SHAFR Council Minutes
Friday January 6, 2017
7:30AM to 11:00AM
Council members present:
Amanda Boczar, Tim Borstelmann, Matt Connelly, Amanda Demmer, Mary Dudziak, David Engerman, Petra Goedde, Amy Greenberg, Peter Hahn, Julia Irwin, Paul Kramer, Fred Logevall, Kathryn Statler.
Amy Sayward (ex officio), Keith Aksell, Penny Von Eschen, Kimberly Taft, Mark Bradley, Ann Heiss, Chester Pach, George Fujii, Frank Costigliola.
Following introductions and a welcome from SHAFR President Mary Dudziak, a resolution of thanks for the service of past President Mark Bradley and of Council members Penny Von Eschen, Alan McPherson, and Bob Brigham passed unanimously.
Resolutions between June 2016 and January 2017
Dudziak reviewed the work of the Council between meetings, which included a unanimous resolution approving the minutes of the June 2015 meeting and a request from the Graduate Student Grants and Fellowships Committee to increase this year’s allocation for the Bemis Dissertation Research Grants, which was rejected by a majority vote.
Discussion of the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Budget and Endowment
Executive Director Amy Sayward reviewed the budget documents with Council and answered questions from Council. She noted the new format of the budget document, which provides income and expenditures side-by-side for each budget category as well as additional detail on the items that make up each budget category. Additionally, there were new documents on past endowment spending as well as a five-year budget forecast document. In regard to the latter, Sayward called Council’s attention to the need to adjust expenditures.
In regard to the endowment, David Engerman, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, shared with Council the original intent of the Bernath family in establishing a separate endowment and expressed the committee’s sense that Council must have a strategy for both utilizing and preserving the endowment moving forward. He reminded Council of its resolution at the June 2016 meeting to move toward an up to 3% endowment spending rule by FY18 and pointed to the budget report that identified the average value of the endowment over the past several years in order to determine the base-line figure for determining the 3% spending rule. He noted that the current budget under consideration exceeded this rule but also noted that significant changes to the current fiscal year budget would have little overall effect, so Council’s fiscal decisions should primarily be aimed at the FY18 budget.
Engerman, on behalf of the Ways & Means Committee, moved that SHAFR’s up to 3% spending rule (passed in June 2017) will be calculated as a rolling, three-year average of quarterly balances of each endowment. Council will review this policy in 2019. The motion passed unanimously.
Engerman also proposed a motion acknowledging the generosity of Gerald and Myrna Bernath and the crucial role that their gifts have played in allowing SHAFR to grow and develop, especially the support they have offered to graduate students and junior scholars in the form of reduced-rate student memberships, conference registrations, and fellowships. Petra Goedde seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Penny Von Eschen reviewed the written report of the task force on membership rates, which also included Amy Greenberg and Amanda Boczar, highlighting its recommendations to make membership rates more equitable for those who are not employed on the tenure track. In subsequent discussion, a consensus emerged that there would be a student category, a category for non-fully employed members (with approximately $50,000 annual income) who would pay $35, and then a full membership rate, which would be increased by $10/year to make up the membership income lost by creating the medium membership tier.
Global Scholars and Diversity Grant Program
David Engerman suggested that one way to have an immediate impact on the FY17 budget as well as moving forward would be to trim the Global Scholars and Diversity Grant Program, which drew critical attention during the previous Council discussion due to an over-reliance by some scholars on those funds and the lack of correlation between receiving such funds and becoming on-going SHAFR members. Mary Dudziak expressed some concern about this proposed late change after the Program Committee was already in place and having its deliberations. Both Petra Goedde and Fred Logevall expressed a desire to maintain the internationalization of the annual conference program, even if some longer-term goals of the Global Scholar program were not being met. Following a discussion, Kathryn Statler made a motion to reduce the Global Scholars and Diversity Grant program allocation to $20,000 for the current fiscal year, which was seconded by Tim Borstelmann and passed unanimously.
Oxford University Press
Kimberly Taft of Oxford University Press attended the Council meeting on behalf of Patricia Thomas. Taft highlighted the development of OUP’s new website, which is easier to view across digital platforms, is easier to search, and provides better branding for both Diplomatic History and SHAFR. Mary Dudziak pointed out that Taft’s area is communications, which can serve as a resource for the organization and the journal.
SHAFR Budget and Salaries
A motion to approve the FY17 budget (amended with the change to the Global Scholars and Diversity Grant Program line item) was made by Matthew Connelly and seconded by Petra Goedde; it was approved unanimously.
A motion to provide a 2% cost-of-living increase to the conference coordinator, the webmaster, and the executive director was made by Petra Goedde, seconded by Julia Irwin, and passed unanimously.
Editorial Review Process
Mary Dudziak noted to Council that SHAFR is engaged in the regular editorial review process for Passport and is preparing to launch the process for Diplomatic History as well. A Call For Proposals will be issued soon by the committee carrying out the editorial review process for Passport. This committee is chaired by Tom Schwartz and includes Salim Yaqub, Michael Allen, and Sarah Snyder.
Mary Dudziak thanked Mark Bradley and Petra Goedde for their written report. Discussion followed on two options laid out in the report: changing the Summer Institute to an event that occurs only every other year (rather than the current practice of having it every year) or changing the model to an intensive workshop that occurs directly before and at the same location as the annual meeting (rather than the current practice of having it located at diverse locations based on the topic and institutional connections of the conveners).
Council discussed the idea that a reduction or elimination of the institute would be the easiest way to address SHAFR’s budget shortfall. Council members also discussed concerns raised in a previous evaluation of the Summer Institute program, including concerns that the institute was competing with, rather than complementing, the annual meeting. Fred Logevall pointed out that last year’s institute as well as this year’s are hosted in Europe, which helps with the internationalization of SHAFR. Engerman supported the model of a pre-conference “boot camp” in order to provide greater oversight of the institute, given that past Council suggestions to institute conveners were not necessarily heeded. Amanda Demmer stressed the benefits to members from participating in summer institutes, including invaluable networking.
Dudziak recommended at this point that it might be appropriate to designate a task force to determine the format and details of a new summer institute. Paul Kramer recommended the possibility of Council identifying key subject areas for the institute and working proactively to obtain greater diversity.
Kathryn Statler made a motion that was seconded by Peter Hahn, both of whom accepted a friendly amendment from David Engerman resulting in the final motion that SHAFR will not host a Summer Institute in 2018, will move to a model that aligns summer institutes more closely with the annual meeting, and that Council will further study the best format for future programs. The motion passed unanimously.
Mary Dudziak introduced the work of the new Conference Committee, which is helping SHAFR to think and plan future non-D.C. conference sites as well as tackling issues related to the conference itself. She thanked Ann Heiss, who chairs the committee and who was attending the Council meeting, for the work that she and the committee had undertaken, as evidenced in the written report. Heiss concentrated on the issues of accommodations for parents with small children and accessibility for SHAFR members with disabilities at the annual meeting. She also thanked Council that as a result of the report, a room for nursing mothers and parents of small children at the upcoming conference had already been identified. She suggested that the SHAFR conference website could provide resources to help parents find childcare providers and could enable SHAFR members to find members to share babysitting with. She highlighted cost-free steps for members with disabilities, including a query about needs for accommodation on the registration form and a notice about the hotel’s accessibility. She expressed the desire of the committee to survey the membership in order to be better able to meet their needs.
Mary Dudziak expressed the opinion that these issues could be part of a broader survey of the SHAFR membership, which could also meet the needs of the Committee on Women in SHAFR. The committee’s motion to include an accommodation statement on conference registration materials, to make available a list of baby-sitting options, and to create a member-to-member childcare sharing board was seconded by Paul Kramer and unanimously approved.
SHAFR Distinguished Service Award
Council excused Peter Hahn from the room before discussing a task force report on a SHAFR Distinguished Service Award. Tim Borstelmann spoke on behalf of the task force that had taken up the question of whether to create a service award. He highlighted the importance of service to members of the organization. The task force moved that such an award should be created and awarded annually at the June meeting awards ceremony; it was seconded by Mary Dudziak and passed unanimously. The task force then moved to make the first award (which will be presented in June 2017) to Peter L. Hahn; Petra Goedde seconded this motion, which also passed unanimously. Upon Peter’s return to the meeting, Council announced the award and congratulated him.
Graduate Student Committee
Amanda Demmer and Amanda Boczar, the two Council members representing graduate students, accepted the charge given to them by Mary Dudziak to consider ways to more strongly link graduate students to the organization. Based on the written report and ensuing conversation, Boczar moved and Demmer seconded a motion to create a SHAFR Graduate Student Committee; it passed unanimously.
Mary Dudziak identified the improvement of SHAFR communications and outreach as a priority for this year and welcomed Chester Pach, chair of the Web Committee, and George Fujii, SHAFR’s Webmaster, to the meeting. She recommended a task force to help reorganize how we do things as well as recommend areas of the website, for example, that could be developed further. An example is an experts page that could help provide opportunities for SHAFR members to share their expertise with larger communities, including the media. Pach also pointed out that SHAFR members should be encouraged to send news about their op-eds and other public pieces so that they can appear on the website. Dudziak recommended monthly emails and more frequent communications in general as ways to keep both older and younger members connected to the social and digital footprint of SHAFR. Julia Irwin mentioned the relative lack of activity on SHAFR’s Facebook page, especially when compared to its Twitter activity.
Guiding Principles and Policies for Council Actions
Mary Dudziak stressed the importance of having a process in place to deal with requests from SHAFR members that Council take action on specific issues. She pointed out that such issues have been divisive in some professional organizations in recent memory and would like SHAFR to have a mechanism that allows Council to be responsive to concerns arising from the membership without presuming to speak on behalf of the entire membership through a simple majority vote. Peter Hahn mentioned that the by-laws currently mention a 2/3 Council vote. Paul Kramer suggested that a general meeting to discuss and vote on such issues would be appropriate, and Hahn mentioned that the by-laws allow for a general meeting at the conference (though one has not previously been held). Dudziak recommended that a task force examine the issue and report to the June Council meeting; in the interim, any urgent issue would be discussed by Council via email using the current voting process laid out in the by-laws, requiring a 2/3 majority.
Frank Costigliola, chair of the Development Committee, followed up the written report with information from his committee’s meeting the previous day. The Development Committee’s three-pronged plan intends to (1) reach out again to the senior members identified for the previous Leaders’ Fund campaign and provide greater detail on SHAFR’s current financial position, (2) meet in person with a small number of senior members about making an additional gift now or through a bequest, and (3) to work in conjunction with the 50th anniversary committee on a broader-based appeal. David Engerman discussed the relative merits of annual, “sinking,” and endowment funds; he posited that an annual fund would be most effective in the on-going work of supporting young scholars and graduate students. Peter Hahn suggested that Council set a level for endowment contributions and for naming particular ventures. Julia Irwin spoke to the positive impact that being named at the June luncheon as a contributor to the Leaders’ Fund had had on her peers. Petra Goedde suggested that a Summer Institute and/or the Global Scholars and Diversity Grant Fund were potential “naming” opportunities. The consensus that emerged was that it was best to have a variety of ways that people can give to the organization.
The available time having been consumed, Mary Dudziak closed the meeting by recommending an email discussion to consider a proposal from George Fujii to consolidate the deadlines for grants, fellowships, and prizes. The meeting was adjourned promptly at 11:00 a.m. so that Council members could travel to the site of the luncheon and Stuart L. Bernath Memorial Lecture.
Keith Aksel/Amy Sayward