2010 CAO Fall Meeting

The ACLS Conference of Administrative Officers (CAO) held its 2010 fall meeting in Vancouver, B.C., on November 4-7. The meeting was hosted by Tourism Vancouver, which welcomed the group at a reception and dinner at the city’s brand new convention center.

On November 5, the two morning sessions were held at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, which served as the host hotel. The CAO business meeting was led by Willam E. Davis, executive director, American Anthropological Association, and chair of the CAO Executive Committee.  Davis gave a brief report on the fall ACLS Board of Directors meeting (which he attends ex officio) and noted the dates of future fall CAO meetings: November 10-13, 2011 in Minneapolis and November 1-4, 2012 in Nashville.  The group also meets each spring following the ACLS Annual Meeting. Davis reported that the 2011 Annual Meeting, to be held in Washington, D.C., will include a session focused on the internationalization of the American university and national policies on higher education in the United States.  The CAO Executive Committee had discussed these meetings in more detail the previous day.  In addition to Bill Davis, the CAO Executive Committee includes Lisa Mighetto, executive director, American Society for Environmental History; Amy Newhall, executive director, Middle East Studies Association; Michael Paschal, executive director, Association of Asian Studies; Elizabeth Richmond-Garza, executive director, American Comparative Literature Association; and John Siegfried, secretary-treasurer, American Economic Association.

During the business meeting, ACLS President Pauline Yu reported on recent ACLS activities. She noted that increased foundation support for fellowships programs has enabled ACLS to extend and deepen its fellowship offerings, which now cover every stage of the scholarly career. In 2010, nearly 400 fellowships were awarded, carrying total stipends of more than $14.5 million. She spoke briefly on ACLS plans to further expand fellowship opportunities. ACLS Vice President Steven C. Wheatley spoke to the group about a potential database project that would allow societies, archives, and libraries to combine collections and make them available to subscribers. Jessica Irons, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance, provided an update on federal legislation and funding for the humanities and encouraged participation in the NHA 2011 Annual Meeting and Humanities Advocacy Day on March 7-8. Bill Davis reported on the 2010 Learned Society Leadership Seminar and announced that the next seminar will take place on September 12, 2011.

The first program session concerned managing customs for Canadian meetings and was led by Bob Warnock, Canada Border Services Agency-International Events and Convention Services Program; Winnie Chan, Events on the Move; and Remy Perrot, Livingston Event Logistics. A session on the motivations and challenges of international meetings of learned societies followed, with panelists Paula Massood, Society for Cinema and Media Studies; Ann Moyer, Renaissance Society of America; Milagros Pereyra-Rojas, Latin American Studies Association; and Ron Pipkin, Law and Society Association. Don Harreld of the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference moderated.  Panelists in the final morning session presented various structures of international organizations/societies and discussed how they attract international members and manage global academic structures. Included were representatives of two ACLS affiliate organizations, Margery Berg Daniels of the International Society for Third-Sector Research and Jean-Marc Mangin of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and two member societies, Michael Paschal of the Association for Asian Studies and Doug Richardson of the Association of American Geographers. Amy Newhall of the Middle East Studies Association moderated.

The afternoon sessions were held at the Westin Bayshore Hotel. During lunch, the group heard a presentation from Terry White, former executive vice president, Service Operation and Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, on how Vancouver overcame the logistical and organizational challenges of hosting the games.  

As reported at the 2010 spring meeting, the CAO is considering ways to build societies' capacities through brokering services. In Vancouver, two subcommitees reported: Alyson Reed, executive director, Linguistic Society of America, presented options for shared legal services, and Linda Downs, executive director, College Art Asssociation, summmarized the results of a recent information technology survey of member societies and outlined the next steps for exploring the more complex matter of shared IT solutions.

The final session on Friday took up the issue of executive director transitions. Elizabeth Richmond-Graza moderated a panel consisting of W. Bernard Carlson, executive director, Society for the History of Technology; Chris Crenner, executive director, American Association for the History of Medicine; and Kathy Finley, executive director, Organization of American Historians. The discussion brought out the great disparity among societies’ approach to this topic. Further discussions will focus more directly on specific issues as they are related to society size and full- and part-time employment of the executive director.

On Saturday, November 6, a panel of five representatives from libraries, publishers, and presses engaged the group in a discussion on the topic of the future of the post-print journal. This session was held at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at the Vancouver campus of Simon Fraser University.  Four of the panelists participated via video conference: Mary Ellen Davis, Association of College and Resarch Libraries; Kathleen Keane, Johns Hopkins University Press; and Niko Pfund and Alison Denby, Oxford University Press. The fifth panelist, Michael Spinela of JSTOR, joined moderator John Siegfrield of the American Economic Association at the Wosk Centre. This session was followed by discussions on member benefits and on how, in the changing economy, societies are reconsidering their function and mission.

The meeting concluded with Rosemary Feal, executive director, Modern Language Association, leading the customary wrap-up session entitled “News You Can Use.” In this fast-paced, wide-ranging Q&A session, the group shared trends in society membership and information on electronic balloting, among other topics.  Members agreed it would be helpful to attend other societies' annual meetings; reciprocal invitations were extended.

Fall meetings of the CAO are held in cities of interest as possible convention sites and are hosted by each city's convention bureau. Thanks to Tourism Vancouver, the group enjoyed receptions and meals at select locations, including the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, the Pan Pacific Hotel, the Westin Bayshore Hotel, the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, the Bill Reid Gallery, and the Fairmont Hotel, Vancouver, and visited the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

The CAO will next meet on May 7, 2011 in Washington, D.C., following the ACLS Annual Meeting.