Adam Blistein recently sent a message to all members inviting you to volunteer to stand for election to Association offices and to serve on APA committees. The required form may be accessed here, and you may find full information about what is involved in serving in the various positions here.
Why do we send this message every year, and why is it important that we have members respond?
Things are changing fast in the world of education and research, and it is crucial that the principal professional organization of American Classicists should have the benefit of the wisdom of a broad and deep representation of the membership as we plan our responses to these transformations. It’s especially important that we can draw upon the insights and the energy of our younger members. You are the ones who have the best knowledge of the opportunities and the risks coming our way in terms of the electronic revolution, educational change, and career transformation. You are also the ones who are going to be living your professional lives while swimming in the current of these changes, and serving as an officer or committee member enables you not only to get a national perspective on these issues but also to have some chance of influencing them.
We are well aware that everyone is busy, and younger members in particular will rightly be concerned about the value of spending time doing something for the APA and the profession as a whole when they could be working on their research and teaching. When I was Chair of my department I spent a good bit of time giving advice to junior colleagues about how to manage their priorities as they came up through the ranks—even if they didn’t always take my advice! So, by all means talk to your Chairs and senior colleagues and get their opinion. But the value of this service is very high to the individuals who volunteer as well as to the profession, because you meet a number of colleagues you wouldn’t otherwise meet and you learn a lot about the world of Classics in the broadest sense.
The APA is very fortunate to have the dedicated services of a professional Executive Director, Adam Blistein, and with his small staff he keeps the organization running throughout the year. Yet nothing of what we do would be possible without the service of dozens of our members who volunteer or agree to stand for election. Ever since Robert D. Putnam’s 1995 essay on “Bowling Alone” it’s been something of a cliché in sociology that participation in community activities and in civic groups of all kinds has been steadily declining for decades. His thesis has attracted a lot of criticism from scholars, and I’m certainly not competent to assess the debate. What I do know is that every year the APA at least does its bit to prove him wrong.
Have a look at the list of possibilities for service, and see what you might find interesting and rewarding to become involved in. You’ll do some good for your colleagues and your profession, you’ll meet a lot of interesting people, and you’ll make some new friends. It’s worth it.