In the recent election, the members voted to accept the recommendation of the Board of Directors that we should change the name of our organization to “Society for Classical Studies”, with “Founded in 1869 as the American Philological Association” as a permanent subtitle. In keeping with the truly remarkable dedication and commitment of our membership, 43% of our members voted in this election, at a time when other learned societies report that only 10-15% of their members typically vote in online elections and ballots. This is the highest participation rate that our Executive Director, Adam Blistein, has seen in the fourteen years of his tenure, and it is probably the highest ever.
Jeffrey Henderson and I have both written to the membership on a number of occasions about this change, which we and the Board regard as an important part of our organization’s overall response to the changing environment we face as Classicists. To non-specialists, Classical Studies is a more transparent and comprehensible description of what we do, and so is more accessible to the interested outsiders whom we aim to attract with the new website; Classical Studies is also a more all-embracing term for the range of skills and disciplines within our professional domain. Our organization has successfully become an effective professional organization as well as a learned society, and now we must also become more inclusive and dynamic in our role as a service organization for all those with an interest in Classics.
It is crucial to recognize that the core of our mission remains research and teaching on the ancient world, and the discipline of philology is a central part of that focus. We are all committed to that core mission, even as we adapt to the more public role that we have taken on in our transition from Gatekeeper to Gateway. As part of that commitment, our professional journal will have the name of TAPA, as an acronym that honors the traditions and history of our organization.
The Board is now taking steps to implement the change of name to Society for Classical Studies, which will come into effect in the new year. We will keep you closely informed on the stages of this implementation, and we will welcome feedback as part of this process. We know that this is a very big change in the history of our group, and all the members of the Board recognize what a wrench it is to let go of the title that we have proudly sailed under since 1869. We thank the membership for their engaged response since this debate began, and we look forward to seeing our organization move ahead towards its new commitments and responsibilities.