In my final letter to the membership, I would like to give you all an idea of where we are headed as an organization in the near future. Our organization is evolving in an exciting way. We are the heirs of a distinguished history of developing and supporting research and teaching in all the areas of our discipline, and we shall continue to foster those goals as energetically and creatively as we can. In my last letter I referred to some of the most conspicuous ways in which we are fulfilling this vital part of our mission, in particular with support for L’Année philologique and development of the Digital Latin Library. At the same time, we are taking seriously the commitments we made in the Gateway Campaign to making the world of classics and the work of APA members valuable to a larger audience, both within and outside academia. We are in the process of journeying through that Gateway – including evolution of our name, our logo, our web site, our annual meeting, our organizational structure, and our advocacy messages. No part of our new orientation involves abandoning our history and mission. In fact, without the foundation of the scholarly and teaching work of our members, we would have little to offer.
Our commitment to outreach and dialog is by no means new, but we are intensifying it, with the change of name and logo, and with a new emphasis on public programming and web resources for the lay person. We are mindful of pressures in the academic world that are severely challenging the field of Classics and the whole domain of the liberal arts– for example, emphasis on STEM education and devaluation of the humanities, a revolution in publishing and how scholarly research is communicated both within and outside the field, budget woes in universities, and the continual need to justify the study of Latin and ancient Greek at all levels of education: See the recent Guest Blog from Garrett Fagan for an overview of the latest debates on these questions (do follow up his invitation to comment!). We need more people to care about Classics, be involved in Classics, and ascribe value to Classics in order to hold our own in schools and universities. We all know how to make the case, from our daily experience in the classroom: I hope I won’t be accused of parochialism if I direct you to a recent Blog posting with videos of a wide range of Princeton Classics alumni testifying to the broad and lasting value of an education in Classics. We need to take that case to the largest possible audience.
As we do so, you will be seeing increasing development of our web site encouraging communication among members, featured bloggers, new membership categories, improvements to data collection processes, extensions of annual meetings by recording sessions, and social media discussions. In particular, the new website has to be accessible and adaptable, and it has to be useable on a wide variety of platforms. We are moving ahead with these changes in a deliberative and consultative way, as we prepare a new logo and adapt the new name and its “subtitle” (“founded in 1869 as the American Philological Association”) for its appearance on our printed and electronic publications. In the Spring we shall be able to roll out the new website, at which point we shall go over to our new name of Society for Classical Studies.
As I sign off, I can’t help reflecting on how fortunate we are to be members of such an organization and discipline. I have been deeply impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the officers and members of the APA. This commitment comes directly from your devotion to the inexhaustibly rewarding field of Classics. It is necessary in certain contexts to think in terms of “defending” our discipline, but whenever we go into a classroom or a library it certainly doesn’t feel like that. It has been a privilege to work with a group of people who fit the paradigm of the “plain russet-coated captain” identified by Oliver Cromwell as his ideal, “that knows what he fights for and loves what he knows.”