SHAFR Council Minutes
Thursday June 23, 2016
8:00AM to 1:10PM
Boardroom (Room 226)
Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice
San Diego, CA
Council members present:
Terry Anderson, Mark Bradley, Amanda Boczar, Tim Borstelmann, Robert Brigham, Amanda Demmer, Mary Dudziak, David Engerman, Petra Goedde, Amy Greenberg, Paul Kramer, Alan McPherson, and Penny von Eschen.
Others attending: Amy Sayward (ex officio), Salim Yaqub, Melani McAlister, Julie Laut, Adriane Lentz-Smith, Patricia Thomas, Anne Foster, Andrew Johns, Kenneth Osgood, Andrew Preston, Kathy Rasmussen, and Kimber Quinney.
The Council meeting began at 8:00 a.m. with a welcome from SHAFR President David Engerman. The minutes from the last Council meeting had been approved by email vote previously.
2) 2016 SHAFR Conference Report provided by Program Committee co-chairs Melani McAlister and Salim Yaqub as well as SHAFR Conference Coordinator Julie Laut
Laut reported that some 440 participants had pre-registered for the conference, making it one of the larger non-D.C. conferences. Thanks were expressed to the Provost of the University of San Diego (USD), Dr. Andrew Allen, for his contribution to the conference, which included all AV costs, several refreshment breaks, and use of the USD trams to facilitate movement between the campus and the conference hotels during the morning and late afternoon. Cornell University Press and Oxford University Press also served as sponsors for refreshment breaks. Three usual exhibitors did not attend this year’s conference, but there was one new exhibitor, for a total of 12 exhibitor tables. Laut also pointed out that CSPAN 3 was televising David Engerman’s Presidential address as well as one of the panels. She also noted that more than 100 conference attendees had signed up for the free walking tour of Balboa Park and for the social event at the Natural History Museum.
The Program Committee report highlighted some of the unique aspects of this year’s program, including several panels on humanitarianism, human rights, and Africa. The acceptance rate for panel proposals for this year’s conference was 88%; additionally there were 48 individual paper proposals, of which 32 were accepted (66%), and 10 panels were constructed from these proposals. While the acceptance rate was relatively high, the Program Chairs noted that this allowed a greater diversity in topics in the conference; greater diversity also came from the Global and Diversity Scholars travel awards. In total, there were 93 regular panels and 1 teaching panel on this year’s program. The Program Committee urged the Council to provide clearer guidance to participants on the proper format and timing of conference papers. The committee chairs also noted 25 cancellations of presenters this year, including a high number of last-minute cancelations. Council discussed the possibility of some type of sanction for cancelations, but the consensus was to take up the issue at a later time if this signals the beginning of a trend rather than being an aberration. Council thanked McAlister, Yaqub, and Laut for their fine work.
3) 2017 SHAFR Conference
In looking forward to the 2017 SHAFR Conference in Arlington, VA, Laut pointed out that the popularity of this year’s walking tours might prompt a similar activity at future conferences. She also suggested raising the rates for advertising and exhibiting at the conference in the future. In response to Council Member Mark Bradley’s pre-conference question about reducing SHAFR’s carbon footprint, Laut recommended eliminating the paper registration form (only one received this year) and reducing the number of programs printed.
Adriane Lentz-Smith and Bob Brigham reported on behalf of the 2017 Program Committee and announced the other members of their committee. Vice President Mary Dudziak recommended a focus on strengthening existing outreach for the upcoming conference and stated that she was looking forward to working with the Program Committee.
4) Report of Committee on Minority Historians in SHAFR by Adriane Lentz-Smith
Lentz-Smith spoke on behalf of herself and co-chair Lien-Hang Nguyen about increasing involvement and continuing attendance of minority historians by working to create a community within SHAFR, not just recruiting one-time presentations but fostering long-term association with the organization. She also pointed out that awards to graduate students might not immediately yield consistent membership but can result in positive associations and even promotion of SHAFR. Council concurred with the need for a continued and committed effort in supporting minority historian involvement in SHAFR.
5) 2018 SHAFR Conference Proposal by Petra Goedde
Goedde recapped the proposal sent earlier to Council that the 2018 conference be in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, due to its affordability, the east-coast location, the historical sites and archives that are available to scholars, and its walkability due to being in the city center. Additionally, significant funds have already been pledged by neighboring universities and institutions to underwrite some conference costs. Von Eschen moved that the proposal be seconded, Anderson seconded, and the Council voted unanimously to accept it.
6) Creation of a Conference Committee
Dudziak explained that conference committees can assist organizations in recruiting conference cities further ahead of time, conducting outreach, and recruiting strong panel proposals in addition to handling policy matters, such as ensuring greater access to those with a disability, considering a policy toward those who cancel after the program is printed. Engerman added that such a committee could also work on longer-term issues, such as greening the conference. Bradley made a motion to create such a committee, which was seconded by Brigham and approved unanimously.
7) Renewal of Program Coordinator
Given that Laut’s contract was a one-year contract and given Council’s enthusiasm about Laut’s work on the San Diego conference, Council discussed renewal and recommended a three-year contract offer with a raise (with the option to leave the position with one year’s notice) to be made by Engerman. The motion was made by Greenberg, seconded by Goedde, and passed unanimously.
8) Council discussion of SHAFR’s financial position
After Sayward highlighted a couple parts of the financial reports that were circulated ahead of the Council meeting, Borstelmann shared parts of the conversation that the Ways & Means Committee had had the previous day. Given recent withdrawals from the endowment and the lower amount offered to SHAFR by the Oxford University Press contract, the committee suggested that Council develop a policy regarding the regular level of endowment draws and some slight adjustments to the annual budget moving forward. Engerman and Sayward will meet in the fall (along with accounting professionals) to develop the FY 2017 budget and a clearer set of financial reports to guide Council’s decision-making in the future.
As part of the budget restructuring, Sayward had recommended and the Ways & Means Committee agreed to recharacterize the “Assistant Director” budget line as “Support Services for the Executive Director,” in order to provide a greater range of more specialized services moving forward. Funding for the coming fiscal year will remain at the same level. This motion by the Ways & Means Committee was seconded by von Eschen and passed unanimously.
9) SHAFR Publications Discussion with Anne Foster, Patricia Thomas, and Andrew Johns
A discussion about how to improve the membership renewal process and ensure that late or forgotten renewers (including life members this year) receive both Diplomatic History and Passport ensued between Andrew Johns, Trish Thomas, and Council. Johns, Engerman, and Thomas will have follow-up conversations with the goal of improving the process, including multiyear renewals and more clearly alerting members that a delay in renewing may result in not receiving all of their publications. Dudziak suggested a follow-up conversation at the January 2017 Council meeting to assess progress.
Sayward summarized her written report on the process of digitizing past issues of the SHAFR newsletter, which will require additional financial resources to complete. Once the digitization nears completion, she will work with Johns to integrate the two websites and launch/announce the initiative.
Following up on an issue raised in Johns’ report, Bradley suggested that Council might be the most appropriate body to create a service award for SHAFR. Johns agreed, and Engerman agreed to appoint a task force to make a recommendation at the January 2017 AHA Council meeting. If approved, nominations could be received and an award made in June 2017.
The Council all offered congratulations for the work that Cullather and Foster had done with DH, specifically with regard to mechanics and improved style guides for authors. Foster announced that the physical space that the journal occupies at Indiana University will be moving. The process of sharing book reviews between the journal and Passport was working well, but Passport reviews are not generally accessible through on-line queries. Johns and Thomas will discuss the issue further.
10) Summer Institute reports by Kenneth Osgood and Andrew Preston
2016 Summer Institute Coordinator Osgood summarized his report, emailed earlier to Council. The Summer Institute begins on Monday, June 27th 2016 in the Netherlands. Ten participants from North America and Western Europe were chosen to participate from the 46 applications received, which came from all over the world. Some discussion ensued about how to encourage Institute participants to become long-term members of SHAFR and how to ensure a diverse set of participants.
2017 Summer Institute Coordinator Preston detailed the planning taking place for next year’s Institute at Cambridge University from 3-7 July. The location allows easy access to the Churchill and Thatcher papers. The morning sessions will be based of the readings, and the afternoon sessions will be focused on professional development. The theme will be “Security of the State.”
11) Report of the Committee on Women in SHAFR by Kathy Rasmussen
Rasmussen reminded Council of the committee’s mandate to submit a report every five years and to track progress in the interim. She highlighted from the list of 13 recommendations flowing out of the 2013 report that Council might consider how best to assist parents attending the conference with their children, activate the committee’s webpage to provide additional information to SHAFR’s membership, and assist the committee in its on-going data-gathering, which will become more intensive if the committee chooses to pursue a climate survey. While it was suggested that the first issue might be considered by the newly created Conference Committee and that the second should be considered by the Web Committee, Goedde made a motion to authorize the President and Executive Director to gather data about SHAFR’s members through its conference membership and organizational membership renewals; the motion was seconded by Bradley and passed unanimously.
12) Report of the Teaching Committee by Kimber Quinney
Quinney, who had just completed meeting with the Teaching Committee, urged Council to think about ways to give SHAFR’s teaching efforts the same sort of time and space that it does for research. She specifically recommended additional web resources for teaching and suggested leveraging SHAFR resources to develop new resources through partnerships with other organizations and institutions, perhaps including the Gilder-Lehrman Institution and the University of Wisconsin. Council members provided some considerations for the Teaching Committee in moving forward with the idea of external partnerships.
13) Continuation of Council discussion of SHAFR’s financial position
The Ways & Means Committee also recommended increasing conference registration from $85/$35 to $100/$40 (for faculty/professionals and for students respectively). Boczar seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
In discussing a policy on endowment draws, the Ways & Means Committee recommendation of spending up to 3% of the total endowment yearly was modified to use FY 2017 as a transition year (since drastic changes are not needed) and to fully implement the policy for FY 2018. Brigham seconded the amended motion, which passed unanimously.
14) Report on external partnerships by Penny von Eschen and Amanda Boczar
Following up on their written report circulated ahead of time to Council, von Eschen and Boczar reiterated their recommendation to Council that the partnership with the Trans-Atlantic Studies Association be discontinued, that the relationship with the National History Center be maintained for the next year, and that Council consider increasing its contribution to the National Coalition for History. Council accepted the first two recommendations but declined to increase support at this time for the National Coalition for History. The motion was made by von Eschen, seconded by Borstelmann, and passed unanimously.
15) Report on SHAFR Fellowships by Robert Brigham, Terry Anderson, and Petra Goedde
Summarizing the ad hoc committee’s earlier report, Brigham pointed out that it was unusual for an organization of SHAFR’s size to make so many and such substantial fellowships and travel grants to graduate students and international scholars. It was disappointing to find that the data (which is incomplete due to few students submitting the requested reports) did not support the idea that such fellowships and awards lead to long-term SHAFR membership in most cases. Discussion followed about the best way maintain this program of fellowships and travel grants at a sustainable level given the Council resolution to bring the budget closer in line with the new endowment spending policy. Ultimately, Borstelmann moved that the Global and Diversity Scholars grants be trimmed from $35,000 to $30,000; this motion was seconded by Bradley and passed unanimously. Additionally, Borstelmann moved that SHAFR trim the number of Bemis grants from fifteen to ten in the coming year; this motion was seconded by McPherson and passed unanimously
Engerman thanked outgoing Council members Alan McPherson, Penny von Eschen, Mark Bradley, and Bob Brigham for their service. Dudziak similarly thanked David Engerman for his service as SHAFR’s President. After a round of applause, Council adjourned.