Board of Directors Minutes: September 20-21, 2013

The Board of Directors of the American Philological Association met at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, on September 20, 2013.  Those present were Profs. Denis Feeney, President, and Ronnie Ancona, Dr. Adam D. Blistein, Profs. Joseph Farrell, Sara Forsdyke, Bruce W. Frier, Michael Gagarin, Kathryn J. Gutzwiller, Jeffrey Henderson, Ralph J. Hexter, John F. Miller, Kathryn A. Morgan, David H. Porter, Matthew Roller, and Ralph M. Rosen.  Profs. Mary-Kay Gamel, Jonathan M. Hall, and Sarah Iles Johnston were absent.  Prof. Feeney called the meeting to order at 8:25 p.m.

The Board devoted its evening meeting to a discussion of graduate education in classics.  Directors considered the challenge of training students in the ancient languages when these students were also expected to acquire an increasing number of other disciplines as well.  They also discussed how to prepare students for the limited number of tenure-track academic positions available in classics, the increased use of adjunct faculty in colleges and universities, and the likelihood that some students would need to consider nonacademic careers.  There was considerable anecdotal evidence that classicists regularly found success outside of academia, but the field needed to collect more data in this area and get a better understanding of the aspects of an education in classics that contributed to this success.  Finally, the Directors considered the place of classics in colleges and universities.

The meeting was adjourned for the evening at 10:00 p.m.

The Board resumed its meeting at 8:30 a.m. on September 21; the same Directors were in attendance.  In advance of the meeting Directors had received an agenda as well as minutes of the Board’s meeting by conference call on June 17, 2013.

Action:  The Board approved the agenda for its meeting on September 21, 2013.

Action:  The Board approved the minutes of its conference call on June 17, 2013.

Financial Matters

In advance of the meeting the Directors had received tables showing the Association’s investment results for the 2013 fiscal year as well as the first two months of the 2014 year, a preliminary financial statement comparing budgeted figures for 2013 to actual results, and a budget for the current (2014) fiscal year that reflected changes in assumptions since the adoption of the budget in June.  Prof. Frier noted that the Association’s endowment produces about 20% of the income that it uses to carry out its programs.  For a number of years the Association’s investment guidelines had called for 60% of its endowment to be invested in equities and 40% in fixed income securities.  During the last year, in response to persistent low interest rates, the Association’s investment advisor had taken advantage of the fact that those guidelines permitted her to vary from the targets of 60% and 40% by as much as 10%.  As indicated in the documents the Board had received, the endowments currently stood at about 65% equities and 35% fixed income securities, and the Finance Committee had recently followed the example of a number of other not-for-profit organizations and had agreed to change the target to the current figure.  The Committee would monitor the effects of this change closely.

Prof. Frier noted that, in part because of the Mellon Foundation’s second major gift to the Gateway Campaign but also because of investment gains, the Association’s total endowment had grown from around $6 million at the beginning of the 2013 fiscal year to nearly $7 million by its conclusion.  At the same time, also in response to lower interest rates, the Committee was gradually reducing its draw on investments from 5% of the average value of the funds over the previous three years.  The 2014 budget was balanced with a draw of only 4.7%, and the Committee hoped that the figure could drop as low as 4.3%.  Directors discussed the makeup of the Association’s investments as well as several items in the preliminary financial statement for 2013.

In the late 1960’s the Association had received a bequest to support its monographs program.  The Board at the time had added this gift to the General Fund (then called the Invested Fund) but had set a policy of designating 10% of the income derived from that Fund for the monograph series.  In addition, some of the funds contributed as part of the Association’s first challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 1980 had been designated for its publications program.  As long as the APA had paid for the publication of its books at Scholars Press, there was little difficulty in spending these funds.  However, once Oxford University Press began to bear the costs of printing the Association’s books, the amount of the endowment temporarily restricted for publications gradually increased. 

Because of the way the Board in 1969 had handled the bequest, the current Board could change the way it used those funds.  In addition, officials at the NEH had told Dr. Blistein that, because of the amount of time that had passed since the first challenge grant, the APA could modify the way it used income from that campaign to account for new circumstances.  It should report such changes to the Endowment but did not need to seek prior approval.  Dr. Blistein therefore asked the Board to describe the current and anticipated APA activities that were appropriate for funding by gifts originally made to support a publications program.  He would then work with an attorney to craft language that would allow the use of these funds to meet current needs while honoring donors’ intentions as much as possible.  Directors agreed that the costs of producing Transactions or any electronic publication project would be an appropriate use of funds currently designated for publications.  This would include costs connected with work on the Association’s web site.

Development

Prof. Porter thanked the Directors for adding him to the Board as an ex officio member without vote.  His participation on the Board would help the Development Committee to do its work.  The Committee was devoting considerable effort to a program of acknowledgments of both donors to the Gateway Campaign and members who had regularly contributed to the annual fund during the Campaign.  These communications and the appeals that the Committee would generate in the future would stress the value of donors’ involvement in the Association and provide examples of the ways in which donated funds were being used.  The Committee was recruiting a number of “associates”, usually junior members of the profession, who would not be formal members of the Committee but who would assist with acknowledgments. 

The Committee’s current goal was to return member participation in annual giving at least to its level before the Gateway Campaign began ($65,000 donated and 13% of all members participating).  To reach that goal the Committee was developing strategies that would both encourage current donors to increase the amounts of their gifts and recruit new donors, particularly members who were relatively early in their careers.  For the latter group, during the upcoming Fall 2013 appeal, the Committee would permit first-time donors to recognize an admired teacher for a much lower gift amount than usual. 

Report of the President

Prof. Feeney reported that he expected to be able to sign an agreement soon with the AIA President that would set terms for the societies’ management of the joint annual meeting.  He thought that this was a good development in the relationship between the two organizations.

Follow-Up to Strategic Planning Retreat

Data Collection.  Prof. Miller reported that the committees in the Professional Matters Division were discussing both the data the Association should collect and ways to make it easier to collect that data.  The Division’s goal was to complete these discussions by January so that they could then make good use of expert advice.  Foundations interested in higher education might be willing to underwrite the costs of hiring a consultant in this area.

“Year Round” Annual Meeting.  Prof. Farrell reported that he was still gathering suggestions about how to continue annual meeting discussions during the rest of the year.  Social media were already promoting such discussions, but it was costly to record sessions for posting on the web site.  Other possibilities were using sessions at the annual meeting as a prelude or a follow-up to other conferences and finding other venues for annual meeting talks.  It would be important to make sure that none of these initiatives reduced the value of the annual meeting itself.

Improvements in Information Technology.  Prof. Feeney reported that the Cabinet’s IT Subcommittee had worked extensively with Information Architect Samuel Huskey during the year, and that he would soon be ready to move the web site to a different server that would permit both officers and a group of bloggers to post their own materials to the site and that would allow members to create accounts and post comments.  Once these new features were in place, Prof. Huskey would work with a “user experience” expert to improve the design of the site and make it easier to use on new devices such as tablets.

“Talent Pipeline”.  The Pedagogy Awards had received a large number of applications in their first year.  In addition, Prof. Ancona reported that Classical World had published talks from a recent Education Committee panel entitled “Teaching about Classics Pedagogy in the 21st Century”, and the journal was considering the publication of a subsequent panel on teaching literary theory.  She and Prof. Gagarin noted that the APA’s closer relationship with the American Classical League (ACL) in recent years also served the “talent pipeline” goal, and it would be helpful for the Vice President for Education to continue to attend ACL’s Institute.

Change of Association’s Name.  The Board discussed the implementation of the new name of the Association (Society for Classical Studies) that the members had approved in the recent election.  The Directors agreed that the members should receive a number of communications during the next few months to keep them up-to-date on the implementation of the new name, describe new initiatives to reach a wider audience, and restate the Association’s ongoing commitment to language study and academic rigor. 

Action:  The Board authorized Prof. Feeney to form an ad hoc committee to discuss details of the name change such as a new logo and new URL for the web site and Dr. Blistein to seek assistance from a consultant in the implementation and communication of the new name.

Cabinet.  The Directors who were also members of the Cabinet thought that it was working well with its current structure.  It was particularly helpful for the vice presidents to have this opportunity to meet with each other via conference call in between Board meetings.

New Categories of Membership

Friends of the Classics.  Prof. Gutzwiller had distributed to the Directors a proposal to create a new category of membership aimed at persons who were not in or seeking professional careers in classics but who were interested in the ancient world.  These members would receive electronic communications, the Newsletter and Amphora, and access to discounts on publications available to other members but would not be eligible to vote, present at the annual meeting, or receive awards for outstanding publications or scholarly outreach.  Dues for this category of membership would be $35 per year.  Undergraduate classics majors would be eligible to receive a free membership for one year if it was requested within two years of their graduation.

Action:  The Board approved the Friends of the Classics category of membership proposed by Prof. Gutzwiller and voted to permit members in this category to participate in any discussion forums created for the new APA web site.

Associate Membership for Precollegiate Teachers.  Prof. Ancona proposed that the Board establish a new category of membership for precollegiate teachers with the same dues and privileges as the new Friends of the Classics category.  While a significant number of precollegiate teachers had always been regular APA members, she felt that many others would be interested in this new category, particularly if it was designated for them. 

Action:  The Board approved the category of Associate Membership for Precollegiate Teachers that Prof. Ancona had proposed.

Action:  At Prof. Ancona’s recommendation, the Board agreed to give winners of Pedagogy Awards and Teacher Training Awards a year’s free regular membership if they did not already belong to the Association.  The Directors also asked Dr. Blistein to explore the possibility of obtaining access to JSTOR and Project Muse for APA members who did not have access to institutional subscriptions.

Reports of Vice Presidents

Professional Matters.  Prof. Miller stated that the Professional Matters Committee was considering several issues in addition to the Association’s efforts at gathering data about the field.  These issues included submission of articles to more than one journal at a time and spousal hires. 

Dr. Blistein reported on the Placement Service now that AIA had decided to operate its own service.  Prof. Huskey had made a number of changes to the placement web site which had elicited very little comment from users.  Placement Director Renie Plonski felt that this year candidates needed slightly less help registering, and institutions, slightly more.  She was maintaining a list of minor improvements to be made for the following year.

To date slightly more member candidates and comprehensive service institutions had registered as compared to the same date in the previous year.  Dr. Blistein was pleased about the participation of institutions who could have been attracted by the possibility of scheduling their own appointments through AIA’s service.  The number of nonmember candidates registered was more than 300% higher than in the previous year.  These were presumably AIA members.  The only category of registrants that had fewer participants was institutions purchasing only advertisements.  If many institutions were going to conduct their interviews through AIA, that number might have increased. 

Program.  Prof. Farrell reviewed recent experiments by the Program Committee:  participation by at-large directors in the initial review of individual abstracts, combining all Committee work into one meeting in June, and developing new formats such as debates.  These all appeared to be successful, and he would describe them in his next report to the members.

He asked the Board to discuss whether the APA should adopt the same schedule of sessions as AIA, and whether it should adopt AIA’s practice of listing specific times for each presentation in its Program.  Adopting AIA’s schedule would make both the Presidential Panel and the Plenary Session run into the evening, and Directors noted that the current lack of synchronicity sometimes made it easier to attend both AIA and APA sessions.  On the other hand, the Board endorsed providing better information to APA members about the AIA program, and Dr. Blistein stated that he would explore the possibility of each society publishing the other’s “sessions at a glance” in its own Program

Publications and Research.  Prof. Gagarin described the status of the last two books under consideration for the Textbooks series.  One would be sent to Oxford University Press for publication, and the other had been returned to the author with a request for revisions.  It was unclear whether the latter would make the changes and resubmit.  Prof. Huskey was preparing a final report for the Mellon Foundation on its grant for a feasibility study of a digital Latin library.  He expected to submit a proposal for funds for implementation early in 2014.

The Committee had also discussed the need to clarify the voting status of its various ex officio members as the practices of the previous, separate Publications and Research Committees had differed.  It was still considering a new name for the newly merged division and Prof. Gagarin invited suggestions from the Board.

Action:  The Board approved a proposal from the Publications and Research Committee to modify the section of Regulation #43 describing the composition of the Publications and Research Committee as follows:  “It is composed of the Vice President for Publications and Research, ex officio, as Chair; the Editor of the Transactions, ex officio; the Information Architect, ex officio; the Chair of the TLL Selection Committee, ex officio; the Chair of the Advisory Board to the American Office of L’Année philologique, ex officio; and four members elected for four-year terms, one each year.  Any member appointed to the Research Committee before January 8, 2012, serves as a member of the Publications and Research Committee until the conclusion of his or her original appointment.  Of these, the Chair, the elected members, the Information Architect, and the editor of Transactions will be voting members, as will (during the remainder of their terms) the continuing appointed members of the old Research Committee and the Editor of the textbook series.” 

Education.  Prof. Ancona reported that the Association had received a large number of applications for the new Pedagogy Awards but none for the Stewart Teacher Training Awards.  She would work with the APA Office to publicize the latter program.  The Minority Scholarships Committee would continue to raise funds for the program with a raffle of books at the annual meeting but would sell tickets onsite for only a short period before the raffle itself since almost all tickets were purchased during registration.  The Education Committee’s upcoming panel on study abroad would be recorded for posting on the web site, and the Committee would consider assessment issues as a possible topic for future panels.

Association Awards

Goodwin Award.  Prof. Feeney noted that this was the first year in which the Goodwin Committee was asked to select three awardees.  Committee Chair Peter Struck would submit a report to the Board on this new process.

Outreach PrizeAction:  The Board approved the recommendation of the Outreach Prize Committee to give the 2013 Prize to Prof. Robert Ketterer for organizing a conference entitled “Re-Creation: Musical Reception of Classical Antiquity” held in October 2011.  The Board also voted to eliminate the requirement that it ratify decisions of the Outreach Prize Committee.

President’s AwardAction:  The Board approved the recommendation of the Executive Committee to give a President’s Award to Daniel Mendelsohn.  It also voted to change the deadline for nominations for the Award from June 1 to April 1.

Report of the Executive Director

Office.  Dr. Blistein reported that organizing Digital Latin Library meetings and additional annual meeting activities had increased the responsibilities of the Director of Meetings, Heather Gasda.  Placement Director Renie Plonski had therefore taken on some of her office management and award processing responsibilities.  The Office continued to benefit from good IT support from staff of the Penn School of Arts and Sciences.

Membership.  The Association was on track to end the year with 3,000 to 3,100 individual members again, an increase from 2,900 a few years ago.  The fact that the new placement and abstract submission systems effectively check the membership status of users had probably contributed to this growth.  In the next few months Dr. Blistein would work with Prof. Feeney to recruit members to serve on the Membership Committee approved by Board the previous year to work especially on retention and recruitment.

Annual Meeting.  Dr. Blistein had worked with AIA staff on the agreement described earlier by Prof. Feeney to cover the operations of the joint annual meeting through 2019.  The agreement increased slightly AIA’s exhibit management fee and its share of hotel rebates, but each of those amounts would be open to negotiation each year.  Attorneys were currently reviewing this draft which contained an arbitration clause in the event of severe disagreements between the organizations.  Dr. Blistein did not think it was likely that APA would need to invoke that clause, and despite the recent disagreement about the Placement Service, saw no evidence that AIA wanted to meet separately from APA.

The agreement also called for Ms. Gasda to prepare progress reports on advance registration and for APA staff to be present in the registration area to answer questions about the Association.  This made the on-site professional assistance currently budgeted for the meeting even more important, but having a knowledgeable Membership Committee at the Association’s display would help as well.  The numbers of persons registered for the meeting and hotel rooms reserved were both ahead of the figures for the previous year, but it was too early to be sure that this trend would continue.

Web Site.  For several months the Association had borne the cost of maintaining web sites on two separate servers so that the current site could continue to operate while Prof. Huskey developed the new one.  Soon only one host would be needed.  Prof. Huskey had received a significant amount of assistance on both the web site and the annual meeting and placement submission systems from an associate and had asked the Board to recognize that help. 

Action:  The Board unanimously asked Prof. Feeney to write a letter of thanks to Alex Ward for his work on the Association’s presence on the Internet. 

Election.  Dr. Blistein reported that more members had participated in the recent election than in any other election during his tenure.  It was possibly the highest participation in the Association’s history.  The company providing the online service had finally been able to put all election slates on a single page, and this had made voting easier. 

Other Business

Action:  The recent election of Prof. Mary C. English, a current member of the Education Committee, to be Vice President for Education would create a vacancy on the Committee from 2014 to 2016.  The Directors approved Prof. Ancona’s recommendation that Prof. Arianna Traill be appointed to complete Prof. English’s term on the Committee.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:45 p.m.

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