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Report of the Nominating Committee 2019-2020

As mandated by the Regulations of the Society, the 2019-20 Nominating Committee (hereafter NC) met twice in the course of the academic year, in the fall and at the annual meeting. The first meeting took place on Saturday, October 26 at the Chicago O’Hare Hilton.  Attending were Joseph Farrell, ex officio as Immediate Past President; Lillian Doherty and Ralph Rosen, as co-chairs; and the other elected members, Laurel Fulkerson, C. W. Marshall, Patrice Rankine, and Celia Schultz. The Immediate Past President serves as a kind of liaison to the Board of Directors and is able to identify issues of which the NC members may not be aware but that may influence their sense of which candidates are best qualified in a given year.

The focus in the October meeting was on identifying potential nominees for Vice President for Publications and Research; for the three new members to be elected to the Program Committee (which was increased from five to seven members in 2017); for the two new members to be elected to the Nominating Committee; and for the two new members to be elected to the Committee on the Goodwin Award of Merit.  In preparation, each member of this year’s NC submitted twice as many names of potential nominees as were needed to run for each of these positions. We were asked to consider a number of measures of diversity in our selections: gender, race/ethnicity, type of institution, geographical location, and fields of specialization.

The individual lists were combined and volunteers for elective offices were added.  Suggested candidates were checked against the lists of current magistrates (and NC members who served through 2018-19), who would not be eligible to run in 2020.  Each remaining name was discussed, with members of the NC advocating for their suggested candidates, explaining the reasoning behind their nominations, and discussing the qualifications of each for the proposed office with a concern to ensure diversity and gender representation.  For the Vice President for Publications and Research and the Nominating Committee, we followed the procedure that had been used in the two previous years: each member of the NC ranked each proposed candidate, all of the members’ rankings were combined, and the nominees were sorted according to this combined ranking.  The top candidates in the resulting sorted list were again discussed with a view to ensuring the diversity of the slate.

Because of the large number of names put forward for Program Committee, we tried a different procedure in sorting those.  After the full list had been discussed and members not eligible to run had been removed, each member of the NC was asked to identify her or his twenty top choices and those numbers were tallied.  We discussed the resulting list, again with attention to measures of diversity and seeking in particular to balance fields of specialization (e.g., Hellenists and Latinists, historians and literary scholars, etc.).  We were satisfied that this procedure was less cumbersome and at least as fair as the practice of ranking all names, since no individual member of the NC was familiar with all candidates and ranking those we did not know was necessarily somewhat arbitrary, even after hearing from our colleagues on the committee who do know them.  We thus used the second procedure in assessing the list of those proposed for the Goodwin Committee, again seeking especially to balance the fields of specialization.

The NC met a second time on the day before the annual meeting, January 2, 2020.  At this meeting we produced lists of potential nominees for President-Elect, Vice-President for Professional Matters, two members of the Board of Directors, and a member of the Professional Ethics Committee. We followed the same procedure as in the fall, except that this time each member of the NC was asked to propose the number of nominees needed plus one, and after a first round of discussion, to rank our top ten or twenty preferred candidates, depending on the number of candidates needed for the position. Once again, volunteers were carefully considered, and diversity was a major consideration in the shaping of a final list. 

According to customary practice, the co-chairs were responsible for contacting the potential nominees and inviting them to stand for election. We are grateful to Helen Cullyer and to the current holders of certain offices for their willingness to speak with potential nominees about the details and demands of these offices. 

We feel it is important for the members of SCS to understand that some offices need to be filled by senior scholars, who have experience and records of achievement suggesting they are qualified for these posts.  Historically, the NC has also tended to consider mainly scholars who are in stable positions, since junior faculty are more vulnerable and have less time to devote to professional service. It is also the case that our best-laid plans for diversity of slates may be derailed by the availability of candidates to serve in the year they are invited. The co-chairs contact the potential nominees in the order established by the committee, but for a variety of reasons, many will be unable or unwilling to stand for election in a given year. We feel it is also important for the membership to know that those who decline to stand in one year are often asked again, and those who stand but are not elected in one year often stand and are elected in a subsequent year. We wish to thank all those who volunteered to stand for office and those who agreed to stand this year. 

Report submitted by Lillian Doherty, Nominating Committee Co-Chair, on behalf of the Nominating Committee


Statistical Addendum

The Nominating Committee’s task was to identify a slate of 27 individuals willing to stand for a total of 13 positions. We began by each making a list of suitable candidates for consideration by the committee as a whole. In all, the seven committee members made 305 nominations. Because some individuals received nominations for 2, 3, or even 4 positions, the total number of individuals nominated was 211. After discussing and rank-ordering the nominees for each office to be filled, the committee extended 55 invitations (26% of 211) to stand for election. (These went to 54 individuals, as one person was asked to stand for a different office after declining a prior invitation.) In all, 28 requests were declined (by 27 individuals) before the last and 27th invitation was accepted, yielding an acceptance rate of 49%.

 Here is a brief analysis of the process in terms of some relevant demographic categories. Please note that there are some minor discrepancies in the percentages given due to rounding.

Considerations of gender. Of the 305 nominations made by the committee, 180 (59%) were of women and 125 (41%) were of men. Of the 211 individuals nominated, 116 (55%) were women and 95 (45%) were men. Of the 55 invitations that were extended, 34 (62%) went to women and 21 (38%) to men. In all, 17 women and 10 men — an acceptance rate of 50% and 48%, respectively — agreed to stand for election, comprising a slate that is 63% female and 37% male.

Considerations of rank. Of the 305 nominations made, the largest number went to full professors (190 = 62%) followed by associate professors (75 = 25%), emeritus professors (21 = 7%), assistant professors (9 = 3%), contingent faculty (5 = 2%) and others (5 = 2%). Among the 211 individuals nominated, full professors numbered 129 (61%), associate professors 50 (24%), emeritus professors 14 (7%), assistant professors 8 (4%), and contingent faculty and others 5 (2%) each. Of the 55 invitations extended, 30 (55%) went to full professors (of which 11, or 37%, were accepted), 14 (25%) to associate professors (of which 11, or 79%, were accepted), 7 (13%) to emeritus professors (with 2 accepted, or 29%), 2 (4%) to assistant professors (both accepted, 100%), 1 (2%) to a contingent faculty member, who accepted it (100%), and 1 (2%) to a person outside these categories, who did not accept it (0%). The slate thus consists of 11 full professors (41%), 11 associate professors (41%), 2 emeriti, 2 assistant professors (7% each), and one contingent faculty member (4%).

Considerations of race and ethnicity. The committee did not have detailed demographic information about the race and ethnicity of nominees. It nevertheless seemed worthwhile to report what we could on the basis of personal knowledge and reasonable inference. We believe that the approximate breakdown of nominees by race and ethnicity is as follows. By far the majority of the 305 nominations — 278 (91%) went to white members. The other 27 nominations (9%) went to those from historically under-represented racial and ethnic groups  (black / African American / Afro-Latin, Asian / Asian American, or Latinx). Of the 211 individuals who received these nominations, 194 were white (92%) and 17 were from historically under-represented ethnic and racial groups (8%). Of the 46 invitations (84%) extended to white members, 24 were accepted (52%), and of the nine invitations (16%) extended to members from historically under-represented groups, 3 were accepted (33%). 11% of the resulting slate of candidates represents those from historically under-represented racial and ethnic groups.

Institutional considerations.  We broke down institutional affiliations in two ways, as public v. private institutions and also according to size and mission.

Distinguishing between public and private institutions is a simple matter. Of the 305 nominations the committee made, 163 (53%) went to faculty affiliated with public institutions, 139 (46%) to those from private institutions, and 3 (1%) to colleagues who work in some other setting. For the 211 individuals who received these nominations, the figures are similar: 109 (52%) public, 99 (47%) private), and 3 (1%) other. We invited 31 colleagues (56%) from public institutions and 23 (42%) from private institutions to stand for election, along with one colleague who is not affiliated with a college or university (2%). Of those employed at public institutions, 13 agreed to stand, as did 14 who teach at private institutions, for an acceptance rate of 42% and 61%, respectively. The one person not affiliated with either kind of institution did not accept our invitation to stand.

Distinguishing colleges and universities by size is also easy, but to do so by mission is less straightforward. We therefore decided to use degrees granted as a proxy for different kinds of institutions. Of the 305 nominations, 216 (71%) went to those who work in PhD programs. 65 (21%) to those from BA programs, 19 (6%) from MA programs, 1 to a K12 teacher, and 4 (1%) to independent scholars. For the 211 individual nominees, the comparable figures are, PhD 139 (66%), BA 52 (25%), MA 15 (7%), K12 1 (0%), and independents 4 (1%). Out of 55 invitations, 35 (64%) went to those in PhD programs, 15 (27%) to those in BA programs, 4 (7% to those in MA programs, none to K12, and 1 (2%) to an independent scholar; and the comparable acceptance rates are PhD 43%, BA 67%, MA 50%), K12 and independent both 0%. The resulting slate of candidates thus consists of 15 (56%) from PhD programs, 10 (37%) from BA programs, and 2 (7%) from MA programs.

The Nominating Committee, assisted by the SCS office, will continue to track similar data during future nominating cycles.




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