BAAS 2007 Annual General Meeting
Minutes of the 2007 Annual General Meeting, held at University of Leicester on April 20, 2007.
Chair: Heidi Macpherson (to 2010)
Secretary: Catherine Morley (to 2008)†
Committee: Ian Bell (to 2010), George Lewis (to 2010), Sarah MacLachlan (to 2010)*
EAAS Rep: Philip Davies(to 2012)*
*Not eligible for re-election
†Fulfilling an unexpired term due to a resignation from the office.
The Treasurer circulated copies of the draft audited accounts, which he asked the AGM to approve. He informed the AGM that the format of the accounts was different this year; the Trustees’ Report, which used to consist of the Chair’s address to the AGM, is now a longer document to take into account the new regulations (the Charities Act of 2006 and The Statement of Recommended Practice, Accounting and Reporting by Charities [SORP] 2005). The purpose of the new format report is to allow the Charity Commission to see what the charity is doing and its plans for the future, and to make sure that it is fulfilling its public benefit requirements. BAAS has no difficulty in fulfilling the charity definition of public benefit given its focus on education. One of the effects of the new reporting requirements is that the accountant’s bill has gone up. GT drew the membership’s attention to particular sections of the Report:
On p. 11, conference funding appears to be down substantially this year, but this is related to the extra money received the previous year for the 50th Anniversary celebrations.
There is a substantial amount of new money coming into BAAS for the Eccles Centre fellowships. This is restricted income.
Subscriptions are up by £2700 and membership is up 51; the rise in membership may partly be accounted for by the new ability to pay via PayPal. Since July 2006, BAAS has generated over £1700 from PayPal subscriptions.
BAAS currently holds a surplus of £4515 compared to £2402 in 2005.
GT also reported on membership figures; there are currently 435 fully paid up members, which compares to 384 at this time last year.
Dick Ellis proposed that the accounts be approved; George Conyne seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.
GT reported on progress made on Gift Aid, which has been an ongoing issue over the last few years. Since 2000, membership subscriptions and donations have been eligible for Gift Aid, and BAAS can claim back 22/78th for those who have signed legitimate Gift Aid declarations. However, the audit trail has been uneven for this and as a result, GT sent out letters earlier this year with the new template for Gift Aid declarations. On the basis of the forms back, he has now submitted a claim to the Inland Revenue for £4466.84 plus interest, which is based on the return of 78 forms. GT estimated that if three quarters of BAAS members to sign the form, we can generate approximately £4500 each year. GT will now work on covering all the back years and will send a further mailshot out later this year. In response to a question from the floor, GT acknowledged that you cannot sign a declaration form if you do not pay income tax.
The Chair offered a comprehensive verbal report in which he noted that in the run up to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, the research culture of the UK’s American Studies subject community is in a very healthy state. American Studies experts continue to secure a whole range of awards, fellowships and prizes, are selected to serve on AHRC peer review panels, and are promoted within their home universities.
Congratulations were extended to the following BAAS members in relation to appointments, promotions, and awards:
Kevern Verney has been appointed to a chair in American History at Edge Hill University; Peter Rawlings has been appointed to a chair in American Literature at the University of the West of England; John Howard has been appointed to a chair in American Studies at King’s College London; Jude Davies has been promoted to Reader at the University of Winchester; Trevor Burnard has been appointed to a Chair in American History at the University of Warwick; and Susan-Mary Grant has been appointed to a Chair in American History at the University of Newcastle. In addition, Heidi Macpherson has been appointed Professor and Dean of Humanities at De Montfort University; and Janet Beer has been appointed Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University.
The Chair noted that the officers and members of the Executive Committee of BAAS continue to work extremely hard to protect and enhance American Studies in the UK, spending an ever-increasing amount of time attending meetings, responding to consultation documents, and ensuring that the voice of American Studies is heard as universities, funding bodies and the government make their decisions. Over the past year, BAAS Committee members have undertaken the following work on behalf of BAAS. They have:
attended AHRC consultations on reform of postgraduate funding and written formal responses to these proposals;
participated in a special meeting on American Studies at the AHRC headquarters in Bristol;
responded to the AHRC consultation on its strategic plan;
responded to the QAA on its new benchmark statements for English and History (with BAAS member Alex Waddan responding on behalf of BAAS in relation to the Politics benchmark; thanks were extended to him);
responded to the Department for Education and Skills consultation document on reform of research assessment;
responded to an ESRC consultation on their 3+1 postgraduate funding scheme;
responded to the RCUK consultation on academic peer review;
responded to HEFCE on its review of funding for the Institute for the Study of the America;
attended a variety of other HEFCE, AHRC, British Academy, and Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences events;
worked on an American Studies alumni questionnaire in order to furnish information for the American Studies recruitment CD-ROM currently under development;
developed new prizes and fellowships for the American Studies community;
and attended inaugural lectures and social events in order to represent the American Studies subject community.
This work, whilst not always high profile, is essential in ensuring that the American Studies voice is heard nationally, particularly at a time when the public profile of American Studies is of a subject under threat. News reports in the Times Higher Education Supplement and the Education supplement of the Guardian have indicated a significant decline in undergraduate student enrolments; American Studies departments and programmes are under threat as universities reorganize administration and undergraduate teaching; and the number of American Studies Units of Assessment that will be submitted for RAE 2008 is likely to be lower than 2001. However, as the Chair reported, there is a dissonance between these trends and his direct and first hand experience of the healthy and in many ways very successful teaching and research culture of American Studies in the UK. Even in places where departments have been closed, the courses that constitute American Studies usually remain popular, albeit now under the rubric of other departments. Research and publications remain at the very highest quality, with members of the UK American Studies community winning the Abraham Lincoln Prize, being short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize, and winning the last two biennial EAAS Network book prizes. And more than anything else, the work presented at and the conversations occurring within this conference illustrated the health of the disciplines. American Studies remains strong, but a great deal of work is required to ensure that this is recognized.
The Chair concluded by thanking the members of the BAAS Executive Committee, including Susan Castillo, Richard Crockatt, Jude Davies, Martin Halliwell, Will Kaufman, Hannah Lowe, Sarah MacLachlan, Catherine Morley, Ken Morgan, Ian Ralston, Theresa Saxon, Ian Scott, Jenel Virden and the BAAS officers, Heidi Macpherson, Graham Thompson and Carol Smith. Thanks were also extended to Michelle Smith at the University of Manchester for helping to administer the Awards Committee, to the previous chairs, Philip Davies and Judie Newman for their wise counsel, and to Ambassador Robert Tuttle, Sue Wedlake, Michael Macy and Sarah-Jane Mayhew at the Embassy of the United States, for their support of American Studies in Britain. Final thanks were extended to George Lewis and his colleagues at Leicester, for organizing such an excellent conference.
Sarah MacLachlan began her report by acknowledging what a huge success the Leicester conference had been so far, and offering public congratulations to George Lewis, Martin Halliwell, and their team of postgraduates for the hard work they had put in before and during the conference. SM noted that this year, she had visited the 2008 conference site in Edinburgh with Robert Mason, the 2008 Conference Organizer. The conference will be based in the Pollock Hall area of Edinburgh, 27-30 March. She noted that a call for papers would be distributed shortly, and members were asked to consider submitting proposals early to allow for planning.
The 2009 conference will be held at the University of Nottingham 16-19 April, organized by Celeste-Marie Bernier. SM reported that negotiations were underway for the 2010 conference and that the successful applicant would be announced shortly. She also announced that the University of Central Lancashire had submitted a bid for the 2011 conference, and that Manchester had expressed interested in hosting the 2012 conference. SM then invited suggestions for future conferences.
Finally, SM noted the Committee had agreed a new subsidized conference rate for retired members for the Edinburgh Conference, in line with the postgraduate fees.
Carol Smith began her verbal report by reminding the AGM that minutes of all meetings are published on the website, so that individuals may keep updated about current activities that way. She then reported on some of the highlights of the year in relation to the Publication Subcommittee. In relation to BRRAM, the long awaited release of the Edward Long papers and the Bolton Whitman papers were both released. Ken Morgan continued to negotiate with various sources, in particular the Darien scheme papers from the National Library of Scotland. Future plans included records relating to Liverpool merchants and the slave trade in the Liverpool Record Office. KM is also interested in the recruitment of additional Special Editors. A call was sent out in ASIB and anyone who is interested should contact KM at Brunel.
In relation to the BAAS EUP series, CS noted that it continued to be a vibrant, well used and well read series; there were currently two forthcoming publications: Hulthsether’s Religion, Culture and Politics in 20 Century North America which will be published May 2007, and for which a US co-publication has already been agreed, and Tillet’s Native American Literature, to be published in November 2007. SN and CS as editors are always happy to discuss ideas and proposals and ask that interested parties approach them directly.
CS noted apologies from the JAS editor, Susan Castillo, who could not attend the conference, and she reported that the main business of the subcommittee this year in relation to JAS was nominating the editor (Prof. Castillo) and associate editor (Prof. Scott Lucas). The latest issue of JAS was the first under their editorial control though due to a misprint, the former editor was listed on the inside cover. The following individuals were appointed to the Board: Prof. Ian Bell, Prof. Sabine Brock and Dr. Marina Moskowitz. Other appointments will be announced shortly. Thanks were extended all those who continue to serve for the benefit of the community and as reviewers, for the future health of the subject.
In relation to other publications, the latest issue of ASIB was produced earlier in the spring, with the deadline for the autumn issue being 11 August. ASIB had been fortunate to have an excellent editor in Catherine Morley. Elizabeth Boyle continues to refine the process of submission and refereeing for the postgraduate journal, US Studies Online and CS is pleased announce that they are moving to three issues a year with deadlines of April (the postgraduate conference issue), August and December.
Because of his role as Treasurer, GT had announced that he wanted to step down as webster, and the officers agreed that this was a good time to advertise for a joint webster and mail base co-ordinator. AGM members were asked to note that the position had been advertised on the web with a deadline of 1June 2007. CS formally thanked GT and Clare Elliot for their hard work.
CS noted that this was her last report as Publications subcommittee chair, and she thanked all members of the subcommittee for the work that they did.
Richard Crockatt was unable to attend the AGM and sent his apologies. A written report was read out on his behalf by the Vice Chair. As announced at the last AGM, the subcommittee structure changed this past year, with the awards business of the old Development subcommittee given to a new Awards Subcommittee, in recognition of the substantial growth in awards business. In relation to the awards that the Development Subcommittee continued to oversee, for conference support, there had been a downturn in applications, with only 2 successful applications this year; these were for the development of the South West American Studies Forum (May 2007) and for the annual postgraduate conference. In the absence of any other requests made during the year, RC plans to establish whether the availability of funds for such purposes is publicized well enough. It is expected that the bid form will be put on the website for easier access.
In relation to postgraduate business, the postgraduate representative, Josephine Metcalf, had been involved in forging closer links amongst European postgraduates; JM acquired a list of postgraduate representatives in continental European countries and gained permission to display this list on the EAAS website. The November 2006 BAAS postgraduate conference in Nottingham was reported to have been very successful. The venue for the 2007 conference is to be Manchester University. On a less happy note, concern has arisen about the success rate of postgraduate applications to the AHRC and it appears that none from American Studies departments were successful in the 2006 round.
Schools’ Liaison remains an important aspect of the work of the Development subcommittee. A teachers’ lunch was to be held at the conference. In addition, the teachers’ representative, Hannah Lowe, wrote a report, “Issues Affecting the City and Islington Student Recruitment to American Studies Undergraduate Degree Courses”. The findings of the report received wider circulation with the publication of HL’s summary of the report in the first 2007 issue of ASIB. HL was congratulated by the Committee on the high quality and usefulness of the report. There was general agreement that the “widening participation” work between King’s College, London and the City and Islington Sixth Form was a good model for getting the message out about American Studies. In the coming year the subcommittee intends to seek ways of building on the conclusions of HL’s report.
The Subcommittee was also looking at ways to ensure closer links with the LLAS. One LLAS project was the “Why Study American Studies?” CD project which had funding from the US Embassy. At this point, Sarah Wood (Birmingham) gave a short presentation on the CD roms. She noted that the project coordinators (including Dick Ellis) were grateful to BAAS for their support and contacts, their help in setting up filming opportunities, and for writing short essays for the CD rom. Thanks were also extended to the US Embassy. SW distributed a handout with contact details for anyone who wanted to contribute to the CD. She particularly wished to solicit photographs of the USA; the plan was for the CD to be visually dynamic. The coordinators had identified employability as a key issue and one of the crucial resources used was the BAAS survey of career destinations. Thanks were extended to Will Kaufman for his help in soliciting short introductory essays.
All the members of the subcommittee were thanked for their contributions during the year.
IS began his report by thanking the anonymous judges who contributed to the successful business of the Awards subcommittee. IS noted the new awards of the Wyoming Teaching Assistantship in American Studies and the new Eccles Fellowships. He also reported that SN had visited the US this spring and had set up a number of other exciting opportunities for links between institutions; thanks were offered to him for his efforts. Thanks were also extended to Philip Davies for his backing of the Eccles awards. IS noted that BAAS would distribute 29 awards (not including honorable mentions) for 2007, encompassing awards to A level students and established scholars, worth approximately £29,000 (excluding the Teaching Assistantship award). The US Embassy was thanked for their support, as were individual members of BAAS who donate funds to support the Short Term Travel Awards.
Libraries and Resources
IR reported that the subcommittee had dealt with three main items over the past year. The first was the new journal, Resources for American Studies, which was for the first time distributed with ASIB in 2006. Thanks were offered to everyone who had helped to make that possible. The feedback on the new journal was highly positive and this publication can now claim to be making an informed and valuable contribution to the study and resourcing of American Studies in the UK. Members were invited to consider how they could make contributions to the journal’s content, with reviews of new resources or details of special collections. Thanks were offered to Matthew Shaw at the British Library for his work as editor (email@example.com) and to all those who had contributed to the content or advertising revenue through contacting publishers.
IR reported that the second major business for the subcommittee was the special collections database project. The intention is to collect information on special collections, which will then be set up on the BAAS website. The request, via email shots to BAAS members, to identify special collections or new long-term projects sadly received little response, though the subcommittee is still committed to the project. A decision was taken to establish American Studies in Britain pages on Wikipedia to present an open forum to which members could contribute. There was considerable debate about the proposal, but the subcommittee agreed to proceed on the understanding that it was clear that these pages did not constitute an official BAAS or BLARS site. The pages can be view and be added to at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Studies_in_Britain. BAAS members are encouraged to contribute to these pages in order to make them as fully representative of the work done in American Studies in the UK as possible. IR and Matthew Shaw (who organized the pages) would like to be informed if members add things to the site.
IR reported that the final item of major business for the year was the membership of the subcommittee. At the moment, there are only three academics on the subcommittee. There will be three vacancies at the end of this academic year, including the position of Chair (IR is stepping down after 4 years). In order to maintain closer links between the academic community and the library resourcing community, IR noted that he would like to see these vacancies taken up by academic staff, especially the chair of this subcommittee. Members who wanted to get involved in the subcommittee were asked to contact IR at the conference or afterwards.
Thanks were extended to all members of the subcommittee, the US Embassy for support in publishing the journal, and colleagues on the Executive Committee.
JV reported that she had just returned from the EAAS board meeting in Wittenberg on Monday. The current membership of EAAS is 3972 from all the various constituent national associations. She also reported that the new EAAS website is www.eaas.eu. She noted that the major item for the meeting was selecting the workshop proposals and parallel lecture proposals. As Secretary General, JV was in charge of this process. There were 68 workshop proposals and 17 parallel lecture proposals. BAAS members who had successfully applied to chair workshops were Dick Ellis (Birmingham), Theresa Saxon (Central Lancashire), Carol Smith (Winchester), and Jude Davies (Winchester); Robert Lewis (Birmingham) was offered a parallel lecture slot.
JV reported that the Oslo conference organizer visited the board meeting and has already produced a tentative schedule, which includes a Mayor’s reception at the City Hall, followed by a reception the next night at the US Ambassador’s residence, which may be a garden party (weather permitting). On the 3rd night, a sightseeing coach will take delegates around the city, and this will be followed by a cruise banquet. The organizer has been able to negotiate hotel prices of 50-100 euros per night. There are budget airlines which fly to Oslo (ie from Stansted for BAAS members). Another option is an overnight ferry from Copenhagen. JV is going to Oslo to visit the venue in January or February 2008. Workshop chairs will shortly send out CFPs. One request is that PowerPoint presentations are kept to a minimum.
JV reported that the next two board meetings have been arranged: the 2008 board meeting will be in Oslo before the conference, and 2009 meeting will be held in Zürich. The next conference venues have been confirmed as well: Dublin in 2010 and Halle in Germany in 2012.
JV noted that the first official issue of the online journal European Journal of American Studies (EJAS) came out recently. It has 6 articles (4 literature/culture articles and 2 history/political science articles). Two more articles are coming on line in the next few weeks. There will be two issues a year. There is an active editorial committee but they are looking for more people who will peer review, since every article is double peer reviewed. For more information, members should look on the EAAS website and contact the journal editors directly.
JV reported that there is one new member of EAAS: Bulgaria. Their association’s acronym is BASA. JV reported that the board is still considering how to organize the EAAS board membership into “clusters” since the board is becoming very large. At present the plan is to ask for voluntary mergers, and this will be revisited next year.
JV noted that the American Studies network book prize is being advertised now. Eligible texts are monographs (not edited collections) that have been published in 2006 or 2007. The author has to be a European-based scholar and a member of EAAS through membership of his or her national association. The deadline is 1 November 2007. Information on where to send books is available on the web.
Finally, JV noted that this was her last report as EAAS representative, but that she would continue to work with EAAS as Secretary General; thus BAAS has 2 voices on the board. Thanks were extended to Committee members and individual BAAS members for their help over the years in ensuring that BAAS had a strong voice in EAAS.
There was no any other business.
The AGM concluded at 5.45pm.Archive