Board of Directors September 28-29, 2012, Philadelphia, PA

The Board of Directors of the American Philological Association met at the Le Meridien Philadelphia Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, on September 28, 2012.  Those present were Profs. Jeffrey Henderson, President, Ronnie Ancona, and Peter Bing, Dr. Adam D. Blistein, Profs. Kathleen M. Coleman, Joseph Farrell, Denis Feeney, Sara Forsdyke, Bruce W. Frier, Michael Gagarin, Mary-Kay Gamel, James M. May, Kathryn Morgan, S. Georgia Nugent, Matthew Roller, and Ann Vasaly.  Profs. Roger S. Bagnall and Jonathan M. Hall were absent.  Prof. Henderson called the meeting to order at 8:20 p.m. 

As a preparation for action on the report of the Planning Retreat held in March 2012, the Directors discussed areas in which the Association should devote its energies now that the Gateway Campaign had met all requirements of its challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  They also considered changes to the APA’s name and governance structure that might be appropriate and ways both to identify the services that members would find most useful and to take advantage of the expertise, especially in new technologies and social media, of current members.  The Board reviewed several of the major goals that emerged from the retreat including improvement of the APA’s ability to collect data about the field and to share information about the ancient world with a nonacademic audience.  Some new initiatives would require additional fund raising, and it now would be important to try to capture for annual giving some of the generosity that members had shown for the Campaign.  At the same time, the Association also had to give members some respite from the regular solicitations it had made during the Campaign.  The Board adjourned for the evening at 10:00 p.m.

The meeting resumed at 8:30 a.m. on September 29.  All Directors present the previous evening were in attendance as was Prof. Roger S. Bagnall. 

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

Action:  The Board approved a summary of votes it had taken by mail since January 2012.

Action:  Subject to the correction of two typographical errors, the Board approved minutes of its conference call of June 20, 2012.

Financial Matters

Prof. Nugent noted that the Association’s auditor had not been invited to attend this meeting.  At previous September meetings, the Board had been concerned that it was reviewing a financial report with data that was already over 14 months old.  Because the office and the auditor were now able to complete the report during the fall (in prior years it was not available until spring), the Finance Committee was looking into the possibility of reviewing the 2012 fiscal year report with the auditor by telephone before the annual meeting and would, perhaps for the 2013 report, ask the Board to hold a similar call after the 2014 annual meeting.

Directors had received a summary of the performance of the APA’s investments during the 2012 fiscal year.  Each fund had lost between 1.5% and 3.5% of its value during the year, a period during which the Finance Committee had seen other academic institutions enjoy small gains.  The Committee would discuss the possibility of changes in its investment approach with its advisors at BNYMellon.  There was also the possibility that in the current financial environment withdrawal of 5% of the trailing 3-year average of an endowment’s value was no longer sustainable.

Prof. Nugent reviewed an interim financial statement for 2012 that Dr. Blistein had prepared.  To complete the Gateway Campaign the Association had made an extraordinary withdrawal of 6% of the 3-year average value of the General Fund and had completed the year with a deficit of just over $26,000, a smaller amount than had been expected.  A substantial expense for the creation of Placement Service software ($13,000) was being depreciated over three years, and printing expenses included a one-time charge of about $7,500 to write off the inventory of books produced at Scholars Press still being sold by Oxford University Press. 

Dr. Blistein had also revised the budget for 2013 approved by the Board in June to reflect changes in conditions or assumptions that had taken place in the few months since the fiscal year had begun.  He reminded Directors that this was the first annual meeting in several years that the societies had negotiated without the assistance of an independent meeting planner.  As a result the societies would receive directly commissions on hotel rooms similar to ones that the planner had received previously and would use these funds to pay for the use of the convention center and to offset the cost of professional assistance at the meeting proper that the planner had provided at no charge.  Because the societies had no experience of these revenue streams or costs, they had not been included in the budget.  The budget also did not include expenses of the Digital Latin Library project because all of these would be offset by grant revenue already received from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The budget projected a deficit of just under $13,000, a slight improvement over the amount ($15,000) projected in the budget approved by the Board.  Although this was the first budget in many years without major Gateway Campaign expenses, it still predicted only that the Association would break even.  Prof. Nugent therefore noted that the new initiatives envisioned by the recent Board retreat would have to be funded either from a reallocation of current assets or from new income.  The Board discussed the possibility of reducing some existing expenses; of continuing to solicit gifts for the Research and Teaching Fund, particularly for Friends funds; and of establishing a reserve account. 

Action:  The Board voted to assess an extra fee on members wishing to receive a printed Newsletter in fiscal year 2014, with half of the money collected to be used for improvements to the online version.

Action:  The Board asked Prof. Coleman to prepare a document for members explaining how to establish and solicit gifts for Friends funds.

Development

Dr. Blistein had distributed to Directors a report showing annual giving receipts during the 2012 fiscal year and Gateway Campaign gifts through September 10.  Annual giving receipts were lower than in the previous fiscal year, but not by a large amount given the emphasis on the Gateway Campaign during 2012.  An e-mail appeal in late August requesting gifts for projects usually designated in annual giving appeals had not been successful.  The budget for 2013 anticipated a return to annual giving donations of about $35,000 because there would be no Gateway appeals.

At the request of the Mellon Foundation, the Association had not yet announced the gift of $300,000 from the Foundation that would arrive shortly.  When added to the amount currently pledged ($2,350,000), the Mellon gift would put the Campaign $50,000 beyond $2,600,000 required by NEH.  The $2,350,000 figure contained about $10,000 in unfulfilled pledges.  A few of those pledges might not be collectable; so, the final surplus could be closer to $40,000.  Even so, Dr. Blistein expected that in the 2014 fiscal year the Research and Teaching Endowment would produce between $10,000 and $15,000 in funds the Board could expend in support of outreach activities and expansion of its information technology capabilities.  Prof. Henderson noted that the Development Committee would meet soon to work on short- and long-term strategies to maintain the momentum of the APA’s recent fund-raising success.

President’s Report

Prof. Henderson described his work during the year on the Gateway Campaign (including the submission of the recent application to the Mellon Foundation) and the first Cabinet meetings.  He had communicated regularly with the membership by e-mail and the new APA Blog on the web site and wanted to increase his use of these mechanisms.  He thought that these communications could successfully replace the traditional President’s letters in the Newsletter.  Directors discussed the possibility of having vice presidents submit to the Blog as well and the categories that Information Architect Samuel Huskey had developed to distinguish postings.

Strategic Planning Retreat

The Board discussed possible actions on the major goals established at its retreat in March. 

Data Collection.  The committees in the Professional Matters division would review the Association’s current surveys to determine what data captured by these instruments still needed to be collected.  Committees in other divisions should be asked what information they would like the Association to collect.  The Association should retain experts in institutional research to determine how much of this information was already available and in survey design to develop questionnaires based on these desiderata. 

“Year-Round” Annual Meeting.  The Association should use social media in advance of the meeting to describe annual meeting sessions and events.  It should record video and audio of special sessions for subsequent broadcast and explore the possibility of recruiting at low or no cost public speakers who are familiar to a non-academic audience. 

“Talent Pipeline”.  The Association should make it easier for members to volunteer to serve on committees and should develop other ways besides committee service in which members could participate in the APA’s activities.  For example, the information on the web site that describes each committee does not explain how a committee conducts its business or whether it holds face-to-face meetings.  The Association might also consider establishing an advisory board of graduate students.

Cabinet.  Directors had received summaries of the Cabinet’s calls in May and July.  Vice presidents had shared information about projects in their divisions, and the group had discussed progress in carrying out goals established at the retreat and possible changes to the structure to the Cabinet.  For now the group wanted to maintain its current structure but acknowledged that a wider circle of Association leaders needed to be kept informed of its deliberations.

Action:  The Board asked Dr. Blistein to send summaries of subsequent Cabinet meetings to the entire Board, the Information Architect, and the Chair of the Development Committee.

Increasing Information Technology Capacities.  A subgroup of the Cabinet headed by Prof. Bagnall was assessing the APA's current capacities in this area and the time and expertise currently devoted to this work by volunteers, paid staff, and contractors.  It was also preparing a list of desiderata for the future.  Dr. Blistein had developed a list of ACLS societies of similar size; he would ask his counterparts in those societies how they met their growing needs in information technology.

Possible Changes in By-Laws and Name of Association.  The Directors discussed some of the governance changes considered at the retreat and determined that it was too early to take any action on them.  Prof. Henderson stated that he would prepare a position paper explaining the Board's reason for wanting to change the name of the Association.  After review of this document by the Board, he would submit it to the members for comment.  Dr. Blistein was asked to consult with the Association's attorney to determine what steps it might need to take to comply with relevant legislation and its own By-Laws.

Reports of the Vice Presidents

Education.  Prof. Ancona was pleased to report that a new edition of Careers for Classicists would appear on the web site very soon, with a printed edition a little bit later.  A new edition of the Guide to Graduate Programs was ready for publication, but it contained a large amount of out-of-date information; so, a new printing would be postponed.  It would appear on the web site in some form so that departments could be encouraged to submit updated information. 

Over $100,000 had been donated to the Gateway Campaign to support teacher training, and income from those gifts would be available for the first time during the current fiscal year.  The Committee on Education would submit proposals to the Board in January for competitions that the APA could conduct to award these funds.  The Committee was aware that it needed to distinguish these competitions from existing teaching awards, and the Joint Committee (with the ACL) on the Classics in American Education had urged that the APA take a very broad view of projects that would improve pedagogy.  Directors asked the Committee on Education to consider ways in which the Association might use some of these funds effectively to improve the resources on its own web site.

Prof. Ancona had represented the APA at the Institute of the American Classical League in June; she felt that it was very important for anyone in her position to do so.  Other activities in the Division included discussions of ways to increase the number of nominations for teaching awards and collaboration with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages on the preparation of a reading proficiency exam for Latin. 

Outreach.  Prof. Gamel reported that she was working with the Committee on Outreach to develop a new mission statement for the Association in this area, and, once that statement was prepared, to consider a new name for the division as well.  She had already updated the description of the Division's activities on the APA web site.  She also described the Division's events at the upcoming annual meeting and some tentative plans for the 2014 meeting.  The Association had received several worthy nominations for the Outreach Prize in 2012; it might want to consider offering more than one in such years.  The new editors of Amphora had published a new issue in the summer and were working on ways to distinguish the print and online versions of the publication.

Professional Matters.  Prof. May described the panels that the Committees on Placement and the Status of Women and Minority Groups had planned for the 2013 meeting.  He noted that the Subcommittee on Professional Ethics and the Classics Advisory Service had had very few issues to consider. 

Program.  The Board reviewed with Prof. Farrell the assistance that Directors at large had given with the review of abstracts and the Program Committee's organization of sessions on developments in scholarship that had occurred shortly before the meeting.  He noted that the Program Committee was considering some other new types of sessions and might eventually propose scheduling longer talks or giving new associate professors the chance to organize or collaborate on a panel for the coming year.  The Committee had nearly doubled the number of categories available to members submitting abstracts for the Seattle meeting.  This change had generated no complaints, and the number of submissions was only slightly lower than it had been the previous year.

Publications.  During the year the Committee on Publications had discussed the future of the textbooks series, and Prof. Gagarin had submitted to the Board in advance of the meeting the Committee's recommendation to suspend the series until the Association could find an appropriate way to publish texts digitally. 

Action:  The Board voted (14 in favor, 1 against, and 1 abstaining) to suspend the textbooks series but to complete review of all submissions currently under consideration or preparation and to publish those that were accepted.  Profs. Gagarin and Sander Goldberg, the Editor of the textbooks series, were authorized to consider new submissions received during the Fall as well.

Profs. Gagarin and Bagnall had developed a plan to merge the Publications and Research Divisions in accordance with the By-Laws change approved by the members in the beginning of the year, and Prof. Gagarin had included that proposal in his report to the Directors:

Action:  The Board approved the following language for the Regulations to describe the new, combined Committee on Publications and Research:  "The Publications and Research Division will be headed by a Committee consisting of the Vice President for Publications and Research, Chair; four elected members with 4-year terms; and the President-Elect, the Information Architect, the editor of Transactions, the Chair of the TLL Committee, the Chair of the Advisory Board to the American Office of L'Année philologique, and the Executive Director ex officio."  The Board also approved the vice presidents' recommendation that the current appointed members of the Committee on Research be kept on the new merged Committee until their terms expired.  

Profs. Gagarin and Bagnall stated that they would inform the current members of the Publications and Research Committees about these changes.

Research.  Prof. Bagnall reported to the Board about progress in the Digital Latin Library project and the advisory committee for an archive of classical performances.  He also submitted to the Directors a report from Prof. Ward Briggs on the digitization of the data from his book, The Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists

Action:  The Board endorsed Prof. Briggs' project to create a digital version of The Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists.

Affiliation with Modern Language Association

For many years the Association had had affiliated status with the Modern Language Association (MLA).  However, MLA's recent decision to hold its meeting in January at the same time as APA's as well as its new requirement that affiliates hold events at MLA's annual meeting, had made it difficult for APA to continue its relationship in this way.  Directors had received a message from Prof. Barbara Weiden Boyd, APA's representative to MLA, recommending that the Association abandon affiliate status and find some other way to collaborate.  Dr. Blistein noted that he regularly worked with the Executive Director of the MLA in the contexts of the ACLS, the National Humanities Alliance, and the Coalition on the Academic Workforce.

Association Awards

Distinguished Service Awards.  Action:  The Board unanimously approved giving Distinguished Service Awards to Ward Briggs, David Porter, and Michael Putnam for their many services to the APA and to the field of Classics, in particular their work on the APA's Gateway Campaign.

Goodwin Award.  Dr. Blistein reported that the Committee on the Goodwin Award had voted to give the 2012 award to Prof. Leslie Kurke for her book Aesopic Conversations

Outreach PrizeAction:  The Board accepted the recommendation of the Outreach Prize Committee to give the 2012 award to Prof. James T. Svendsen for his work on the Classical Greek Theater Festival of Utah. 

Ad Hoc Committee on Prizes and Awards.  Directors discussed the report that Prof. Roller had submitted on behalf of the Committee.  The Committee had concluded that no changes were necessary in the APA's current teaching or outreach award programs.  It recommended giving two Goodwin awards each year and giving a third award, selected by a separate committee, for a first book.  The Committee also recommended the elimination of honoraria for the book prizes but urged that the Association find other ways to highlight the achievements of award winners.  The Board discussed these recommendations.  It might be possible to expand the Goodwin Committee instead of creating a new one.  Prof. Roller stated that he would submit a proposal based on this discussion in January.

Executive Director's Report

APA Office Operations.  Dr. Blistein discussed with the Board the contributions that each staff member had made to the Association's operations during the current year.

Membership.  The Association had just over 3,100 members (including institutions).  This number was about 30 below the figure at the same time the previous year, and two thirds of the decrease consisted of lost institutional members.  The ongoing decrease in institutional revenue was more than offset by increases in Project Muse and JSTOR revenue.  Dr. Blistein therefore thought it was acceptable that individual membership was essentially stable, especially after an increase the previous year. 

On the other hand, the Association would benefit in a number of ways from an increase in individual membership, and Dr. Blistein believed that there were 500 to 1,000 classicists in North America who were not currently members.  He therefore asked the Board to authorize the formation of a Membership Committee that would work on the recruitment and retention of individual members.

Action:  The Board approved the following new regulation:  "The President shall appoint a chair and eight members to serve staggered three-year terms on a Membership Committee.  The Committee will be responsible for developing strategies and materials that will recruit new members of the Association and encourage the continued participation of current members."

Annual Meeting.  Dr. Blistein reported that online registration had just become available, and about 100 people had registered so far.  Almost all academic sessions would take place in the convention center.  The main hotel, a Sheraton across the street from the Center, would be the site of committee and Board meetings. Additional rooms – including placement suites – were located at a Hyatt that was also close to the Center. 

It would be important to promote attendance, and Prof. Farrell had initiated this effort by writing a special letter that had been posted on the web site.  Subsequent communications should inform members about the enhanced President’s Reception and other items of interest.  Profs. Ruby Blondell and Alain Gowing, the Local Arrangements Chairs, were providing much assistance, including recruitment of local teachers to attend the meeting at a special rate.

Web Site.  Information Architect Sam Huskey was considering moving the site to a new host and a new content management system which would make it easier for other officers to make contributions.  Dr. Blistein had learned that both MLA and the American Historical Association were having success with hosting electronic discussion boards for members provided that participants used their real names and the system allowed readers to report unacceptable posts.  The APA might use their experiences as a guide.

Election.  The deadline for voting was early the following week.  To date, members had cast 995 ballots on the online page containing only two candidates for a single position as compared to 1,125 last year, and 875 on  the page of preferential ballots as compared to 950.  The company hosting the online election continued to do a good job.  Only a few dozen members had cast paper ballots.

Placement Service.  Last year the Service had published 41 job listings through September 15; this year the figure was 54.  Nearly 400 candidates had registered.  Very few candidates had used the new nonmember rate, although about two dozen candidates had just paid dues and were waiting for the Service's monthly update of membership lists to register.  Prof. Huskey had taken on management of the site, and he and a colleague, Alex Ward, were making all necessary modifications.  They were still fixing minor problems, and it would be important to see whether scheduling was less problematic in the coming year.

Action:  The Board voted thanks to Dr. Blistein for his work on the Gateway Campaign.

Forthcoming Board Meetings

Dr. Blistein stated that the Board would meet in Seattle on January 3 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. with Prof. Henderson as Chair, and from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on January 6 with Prof. Feeney as Chair.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:45 p.m.

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