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Classics Advisory Service - 1996-97

Classics Advisory Service 9/1/96 - 8/31/97

Report to the Board of Directors, American Philological Association from Michael Gagarin, Director
December 17, 1997

My second year as Director of the CAS has been a bit quieter than the first year. After a rather hectic Fall preparing for the very successful Joint AIA-APA Workshop on "Small Classics Departments and Programs," I have continued to make recommendations for regular departmental reviews and to handle specific requests for help. I am pleased that among the latter were not only cries for help from those who felt threatened in some way, but also two requests for help in expanding or taking advantage of opportunities.

As before, I received invaluable assistance throughout the year from Bill Ziobro -- or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that in most cases I was assisting him, since he took the lead on so many matters. The transition to a new Executive Director was accomplished right at the end of this period, and I expect I will receive similar assistance from Bill's successor, John Marincola. In particular, the APA database, which is kept in the APA office, is more and more in demand, especially by small departments. These often need to explain or justify themselves to administrators who can only be impressed by numbers. The database gives us solid statistics to support our cases.

Rather than discuss individual cases in detail, let me raise two questions involving more general matters of policy.

Several situations during the past year have raised the general question, to what extent should the CAS respond to the problems facing Classics departments in countries other than the US and Canada. I received one request for support from South Africa (University of Natal) and one from Australia (Australian National University). I responded to the former because it came from an APA member and there are other APA members in the department there. (It may also have mattered that I know the people and the Department there well.) The second request did not involve any APA members, and in fact only reached me third-hand from various e-mail lists. I did not respond, feeling I did not have enough contact with the situation. The Board may wish to consider whether we should have a policy with regard to overseas requests.

The second question was raised at the Board meeting on December 30, 1996. One Director wondered whether the CAS might not provide the additional service of making recommendations for outside evaluators in promotion cases, particularly for classicists teaching in other departments (e.g. Foreign Languages). In discussions with others, I have not been able to ascertain whether there is a need for such a service. My own view is that I have no objection to making recommendations if asked in a specific case, but I am a bit hesitant to incorporate this formally as a CAS service. For now I would urge anyone who thinks that such a service is needed and could usefully be provided by the APA, whether through the CAS or in some other way, to make their views know to me and to the Board.

Michael Gagarin
Director, Classics Advisory Service

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