2018 CEO Fall Meeting

The ACLS Conference of Executive Officers (CEO) held its 2018 fall meeting in Tampa, FL, November 1-4, hosted by the Visit Tampa Bay. 

An optional session on media training was held on Thursday from 9:00 am-1:00 pm.  Vidisha Priyanka, a journalist and media consultant with the Poytner Institute in St. Petersburg, led the session.  Among the topics covered were pitching to external media, defining your audience for social media interactions, planning and managing for a crisis. 

The meeting proper began on Friday morning. ACLS President Pauline Yu gave a report on the organization’s recent and upcoming transitions and provided and overview the organizations activities. CEO Executive Committee Chair Jim Grossman, of the American Historical Association (AHA), update on 2018 census efforts, and the progress in planning the 2019 ACLS Annual Meeting, and dates for the 2019 Leadership/Governance Seminar and the 2019 CEO Fall Meeting in Spokane, WA.  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.

This year’s meeting followed an experimental format, with a number of sessions devoted to the same topic: how societies handle harassment in its various forms.

  • Steven Rathgeb Smith, American Political Science Association (APSA), opened the day’s session with a presentation “Sexual Harassment: What Is It?”  He provided an overview of APSA’s policies and procedures for considering complaints at APSA meetings or conferences.  He described the review process and the role of the organizations ethics committee and the use and training of ombuds. A discussion on the development anti-harassment policies revealed the complexities inherent in dealing with this fraught issue.  
  • Nancy Kidd, American Sociological Association (ASA), led a discussion on scope of an association’s responsibility in developing policies and procedures to address claims of harassment. She pointed out various scenarios where a scholarly association is asked to intervene in a situation that takes place outside of the annual meeting.  The discussion that followed her remarks considered how societies determine the limits and responsibilities of its purview.  Many societies do not have the resources to pursue action but may decide their role is to provide support to those making claims of harassment.
  • Gerard Hauser, Rhetoric Society of America and member of the International Ombudsman Association, detailed the different roles, functional responsibilities and standards of practice for organizational ombuds.  He reiterated that the role of ombuds active listening and remaining nonjudgmental. Societies can designate and train members to fulfill this role or seek someone from outside the organization who has a background in conflict resolution. In some circumstances turning to someone from outside the organization may provide fresh perspectives and the perception of neutrality may be enhanced.
  • Amy Newhall, Middle East Studies Association (MESA), and Lisa Fagin Davis, Medieval Academy of America (MAA), addressed harassment of members or society leadership by outside actors.  Associationas and individual scholars can be targeted and harassed by outraged members in the media and/or personally by resentful individuals. The targeted victims sometimes turn to their scholarly associations for assistance and advice. MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom urges US college and university leaders to educate themselves on how to respond to these attacks on academic freedom.  Newhall pointed to AAUP and Palestine Legal – both of whom have developed resources to help targeted individuals understand their rights. Fagin-Davis spoke on how individuals outside the society can co-opt an association’s mission and discipline for their own purposes. She described MAA’s attempt to counter white supremacists’ affinity for the Middle Ages with a statement denouncing racism and calling for more diversity in the field.

Breakout sessions offered the opportunity to discuss other issues in smaller groups.  Concurrent sessions, each with a designated faciliator, focused on 1) Transitions from Volunteer to Paid Leadership with Erin Schreiner, Bibliographical Society of America, 2) Annual Meeting Planning with Kerry Vieira, World History Association 3) Pricing Membership with Carla Zecher, Renaissance Society of America and 4) Funding Challenges and Opportunities with Warren Hoffman, Association for Jewish Studies. Reports from each session were presented to the full group.  Another set of sessions allowed participants from societies of similar sizes to discuss topics of interest to their cohort. Topics included business issues, social media platforms, fundraising efforts, member retention, and communications strategies.

The full group reconvened for additional presentations.

  • Milagros Pereyra-Rojas, Latin American Studies Association (LASA), gave a presentation on the use of data analyses for driving decision-making. She showed slides depicting an analysis used to map the slate proposed by nominations committee to the actual LASA membership composition by gender, region and discipline to ensure the slate truly represented the membership.  Her next example showed LASA’s analysis that helped develop a new membership fee structure that allowed for subsidizing members in Latin America. Lastly, LASA she showed how LASA used data from other association’s 990 forms to consider the possibility of moving the association to a different city
  • Ed Liebow, American Anthropological Association (AAA) and James Shulman (ACLS), spoke on the advantages of using ORCID, an identifier-enabled research information infrastructure that distinguishes researchers and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between individual researchers and their professional activities ensuring that their work is recognized. This service is free to individuals and could help societies maintain updated records of their members research with verified information.
  • Amy Ferrer, American Philosophical Association (APA), acting as chair of the meeting on Saturday, reminded the attendees about the recent data collection efforts (annual survey and membership overlap analysis).  She urged participation in both surveys and called for volunteers to serve on a committee to review the annual survey questions, now in its fifth year.
  • A lighting round session during which members shared society concerns or accomplishments was led by Lisa Berglund, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

The meeting concluded with a wrap-up by Amy Ferrer, American Philosophical Association.

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 Visit Tampa Bay and its partners, the Tampa Marriott Waterside and the Hilton Tampa Downtown provided accommodations.  Meals and/or meeting rooms were provided by the Columbia Restaurant, Sheraton, Riverview, Ulele Restaurant, and the Show & Tell Kitchen at Armature Works. Cultural activities included visits to the Sweethearts Cigar Shop, Tampa Bay History Center and the Tampa Riverwalk.

The CEO will next convene on April 27, 2019, in New York, following the ACLS annual meeting.