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Professional Matters—Fall 2012

The Division of Professional Matters includes under its jurisdiction the Subcommittee on Professional Ethics, the Committee on Placement, the Committee on the Status of Women and Minority Groups, and the Classics Advisory Service.  Here follow brief reports from each committee, highlighting recent developments and activities.

Subcommittee on Professional Ethics and the Professional Matters Committee

Various questions have been presented for consideration by the Subcommittee on Professional Ethics; as always, our deliberations are strictly confidential. 

Following the January meeting of the APA, a letter was sent to the Subcommittee by Katharina Volk, Editor of TAPA, on behalf of a representative group of journal editors who expressed their concern over the recent amendment to the APA’s Statement of Professional Ethics, which now specifies a suggested time frame for rendering an editorial decision (“preferably within 6 weeks”).  The group of editors feared that stating a specific time frame might create unrealistic expectations and increase the already considerable stress placed upon referees.  The members of the Subcommittee carefully considered the issue and the proposed recommendations of the editors; in due course, a mutually agreeable solution was found:  we would use the subsequent months leading up to next January’s APA meeting as a period during which editors would monitor the situation to see what effect the new amendment was having on their operations.  Armed with this information, the Subcommittee (at its annual meeting or via email communication) will then revisit the issue to ascertain whether any further action is warranted.

At its spring retreat, dedicated to strategic planning, the Board identified a sophisticated program of data collection, analysis, and dissemination as one of its chief priorities.  And this priority coincides precisely with the chief priority of the Division of Professional Matters.  The current scope and methods of our data collection are inadequate and out of date.  This fact was underscored again this summer, when I answered a few queries from department chairs, who were hoping to gather data in order to provide information and make their cases to their respective administrations.  While I was able to provide answers to some of their questions using the data from the most recent census, other important information was lacking or incomplete; in addition, it has become increasingly clear that we are not asking all of the right questions in the right ways; finally, while we made some strides forward by introducing an electronic version of the census, it has become clear to me that to do such a thing properly requires skills with the manipulation of computer programs and databases that are far beyond those of the average classicist.   All of our surveys must be reassessed and restructured by someone who has professional training and expertise in data collection, management, and dissemination.  On a related note, the APA was invited, and joined the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Humanities Department Survey.  This survey will be taken from a sampling of departments, every 5 years, so it will not be able to take the place of a more detailed census; but it is good for the APA to be included in this group, and the survey will provide us with some valuable information and comparanda.     

Committee on Placement

(Submitted by David Potter)

The Placement Committee has tackled two pressing issues this year.  The first is streamlining and improving the placement process.  In March we submitted four recommendations (some continuing current practice) to the Board of Directors, which included continuation of the option that institutions could sign up for either a comprehensive or advertisement-only service (institutions that sign up for the comprehensive service have access to meeting space and suites for interviews); that job candidates using the placement service at the meeting have to be members of the APA/AIA; that registered candidates, subscribers, and comprehensive service institutions receive an e-mail whenever a new job ad is approved; that institutions wishing to conduct interviews at the annual meeting reserve suites or request space in Placement Service meeting rooms at the convention.  Once the Service assigns suites and time periods in meeting rooms, the institutions schedule interviews with candidates.  The APA Board did not want to move immediately to a system where institutions are responsible for making all interview schedules, believing that some departments will prefer to have the APA office continue to perform this function, and indicated concern that candidates may end up with schedules that they cannot meet.  The Board did request that the APA office investigate the feasibility of a hybrid system in which departments would have the option of scheduling their own interviews once the office has allocated either meeting space or suites to them.  The committee feels that this has been an extremely fruitful discussion and we will hopefully be able to discuss the feasibility of the new system in January.  We note as well that dissatisfaction with the current system remains strong as a result of previous experiences by registrants.  We also note that there is dissatisfaction with data collection for the analysis of hiring rates and other professional demographics; this is something that needs to be addressed and is directly linked to our second major issue.

The second issue is with career planning, noting that we need to help our students think about a variety of employment options, and also noting that other professional associations have been more proactive in promoting discussions of ways that people in PhD programs can use the skills that they are honing for successful careers outside the college and university environment.  To this end, we are sponsoring a panel at the January meeting, heavily subsidized through the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan in honor of the contributions that Ludwig Koenen has made to the field.  There will be seven speakers, including Michelle Berenfeld (archaeologist who has moved between academe and work for the World Monuments Fund), Diane Harris-Cline (academic and consultant), Clare Gillis (journalist), Tom Groves (Director of Strategic Planning, GSW Worldwide), Paul Legutko (Vice President of Analytics at Semphonic), Paula Willard (Executive at Wildflower Interactive) and Frederick Winter (Program Officer, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education).  We expect that this panel will appeal to a wide audience and we hope that it will spark ongoing discussion of this important subject.

Committee on the Status of Women and Minority Groups

(Submitted by William G. Thalmann)

The Committee on the Status of Women and Minority Groups is organizing a panel for the 2013 APA annual meeting, “Authors Meet Critics: Pushing the Geographical Boundaries of Classics.” It follows, and is modeled on, the very successful panel that the committee organized for the 2012 annual meeting, and we hope that a CSWMG panel will become an annual event. The purpose of these panels is to highlight work that, in one way or another, extends the scope of our discipline to include peoples or geographical areas traditionally treated as marginal or overlooked as irrelevant to it. The committee also hopes, through these panels, to supplement its information-gathering and monitoring functions with intellectual contributions.

As for the collection and examination of information, this seems to be still in flux. The committee discussed the problems with it at its 2012 meeting, and will undoubtedly continue the discussion at its next meeting in January. At the moment, given the lack of good current information, there seems little that we can do to monitor the status of women and minority groups in the profession. We are eager to continue to work with the Vice President for Professional Matters to help resolve these problems.

This fall, I intend to pursue an idea that was raised at the 2012 meeting: the possible creation of a page on the APA web site to which classicists could post syllabi of courses on gender, class, and diversity in the ancient world, on the reception of classics outside the European and American traditions, and on related topics.

Classics Advisory Service

(Submitted by John F. Miller)

Since last January’s meeting in Philadelphia, the Classics Advisory Service has assisted two liberal arts colleges and one state university with names for program reviews of their Classics departments; has furnished comparative data (with the help of the VP for Professional Matters) for a department seeking to retain a teaching position; and worked with the APA President in responding to a call for help from a department whose graduate program was being suspended.

Respectfully Submitted,

James M. May
Vice President for Professional Matters

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