2017 CEO Spring Meeting

The Conference of Executive Officers (CEO) held its spring meeting at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel on May 13, 2017, following the ACLS annual meeting. James Grossman of the American Historical Association, serving as chair of the CEO Executive Committee, led the meeting. 

Grossman welcomed new CEO members from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Society of Military History, Association for Jewish Studies, American Antiquarian Society, Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies, and the National Communication 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 Craig Klafter, American Society for Legal History. Serving with her were Robert Berlin, Society for Military History, and Nancy Kidd, American Sociological Association. The nominees, who were elected to serve terms ending in spring 2020, were Amy Ferrer, American Philosophical Association, and Jill Simpson, Society for Cinema and Media Studies. They replace outgoing members Amy Ferrer, American Philosophical Association (who filled a vacancy), and Craig Klafter, American Society for Legal History.

Grossman reported on data collection for the 2017 census on organizational health. Forty-five member societies had completed the questionnaire to date. 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 May 2017 meetings of the ACLS Board of Directors, highlighting ACLS’s development campaign and how the organization’s case statement might include the value of learned societies. The group discussed possible areas of capacity-building 

Joyce Pisarello, a senior program officer at Scholars at Risk, an international network of institutions and individuals whose mission it is to protect scholars and promote academic freedom, had been invited to give a presentation about the work of SAR. ACLS member societies were interested in learning more about the current perils to international academic freedom, and how their organizations can helpfully engage.

The group then heard from Stephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance. Kidd spoke on the organization’s outreach to local humanities communities, recent lobbying advocacy, online resources; and the advocacy toolkit for promoting undergraduate humanities study.

Four smaller discussion groups were arranged by size of membership for an open discussion on issues relevant to each group.  The larger societies discussed advocacy, membership growth and decline, and support for members targeted to career stage. The middle/larger societies discussed the discussed: travel ban and other advocacy issues; membership fluctuations; mentoring programs for junior scholars, and data collection. The medium sized societies considered the transition from faculty career to society administrator, income from dues versus those from publishing income, skype participation at meetings, and the skyrocketing costs of AV and Wi-Fi at annual conferences. The smaller societies discussed restrictions on the number and/or frequency of roles at conferences; the travel ban, and affiliated status with other societies and those relationships can be improved.

Amy Ferrer, a member of the executive committee and executive director of the American Philosophical Association, facilitated the grab bag session that called for ideas and offerings for the upcoming fall meeting in Fort Worth. Among the ideas presented were university hosting agreements, member benefits, methods and tools for program evaluation, and innovations in communications with members. 

Dorothy Deng of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, L.L.P. made herself available for consultation after the meeting. The suggested topic for discussion was contract review for associations.

The next leadership/governance seminar for ACLS member society presidents and chief executive officers will be held on Monday, September 11, 2017, 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 Fort Worth, TX, November 9-12, 2017.