Report of the 2013-2014 Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee divided its work, as usual, between two meetings: the first held in Philadelphia on November 16, 2013, and the second at the Annual Meeting in Chicago on January 2, 2014. After each meeting, the co-chairs approached the relevant potential candidates, 27 of whom were eventually persuaded to run in the 2014 election cycle, in order to fill 13 vacancies (in two officer positions, on the Board of Directors, and on six committees). The resulting slate is attached to this report.

In developing ranked lists of individuals to approach for each position, the Committee worked to ensure that the slates would reflect diversity of age, gender, region, type of institution, and scholarly interest. At the same time, we took into consideration the different skills and preparation needed for particular committees and sought as far as possible to match such needs with the achievements and profiles of the nominees. In most cases, it was not necessary to proceed very far through the list to fill the slates, and thus many members whom we consider to be highly qualified for service were not approached; as has become customary, we are forwarding lists of such individuals to the President for consideration for appointed offices.

The Committee has now settled into a procedure that seems to make our meetings much more efficient (and shorter: we reduced the scheduled time of the January meeting, and even then finished early). Members submit a list of a few names for each position about a week before each meeting. These are collated by the co-chairs and the compiled lists are sent to members, making it possible for those who have the time to think over the possible nominees in advance of the meeting. The compiled names are also used to populate our ranking spreadsheets, which are projected on a screen at the meeting. This helps everyone keep track of the pruning of the initial lists and makes calculation of the composite ranking automatic. It is generally agreed that this mechanism should continue to be employed in the future, and thus provision of a data projector and screen should henceforth be a standard part of arrangements for the two meetings. In addition, it has proved indispensable to have internet access at the meetings, for two reasons. First, in recent years there has been one or another of the committee members who could not travel to the November meeting and had to participate by Skype. Everyone is agreed that face-to-face discussion is far better for the work this committee needs to do, but in a pinch having one member on Skype is practical. Second, the members are often able to resolve uncertainties that arise in discussion by visiting departmental and personal web sites.

As in the past, the names of all self-nominated individuals were entered into discussion, alongside the names generated by individual committee members. In the course of the discussion, the lists were, if necessary, pruned to a manageable number for ranking (generally 12 to 20 names). After thorough discussion, the committee paused for each member to decide on a ranking, and then these rankings were annnounced and entered in the spreadsheets. In the case of ties, where two persons ended up with the same rank assignment, relative ranking was adjusted through attention to the “balance” factors mentioned above (gender, region, etc.).

Soon after each meeting the co-chairs split the task of emailing and telephoning individual candidates, rolling down the lists where necessary. We were impressed that so many of the top-listed candidates quickly expressed a desire to serve. For the heaviest jobs, however, such as VP for Program or Goodwin Award Committee, it is naturally more challenging to get people to run, since the persons we regard as most talented and capable are always likely to have many other obligations and projects. In cases where potential candidates declined, the most commonly cited reasons were the press of other administrative duties or the desire to bring a lengthy research project to its final conclusion in a major publication.

It has been very helpful to have records from previous committees about those who have declined in recent years, and which offices, and why, thus enabling us to avoid fruitless re-visiting of some names. On the other hand, these records also pass on the information that some who decline have said they are quite willing to be asked again in a couple of years or for a different position. We will continue to forward on such records. We also appreciate having the highly useful documents compiled by the APA staff in both printed and electronic versions. As mentioned in a previous year’s report, it would be wonderful eventually to have a unified database combining in one entry what we now have in multiple lists (committee participation record, offices held, current membership status, previous unsuccessful standing for election).

The Co-Chairs and the Committee members—Jennifer Roberts, Joshua Katz, Alex Purves, James Rives,  Jeff Henderson (ex officio)—heartily thank Adam Blistein and the staff at the APA office for arranging transportation, lodging and food, as well as for immediate answers to the Committee’s queries. 

Respectfully submitted,

Ruth Scodel and Donald Mastronarde

February 13, 2014

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