President Kathryn Gutzwiller Asks Members to Help in Promoting Friends of Classics

            The By-Laws of our organization, as written at its founding 145 years ago, specify that “any lover of philological studies may become a member of the Association” (article 18). Since that nineteenth-century statement was penned, much has changed for our organization. Early on, scholars of other languages decamped to form their own learned societies. As a result, the term “philological studies” gradually acquired a specialized reference to ancient Greek and Latin, and then over time to the expanded study of the Greeks and Romans in terms of literature, history, philosophy, and culture. Our impending name change to Society for Classical Studies aims to encode more accurately the current character of our organization, though always with recognition of our long history as the American Philological Association. What I want to point out, however, is that as the APA became increasingly a professional organization for academic classicists, one thing largely lost was the idea that its members were to be not just scholars of classical philology but more broadly its lovers. Plato might have called such people ἐρασταὶ τῆς φιλολογίας, but in searching for a twenty-first century equivalent of “lovers” the best terms I have found are “enthusiasts” or “friends.” It is to recapture these enthusiasts as members that, upon my proposal, the Board has created an associate membership known as Friends of Classics.

            Associate memberships are new to our organization. The Friends membership targets those who are not professional teachers or scholars of classics but do wish to have special access to information about the ancient world and contribute to our efforts to support a thriving climate for classical studies. The Board has also created a similar associate membership for K-12 teachers, designed for educators at those levels who do not require all the services offered to regular members. Of course the full range of professional benefits, including making a presentation at the annual meeting, using the Placement Service, and election to committees or voting, will be reserved for regular members. We do believe, however, that the benefits of a Friends membership will be attractive to many. These include Amphora, discounts on books, and participation in APA blogs, all at $35 a year (see the full list of benefits on the online signup site or the downloadable form). A special opportunity exists for Classics majors, who are eligible for a free one-year membership in Friends within the first two years after graduation. Our hope is that those majors who do not pursue an academic career in classics will nonetheless remain in touch with the field as Friends of our organization.

            To implement the Friends of Classics membership, Mary-Kay Gamel as Vice-President for Outreach and I are co-chairing a Making Friends Committee. We are grateful to the following for agreeing to serve on this committee:  Antony Augoustakis, Ward Briggs, Christopher Faraone, Joseph Farrell, Nancy Felson, Judith Hallett, Brooke Holmes, Alexander Loney, and Marilyn Skinner. So far we have undertaken to (1) find ways of identifying potential Friends so as to extend to them an invitation to join and (2) strategize about ways to enrich the Friends experience in the future.

            We believe that potential Friends easily number in the thousands. The most obvious group to solicit for membership are those who have studied Classics at some level, whether in high school, as Classics majors, or at the graduate level, and who remain passionate about antiquity while perhaps enjoying careers in other fields. The difficulty is to find them. Each of the members of the Making Friends Committee has provided the names of at least three persons who might wish to affiliate with our organization, and we have extended invitations to this initial group of potential members. In addition, we have written to chairs of Classics departments inviting them to give us the names of recent graduates (which we’re defining as those who received their degrees after December 2012) who qualify for a year’s free membership in this category. 

            We need your help as well. I call upon each of you as a member of our organization to notify us of three or more persons who you think would like to participate in this associate membership by sending their names with email or postal addresses to the APA Office (apastaff@sas.upenn.edu). If you are submitting the name of a recent undergraduate Classics major who is eligible for the one free year as a Friend of Classics described above, please be sure to communicate that. If you are involved with an organization, meeting group, or class to which you would like to distribute flyers about Friends, feel free to download and copy the one on our web site, or you may ask the APA office to send copies to you.

            The goal of these Friends memberships is to create an audience of enthusiasts with whom we may communicate about Classics and to establish a network of persons who support our initiatives. I am sure that I do not need to tell you how valuable a network like this can be in our ongoing efforts to advocate for Classics. The effort will only succeed, however, with the involvement of regular members. Please send in your names. I also invite you to communicate to me any suggestions and comments you may have on how to build the number of Friends and how to expand upon what we offer our new associate members. These suggestions will be added to the exciting ideas being generated by the Making Friends Committee for enhancing the benefits of becoming a Friend of Classics.

Kathryn Gutzwiller

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