Meeting of the Board of Directors of the
Society for Classical Studies
January 11, 2015
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Board of Directors of the Society for Classical Studies met at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, LA, on January 11, 2015. Those present were Profs. John Marincola, President, and Roger S. Bagnall, Dr. Adam D. Blistein, Profs. Joy Connolly, Mary C. English, Bruce W. Frier, Michael Gagarin, Mary-Kay Gamel, Kathryn J. Gutzwiller, Ralph J. Hexter, Stephen Hinds, Sarah Iles Johnston, Laura McClure, John F. Miller, Ellen Oliensis, Ralph M. Rosen, and Michele Renee Salzman. Prof. David H. Porter was absent. Prof. Marincola called the meeting to order at 11:35 a.m.
Action: After the deletion of an item to discuss a Cabinet meeting that had been cancelled, the Directors approved the agenda that they had received in advance of the meeting.
Action: In accordance with By-Law #14, Profs. Gagarin and Oliensis were chosen by lot to serve on the Executive Committee during 2015.
Report of the President
Prof. Marincola stated that he looked forward to following in the footsteps of the effective presidents who had recently preceded him. Under their leadership, the Society had taken on a number of important initiatives, and he intended to help these to move forward rather than embarking on any new efforts. Organizing the search for the new executive director would be a very important task, and he would encourage members, particularly junior members and those in part time or adjunct positions, to comment on Society activities.
Report of the Development Committee
Dr. Blistein reported that in Prof. Porter’s absence, Prof. Christopher Brunelle had chaired the Committee’s meeting. A report on annual giving to date showed a slight increase in donations over the same period in the previous year, but the Committee would still need to work hard to meet its goals of raising $65,000 during the current fiscal year and especially of increasing the participation of members in the campaign to 15%. The Committee agreed that future appeals need testimonia, possibly even videos, of how annual giving donations had supported individuals. Only a few such programs, including minority scholarships and graduate student stipends, existed now.
Committee members had reported general but not complete acceptance of their appeal that donors wear a blue ribbon, and there had been a discussion among job seekers as to how wearing the ribbon appeared to search committees. The Committee agreed that message it was trying to convey was general support for SCS, and that that could be made clearer in the future. The complimentary coffee offered to donors wearing the ribbon had been very popular and had generated gifts at the display table.
The Committee agreed to issue the Spring appeal earlier than the previous year and established a schedule for its production. The Committee had also briefly discussed some future initiatives: deferred giving, a legacy society, and solicitation from nonmembers.
The previous year Prof. Porter had organized a group of Ambassadors to assist the Committee in acknowledging gifts and reaching out to current and potential donors. Several members of that group joined the Committee during the meeting and discussed what they had learned from conversations about SCS with donors whom they had thanked recently. The common themes emerging from these discussions were the importance of defending the vulnerable in the field (e.g., adjuncts, solo classicists, members in geographically remote areas, minorities), and creating community. SCS should try to arrange more networking events at the annual meeting beyond the current roundtable discussion session.
The Committee discussed with Ambassadors relevant activities that annual giving might support: One possibility would be to increase annual meeting travel support for graduate students and/or adjunct faculty gradually to $500. The Society would need approximately $15,000 to give $500 to every graduate student who had requested one of the $150 stipends for the 2015 meeting. Directors discussed the various ways in which additional travel support might be structured and how it could meet the most significant needs of members.
Report of the Finance Committee
The Committee had met on January 9. Prof. Frier reported that the Committee was satisfied with the Society’s investment portfolio and the fees it was being charged but was concerned about the volatility of financial markets and would consider changing the allocation of investments between equities and fixed income securities if necessary. Both he and Prof. Hexter urged Directors to participate in a conference call that the Board would soon have with the Society’s auditor to discuss the financial statements for 2014 that the auditors had just reviewed. The Committee had recently held such a call, and Dr. Blistein was asked to distribute a summary of that call to the Board to assist Directors in preparing for their own call. The Trustees said that the financial statements rarely showed anything problematic, but the Board needed to review them carefully each year, particularly during the current transition in the executive director’s office.
The Committee had reviewed three programs (the American Office of L’Année philologique, the TLL Fellowship, and the Minority Scholarship) that were dependent on funding from endowment, grants, or contributions and determined that all were operating at or near a break-even basis. During the current fiscal year limited funds would be available from the Research and Teaching Endowment to support projects other than ones specified during the Gateway Campaign. The Committee hoped that the Endowment could generate more such income in the future.
The Committee had reviewed preliminary financial statements for the current fiscal year and discussed possible changes in the budget for the next year. It still seemed likely that the current year would generate a surplus, but it would be smaller than originally expected. The first draft of the 2016 budget would be based on a withdrawal from investments calculated by multiplying the trailing three-year average of each fund’s value by 4.3% (down from 4.5%). This lower figure was still slightly above the amount recommended by the Society’s investment advisor, but the SCS also had an obligation to devote as much of its resources as it prudently could to funding its programs. The first draft of the budget would also include expenses for the Executive Director search and assess the impact of reducing or eliminating Placement Service fees for candidates. Dr. Blistein would discuss with AIA the possibility of offering a lower annual meeting registration rate to adjunct or part-time faculty.
Reports of Vice Presidents
Outreach. Prof. Gamel congratulated Prof. Gutzwiller on the organization of the performance of Antigonick directed by Anne Carson that had attracted a large audience, including many junior members. The performance of Plutus had also been successful although these readings continued to attract few people from outside of the meeting. At the next annual meeting the Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance (CAMP) would again feature a play originated by a local group, in this case a version of Aristophanes’ Birds from Stanford University. Prof. Gamel described the panels put on in 2015 and planned for 2016 by both CAMP and the Committee on Classical Tradition and Reception.
Both the Outreach Committee and the Editorial Board of Amphora had made plans to generate content to the new web site when it was launched. In a wide-ranging discussion, the latter group had suggested that the Society give more awards.
Professional Matters. Prof. Miller reported that the Committee on Professional Matters had met to discuss an ethics case. Over 50% of the departments in the Society’s database of those offering classics had responded to its census collecting information about staffing, programs, and enrollments. Data would be available soon, and the Committee on the Status of Women and Minority Groups (CSWMG) looked forward to examining that information.
The Committee on Professional Matters had considered a request from a member to solicit responses from other members to a survey on the profession that he was conducting. The Committee did not agree to provide member e-mail addresses but noted that the scholar could rent the Society’s mailing list or post an announcement with a link to his survey. It also reviewed Prof. Jeffrey Henderson’s report on activity in the Classics Advisory Service.
The Committee on Placement was reviewing recent job advertisements to gather information on rank and scholarly fields being sought and hoped that Placement Service fees for students and adjuncts could be reduced or eliminated. The Committee on Professional Matters would propose a revision to the section of the Statement of Professional Ethics concerning adjunct faculty.
Directors discussed the possibility of keeping the census available on a web site for departments to update from time to time and of asking individual members about their career progress. The Board also discussed the possibility of expanding the role of CSWMG to include issues relevant to adjunct faculty.
Program. Prof. Salzman thanked her predecessor, Prof. Joseph Farrell, for helping her to take on the responsibility for the program. She had met with members of the Program Committee in New Orleans and thanked Directors at large for their willingness to participate in the first round of reviewing individual abstracts. She hoped to encourage proposals using two relatively new formats: authors meeting critics and debates. The daily surveys of registrants that Prof. Farrell had initiated provided data that needed to be examined. Directors discussed several other recent changes to the program: making presiders responsible for soliciting papers from presenters to circulate in advance of the meeting, the increase in presentation times from 15 to 20 minutes, and summaries of sessions of individual abstracts added to the printed Program.
Publications and Research. Prof. Gagarin described the recent reorganization of L’Année philologique that included the development a new editorial structure, the opening of a new office in France, and more freedom for the individual offices to prepare entries from collected works. The American Office was working on a backlog of collections and would seek funding to expand that work.
The Digital Latin Library, now well housed at the University of Oklahoma, was seeking a second implementation grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. If this proposal was successful, new digital editions of some classical works could be online in just two years. Some of this work would include digitizing and editing manuscripts of books of Servius using materials owned by the Society.
TAPA’s acceptance rate was about 20%, and the number of submissions had increased. Prof. Craig Gibson, the Editor, was considering the creation of an editorial board. The Committee on Translations was creating a database of existing translations of classical works in several modern languages, and a manuscript of a monograph submitted as an addition to a series that the Society had published over several decades had been returned to its author for revision and resubmission.
In response to requests from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Society had reorganized its TLL Committee, into two groups, an advisory board with members serving extended terms, and a selection committee that changed each year. A large number of applicants, almost the largest ever, had applied for the Fellowship for 2015-2016.
The Committee on Publications and Research had examined carefully a proposal from another publisher to take over production and marketing of TAPA and the handling of the Society’s database of members. Although this proposal was attractive in several respects, the Committee felt that it could not consider such a significant change until a new executive director was in place.
The Committee had also discussed at length concerns expressed by scholars and librarians about contract terms and features of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG). Prof. Marincola would write a letter to the University of California, Irvine, the host institution of the TLG, expressing these concerns and seeking an opportunity to discuss them.
Committee members had agreed to take on responsibilities for maintaining relevant sections of the SCS web site. During the Fall its members had developed some revised language for the Society’s statements on research in classics and on computer technology. Directors had received copies of the proposed revisions in advance of the meeting.
Action: The Board approved new language for the Society’s statements on research in classics and on computer technology.
Education. Prof. English reported that the Joint Committee (with the American Classical League) on Classics in American Education was about to begin work on the updating of standards for student learning that it had produced in 1997. AIA’s new Executive Director had offered to join SCS and the ACL in this effort. The Committee on Education intended to organize a webinar on teaching Caesar that would be available during the summer. Both that Committee and the Committee on Ancient History would organize panels for the 2016 meeting that would complement the efforts of the new ad hoc committee on expanding classics on college campuses.
Dr. Blistein told Directors that he would soon circulate e-mails to determine their availability for a conference call with the auditor in late January or early February and the Board’s regular meeting in September. Later in the spring he would seek their availability for a two-hour conference call in June.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:50 p.m.