The Conference of Executive Officers holds semi-annual meetings to discuss substantive issues in the humanities as well as practical and organizational aspects of society management.
The 2017 fall meeting was held in Fort Worth, TX, November 9-12, hosted by the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau. A welcome reception was held at the Kimbell Art Museum.
See meeting schedule and participants list.
The meeting began on Thursday morning with opening remarks by CEO Executive Committee Chair Jim Grossman, American Historical Association (AHA), in which he provided an update on 2017 census efforts, progress in planning the 2018 ACLS Annual Meeting, and dates for the 2018 Leadership/Governance Seminar and the 2018 CEO Fall Meeting in Tampa Bay, FL.
ACLS president Pauline Yu followed with a report on the organization’s recent activities. The group then heard from Stephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance, who spoke briefly on the grassroots efforts to increase awareness of the value of the humanities. He was pleased to report that despite the administration’s proposal, funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities would continue.
The following sessions were held over the two-day period:
- The first session focused on the possibility of group purchasing for ACLS member societies as it pertains to audio/visual (A/V) contracts. Data on societies’ A/V usage, collected in an online survey, were presented by Jill Simpson, Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) and Leslie LeMond, SCMS’s director of conferences and events, along with Jay Malone, History of Science Society (by phone. The discussion centered on the possibility of creating an ACLS member society purchasing consortium to provide leverage in securing services. As a first step, information shared on the CEO email discussion group will be consolidated and then posted to the CEO Net.
Amy Ferrer, American Philosophical Association (APA), led a discussion on consultative/collaborative advocacy. Expectations have increased for learned societies to issue statement on issues of public interest. These statements require time and effort to coordinate. She proposed creating an email discussion group devoted to collaborative advocacy. A working group would create and post a draft statement for review. A final statement would be presented for consideration. CEO members would sign on following their own society’s approval process.
Hunter O’Hanian, College Art Association, reported on a conference call that had taken place prior to the meeting to discuss a possible joint membership program among ACLS member societies. In group discussion, interest was expressed in offering reduced membership fees for individuals who are members of other ACLS societies. It was thought a fairly simple option could be devised. The effort will be taken up in the new year.
The American Sociological Association has embarked on a new communications strategy that incorporates video for both member communications and public engagement purposes. Executive director Nancy Kidd presented three examples and described the practical dimensions of operationalizing this strategy.
Amy Ferrer, APA, and John Kutsko, Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), presented new policies and procedures enacted by their respective societies that reflect a heightened awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment in academic settings. They provided sample statements and procedures for investigation of complaints.
Jim Grossman, AHA, led a discussion about threats faced by scholars engaging controversy. Attention was given to the role, if any, of learned societies when individual members are caught in a media storm and/or careers or personal safety threatened.
Two breakout sessions offered participants the opportunity to engage in smaller groups:
- Participants selected among four topics: 1) expanding the reach of annual meeting with technology, 2) online newsletters and social media, 3) membership benefits and issues, and 4) media relations. The full group reconvened to hear reports from each group, with Jerry Hauser, Rhetoric Society of America, moderating.
- Participants were grouped by society size to discuss topics of interest to that particular cohort. Topics raised included business issues, social media platforms, fundraising efforts, member retention, and communications strategies.
The meeting concluded with a lighting round during which members shared society concerns or accomplishments, led by Lisa Berglund, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.
Fall meetings of the CEO are held in cities of interest as possible convention sites and are hosted by each city’s convention bureau. Thanks to the generosity of the Fort Worth CVB and its partners, the Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth and the Omni Fort Worth Hotel provided accommodations. Meals and/or meeting rooms were provided by the Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown Hotel, the Kimbell Art Museum, Bird Café, and Joe T. Garcia (restaurant). Cultural activities included a stockyards tour; visits to the Kimbell, Modern, and Amon Carter museums; a championship rodeo; and a post-rodeo visit to Billy Bob’s Honky Tonk.
The CEO will next convene on April 28, 2018, in Philadelphia, following the ACLS annual meeting.