Executive Director's Report: 2007

This is a report on activity in the Association Office during 2007. It is intended to supplement information about Board and committee meetings and especially the reports of our very hard-working vice presidents that appear regularly in the Newsletter. A regular theme of my report has been that the APA is ambitious in that it operates programs that are similar to and sometimes even more sophisticated than those of much larger learned societies. If Classics is to continue to be a core discipline of the humanities, we have to do the kinds of things that, for example, MLA and AHA do for their fields. Volunteer labor, substantial amounts of it, is the only way we can provide the kinds of essential services that our bigger sisters do, and I am grateful to the many APA members who take on our work without compensation and sometimes without reimbursement of expenses.

In previous years I and my predecessors have delivered this report during the business meeting at the annual meeting, but it was President Ruth Scodel's useful thought to change the format of that session to make it less of a time when officers talked at members and more of an opportunity for interaction between members and the Board. This is consistent with the theme of our current capital campaign, and that theme is another of Ruth's good thoughts: The APA has spent the last 40 years changing from a gatekeeper of knowledge about classical antiquity to a gateway, and the campaign is our way of making sure that we continue along the same path.

For most of the previous 40 years the gatekeeper to gateway change took place internally. We instituted contested elections decided by mail ballots, developed a Placement Service that has made the job market in Classics much more fair and humane, and made the annual meeting program more open and diverse. Having convinced ourselves that Classics is not just for an elite few, we are beginning, through our growing outreach program, to try to convince the rest of the world of the same thing. And, the promise of the capital campaign is that we will use the essential resources our new endowment will provide to make high-quality information about Classics readily available to the widest possible audience in the format most useful to each segment of that audience. Here, then, is a report in what we hope will be a more useful format. It used to be delivered orally to a few people at a sparsely attended session and published a few months later. Now, I will post it on our web site a few days before the annual meeting in the hope that you will raise questions and make comments about it both in Chicago and afterwards.

Financial.

Our fiscal year ends on June 30 of each year, and our auditors, Briggs, Bunting and Dougherty of Philadelphia, completed their audit of our financial statements for the 2006 fiscal year last Winter. The April Newsletter contained a summary of that report, and you can obtain the complete report on the APA web site (link below) or from my office. If you look at Page 2 of this report, you'll see that our total assets increased by a little over $140,000, which is, of course, a good thing. However, you'll also note that those assets fall into three categories: unrestricted (money we can use for any Board-approved purpose), temporarily restricted (money that that a donor has given us to spend over time for a specific purpose), and permanently restricted (money that a donor has given us to keep in perpetuity and invest so that we can use the proceeds of that investment for one or more of our programs). Depending on the terms of each endowment gift, the investment proceeds it generates can be unrestricted or temporarily restricted income.

In the 2006 fiscal year permanently restricted assets increased by over $130,000, almost all of which consisted of contributions and pledges to the capital campaign. Temporarily restricted assets increased by about $63,000 during the year. This figure is the result of a calculation (see Page 10 of the auditors' report) that adds new grant awards (e.g., from the NEH) and restricted investment income (e.g., proceeds from the Pearson Fund that can support only the Pearson Fellowship) and subtracts what the auditors call "releases", money spent in accordance with donors' instructions. Unrestricted assets, however, decreased by about $51,000 during the year, almost all of which is attributable to significant fund-raising costs as we started work on the capital campaign.

We've been working with our current accounting firm for three years, and Page 3 of the report contains one of the helpful innovations that the firm brought to the presentation of our financial picture. Near the bottom of the page there are, in effect, two "bottom lines", showing changes in assets before and after investment income is applied. Even in years like 2005 when unrestricted assets increase, the "before" figure is always a deficit. This is a graphic demonstration of the fact that program revenue (dues, annual meeting income, placement fees) does not cover the costs of our programs. Rather, we rely on the existing endowment built up since the early 1980's to generate the income that makes it possible to do all the things we do without imposing much higher fees on members.

Keep in mind, however, that the previous paragraphs refer to financial activity between July 2005 and June 2006. In December 2007 our accountants were in the APA Office to conduct their audit for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2007, and that report should appear in February or March 2008. Of course, I prepare interim financial reports for the Board and Finance Committee, and based on that work, I anticipate that in 2007 we had another significant increase in permanently restricted assets as a result of campaign gifts, a modest decrease in temporarily restricted assets because we received no major grant funds but were spending funds awarded in previous years, and a modest increase in unrestricted assets both because of a larger than expected annual meeting (producing more revenue) and because fund-raising expenses declined in the 2007 fiscal year versus 2006 when it took longer than I had hoped to hire new development staff.

This temporary decline in fund-raising expenses is, of course, very temporary. Julie Carew, our Development Director, came on staff on July 2, 2007, i.e., at the very beginning of the 2008 fiscal year, and the budget for that year anticipates a decrease in unrestricted assets that could be as high as $115,000, but is likely to be in the range of $60,000, because the upcoming annual meeting is, once again, attracting more registrants than expected and because we will likely use some of the challenge grant matching funds to be provided by the NEH during the next month to offset fund-raising expenses. All gifts to the capital campaign endowment will be permanently restricted and invested, but our grant application allows us to use up to $250,000 of the NEH matching funds for development costs.

We are about to receive our first substantial installment of challenge grant matching funds ($200,000), and, of course, our first instinct is to absorb fund-raising costs and add all matching funds to the new endowment so that it can grow faster and support more programs sooner. That's exactly what we did with the first small installment of NEH funds ($10,000) that we claimed in January 2007. And, so far, our existing endowment has been able to generate sufficient funds both to support current programs and to begin the capital campaign. Thanks to some good investment advice and a favorable market, the existing endowment has even grown modestly while we have made extraordinary demands on it. On the other hand, we don't want to deplete an endowment that supports core Association programs like the Placement Service and the annual meeting. The Finance Committee and then the Board will have to look carefully at the matching funds we are about to receive and divide them appropriately between current expenses and the future of our field.

We now have four separate funds for our investments (General, Pearson, Coffin, and the new Research and Teaching Endowment). The company managing these investments is called, as the result of yet another merger, BNY Mellon Wealth Management. The name of the firm on our investment statements has changed a total of four times in the last 8 years, but in that period we have worked with only two groups of individuals, and the Finance Committee and the Board have been very satisfied with the service and results. Our holdings consist of a family of low-fee no-load mutual funds. This family includes one of the best performing bond funds in the country and a variety of stock funds that spread our equity investments over different sized companies in different geographic areas. Some of the funds, especially the bond fund, generate dividend income, and, in years like 2007, capital gain distributions as well.

The General Fund currently has a market value of just over $3.2 million, and our goal is to limit our draw on that fund to 5% of what is called a "trailing 3-year average", that is, the average of its value on a specific date (we use December 31) in each of the last 3 years. The theory is that a reasonably invested endowment will grow, on average, by at least 5% per year. Therefore, if you limit your withdrawals to the same percentage, you will at least maintain your principal, and, in good years, it will grow. Over the last five years, we have, in fact, drawn down between 6% and 7% of the trailing 3-year average, first to pay final costs of the Barrington Atlas and more recently, to cover development costs for our capital campaign. As noted above, even with this higher than desired rate of withdrawal, the General Fund has still experienced some capital appreciation in recent years, but these numbers will help to explain why we need to consider using some challenge grant matching funds to offset fund-raising expenses, much as we would prefer to put them all in the new endowment.

Development

We have made some tremendous progress on the capital campaign during 2007. We started the year with about $168,000 in pledges from 84 donors. We close the year with just under $800,000 from 140 donors. The major pledges include $100,000 each from Senator Peter Fitzgerald who agreed to be a campaign co-chair in late 2006 and from the Arete Foundation thanks to Ed and Betsy Cohen. We also received $50,000 from Daniel and Joanna Rose in support of our teaching awards, and $40,000 from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation in support of our minority scholarship program. We are particularly grateful to the Classical Association of the UK whose Council informed us recently that it will contribute $200,000 to the campaign.

The Capital Campaign Committee also grew during the year with Senator Paul and Christine Sarbanes also agreeing to serve as co-chair, and with Mrs. Rose, Erich Segal, and Sherwin Little, President of ACL, becoming members. A Steering Committee of about ten Campaign Committee members meets via conference call every four to six weeks to discuss new prospects and follow up on previous efforts. Michael Putnam, who first agreed to be a co-chair of this effort in 2005, presides effectively over all our efforts and has had considerable success himself in identifying and soliciting donors.

We are on schedule in claiming matching funds offered by the NEH. To obtain the first match of $10,000 we needed to show only that amount in outside gifts by January 2007, and this was easily accomplished. To obtain the second match of $200,000, we needed to report $240,000 in pledges by January 2008, and, in fact, we were able to list more than that amount in actual gifts as of the end of November 2007. The next matching funds deadline, for which we must show just under $1.1million in pledges by January 2009 to obtain $250,000, is a more formidable task, but the recent offer from the Classical Association (UK) brings us more than 75% of the way to that goal a full year before we must report it.

This progress has been encouraging, but from my standpoint the most encouraging event of the year has been the addition of Julie Carew, an experienced fund-raising professional, to the APA staff to assist in the management of the campaign. Her most recent position was Director of Annual Giving at Rider University, and she is a graduate of Ohio University where she majored in art history but took a number of Latin courses, most of them with an old friend from my graduate student days, William Owen. In just six months Julie has already made our development operation more efficient and effective. She has devoted a large part of her time to identifying and implementing new fund-raising software and to helping us to find a firm to redesign the web site. (Web Editor Robin Mitchell-Boyask has been an enthusiastic participant in the latter activity.) We expect the site to have its new look by March 1 and should be using the fund-raising software even earlier. One of the benefits of the web site redesign will be the ability to accept donations to both the capital campaign and annual giving campaigns online.

The capital campaign consumes a lot of our time, as it must, but the Development Committee led by David Porter is putting considerable effort into our regular annual giving appeals. The capital campaign makes annual giving more rather than less important. I have already talked about the operating deficits caused by fund-raising costs; unrestricted annual giving donations reduce those deficits. Annual giving contributions show donors outside the Association that its own members support its basic activities and so make those donors confident that their gifts to us will be well spent. Finally, if necessary, NEH regulations permit a fairly large amount of unrestricted contributions to be applied to the capital campaign.

The members of the Board and of the Campaign and Development Committees, and I personally know that we're asking a lot of the membership. We're asking them to (a) pay dues, (b) make annual giving contributions, and (c) make a capital campaign pledge. In part, we ask so much because of the critical needs of our field: the need to build an endowment for the American Office of APh, the inadequate number of teachers for K-12 Classics classrooms, the possibilities of outreach to a general population that seems genuinely interested in Classical antiquity, and the scholarly and pedagogical opportunities identified by our joint Task Force (with AIA) on Electronic Publications, brilliantly led by Donald Mastronarde.

http://ucbclassics.dreamhosters.com/djm/pdfs/TaskForceFinalReport.pdf

But, we also ask so much because Classics needs the resources to be part of the very intense conversation going on in this country about the purpose, management, and evaluation of higher education. The APA is housed at an institution founded by Benjamin Franklin, and his remark about hanging together lest we hang separately, allegedly made on July 4, 1776, seems very appropriate today. We may not be in the middle of an outright revolution, but we are in an age in which many sources of information compete for attention. In this environment the voice of Classics could easily be lost if it is not strong and united at least some of the time. The motto on our logo is a good one and appropriate to what we do; letters are the physician of the soul. Right now, however, I think ACL's motto - your cause is ours - is particularly timely.

Membership

In the December Newsletter (see page 11), you will see the names of APA members whose deaths were reported to us during the past year, and we will observe a moment of silence for them at the Plenary Session in Chicago. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to one of the people on that list. In Winter 1999, after I had been appointed but had not yet become Executive Director, Zeph Stewart went out of his way to welcome me to the Association. He told me that he looked forward to working with me during his then current term as Financial Trustee, and he went on to describe (very accurately as it turned out) some of the aspects of the Association's finances about which he was (quite appropriately) concerned. He also wanted me to know that - although we'd never met - he considered himself my grandfather twice over because he had taught and remained close to both my undergraduate mentor, Dan Gillis, and my first dissertation director, Jeff Henderson. I have worked for learned societies for almost 25 years now, and in that time I have been lucky enough to know a number of people among both classicists and cancer researchers who combine intellectual rigor and dedication to a group's wider purpose with great personal generosity and humanity. If there was ever a Platonic ideal of that combination, it was Zeph.

Our total membership declined again in 2007 from 3,221 at this time last year to 3,161. Last year a modest decrease of 24 members was completely attributable to the loss of institutional members (usually libraries). This year, that group represents only 17 of the 60 lost members, making it the first year in some time in which the number of individual members of the Association has decreased.

I say this each year, but it's important that I do. Membership growth is extremely important to the continued financial stability of the Association. Our staff, small and stretched as it is, would not be seriously affected by 500 or possibly even 1,000 additional members. The significant database work to keep track of those members and to collect their dues is performed by the Johns Hopkins University Press, and the Press' fee depends on the number of members it processes. More membership revenue therefore will provide important income without adding significant expenses to the budget.

I would also argue that membership growth is important to the field of Classics as a whole for all the "hang together or hang separately" reasons I listed above. In a recent discussion with our incoming President, Kurt Raaflaub, I found that he shares these concerns. It is a rare classics department (whether it has 3 members or 23) in which all faculty are APA members, and I look forward to working with Kurt to make those departments somewhat less rare.

More encouraging membership news came from the fifty Classics Departments who helped us to launch a departmental membership program so successfully. The complete list of those departments appears on Page 62 of the Annual Meeting Program. We're particularly grateful to the two departments (Cornell and Vermont) that subscribed at the optional Sustaining level and to the seven at the Supporting level. This program spreads awareness of the APA among undergraduates who receive outstanding student awards and generates income that the NEH will match for both the American Office of l'Ann©e and our TLL Fellowship.

Interactions with Other Organizations

Thisyear Heather Gasda or I attended all of the other Classics meetings that are regularly on our calendar: CAAS in the Fall, CANE and CAMWS in the Spring, and the ACL Institute in early Summer. Once again last year, with the approval of ACL, we diverted the budget line we have had for several years for support of National Latin Teacher Recruitment Week (NLTRW) to funding for a pre-Institute workshop for new Latin teaching assistants. These interactions continue to demonstrate that APA wants to be part of the entire community of Classicists, and lately they have had the further benefit of facilitating campaign work. At CAMWS, Ruth and I had some very useful discussions with Sherwin Little to develop a proposal that a major donor interested in our K-12 initiatives requested. The ACL Institute happened to be in Nashville; so, I was able to meet with Helen Reinhold Barrett, Meyer Reinhold's daughter, and secure a significant pledge from her.

I continue to benefit from my participation in the ACLS' Conference of Administrative Officers (CAO) and in the National Humanities Alliance (NHA). In each of the last four years ACLS has offered a session to be attended by incoming presidents and chief administrators to discuss issues of leadership in learned societies. Scheduling conflicts kept Ellie Leach and Jenny Clay from attending, but I have now gone to these sessions with both Ruth and Kurt, and all three of us have found them useful.

University of Pennsylvania

I continue to make annual presentations about the APA and the situation of the Classics in American academia to the entering graduate students and postbaccalaureate students in the Classical Studies Department. Partially because of these presentations, I am enjoying a greater level of informal communication with these students and with the faculty.

Thanks to some hard work and sacrifices by Penn's Classical Studies faculty, the APA Office will be able to remain in Logan Hall through June 2009. Several factors contributed to this good outcome, but the most important reason was the willingness of Department faculty to continue to share and move offices for the next two years. We are in their debt. I am convinced, however, that this is our final reprieve, and this growing department will have to take back the space we now occupy at that time. The Association will almost certainly be able to stay at the University of Pennsylvania if it wants to, but the space available and the financial terms are not likely to be as favorable as they are now.

My current term as Executive Director also expires in June 2009, and I have told the Board that, if it wants me to continue, I am willing to do so at least through June 2011, i.e., the end of the capital campaign, and possibly longer. I think it's logical to resolve both of these issues together, and I will be working with the Board on them during the coming year.

Amphora

Anne-Marie Lewis concludes a six-year term as Editor with the issue that went in the mail a few weeks ago. During her tenure Amphora doubled in size (from 12 to 24 pages) and continues to attract high-quality submissions. Much of this success is due to Anne-Marie's vision for the publication and her dedication to maintaining its high quality. I always look forward to working with Davina McClain who succeeds Anne-Marie as Editor, and this Spring I helped Barbara Gold and the Committee on Outreach to conduct a search for Davina's replacement as assistant editor of Amphora, Diane Johnson.

Research Division

For the Research Division I have grant management responsibilities for the TLL Fellowship and for the NEH Preservation & Access and Mellon grants to the American Office of l'Ann©e. In this area the most important thing I did this year was to help Lisa Carson, Director of the American Office, to submit a final proposal to NEH for support from the Preservation and Access Division. Because the NEH had originally told us that it would stop this funding in 2008, we had been unsure of the response we would receive even though we felt that the early success of the capital campaign showed that we had made appropriate progress towards the financial independence of the Office that the NEH was requesting. In fact, our long-time program officer encouraged us to submit the application, and during the next few months we will learn whether it has been approved.

The Research Committee developed a survey of members' fields of interest that we printed on 2008 dues invoices. The Johns Hopkins University Press will collect these responses along with dues renewal information, and during the coming year I will work on ways to add this information to the Directory of Members on the web site.

Placement Service/Professional Matters

At the 2007 annual meeting in San Diego, there were about 15 more institutions conducting interviews than the year before. In Chicago that number increased by 15 once again for a total of about 85. For as long as I have been Executive Director (and I think longer) we have negotiated 25 suites at each annual meeting for rental to interviewing institutions at a reduced rate. In most years institutions would book all those suites but never until December, and there were sometimes a few left over. Last year for San Diego, the suites were all booked by Thanksgiving. This year they were booked before the end of October, and the five additional suites that the Chicago Hyatt kindly provided at a higher rate (but a price still well below published rates) were snapped up immediately. In 2007 there were 40 more candidates registered than in 2006; the increase will be closer to 60 this year.

It's impossible to know how long this improvement in the job market will continue. Even if it goes on for several more years, I ask members to keep in mind that the APA spent decades developing a Placement Service that is fair to both candidates and institutions, and that is an example for other societies to follow. And the job of improving the Service is ongoing. Every year, it seems, there are some unusual circumstances that don't quite fit into existing guidelines, however extensive they are, and that Placement Director Renie Plonski and I have to refer to the Placement Committee, ably led this year by Judith de Luce. A particular concern to Renie and myself is the widespread belief that as long as a job is listed quickly on the APA web site (Few APA members realize that the listings appear on the AIA web site too.), nothing else matters a great deal. Many institutions see registration with the Service as a necessary evil they must undergo to have their position listed in the first place. Many candidates don't see why they should bother to register at all since the jobs appear on the web site for all to see.

Undoubtedly, the Service could take better advantage of Internet technology, but I am concerned that these members have lost sight of the fact that the registration requirements we impose on both candidates and institutions (and the additional reporting requirements we impose on institutions) make it possible for us to gather the information that, in turn, allows us to keep the hiring process as fair as it is. Registration also makes it possible for us to reduce the level of stress and eliminate scheduling conflicts in the annual meeting interviewing process. This year Renie has already scheduled about 1,100 interviews and will probably end up making 100 to 150 more. Further, and this is extremely important in the spread-out venues we have had for the last three years, she schedules all those interviews in a way that gives candidates enough time to get from one appointment to another and even to catch a breath along the way. She is conscious of the demands on search committees as well and tries to schedule only 2 or 3 interviews in a row before inserting a short break. Every institution that tries to schedule its own interviews, and every candidate who decides not to register until or if s/he is invited for an interview makes that work much more complicated.

We also think it is a false economy for candidates to wait to see if they have interviews before registering with the Service. Registration costs $20 before December 1 and $50 afterwards. Registration means candidates receive job listings via e-mail twice a month instead of having to wait to see them posted on the web sites once a month. We are careful to protect the privacy of candidates. There's absolutely no requirement that a candidate submit his or her c.v. for the Placement Book, and the only people who will know that a candidate is looking for a position are the people to who receive applications.

Finally on the subject of data collection, in early November your department should have received our triennial census of Classics Departments. Completed forms were due in the office of Professional Matters Vice President David Konstan on December 15, but if it was impossible for you to meet this deadline, please do not throw the form away. We still want your responses. Since Barbara McManus designed this census during her vice presidency, the data you submitted three years ago has answered many questions for many of your colleagues, and these were often questions submitted to satisfy an administration wanting to know how its department compared to its peers. Having this new set of responses to compare to those received before will make this collection of data even more powerful. Again, we respect privacy. Data from this census is always provided in aggregate and is never identified with a particular department.

Annual Meeting

The meeting in Chicago will apparently be the largest one I have worked on for the APA. We already have just over 2,400 paid advance registrants, about the total number registered for Boston in 2005, the largest meeting for me to date. Heather Gasda and I are extremely grateful to Cliff Ando of the University of Chicago who did double-duty on this meeting. He was both a hard-working member of the Program Committee and Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee. I hope you saw and will make good use of the guide to Chicago that Cliff's Committee (special thanks to Michael Alexander and Alex Schiller) prepared.

The Program Committee meetings in April and June are my three favorite days of the year at work. Heather and I go to those meetings and expend some effort keeping track of decisions, but mainly we get to sit and listen to five smart people whom you have elected talk about everything under the sun in Classics. Heather and I get paid, but the Committee members are volunteers. Nevertheless, they handle intelligently and fairly the breadth of classical scholarship today. Bob Kaster, who has served as a Committee member before, makes the work of Program Chair seem effortless (believe me; it's not), and we will miss Kathryn Morgan and David Sider who are completing their terms on the Committee at this meeting.

Heather and her colleagues from Experient, a firm that helps us to negotiate hotel contracts and manage the meeting, have done an outstanding job on meeting arrangements. We had a particular goal this year to mail the printed Program much earlier than before, and I want to thank Heather for making that happen.

Conclusion

I want to conclude by thanking all members, especially those on committees and the Board, for their support of my office's efforts. When the Board meets each Fall, it conducts a full-day business meeting, but it spends the previous evening in a discussion of some general topic of the President's choosing. These sessions are not usually intended to reach a decision on a particular question but rather to inform the Board's subsequent discussions. This year Ruth invited Renie, Heather, and Julie, who do not normally attend Board meetings, to come to this session and talk about what they do and the difficulties they occasionally encounter due to overlapping responsibilities and programs. Ruth also wanted to use this evening session to have the Board evaluate a few Association programs based on a rubric used at the ACLS leadership program described above, but that part of the evening got short shrift. The Board discussion of issues faced by staff occupied most of the time, not because the Directors were interested in telling us how to do our work, but because they thought it was worth devoting some effort to considering appropriate changes in policy that would make our jobs easier. This support, and the similar support we almost always receive from the members with whom we work, is very gratifying.

Adam D. Blistein

Executive Director

December 30, 2007

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