This is my first report as Vice President for Program. I want to take the opportunity to thank Joe for leaving such a fine tuned organization in place. Of course, Adam and Heather are invaluable in this, and Sam’s Herculean assistance has made this year’s Committee work much easier. There are still problems in the system, but Sam was always there to advise. The Committee’s work is quite demanding. I want to express my thanks to those at-large Board members who were available to help read the first round of individual abstracts. Due to your assistance, we were able to reduce the number of individual abstracts that each member read. And most helpfully, the Committee only had to meet once in Philadelphia in June. Thank you all for your reading abstracts. I am assuming that given the success of this new format and since we have now notified incoming candidates that this is expected of them as Board members, this procedure can be repeated next year.
I want to thank the Committee members – Karen Bassi, Emma Dench, Lesley Dean-Jones, and Allen Miller - for their intelligence, hard work, and creativity. We were able to organize the sessions by themes and topics rather than, as in the past, only by genre. This will make for a livelier conference, although it is harder to avoid conflicts in schedules at times.
The 2016 Program is quite full. I will not reiterate the statistics (see below) but there are some interesting developments that are noteworthy.
There was one paper offering statistical information about the state of Classics in the UK that was both fascinating and timely. To make this information available, and to speak to the current state of Classics in the United States, the Committee invited three outside speakers to talk on ‘The Future of the Classics.’ The speakers are Professors Kathleen Coleman, Mary Pendergraft, and Nigel Nicholson, with James O’Donnell as the moderator.
One development that may require a change in procedure is the marked increase in the number of submitted proposed panels. There were 33 submitted, and only 21 were accepted, as compared to the 25 submitted the previous year. I am pleased that members are taking the initiative to propose sessions with several papers. That is a development that I want to encourage. On the other hand, it also increased the work load for the Committee significantly since each proposed panel brought with it 3-5 paper abstracts to read, leading to an increase of ca 40 abstracts per Committee member. One possibility that the Committee discussed is having groups of three Committee members vet the panel proposals; if all three agree then it would go out to the whole Committee. If all votes were negative, the proposed panel would be rejected. Split votes would go out to the Committee.
I also want to note the increase in the number of round table discussion sections, another welcome sign of increased participation by members. There were a somewhat higher number of individual abstracts submitted than the previous year, but the acceptance rate was lower (see chart). Given the increased number of panels, the overall number of papers remains manageable.
For the future, I hope that the Program App will be made available sooner than last year. Moreover, the delays in making hotel reservations available for this year’s meeting will not, hopefully, take place next year. I am also planning to encourage a panel where author meets critic, as is taking place this year under the auspices of the Committee on the Status of Women and Minority Groups.
Michele Renee Salzman
VP for Programs