign.  The Fund currently contained over $65,000, and at a previous meeting the Board had agreed that when such funds exceeded $50,000, they could be designated to support specific Campaign initiatives.

Action:  With one abstention, the Board agreed to designate funds raised in Prof. Stewart's name for Campaign projects that supported Classics teachers at the primary and secondary school levels.  Some of the awards supporting these teachers should carry Prof. Stewart's name.

President's Report

Prof. Coleman described actions she had taken on a plagiarism case referred to the Board by the Subcommittee on Professional Ethics and in regard to efforts to support the Classics program at Royal Holloway College.  During the year she had interviewed recipients of APA awards in 2010 and would post transcripts of those interviews on the APA web site.

Strategic Planning Process

In June the Board had accepted a Finance Committee recommendation that it conduct a strategic planning process and agreed to devote part of its September meeting to the organization of this effort.  The Committee felt that, in a time of shrinking resources, the Association should examine its programs and determine its highest priorities.  Before the meeting Directors received a report that Dr. Stephen Kidd, who had just received his doctorate in classics from New York University, had submitted to Dr. Blistein.  The previous winter Dr. Kidd had drafted the capital campaign appeal sent to all members, and he had supplemented the mailing of that appeal by sending a version of it via e-mail to classics graduate students at his own and other institutions.  His report contained responses to his e-mails that gave examples of graduate students’ knowledge of and opinions about the APA.  Prof. Coleman wanted the Directors to have the concerns of the APA’s most junior members in mind as they considered the Association’s future.

Dr. Blistein began the discussion by noting that the last APA planning exercise had taken place in 2002, and that exercise had focused almost exclusively on establishing fund-raising goals.  Further, the end of the capital campaign would be a good time to review how the Association had changed and where it wanted to go.  He felt that the Association could obtain foundation support to offset the costs of this process.

Dr. Blistein asked the Board to consider whether to commit itself to this process and, if it did, to decide who would attend the retreat.  Laura Mandeles, the APA’s fund-raising consultant since 2005, had agreed to facilitate the planning process.  If all current Directors plus the five new Directors taking office in January were to attend a weekend meeting to formulate the plan, there would be 23 participants plus Ms. Mandeles.  She considered this to be a reasonable number because she intended to devote part of the time to break-out sessions, and because all 23 were unlikely to be available on the day selected.  The Board also needed to consider whether it wanted to invite anyone not on the Board to attend. 

Ms. Mandeles suggested that the basic questions the long-range planning process should ask are: 

· What should the APA be doing to have the greatest value for both its current constituents and the audiences it would like to attract? 

· Who exactly are those constituents and audiences, and how can the APA best communicate its value to them? 

· What implications do the answers to the previous questions have for APA’s priorities, governance, staffing, and resources? 

Ms. Mandeles proposed to prepare for the retreat by interviewing up to five Association leaders to get their opinions as to the issues that the Board should be concerned about over the next five years.  She invited all Board members to suggest questions she should ask during those interviews.  At the end of the weekend meeting, she felt it would be reasonable to expect to have an agreement on directions for the next five years and the outline of a strategic plan.  A full plan, however, would require additional effort from working groups (possibly standing committees) and then final review by the Board.

Directors put forward several issues that might be discussed during the retreat.  These included appropriate benefits of membership as new forms of scholarly communication emerged, the format of the annual meeting, and the concerns expressed by the graduate students in Dr. Kidd’s report. 

Directors also discussed the persons who should be invited to participate in the retreat.  The following were suggested:  all current Directors as well as the five new Directors who would be chosen in the current election; a representative graduate student, recently hired faculty member, or adjunct faculty member; representatives from the Classical Association of Canada and the American Classical League; the Campaign Committee Chairs; a layperson interested in classics.

Action:  The Board asked Prof. Coleman to form a steering committee consisting of herself, the President-Elect, the Vice Presidents for Program and Publications, and the Chairs of the Finance and Placement Committees to select the participants in the retreat and to work with Ms. Mandeles on its organization.

Reports of Vice Presidents

Outreach.  Prof. Hallett described the panels organized by committees in the Division for 2012 and 2013, the selection of the new editors of Amphora, and work with Aquila Theatre Company and the Classical Reception Studies Network.  Aquila was now discussing with its partners a sequel to its current "Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives" program.  She also provided updates on the APA's use of social media and web sites and its rosters of musical and performance classicists. 

Professional Matters.  Prof. May reported that the Placement Committee had agreed to permit APA staff to implement automation for the Service that would continue to leave the actual scheduling of interviews in the hands of staff.  He also discussed with the Board the problem, revealed by the summary of comments provided by Dr. Kidd, that members were often not aware of the work carried out by the Classics Advisory Service, in large part because the Service was often effective precisely because it acted with little publicity.  One possible response to this problem would be to post sample letters and petitions, with identifying information removed, that had been useful in the past on the Service's section of the web site.  The Board also discussed the Association's data-gathering efforts.  The Committee on the Status of Women and Minority Groups currently carried much of this burden, but felt that it did not have the statistical expertise necessary to conduct this work properly, and that much of the data that the Association needed was beyond its charge.

Program.  Prof. Farrell discussed with the Board some new procedures that the Program Committee had implemented for sessions compiled from submitted abstracts.  Presenters had been asked to provide completed papers to presiders by December 15, and in a few cases the Committee had invited a speaker to give a talk in a session with very few papers.  Also, presiders had been asked to review both the abstracts in their sessions and a few abstracts that had either been placed in other sessions or rejected, so that the Committee could obtain another opinion on its decisions.  The Committee was considering assigning 20-minute time slots to papers for the 2013 meeting.  It also wanted to find ways of making the meeting more attractive to senior scholars, and that might require changes in the limitations on its work currently in the Regulations:  i.e., that no paper could exceed 30 minutes and that the Committee could not organize sessions of invited speakers in a way that would interfere with the presentation of other papers.  Prof. Farrell hoped that the strategic planning process would examine carefully both what form the annual meeting should take in the future and the kind of Program Committee that could produce such a meeting.

Publications.  Prof. O'Donnell reported that Transactions continued to be of high quality and appear on schedule.  No suitable candidate for Editor of the Monographs Series had emerged, and the number of submissions had declined significantly.  These developments were, in part, due to the fact that no ideal electronic format for humanities monographs in general yet existed. 

Prof. Huskey continued to do an excellent job in updating the web site, and it would make sense to put him in charge of the committee that oversaw the site and possibly to make him an ex officio member of the Board.  Increasingly, the APA needed access to more sophisticated and more expensive technical help in making improvements to its web site, and that limited the ability of volunteers to do this work.

Action:  The Board voted to make the Information Architect the Chair of the Committee on the Web Site and Newsletter, with the six vice presidents and the Executive Director as members.

Research.  Prof. Bagnall reported that Prof. Henderson had recruited members for a standing committee on translations and was developing a charge.  Now that the Board had endorsed the organization of an archive of modern performances of classical dramas at New York University, the Vice President for Outreach might be a better liaison to this project than the Vice President for Research.  The report of the Task Force on Research and the Profession had recommended no changes in the Association's existing Statement on Research, but urged that the APA take steps to make this statement better known.

Over the last two years both the Research and Publications Division had carried out a number of planning exercises, and frequently the outcomes of those exercises had resulted in recommendations for existing programs and plans for new projects that involved both the encouragement and guidance of research projects and making plans for the publication of those results.  Prof. Bagnall asked the Directors to consider whether it would be appropriate to merge the existing Publications and Research Divisions.

Action:  After discussion, the Directors asked Profs. Bagnall and O'Donnell and Dr. Blistein to draft language for any changes needed in the By-Laws to combine the Publications and Research Divisions.  They also instructed Dr. Blistein to notify the Nominating Committee that this change was under consideration.

Education.  Prof. Ancona reported that, with Prof. Huskey's help, the Education section of the web site had been updated.  With help from the Education Committee, Prof. Kenneth Kitchell was updating his 1999 edition of Careers for Classicists, and this document and a revised graduate guide would appear on the web site.  The Standards for Latin Teacher Preparation would be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and would be sent to schools of education with classics programs.  It was useful for the Vice President for Education to attend the ACL meeting, and Prof Ancona would continue to do so.

The AIA had decided to withdraw from participation in the minority scholarships program, but the Minority Scholarships Committee expected to attract good applications again this year, and the gift by the Delmas Foundation to the Gateway Campaign would still make it possible to give two awards.  The Committee on Ancient History was exploring links with both the Association of Ancient Historians and the American Historical Association, and regularly examining the place of ancient history in the field of Classics.

Endorsements of External Activities

Action:  The Board agreed that any committee wishing to endorse an activity outside of the APA should ask its vice president to circulate that request to the Directors via e-mail for approval.  Committees not in a specific division should make such a request directly to the President.

Report of the Executive Director

Membership.  Although Dr. Blistein had been concerned about declining membership earlier in the year, the number of members now appeared to be almost the same as it had been in September 2010.  Dues bills for 2012 would be mailed shortly.

Annual Meeting.  The APA web site now contained registration and hotel information for the Philadelphia meeting, and 55 people had already registered.  AIA was exhibiting at a European archaeology meeting and had invited APA to provide program information for its display.  For the Plenary Session Dr. Blistein would ask chairs of award committees to prepare two-paragraph summaries of their citations to be read as the winner comes to the stage.  Contracts for annual meeting sites had been signed through 2017.  Both APA and AIA staffs wanted to wait until at least the end of the 2013 meeting in Seattle before signing any additional contracts.  If attendance at the meeting continued to be at the relatively low levels of the last two meetings, the associations would need to seek different contracts and possibly different venues.

Action:  At Dr. Blistein's request, the Directors authorized him to assign the title Director of Meetings to staff member Heather Hartz Gasda. 

Web Site.  Staff was making as many routine postings to the web site as possible, but some areas of the site had to be left to Prof. Huskey for updating because of recent changes he had made.  On the other hand, the new APA Blog made it very easy to post current information.  Members probably needed some education as to how site had changed and where some information could be found.

Election.  The same firm that had successfully managed the previous year's election was handling this effort again.  With the deadline about two weeks away, it had received 833 votes as compared to a total of 1,095 last year.  Far fewer members were using paper ballots.  The firm sent periodic reminders to members who had not voted or who had voted only on one page of the ballot, and Dr. Blistein would send a general e-mail reminder of the impending deadline during the following week.

Placement Service.  Programming to automate the Service was underway.  Dr. Blistein stated that when the automation was complete, both candidates and institutions would be able to register online, which, in turn, should speed up that process at critical times like early December.  The new Service would also offer a private web site available only to registrants showing new job listings as soon as the texts of the advertisements were approved.  Candidates and institutions would enter scheduling information online, and schedules would be posted online as they were developed.  The Office had had to institute interim procedures while programming went on, because the Placement Committee had not agreed to the details of the automation until late July.  During the interim period all candidates registered during the previous year received bimonthly listings via e-mail, and Placement Director Renie Plonski had fulfilled over 100 requests to be added to that e-mail list.  Fifty-five jobs had been posted, as compared to 47 at this time in 2010.  The new private web site would not replace the current monthly public listings on the APA and AIA web sites, as these provided an important service to the field.  However, the private web site and the e-mails would give priority to registered candidates. 

Other Business

Action:  The Board accepted the recommendation of the Outreach Prize Committee not to make an award for 2011.

Action:  The Board approved the appointment of Prof. Clayman as the Association's Delegate to the ACLS for 2012-2015.

Dr. Blistein told Directors that their meetings at the annual meeting in Philadelphia would take place on Thursday, January 5, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. and on Sunday, January 8, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:10 p.m.

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