Meeting of the Board of Directors of the
Society for Classical Studies
September 11-12, 2015
The Board of Directors of the Society for Classical Studies met at the Monaco Philadelphia Hotel in Philadelphia, PA, on September 11, 2015. Those present were Profs. John Marincola, President, and Roger S. Bagnall, Dr. Adam D. Blistein, Profs. Joy Connolly, Mary C. English, Bruce W. Frier, Michael Gagarin, Mary-Kay Gamel, Kathryn J. Gutzwiller, Ralph J. Hexter, Stephen Hinds, Sarah Iles Johnston, Laura McClure, John F. Miller, Ellen Oliensis, David H. Porter, Ralph M. Rosen, and Michele Renee Salzman.
Prof. Marincola called the meeting to order at 8:20 p.m. The topic he had set for the Board's discussion was the role of the SCS in the changing environment of the university, and he asked the Directors to consider what the Society could do for the field.
- Take actions that would reduce burdens on contingent faculty
Improve the experience of graduate students
- Disseminate information about the field
- Show the variety of outcomes of graduate education in classics and confirm the value of those outcomes
- Change attitudes about rankings of graduate programs
- Review the design of graduate training in classics so that it will produce both accomplished classicists and faculty who can contribute on their campuses outside of their departments
- Find more opportunities for classicists in mid careers to participate in SCS activities so that they will remain members
- Demonstrate the need for humanistic study and the value students derived from studying classics after they left academia
The meeting adjourned for evening at 10:00 p.m.
The meeting resumed at 8:30 a.m. on September 12, 2015. Attendance was the same as on the previous day.
Action. The Board approved the agenda for the meeting it had received in advance after modification of the section of the agenda concerning Society awards.
The Board had received drafts of a list of actions it had taken by mail during the period January to June 2015 and of minutes of its conference call on June 15, 2015.
Action. Subject to the correction of a typographical error, the Board approved the list of actions it had taken by mail in the period January to June 2015.
Action. The Board approved the minutes of its conference call on June 15, 2015.
Report of the President
Search for New Executive Director. Prof. Marincola reported that the Search Committee had met via conference call during the previous week. Prior to the call, the firm retained to conduct the search, Isaacson Miller, had interviewed about 70 candidates for the position and had given the Committee two lists, each with about a dozen candidates. The first list contained candidates the firm considered clearly qualified for appointment, and the second, candidates with less experience but with the potential for the position. There was gender balance in both groups, and the Committee was paying particular attention to candidates who could communicate effectively with both academic and nonacademic audiences. The Committee asked the firm to obtain more information about a number of these candidates.
The firm was still identifying additional candidates for review by the Committee which would hold another conference call in November to consider those new candidates and to review the additional information it had requested on candidates already identified. Also, during the call the Committee would select six to eight candidates that it would interview in person in December. After those interviews the Committee would select two or three finalists whom the Board would meet during its first meeting at the annual meeting in San Francisco. The Search Committee would meet briefly after these conversations and make a final recommendation for action by the Board at its second meeting in San Francisco.
Presidential Panel. Prof. Marincola described the panel that he had organized for the annual meeting on the role and treatment of contingent faculty in classics. He hoped to make classicists aware that the increased use of contingent faculty affected everyone in the field and not just the individuals in that category, and to start a discussion that would lead to guidelines for the appropriate treatment of such faculty.
Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG). The Society had received no substantive responses to letters Prof. Marincola had written to officials at the University of California Irvine concerning limitations on the use of the TLG by classicists. In collaboration with other officers, he was pursuing other avenues that might produce changes in access to, and features of, this scholarly resource.
Review of Strategic Plan
The Directors reviewed the mission and purpose, organizational vision, and major roles the Society had adopted during its strategic planning process in 2012. The Directors did not approve any specific changes but during the discussion raised the possibility that the vision might usefully be updated and suggested that the Society make a list of specific activities that fulfilled its major roles.
Report on Development
Prof. Porter stated that the Society's fund raising in the previous fiscal year had been successful. The total of annual giving receipts (over $66,000) was the highest ever, but special donations from the Board and Development Committee had been necessary to meet that goal. It would be important to communicate regularly to the membership the importance of their participation in annual giving to both the maintenance and growth of Society programs. He praised the work of the Committee and Ambassadors and urged the Board to integrate their work more often into its deliberations.
Action. The Board voted to add the Chair of the Development Committee to the Cabinet.
Investments. Prof. Frier stated that the value of the Society's portfolio had stayed even during the 2015 fiscal year while continuing to generate income for programs. Since the beginning of the 2016 fiscal year, however, it had lost over 5% of its value largely as a result of disruption in financial markets that had begun in China. The Society's advisors at BNYMellon had always avoided Chinese investments, and in recent months had reduced holdings in emerging markets in favor of large cap and fixed income securities. The advisors were now following investment guidelines that called for a target of 60% rather than 65% of the Society's holdings in equities. However, they continued to be permitted to diverge from that target by up to 10%, and the portfolio's exposure to equities had gone down only a few percentage points in recent months despite the market decline.
Preliminary Financial Statement for 2015 Fiscal Year. In advance of the meeting the Directors had received preliminary financial statements for the fiscal year that had just ended. Prof. Frier noted the last page that gave details of income, appreciation, and expenditures from endowments. As previously noted, this activity had left those funds at about the same level as they had reached at the beginning of the year.
Updated Budget for 2016 Fiscal Year. Dr. Blistein had distributed a budget for the fiscal year that showed changes from the one approved in June based on both different expectations for some items and especially unexpected expenses that had been incurred in launching the new web site. As a result of these changes, the budget now anticipated a deficit of about $67,000 instead of $48,000. He had attached to this document a memorandum explaining the changes. The increased cost of launching the site would change depreciation expenses, and a settlement with the Marriott Corporation over the change of venue of the 2016 annual meeting would increase hotel rebates. There were smaller changes in some other categories of expenses.
Prof. Frier drew the Board's attention to the end of the memorandum which showed the impact of budget surpluses in the three previous years and the projected deficit during the current year on the General Fund. The years of surplus had allowed the Society to replenish the Fund to about the level it had reached before the beginning of the Gateway Campaign. The current year would likely represent a retreat from that position and should not be repeated but was necessary to launch the new web site and to effect the transition to a new executive director and possibly a new office.
Action. After discussion of some budget items, the Board approved the revised budget for the current fiscal year.
Interim Reports of Advisory Groups
Earlier in the year Prof. Marincola had asked at-large directors to convene discussions of groups of members that were not normally well represented in the Society's leadership. He then published a letter to members inviting them to participate in these discussions. The conveners reported on the subsequent discussions in their groups.
Contingent Faculty. Prof. McClure stated that about a dozen members were participating in an online discussion which had identified a number of problems faced by contingent faculty. The group would meet in San Francisco and might want to request permanent status. To date the group had identified a number of specific actions that SCS might take to support these members. These included providing institutional affiliation, e-mail addresses, and access to scholarly resources. The group wanted to distribute a survey to all SCS members to elicit information about the experiences of contingent faculty.
Action. The Board authorized Dr. Blistein to send a link to the group's online survey to members after review of the questionnaire by the Professional Matters Committee.
Graduate Students. Prof. Connolly reported that a group consisting of seven current and three recent graduate students and two faculty members. The group planned to hold an open meeting in San Francisco for a further discussion of problems facing graduate students and possible remedies. To date members of the group had suggested that the Society collect more information about the requirements and outcomes of graduate programs, explore alternative ways of assessing the success of graduate programs, and publicize and endorse nonacademic employment for classics graduate students.
Independent Scholars. Prof. Oliensis reported that a group of about nine members was exchanging e-mails. The group did not plan to meet during the annual meeting. The major issue it had identified was access to scholarly materials; one area in which the Society might assist would be to provide some kind of certification to its members without academic affiliations who needed access to libraries, particularly in Europe.
K-12 Teachers. Prof. Rosen stated that about a half dozen teachers were participating in the group; the majority of them had Ph.D.s. In general, they were satisfied with their positions but had the same concerns about access to scholarly materials expressed by other groups. Additional desiderata were bibliographies of certain subjects and more and better pedagogical training in graduate schools. The Society's dues structure and the change of the annual meeting date from December to January were obstacles to their participation in the SCS. The group might meet informally in San Francisco.
Reports of Vice Presidents
Publications and Research. Prof. Gagarin reported that during the summer the University of Oklahoma had received a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the implementation of the Digital Latin Library. These funds would support work on the project's two main initiatives, a platform for creating digital scholarly editions of Latin texts and an online library of existing Latin texts.
Prof. Christopher Francese had agreed to chair the new Communications Committee that would generate and curate content for the Society's web site and social media platforms. Prof. Gagarin was developing with Prof. Francese and Dr. Blistein a list of members to be invited to serve on the Committee and a plan for organizing the Committee's work.
Education. Prof. English described the Coffin, Pedagogy, and Stewart Awards made earlier in the year. The Education Committee was looking for sources of other funding that would complement SCS grants. In collaboration with the American Classical League, the AIA, and several regional societies, representatives of the Division were revising the standards for student learning that had been published in 1997. The new edition should be available during the winter and would cover primary through graduate school education as well as lifelong learning.
Outreach. Prof. Gamel stated that the committees in her Division were working on their usual projects. Going forward, she hoped to involve all of them in contributing content for the web site. During the next few months she would work with her successor to ensure a smooth transition.
Professional Matters. Prof. Miller reported that the Professional Matters Committee was examining responses to the most recent census of classics departments and trying to determine what additional data it should seek. The Subcommittee on Professional Ethics had dealt with several matters.
Program. Prof. Salzman thanked at-large directors for their help in reviewing individual abstracts. This was particularly valuable with abstracts that fell outside the areas of expertise of the five Program Committee members. In forming sessions from accepted individual abstracts, the Committee had for the most part used themes as an organizing principle rather than author or genre. The Committee had received the largest number of submissions of at-large panels in its history; Prof. Salzman thought that this was a good sign of member engagement.
The Directors reviewed submission statistics for panels and individual abstracts. The acceptance rate for abstracts had decreased from the previous year but was still slightly higher than the rates for the two years before that.
President's Award. The Board approved the Executive Committee's recommendation that it give a President's Award to Eric Hewett and Jason Pedicone for the Paideia Institute.
Distinguished Service Awards. The Board voted to give a Distinguished Service Award to Prof. Donald J. Mastronarde for his many contributions to classics scholarship and teaching and extensive service to the SCS.
Dr. Blistein absented himself from the meeting while the Board conducted an executive session. During that session, the Board voted to give him a Distinguished Service Award for his service as Executive Director since 1999.
Report of the Executive Director
Office at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Blistein stated that the University intended to perform a major renovation of the heating/cooling system in the Society's office over Christmas holiday and into the dates of the annual meeting. While staff would still have access to the office if necessary, they would for the most part work remotely during the period when the office would be, in effect, a construction site.
After a hiatus of a few years, Dr. Blistein would meet with new graduate students in the Classical Studies Department during their introductory proseminar. He continued to meet annually with the Department's postbaccalaureate students.
Membership. The Society had about 50 fewer individual members than it had had at the same time the previous year. The late launch of the placement service and online annual meeting registration might be responsible. He hoped that this year's offer of free Placement Service registration for member candidates would increase membership during the next few months.
Annual Meetings. Dr. Blistein described negotiations with the Marriott Corporation and then discussions with AIA officers that had led to the societies being able to offer 2016 annual meeting registrants the same sleeping room rate at the San Francisco Hilton as they would have paid at the San Francisco Marriott before the latter property had asked the societies to move their meeting. As a result, both annual meeting registration and housing had become available later than usual. Final details of the opening night reception were still pending, but early registrants would be able to return to the online system and buy tickets once these matters were settled.
The dates of the meetings in 2017 through 2019 had been announced earlier. The societies had begun work on the 2020 and 2021 meetings, with the intention of holding the former in the Middle West and the latter on the East Coast. Among the cities considered for 2021 had been Washington, DC, but hotels there could not offer favorable rates in an inauguration year even though the meeting would take place two weeks before that event. The societies had therefore signed a contract at the Chicago Hilton for 2021; negotiations were continuing for a location for 2020.
Web Site. Dr. Blistein described the effort he had devoted during the year to the launch of the new web site, which now included the Placement Service. While he generally heard from members about any problems they encountered with the site, he appreciated hearing from Board and committee members when they identified problems. Just the day before, the Placement Committee had let him know about a problem with that aspect of the site.
One of the most important features of the new site was a mechanism that permitted members to use credentials from the membership site maintained by the Johns Hopkins University Press to log into certain restricted sections of classicalstudies.org. That mechanism, which took considerable effort on the part of the Society's design firm, Confluence, to build and modify, was working well about 95% of the time. Dr. Blistein said that some of the remaining problems were due to user error, but, with help from Information Architect Samuel Huskey, staff was able to guide users with problems and add additional instructions to the site.
It would be up to the new Communications Committee to maintain the freshness of the site and to reactivate the Society's Facebook and Twitter accounts. While Dr. Blistein and other staff regularly posted to the web site, they rarely contributed to the Society's social media outlets.
Aside from appropriately displaying the content that the Communications Committee would generate, which would require some additional work by Confluence on the main page, the next major improvements for the site would be to create a “store” for GreekKeys 2015 and to update the program submission site for the 2017 meeting. Dr. Blistein thanked Prof. Donald Mastronarde for his usual generous assistance in producing one more update of the software and in collaborating with Confluence in creating the store.
For program submissions, Prof. Huskey planned to update the functions of last year’s site but not integrate them fully into classicalstudies.org so that the Society could avoid the expense of completely reprogramming the submission system as it had had to do with the placement system. Even though it would be a separate site, Prof. Huskey believed that the program submission could use the member verification routine created recently.
Election. Dr. Blistein stated that paper ballots for the current year's election would be due on the following Monday; online voting would end three days later. To date, 1,007 people had voted as compared to a total of 1,117 the previous year. Because the online voting company would send one more reminder, he expected, in the end, to have about the same participation as last year.
Placement. To date the system had enrolled about 300 member candidates or subscribers at no charge, 8 nonmember candidates, 4 institutions purchasing only an advertisement, and 12 institutions purchasing comprehensive service so that they could conduct interviews at the annual meeting. Dr. Blistein felt that this was a good response in light of the fact that the Service had been available for only two weeks.
Prizes and Awards. The Society had received three new nominations for collegiate teaching awards to go with six held over from the previous year. It had also received three new Outreach Prize nominations in addition to three held over. The office had received many more letters of nomination for the Goodwin Award than usual, but slightly fewer books. That Committee might make a list of additional books it wanted to see. Unfortunately, the Society had received no new nominations for the precollegiate teaching award; the nomination deadline would likely be extended.
Dr. Blistein reminded Directors that the Board's meetings in San Francisco would take place on January 6, from 2:30-7:00 p.m. and on January 9 from 11:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. The first meeting would be longer than usual so that the Board could meet with finalists for the executive director's position.
Action. After a discussion of possible dates, the Board agreed to hold its next Fall meeting over the dates of September 16-17, 2016.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:25 p.m.