January 2015

SHAFR Council Meetings Minutes
Saturday, January 3, 2015 - 8:00am to 12:00pm
Council Meeting

SHAFR Council Agenda                                                        APPROVED BY COUNCIL 1/22/15
January 3, 2015
8:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Hilton Board Room
New York Hilton

Members present: Tim Borstelmann (presiding), Amanda Boczar, Mark Bradley, Robert Brigham, David Engerman, Petra Goedde, Rebecca Herman-Weber, Kristin Hoganson, Paul Kramer, Fredrik Logevall, Alan McPherson, Penny Von Eschen.

Others present: Peter Hahn, David Hadley, Jennifer Boles, Anne Foster, Andrew Johns, Mary Werden.

Business Items

  1. Announcements

Borstelmann called the meeting to order at 8:05. He expressed his pleasure at the opportunity to work with the Council, and at the presence today of Vice President Engerman and two past presidents, Bradley and Logevall. He also expressed thanks to Hahn for his work in preparation for the meeting.

  1. Resolutions of thanks to retiring Council members

A motion of thanks to Marilyn Young, Carol Chin, Sarah Snyder, Christopher Dietrich, whose Council terms ended on December 31, was introduced by Brigham (seconded by Hoganson) and passed unanimously.

  1. Recap of motions passed by email vote since June meeting

Hahn read into the minutes a summary of the three motions approved by correspondence since the June 2014 meeting: approval of the minutes of the June 2014 meeting; approval of a motion clarifying a motion passed by Council in the June 2014 meeting, that SHAFR records stored in Texas A&M Archives should be preserved until an inventory and an assessment were completed; and approval of a three-part motion (a) directing long-term retention of certain classes of SHAFR records, (b) scheduling discussion of a records retention policy for the January 2015 meeting, and (c) authorizing the destruction of certain classes of SHAFR records.

  1. Motion to accept 2014 financial report

Hahn presented written and oral reports on the finances in fiscal year 2014, which was only ten months due to the transition from ending the fiscal year in December to ending the fiscal year in October, and a budget for FY 2015 (which began on November 1). Having provided a detailed written report in advance of the meeting, Hahn summarized that SHAFR’s endowment and total assets on October 31 were the highest year-end figures in the Society’s history. 

Hahn summarized a financial statement received recently from Oxford University Press.  Discussion ensued about data in the publisher’s report earlier received and circulated to Council.  Questions were raised about the reported data on sales and circulation and the potential long-term impact on the finances of the Society. Hahn offered to ask these questions when he met with representatives of the press this afternoon and to report back to Council on his findings. It was suggested that Hahn ask the representative if she would be able to attend a Council meeting in 2016 or 2017.

Hahn recommended that on the basis of the overall financial health of the Society that Council should affirm its earlier strategy of using endowment earnings to fund high quality programs whose costs exceeded cash revenues.  Engerman asked if there were regular endowment withdrawals; Hahn explained that the long-term practice was to withdraw from the endowment as shortfalls occurred on annual bases and that historically such withdraws had been infrequent although they occurred in 2013 and 2014. 

Brigham requested clarification of SHAFR’s status as a non-profit organization. Hahn explained that SHAFR paid a modest annual federal tax in light of calculations made by the IRS based on Form 990.  He noted that Council in 2008 approved a plan to pay the federal tax rather than drastically revise spending patterns.  He further noted that a more significant tax was paid in 2014 because of a one-time sell-off of stocks that had earned significant capital gains during the transition of the endowment accounts to TIAA CREF in 2013.

Brigham moved (seconded by Engerman) that the report be accepted; the motion passed unanimously.

  1. Report on SHAFR Guide to the Literature

McPherson gave a brief presentation on his initiatives as editor of the SHAFR Guide to the Literature and he requested guidance from Council on next steps. McPherson reported that, following the decision to move away from ABC-CLIO, he had been in discussion with potential publishers. Two proposals have emerged.

The first proposal is from Oxford University Press, and would fit within their Oxford bibliographies series. The Guide would be published online only, and its format would need to be altered significantly to fit their style. McPherson emphasized that significant work would be required to make this alteration. The second proposal is from Brill, which would not require a change of format and would provide for a hard-copy edition; however, further information is required from Brill.

Discussion ensued as the strengths and weaknesses of the two proposals. Questions concerned which option offered the most practical solution, which would provide the greatest public access, and how section editors might be fairly compensated for their work. McPherson suggested that he further pursue the Brill proposal, examine other options, and report back in June with a goal of a first edition published by 2017. There was general agreement from Council on this point; Borstelmann expressed appreciation for the hard work of McPherson.

  1. Archival records retention policy

Hahn presented oral and written reports on the SHAFR archival material formerly located at Texas A&M University. He noted with appreciation the work of Dr. Jessica Wallace for conducting an inventory and assessment of the materials gathered at Ohio State in 2014 from Texas A&M and the former Diplomatic History office in Colorado, and for helping prepare the report.

Hahn reviewed the recommendations he made in the written report pertaining to the Bernath family papers discovered in the materials from Texas A&M and he asked Council for guidance.  Hahn recommended the permanent preservation of those files concerning the scholarly career and premature death of Stuart L. Bernath, and correspondence between SHAFR and Gerald Bernath on a range of topics which included the establishment of various funds in honor of Stuart and Myrna Bernath. Hahn recommended that personal bank statements of the Bernath family be destroyed in the interest of privacy and he asked Council to decide between preserving or destroying the will of Myrna Bernath.  Brigham moved (Von Eschen seconding) that the personal bank statements should be destroyed, that the will should be held permanently in the SHAFR Business Office, and that the Stuart Bernath file and the Gerald Bernath correspondence should be permanently archived.  The motion passed unanimously.

With regard to the permanent preservation of SHAFR archives, Hahn reported that the Ohio State University Library & Archives (OSUL&A) expressed willingness to accept SHAFR archival material for permanent retention.  Hahn noted that the OSUL&A would make the records available to the public; and that the Archives has a commitment to preserve materials related to non-profit societies with ties to the university and/or the State of Ohio. Appreciation was expressed for Hahn’s work on this effort. A consensus emerged in favor of depositing SHAFR materials in the OSUL&A.

Hahn then raised questions with two specific parts of the SHAFR collection: manuscripts submitted to Diplomatic History and reader’s reports on those manuscripts; and prize committee deliberations files. Hahn noted that the OSUL&A would not accept the Diplomatic History manuscript submissions, citing space limitations and absence of public interest, but would accept the reader’s reports. Hahn also summarized a proposal to digitize these materials.  Council members agreed that digitization would be too costly in light of the value of the materials and that their destruction was justified.  It was also agreed that reader’s reports should be preserved in those cases where the referees signed a form indicating their consent with preservation and eventual public access; that those reports would be held in the SHAFR Business Office until 2030 at which time they would be transferred to the Archives; and that all other reader’s reports should be destroyed.  Hahn recommended that final reports from prize committees should be archived but that all other materials detailing deliberations should be destroyed.  He cited the concern with privacy and the relative dearth of such files since 2002 to justify this recommendation. 

Herman-Weber moved (Bradley seconded) that original manuscripts submitted to Diplomatic History should be scheduled for destruction; that reader’s reports accompanied by signed consent forms should be preserved in the Business Office until 2030 and then archived; that prize committee reports should be archived and other prize committee files should be destroyed; and that the SHAFR archive should be established at OSUL&A.  The motion passed unanimously.

Hahn indicated that he would work with Dr. Wallace to implement these decisions; and that he would facilitate signature of records retention and deed of gift agreements between Borstelmann and the OSUL&A.

  1. Salary Structure

Hadley vacated the meeting room.

Borstelmann proposed that Council replace its past, ad hoc management of compensation for SHAFR’s employees and contractors with a more proactive management process that includes annual review of all salaries and compensation levels, including annual proposals for adjustments based on merit rewards and cost-of-living inflation.

Discussion ensued. Consensus developed that the proposed new process should be adopted immediately; that the president will formulate recommendations for those staff on calendar year appointments for Council consideration at January meetings and recommendations for those staff on July 1-June 30 appointment years for Council consideration at June meetings; that the president will consult with the Ways & Means Committee and relevant SHAFR officers and committee chairs in formulating these recommendations; that the president will include an assessment of any changes and challenges in each staff member’s position; and that this duty will be added to the guide to the office of president. Von Eschen moved (Engerman seconded) adoption of this plan and the motion was approved unanimously.

McPherson vacated the room.  Council resolved unanimously that compensation for the Guide editor would be addressed in June 2015.  McPherson returned to the room.  Council resolved unanimously that compensation for the conference consultant would be addressed in June 2015 and that compensation for the web editor, Passport editor, and assistant director would be evaluated in January 2016.  Hahn vacated the room.  Council resolved unanimously that compensation for the executive director would be increased immediately to $25,000 per year.  Hahn and Hadley returned to the room.

  1. Electronic attendance at Council meetings

Hoganson raised the question of whether there should be an option for electronic attendance of Council members in the event an emergency prevented attendance at a meeting. Discussion ensued as to the different options available for electronic communications, the costs that could be incurred, and potential issues per the By-Laws provisions on voting. Council agreed that presidents, on an ad hoc basis, could direct that members unable to attend meetings under emergency circumstances should gain access to meetings (but not to vote) by electronic means. 

  1. Initiative to promote philanthropy to SHAFR

Borstelmann noted that many members would welcome an opportunity to contribute to SHAFR and thus he favored facilitating and soliciting donations. He proposed that he would establish an ad hoc committee to consider questions of financial development for the organization and the promotion of life memberships and he asked Council to approve.  Consensus emerged than a committee as envisaged by Borstelmann ought to be formed.

10) Memberships status of prize winners

Hahn indicated that prize committee chairs had asked if prizes should be limited to members only.  Discussion ensued. It was noted that perhaps the Bernath Lecture Prize should be limited to members only but that book prizes should not.  Borstelmann indicated that this item would be further discussed in June.

11) Resolution of congratulations to Regina Greenwell

Hoganson motioned (Engerman seconded) approval of a resolution submitted by William Burr:

Until her retirement on 1 December 2014 Senior Archivist Regina Greenwell has worked at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library for 38 years.  Over the years she made a huge difference for SHAFR members by helping to make the LBJ Library one of the most open of the presidential libraries.  Starting out as a staff historian, she prepared primary sources for the Library’s oral history program and edited the transcripts. As an archivist, she helped reduce the backlog of classified records; Regina eventually became leader of the Library’s foreign policy team, which oversees all of the Library’s declassification efforts, including systematic and mandatory declassification review, and the Remote Archives Capture (RAC) Project. As part of her work, she provided expert advice to researchers working on the Library’s holdings on the Middle East, Latin America, the United Nations, and national security policy. Moreover, she was co-team leader of the project to process President Johnson’s recorded telephone conversations and started the work to process recordings made by Johnson in the Cabinet Room during 1968. Among the tapes that Regina helped process were the famous conversations, recorded on dictabelt, of LBJ with Senator Richard Russell and national security adviser McGeorge Bundy,  in May 1964, when Johnson expressed his doubts about Vietnam (“What does Vietnam mean to me?”). In this and other ways, Regina Greenwell contributed to a qualitatively better understanding of U.S. foreign relations during the 1960s.

The motion passed unanimously.


12) Passport

Having circulated previously a written report, Johns presented a brief oral report on Passport, noting that the publication was in good shape. Council members expressed appreciation for Johns’s and Mitch Lerner’s service as Passport editors.

13) 2015 Summer Institute

Having circulated previously a written report, Johns reported that 2015 Summer Institute planning was proceeding well, and that applications from potential participants were currently incoming.

  1. Summer Institute Oversight Committee

Reporting for the Summer Institute Oversight Committee, Bradley suggested that Summer Institutes should emphasize SHAFR’s commitment to diversity and internationalism; and that future Calls for Proposals to host institutes should allow proposers up to three pages to express the intellectual framework of their proposal. The issue of whether the SI should cater primarily to graduate students or to young faculty, or to both, was also raised.

Engerman moved (Bradley seconded) that future Calls for Proposals would include a diversity and international component; allow up to three pages to explain the intellectual framework; change the language regarding the participants of the Summer Institute to read “junior faculty and graduate students”; and add notification that SIOC would work with the organizers of successful proposals to promote the goals of the Summer Institute. The motion passed unanimously.

15) Diplomatic History

Foster and Diplomatic History grad assistants Boles and Werden reported on the progress of Diplomatic History since the move of the editorial office to Bloomington. Foster reported that journal operations were smooth, that a third graduate assistant had been hired, and that a style guide was being prepared to promote standardization and accuracy. Foster expressed satisfaction at the level of cooperation between Passport and Diplomatic History, especially in terms of sharing book reviews. Logevall expressed his preference for as many reviews as possible to appear in Diplomatic History; Foster appreciated his view and agreed on the importance of book reviews.

Brigham asked whether Diplomatic History required readers to sign a confidentiality waiver; Foster said they did not and had no plans to add one, unless guided to do so by Council. Hoganson asked whether reader reports were being archived; Foster responded the electronic copies were being kept. Borstelmann thanked Passport and Diplomatic History staffs for their good work, and Foster and Johns for participating in the meeting.

16) 2015 Annual Meeting

Borstelmann reported that all was going well with the preparations for the SHAFR Conference in Summer 2015. He commended the work of Program Committee co-chairs Brooke Blower and Jason Colby in preparing for the conference and referred Council to a written report they submitted in advance of the meeting which included a schedule for sessions.

17) 2016 and 2017 Annual Meetings

Johns, as co-chair of local arrangements, reported that preparations for the 2016 San Diego SHAFR Conference were proceeding well.

Hahn noted under the usual cycle, the 2017 conference would be held in Washington.  Council indicated that that cycle should continue, and Hahn indicated that he would work with Borstelmann to find a venue.

Discussion ensued on holding a conference in a non-U.S. location.  Hahn mentioned that Council has previously encouraged members to propose overseas locations when calls for proposals for non-Washington conferences were announced.  Goedde mentioned that the Membership Committee was exploring European locations. Others noted possible sites in Latin America.   Concern was expressed that overseas venues might be cost-prohibitive for many members especially students. It was suggested that SHAFR might need to subsidize travel. It was suggested that the Summer Institute might be held in an international location as a prelude to a full conference being held abroad.

Brigham moved (Bradley seconded) that the 2016 Summer Institute Call for Proposals should be further revised to include specific language about the possibility of an international venue, with a note that such proposals needing more than the allotted $45,000 would be considered further. The motion passed unanimously.

18) Prizes and Fellowships

Hahn made reference to a written report distributed earlier summarizing prizes and fellowships to be awarded at the SHAFR luncheon tomorrow; it was accepted with the thanks of Borstelmann.

19) Teaching Committee

Council was directed to see a written report provided by Chester Pach; it was received with thanks.

20) Announcements and other business

Borstelmann brought the meeting to a close at 12:00PM and thanked all present for their participation.

Respectfully submitted,
Peter L. Hahn
Executive Director