2018 CEO Spring Meeting

The Conference of Executive Officers (CEO) held its spring meeting at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia on April 28, 2018, following the ACLS annual meeting. James Grossman of the American Historical Association, chair of the CEO Executive Committee, led the meeting.

Grossman welcomed new CEO members from the American Dialect Society, American Folklore Society, American Society of Church History, Austrian Studies Association, and the Oral History Association.

The first order of business was the presentation of the slate of proposed new members for the executive committee. The nominating committee was chaired by Jerry Hauser, Rhetoric Society of America. Serving with him were Jack Fitzmier, American Academy of Religion, and Victoria Long, Society for Music Theory. The nominees, who were elected to serve terms ending in spring 2021, were Julie Van Camp, American Society for Aesthetics, and Andy Vaughn, American Schools for Oriental Research.

Grossman reported on data collection for the 2018 census on organizational health. Only26 societies had submitted their data; at the same time last year 48 societies had responded. He stressed the importance of gathering this data and urged societies that had yet to participate to do so, also reminding all members to submit their IRS 990 forms.

Grossman gave a brief update on the January and April 2018 meetings of the ACLS Board of Directors, highlighting the board’s interest in the challenges facing learned societies. He then turned to Pauline Yu and Steve Wheatley to report on the vice presidential and presidential transitions leadership at ACLS. The CEO presented Steve Wheatley with a commemorative photo book in appreciation of his deep commitment to the learned society enterprise.

The group then heard from Stephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance. Kidd spoke on the organization’s toolkit Study the Humanities: Make the Case. He encouraged the group to explore the site and provide submit their own strategies for making the case for the humanities on campuses. He encouraged attendance at the November 2018 National Humanities Conference, co-hosted by the National Humanities Alliance and the Federation of State Humanities Councils in New Orleans.

Kathy Heins, ACLS director of philanthropy, gave a presentation on planned giving. She provided information on the planned giving microsite (plannedgiving.acls.org) embedded within the ACLS website but managed by an external vendor. She outlined the various types of planned giving including bequests, asset beneficiary, and charitable remainder trust.

The next session focused on choosing and auditor. Nancy Kidd, American Sociological Association, and Craig Klafter, American Society for Legal History discussed why and when to change auditors and board involvement in the selection process. Changing auditors every five years is considered a best practice as it provides a fresh look at a society’s finances and structure and serves as a checks and balances exercise. Annual audits give confidence to the members, funders, and board about financial well-being of the association. Boards and/or finance committees should be involved in the choosing of an auditor. Auditors services vary depending on financial capacity, finding the right auditor for the scope of work is essential. RFP’s are available online for seeking proposals.

Four smaller discussion groups were arranged by size of membership for an open discussion on issues relevant to each group. The larger societies discussed responses to the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) and privacy policies for their member data, life cycle of society membership. The middle/larger societies discussed the discussed member benefits beyond the annual meeting, mentoring for younger scholars, how to engage undergraduates in humanities majors. The medium sized societies considered the administrative structures with minimal or voluntary staff, data collection – specifically how to ask productive questions that will yield information on diversity, professional status, etc. The smaller societies discussed how to retain or attract graduate students and junior faculty. They also touched on maintaining quality control with their journals.

Jerry Hauser, a member of the Executive Committee and executive director of the Rhetoric Society of American, facilitated the grab bag session that called for ideas and offerings for the upcoming fall meeting in Tampa, FL. Among the ideas presented were development, codes of professional conduct, medium society stress points, transitions form volunteer to professional staff, K-12 engagement

The next leadership/governance seminar for ACLS member society presidents and chief executive officers will be held on Monday, September 17, 2018, led again by Bruce Lesley, a BoardSource consultant specializing in nonprofit board best practices, with a particular emphasis on the board's role in strategic planning and innovation.

The CEO will next convene in Tampa, Fl, November 1-4, 2018.