SHAFR Council Minutes
Thursday, June 22, 2017
8:00AM to 1:45 PM
Studio A and Board Room
Arlington Renaissance Capital View
Council members present:
Terry Anderson, Amanda Boczar, Tim Borstelmann, Matt Connelly, Amanda Demmer, Mary Dudziak (presiding), David Engerman, Petra Goedde, Amy Greenberg, Peter Hahn, Julia Irwin, Paul Kramer, Fred Logevall, Amy Sayward (ex officio), Kathryn Statler.
Mark Bradley, Frank Costigliola, Melani McAlister, Nick Cullather, Anne Foster, George Fujii, Alex Fulton, Ann Heiss, Andrew Johns, Adriane Lentz-Smith, Debbie Sharnak, Trish Thomas.
Council voting between meetings
After opening announcements, SHAFR President Dudziak discussed limits on email votes by Council. Greenberg pointed out that many Council discussions between meetings are on items that do not actually require a vote. Engerman made a motion to limit our use of email votes as we seek to better understand the issues and their solution (to be considered at January 2018 meeting). The motion was seconded by Greenberg and passed unanimously.
After a short introduction by Engerman to the financial issues that Council has begun to address and the ways in which the Ways & Means Committee has worked with the Executive Director to develop reports and policies (including an endowment spending rule) that will assist Council in making the best decisions for the organization, further discussion of the FY18 budget was deferred.
Partnership with National History Center
Dudziak discussed her meeting with Christian Ostermann of the Wilson Center and Dane Kennedy of the National History Center (NHC), and a proposal from Ostermann and Kennedy regarding SHAFR’s future relationship with these organizations. Council members expressed skepticism regarding maintaining this relationship. Logevall expressed his respect for the work of the Wilson Center and his hope that SHAFR would continue to maintain some kind of relationship at this point. After a full discussion, Logevall moved that SHAFR cut its funding of the National History Center to $2,000 per year. This motion was seconded by Anderson and passed unanimously with one abstaining. Dudziak concluded the conversation by pointing out that the National Coalition for History is not currently on our agenda and that there seems to be broad consensus on the value of this partnership with SHAFR.
At the initiative of Dudziak, Council discussed membership matters, including the idea of joint memberships as a way of increasing membership in a way that would be intellectually and financial beneficial to both sides. She suggested that we should pursue this possibility with the American Society of International Law (ASIL). Kramer said that it might be useful to explore synergies with other organizations. Engerman said that a pilot with ASIL, given current circumstances, could be helpful and inform future conversations about a larger portfolio of organizations, an idea that Borstelmann endorsed. Dudziak concluded with her commitment to move forward and provide Council with particulars in January.
Financial matters (continued)
Dudziak proposed that SHAFR begin limited advertising on our website, suggesting that it could raise $1,000 or more per year in revenue. Engerman said that the report from the Web Committee was particularly helpful and that its recommendations had his full support. Dudziak will work with the Web Committee to develop an advertising policy that would follow the model of the Organization of American Historians (OAH), allowing small ads, without videos, related to SHAFR’s mission.
Council returned to a discussion of the current fiscal year, which includes a Summer Institute and does not fall under the endowment spending rule. Most of the projected expenses are already contractually obligated, giving little room to trim. However, next year’s budget, which does not include a Summer Institute and does fall under the spending rule, should be the focus of Council’s attention. Engerman also stressed that decisions should be based on SHAFR’s mission, not simply dollars and cents.
Engerman suggested that some relatively small changes could be made to bring the FY2017-18 budget into balance thanks to changes already made in the previous Council meeting. Goedde suggested that Council work on figuring out what cuts it could make now to balance the budget for the next fiscal year. Logevall moved to approve the FY2017-18 budget as presented with the understanding that subsequent Council action could amend various budget categories. The motion was seconded by Engerman and passed unanimously.
Mark Bradley joined the meeting to discuss the recommendations of the Summer Institute task force, which included Goedde and Demmer. Based on the previous Council discussion, they had worked to develop a model and template for a workshop tied to the conference. Goedde asserted the task force’s preference for a 2.5 day workshop that would presumably allow time to build community among the participants, an idea that Logevall underlined. The task force believed that tying the institute to the conference would result in savings, especially if the institute took place at or close by the conference hotel. Demmer talked about the idea of explicitly linking the plenary and the institute to provide even more synergies and possible savings. Bradley pointed out the long-term value of the institute based on the fact that one of the panels at this conference was the result of intellectual ties built at a previous institute.
Logevall raised the question of whether a Monday-Thursday institute in the same conference venue might also be a good scenario. Statler then raised the possibility of running a summer institute at the Miller Center much like the recently concluded workshop on public engagement, which could benefit from cost-sharing with the Miller Center. Dudziak pointed out that a longer institute could discourage participation from scholars with small children and raised the question of the compensation for the organizers and senior scholars. Goedde suggested that Council set the budget and make final decisions based on the proposals received for a 2019 Summer Institute.
The final motion was that future summer institutes would be held biannually and attached to the annual conference and that a call for proposals should go out in January 2018 for a 2019 Summer Institute with a total overall budget of $10,000, which could potentially be adjusted if needed. It should be organized along the general lines outlined in the task force report. The motion was made by Goedde, seconded by Irwin, and passed unanimously.
Frank Costigliola, Chair of the Development Committee, joined the meeting. He discussed fundraising efforts, including the Leaders’ Fund. Dudziak pointed out that a fundraising policy was needed. Based on consultations with SHAFR’s attorney, she recommended accepting gifts of cash, stock, in-kind gifts, and non-real estate tangible gifts, with the latter categories evaluated by a committee that would decide whether or not to accept the donation. Based on SHAFR’s lawyer’s advice, she recommended an explicit exclusion of real estate.
Following a discussion, Connelly made a motion that SHAFR accepts “donations of cash, stock, and other liquid assets.” Irwin seconded the motion, which passed 10-2-0.
Melani McAlister joined the meeting, having served as the chair of the search committee charged with identifying the new Conference Consultant. The search committee unanimously recommended Mark Sanchez. Dudziak recommended that he start at the salary at which Julie Laut had started and that she be authorized to make the same offer to the second-place candidate if turned down. Engerman made the motion, which was seconded by Irwin and passed unanimously.
SHAFR publication matters
Nick Cullather and Anne Foster, the editors of Diplomatic History, joined the meeting and discussed the status of work on the journal. Goedde prompted a discussion of the diversity of authors, noting that gender diversity of authors had remained at approximately 23% for some time. Cullather and Foster noted that they continue to work on this and other kinds of diversity, including recruiting more international authors.
Dudziak noted that it is important to recruit more readers of Diplomatic History. She explained that the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) had an exhibit table at the conference, with the idea that SHAFR might benefit from a relationship with CFR, including broader exposure for DH. Logevall heartily supported this idea. Council thanked Dudziak for her efforts in bringing CFR to the SHAFR Conference.
Borstelmann highlighted that the number of manuscript submissions had surged during their editorship, and Dudziak called for the minutes to reflect that Council thanks the editors for their excellent work. Cullather pointed out that there are now fewer forums and those tend to be ones that they have either commissioned or that cluster around a pair or set of submissions. Engerman recommended including the relatively quick “time to decision” in the submission guidelines to entice those who are uncertain about submitting. Dudziak also suggested working with the editorial board to actively recruit women and international authors and to better coordinate social media efforts between the journal office and the other communications coming from SHAFR. Foster pointed out that it would be very helpful to have students download their own articles from their institutional libraries rather than professors making those copies for them; librarians use usage figures to determine what to keep and what to jettison. Engerman suggested that a link on the course webpage could be a particularly effective strategy.
Based on the report of the task force on Passport editorship, Boczar made a motion that Council renew Andrew Johns’s term as editor. Statler seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Johns joined the meeting, and Council congratulated him on his reappointment. Dudziak raised issues discussed in the task force report, including the possibility of more institutional support. Dudziak promised to follow up with a letter to Brigham Young University stressing the importance of Johns’s work.
Council discussed other issues with Johns, including the kinds of contributors to Passport, and he promised to include more information in his report to Council in January.
A discussion ensued about accessing past issues of Passport on the SHAFR website. Google does not result in hits for Passport. Engerman suggested that there are things that SHAFR might be able to do to drive our content further up in Google. Logevall asked for Johns’s evaluation of the division of book reviews between Passport and Diplomatic History. Johns said that authors have been uniformly pleased when their books are reviewed in Passport.
Dudziak asked for approval of a proposal for giving SHAFR members discounted access to the on-line SHAFR Guide, to be published by Brill. Statler moved for approval, which was seconded by Logevall and passed unanimously.
Ann Heiss, Chair of the Conference Committee, joined the meeting. Dudziak pointed out that the committee is preparing a call for proposals for hosting the 2020 SHAFR Conference, which will be published in the September issue of Passport. Council discussed the committee’s suggestion of charging for extra copies of the program to begin an effort to “green” the annual meeting. Logevall expressed concern about the number of concurrent sessions (twelve), which could depress attendance in some sessions. Irwin made a motion to accept the recommendation that extra copies of the program be for sale for $5 at subsequent conferences. Greenberg seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Goedde reported that she and Richard Immerman would be co-chairing the local arrangements committee and working with Peter Hahn on planning for the 2018 SHAFR Conference in Philadelphia.
Council discussed the current policy requiring SHAFR membership to present at the conference and the issues relative to that which had come up this year. For this year, Council decided to allow limited exceptions with the majority consent of the President and Program Committee Co-Chairs. Kramer expressed the opinion that the possibility of an exception, if not known, would be ineffective. Greenberg said that it is common for organizations to have exceptions for professionals who are not historians. Heiss recommended that any requests for exceptions be required at the time that the panel is submitted for consideration by the Program Committee. Greenberg shared the language from the Slavic Studies Association, which includes “Who does not need to be a member? Only scholars and specialists outside the field of Slavic, East European and Eurasian studies do not need to become members. They must still register for the convention as non-members.” Goedde made a motion to use a version of the Slavic Studies Association language, with the President and Program Committee Co-Chairs (by a majority decision) making final decisions on exceptions; it was seconded by Anderson and passed unanimously.
Information technology matters
George Fujii, SHAFR’s Information Technology Manager, joined the meeting. He reported that traffic to the website tends to be cyclical and correlated to deadlines for fellowships, prizes, and the conference. However, additional traffic now corresponds to SHAFR e-blasts. He also reported that the Teaching Committee is now empowered to upload its own content to the page. Council thanked Fujii for his work.
Membership and conference matters
Adriane Lentz-Smith, Chair of the Committee on Minority Historians, spoke about the committee’s activities this past year, which included recruiting a panel for the conference. To attract more graduate students of color, she suggested ensuring that the conference call for papers be listed in a variety of venues that have more diverse graduate students. Council supported the idea that the Committee on Minority Historians should have a reserved panel in much the same way that the Teaching Committee currently does.
In her role as Program Committee Co-Chair, Lentz-Smith responded to Logevall’s question about the ideal number of panels. She expressed reservations about lowering the number of concurrent sessions, which would potentially lower overall conference attendance since graduate students and many faculty can only afford conference attendance if subsidized by their institutions, which often requires inclusion on the program. This conclusion was drawn from the record high rejection rate of proposals for this year’s conference. Goedde asked if there were things that could be done to encourage more diverse presenters on panels. Greenberg suggested that language in the call for papers could mention that diverse panels have higher acceptance rates, and Lentz-Smith said that it was important for members of the Program Committee to be mindful about diversity.
Connelly raised the question of whether paying honoraria to plenary and keynote speakers was a practice that should continue. Logevall suggested that an honorarium might be necessary to attract a high-caliber speaker to a location outside a major metropolitan area. Dudziak noted that SHAFR’s practice is to leave this to the President’s discretion.
Trish Thomas and Alex Fulton of Oxford University Press (OUP) joined the meeting. Thomas described the membership renewal process, and Dudziak recommended that SHAFR and OUP work together to provide more customized renewal messages as part of a larger effort to increase and retain members. Thomas suggested that a card be made available at the OUP booth at complementary organizations’ conferences providing a free trial of Diplomatic History, which would fit well into such a strategy.
Connelly asked about the use of year-end vs. year-to-date data and about the revenue differences of membership vs. downloads of journal content. Thomas reported that journal content is accessible from the OUP and EBSCO websites behind a one-year moving pay-wall (to maintain the value of membership) and now on JSTOR. She pointed out the long shelf life of DH journal articles as evidenced by the list of top ten articles. Fulton suggested that a Twitter campaign highlighting these “SHAFR classics” along the lines suggested by Connelly could be a good starting point in terms of marketing. Thomas also reported that themed virtual issues help to bring readers to the website.
Sayward commented that the renewal challenges faced last year had been completely resolved by OUP this year. Thomas also reported that production was on or ahead of schedule thanks to the diligent work of Cullather and Foster. She also reported that the journal’s impact factor had continued to rise, with a current 14/87 impact factor. Fulton then talked about efforts to get more people signed up for article alerts. She said that OUP and SHAFR’s social media efforts were very complementary and that the journal’s content was very rich for anniversaries.
Boczar reported that there were eight members of the new Graduate Student Committee, who had met to discuss what they can most effectively do. They are working with Fujii to develop a SHAFR graduate student listserv and are proposing a graduate student happy hour during one of the conference evenings. She also suggested that her committee might want to add questions to the proposed survey of the membership. Dudziak called for a round of applause to express welcome and appreciation for the committee’s work.
Dudziak reported on her survey of Council members regarding travel reimbursements to attend meetings. She said that graduate student members of Council will require reimbursement and that some members of Council will as well in order to attend two meetings per year. She noted that a lack of travel reimbursement would exclude some from standing for Council, a point that Borstelmann pointed out could hurt our diversity. Hahn expressed the opinion that graduate students should also be encouraged to pursue travel funding from their home institutions. The final consensus was that the language in the policy should be strengthened to urge Council members to try to limit their requests to one of the meetings, but that limited exceptions could be made at the discretion of the President.
Returning to consideration of ways to trim the FY2017-18 budget, Statler moved (and Boczar seconded) to further trim the Global and Diversity Scholars travel reimbursement budget. Anderson expressed the opinion that the lack of long-term membership by past recipients should play a role in deciding to cut in this area, but Goedde pointed to the benefits of having more international participation in the conference itself, regardless of long-term membership. The vote in support of this motion to reduce this budget item was unanimous.
In considering how to cut expenditures at the conference, Hahn pointed out that the Ways & Means Committee had already requested that Conference Consultant Julie Laut include in her final report her suggestions for cutting the budget 2%, 5%, and 10%, which the Council could act upon in January. Engerman thought that these recommendations were likely to include a reduction in the number of free drink tickets for the opening reception (from two to one) and reduced subsidies for social events. Goedde identified audio-visual services as an expensive area that might be usefully cut. She made a motion to cut the number of free drink tickets from two to one; the motion was seconded by Borstelmann and passed unanimously.
Dudziak thanked Irwin for her fine report for the task force on a SHAFR survey, which had been prompted by the request last year from the Committee on Women in SHAFR. Dudziak suggested that the next steps were likely to be to develop the questions and to work with SHAFR’s IT Manager. It is also important to know whether there will be costs associated with this initiative. Greenberg moved to support the on-going work of developing the survey; the motion was seconded by Goedde and passed unanimously.
Dudziak reviewed the stipend information for the Guide editor. Hahn suggested that future compensation should reflect the workload moving forward, especially managing the quality of work of the revisions that are contractually required. Hahn made a motion, which was seconded by Engerman, that we request a report from McPherson regarding the workload moving forward and that, based on that report, the President was empowered to determine compensation in a manner commensurate with the scope of work and in line with past stipend amounts, and that the amount could incorporate a cost-of-living adjustment. The motion passed unanimously.
In considering compensation of the editor of Passport, Council discussed a number of factors that go into determining the stipend amounts based on each position’s job description. A motion was made by Hahn to increase the base stipend amount by 2% (to be included in the appointment letter) with the possibility of cost-of-living adjustments in subsequent years. The motion was seconded by Anderson and passed unanimously.
Statler reported on the recently-concluded workshop on public engagement organized by SHAFR and the Miller Center. She said that the four key take-aways were that (1) a public relations/communications task force could work on creating a public-facing SHAFR presence that could leverage members’ existing connections with organizations and media; (2) some sort of communication group for those interested in doing this might be needed (a private Facebook page was discussed as a possibility); (3) at the next SHAFR Conference, we should consider using You Tube and Facebook Live to promote new books and conference content; and (4) the SHAFR 2018 Conference should consider including a workshop on public engagement. Statler will follow with a formal report. Dudziak thanked Statler for the report, and both agreed on the need to do more with the SHAFR Experts Directory.
Dudziak foregrounded the Advocacy Task Force report by reminding Council that this was an outgrowth of Council’s previous action on the ban on immigration from some Muslim countries, which had an effect on SHAFR members. Council approved a petition opposing the ban by a unanimous vote. (Council decided to act only if there was a 2/3 majority.) The task force (including Kramer, Greenberg, and Dirk Bonker) had surveyed different historical organizations and considered technical issues involved in polling the entire membership. Statler commented positively on the emphasis on involving the membership. Anderson was happy that the issues to be considered would only be those that directly affect SHAFR members. Dudziak noted that the process recommended by the task force would make it extremely difficult for SHAFR to take advocacy positions. Statler commented that it should be hard. Goedde added that the high threshold would also ensure that the resolution speaks with one, more powerful voice, and Connelly stated that the travel ban would have met these standards.
In regard to the recommendation that the SHAFR President could speak quickly, but not on behalf of the organization, Dudziak questioned this provision, since the president already has the ability to speak on her/his behalf as an individual with the right to free speech. Kramer commented that this was the American Historical Association’s policy for its Executive Director. Goedde pointed out that if a President spoke “as President” in a way that was contrary to the views of the majority of Council that such a situation could be remedied by a vote of Council. Greenberg moved and Anderson seconded a motion supporting the process laid out by the task force for resolutions on behalf of the membership; it passed unanimously. Next steps include a draft of language for the by-laws, which will go to Council, and a push to gather more email addresses for members so as not to unintentionally disenfranchise members.