BAAS Executive Committee Meeting: April 19, 2007
Minutes of the 250th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at University of Leicester on April 19, 2007.
S Newman (Chair), C Smith (Vice Chair), H Macpherson (Secretary), G Thompson (Treasurer), M Halliwell, W Kaufman, S MacLachlan, J Metcalf, I Scott, J Virden, T Saxon
S Castillo, R Crockatt, J Davies, H Lowe, C Morley, I Ralston
2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting
These were accepted as a true record and will now go on the website.
3. Matters Arising
There were no matters arising.
4. Chair’s Business
a) The Chair began his report by announcing that, sadly, the former BAAS chair Maldwyn Jones had recently died.
b) The Chair then announced the following promotions, appointments and awards: Heidi Macpherson has been appointed Professor and Dean of Humanities at De Montfort University; Jude Davies has been promoted to Reader at the University of Winchester; Trevor Burnard has been appointed to a Chair in American Studies at the University of Warwick; Susan-Mary Grant has been promoted to a Chair in American History at the University of Newcastle; and Ian Scott has secured an AHRC Research Leave Award. In addition, the Chair was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society for the Arts, as were JV, WK, MH and HM. Congratulations were extended to them all.
c) SN reported that on BAAS’s behalf, he had attended a number of events this quarter, which included the following: in January, he attended the House of Lords lunch sponsored by the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences, as had SC, RC, JV and MH. In February, SN attended John Howard’s inaugural lecture at King’s College London, which was a very well attended event. In March, he attended the annual conference of the Organization of American Historians in Minneapolis.
d) SN reported that he had spoken with Kevin Sullivan, the London-based Co-Bureau Chief of the Washington Post, regarding the teaching of American History in British schools and he had plans to discuss this with HL. GT mentioned that Kevin Sullivan had also been in touch with him.
e) SN noted that he had drafted and submitted the BAAS response to HEFCE on the Institute for the Study of the Americas, as part of their regular review of HEFCE’s dedicated funding of the research institutes in London. His comments were broadly supportive, and he also made some recommendations for future directions and events for the ISA.
f) SN reported that, following the circulation of RC’s email concerning cross-referral for the RAE, the Chair had received emails from heads and members of a number of American Studies departments and programmes, and indications that several HEI’s are considering cross-referral to the American Studies panel. The Chair sent a copy of Professor Crockatt’s memo to Americanists on various RAE panels, and received positive responses from several of them.
g) SN reported that he had travelled to Bristol in February for a meeting with Tony McEnery (Director of Research) and Emma Wakelin (Associate Director for Postgraduate Affairs) at the AHRC, regarding the proposed reforms of postgraduate funding. The Block Grant Proposal (BGP) system will go ahead, but the AHRC do appear to be aware of the problems of disciplinary-based assessment, and of the need to protect interdisciplinary and area studies research, and are willing to highlight these in their guide to institutions for funding applications. More worrying is the rethinking of peer review that appears underway, and the likely weakening of the current peer review panels for all AHRC competitions. Following the meeting, SN wrote a follow-up letter to Professor McEnery before the final AHRC meeting on reform of postgraduate funding. According to Full Economic Costings, it costs more to give out the awards than they actually award. The AHRC has released their list of research leave awards: of the 99 awards were made, only 2 were American Studies awards: to M. Newman at Edinburgh and I. Scott at Manchester. This is far fewer than usual. Members were reminded to attend Tony McEnery’s talk later in the day on the AHRC and American Studies.
h) With the aid of a US Embassy grant and some support from BAAS, the Chair visited several universities in the US in order to work on the development of further exchange schemes. The Chair visited the University of Southern California; the Huntington Library; California State University, Fresno; the University of Wyoming; the University of Virginia, and the University of New Hampshire. New and possible new schemes include the following:
1. Targeted BAAS fellowships at the Huntington Library.
2. A biennial BAAS TAship in US History at California State University, Fresno.
3. A biennial BAAS TAship in American Studies at the University of Wyoming (SN reminded the Executive that we would be awarding the first Wyoming TAship at this conference). SN noted that Wyoming has a large endowment and have spent most of it on the library collections; it also had a very strong AS programme, making this an excellent place to do a Master’s Degree.
4. Regular BAAS-sponsored/fostered academic teaching exchanges between Wyoming staff (in American Studies, History and English) and any BAAS members (research facilities at American Heritage Center)—BAAS will advertise the potential, and the BAAS member would signal their interest. Individuals would continue to receive their home institution salary but would exchange teaching responsibilities.
5. Targeted BAAS fellowship for academic staff at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, Monticello to go alongside the current teacher’s award.
6. Making both of the annual Monticello teacher’s fellowships eligible for the Monticello/Stratford Hall Program (ie 3 week seminar for teachers, rather than 2 week independent research).
7. A biennial BAAS TAship in American Literature at the University of New Hampshire where we already have a History TA.
All of these TA positions would work on the same time track at the existing ones, thus we would have 2 History and 2 Literature TAs available at the same time, so could choose from the same applicant pool. SN reported that he had visited the current students on the BAAS TAships and they are doing very well. The Committee approved of all of these new ventures and noted that such opportunities may offer a good incentive for individuals to become members of BAAS. SN is to follow up on these opportunities and send the information on to the new Chair as appropriate.
5. Secretary’s Business
a) The Secretary noted that, unusually, she had no items to distribute this quarter which hadn’t already been circulated by email.
b) HM reported on actions taken as Secretary, noting that her main role revolved around information flow. She helped direct people with research and grant queries to the appropriate sources; liaised with the archivist at Bath about some American Studies papers and was in touch with the Head of History at Rodean about setting up connections with US teachers; distributed calls for papers, conferences, new employment opportunities, etc., through the listserv; updated the BAAS Externals List; responded to the British Academy’s call for consultation on languages learning and referred the contact person to various other organizations; sent out notices of the AGM and elections on the mailbase; and gathered information for the HEFCE review of the Institute for the Study of the Americas.
c) Along with the other officers, HM offered details to the Treasurer to help him write the annual Trustees’ Report.
d) HM liaised with publishers in Germany who wished to quote from the American Dream BAAS pamphlet and gave them permission to do so, as long as appropriate citations were offered. She also contacted Matthew Shaw, editor of Resources for American Studies, after another permissions request came in to allow an individual author to post a copy of his article on his website; this was agreed.
e) HM reported that BAAS’s nominations to the Academy of Social Sciences had all been successful; the new academicians are Iwan Morgan, Susan Castillo, and Jude Davies. Congratulations were extended to them.
f) HM reported that she had attended a reception for Americans working in the UK at Buckingham Palace on 27 March. JV, WK and SC were also in attendance.
6. Treasurer’s Business
a) The Treasurer’s report focused on the annual accounts and progress on Gift Aid. GT noted that the Trustees’ Report has changed from previous years. It used to be the Chair’s report to the AGM, but it is now a formal part of the accounts. GT had to write a report which justifies our public benefit as a charity, with new sections on governance and management. GT drew the Committee’s attention to an article in The Guardian this week about university presses which are also charities but which deal in much higher figures than we do. The new fuller report is a summary of what we do and the awards we give out, and has a section on future plans. HM noted that the constitution was amended in 2002 but that the governing document was listed as the constitution of 1990. GT is to check with the accountants on this.
b) GT drew the Committee’s attention to particular sections of the Report, including p. 11, under Incoming Resources, which indicates that conference funding is down by over £10k from £21,200 in 2005 to £8911 in 2006, but this is accounted for by the extra money we had had for the 50th anniversary conference. GT also explained why the money listed under the Eccles Centre (a new entry) was “restricted funds”: it can only be used for the Eccles Fellowship and was paid in advance. Subscriptions are up by approximately £2700. The ability to pay subscriptions via PayPal may have helped, particularly for overseas members. Between July and April, £1700 worth of subscriptions came through by PayPal and there are now 51 more fully paid up members. GT also noted that travel expenses have gone down marginally this past year. There followed some discussion about the rise in postage costs; this is accounted for by the fact that CM is required to reimburse the Rothermere for postage for ASIB whereas previously, editors have sometimes been able to have that cost absorbed by their universities.
c) GT noted that the accountant has split expenses 50/50 between Governance and Support costs, but he feels that it may be more accurate to have the split be 75/25, and he will raise this with the accountant.
d) The accounts currently show a surplus of £4515 as opposed to a previous surplus of £2402.
e) GT reported that he had been able to put in a Gift Aid Claim form. He reminded the Committee that the original Gift Aid declaration forms that people had signed didn’t match the forms that the Inland Revenue required. Thus he sent out 125 letters to individuals who had signed GA declarations and received, to date, 78 back; on that basis, the claim is for £4466.84, plus interest. With interest, it is likely to be nearly £5000. The next step is to get forms photocopied for the conference so that others can sign them and clear all the back years and then claim annually. GT estimates that if we get ¾ of our subscribers to sign the forms, this would generate approximately £4500 a year. He plans to do another mailshot, too, to all members, and notes that the claim form is now paired with membership forms.
f) The Treasurer reported that current membership figures stand at 435 fully paid-up members, including 107 postgraduates. This compares to 384 for April 2006. When those who haven’t so far updated their Standing Orders are included, the number rises to 505 (including 163 postgraduates). The highest possible membership figure (taking into account the above and those who have yet to renew for 2007) is 594 (including 206 postgraduates). All the figures are up compared to April last year.
g) Balances on 23/04/07 are as follows: Current account: £6,236.34, Conference £6,832.96, Lib. Res. £727.87, Ed. Development: £4,993.64, STA: £12,772.57, Deposit £30,889.69, making a total of £62453.07. In addition, the RBS Jersey has £14,973.10, and US dollar account has $5647.27.
7. Development Subcommittee (IS and HM reporting on RC’s behalf)
a) RC was unexpectedly detained and unable to make the meeting. In his absence, IS and HM offered reports based on his written AGM report and on other information available; anything not covered will be addressed in the summer meeting. In relation to the American Studies CD rom, WK reported that Dick Ellis was planning to make an address to the AGM regarding the project, with a demo CD. IS reported that Sara Wood and Dick Ellis are arranging for a series of interviews in Manchester soon. WK noted that individual 750-word essays on various topics still needed to be commissioned, and the Committee offered suggestions of individual names for WK to contact at the conference.
b) HM read through RC’s report to the AGM, noting in particular the issues to do with closer links to the LLAS and also schools; HL’s report on City and Islington College had provoked a good response, and a version of it was published in the ASIB.
c) RC’s report noted the relative lack of applications for funding from BAAS this year; it was suggested that the conference funding form be put on the web for easier access, and that RC investigate how we can increase the publicity of our awards.
d) There was one request for funding, from JM for the annual BAAS postgraduate conference to be held in Manchester. The Committee agreed to award £300 to the conference organizers to help support postgraduates.
e) JM noted that there would be a postgraduate meeting on Saturday, designed in part to encourage members to join, but also to showcase awards, etc. Committee members were asked to encourage their postgraduates to attend.
8. Publications Subcommittee (CS reporting)
a) CS noted that there was nothing further to report on BRRAM since the last meeting. She noted that in her address to the AGM, she will suggest that people look at the minutes on the website to get a fuller view of the activities of the subcommittee.
b) CS noted that she and SN have a meeting about EUP with Nicky Ramsey at the conference. There are two texts shortly to be published: Hulthsether’s Religion Culture and Politics in 20 Century North America, which will be published in May 2007, and Tillet’s Native American Literature, to be published in November. A report on sales figures was distributed and lodged with the Secretary.
c) Following discussions with the officers, the current editor and associate editor, and CUP, it was agreed that CS would formally ask the Executive Committee to limit the term of the JAS editor and associate editor to 3 years. CUP’s agreement with the editors is not time limited, so although historically it has been a 5-year appointment, this can be altered. CS felt that whether it was 3 or 5 years, it should be written into the contracts for clarity. The reason for the move is primarily that, if the associate editor becomes the editor, a 10 year period is a long time to commit, both by the individual and by the subject community. A shorter term of editorship would allow more individuals from the community to be involved in this important work and would allow for a range of disciplines to be represented in a shorter timeframe. This has been agreed with all parties: CUP, editors, officers. The Executive agreed this move. CS will inform SC and SL as soon as possible.
d) CS also brought forward to the meeting recommendations to the JAS editorial board. CS distributed CVs and noted the reasons for asking for these particular nominations. CS proposed the re-nomination of Judie Newman and the nominations of Simon Newman (Glasgow) to cover early American History; Christopher Davis McKenna (Said Business School, Oxford) to establish more active links with globalization, business, etc.; and Carol Smith (Winchester) for popular culture and gender (replacing Rachel Bowlby). CS reported that she had withdrawn from the discussion of her own nomination, but that it had been predicated on her experience in terms of editing. A short discussion of the candidates ensued, and the Committee unanimously approved these nominations. The new Secretary will write to the CUP contact Martine Walsh with the recommendations to be put forward to the Syndics.
e) CS noted that for the next round, there are still 2-3 vacancies that we would be looking to fill, particularly in the areas of popular culture, gender debates, film and the twentieth century broadly speaking.
f) CS drew the Committee’s attention to a misprint in the last issue of JAS, which still listed Jay Kleinberg as the editor and SC as the associate editor; this was a mistake and has been pointed out to CUP who will rectify it for the next issue.
g) CS reminded the Executive about the JAS/CUP lecture, to be offered by Linda Kerber; Scott Lucas will do the introduction.
h) CS noted that the last issue of ASIB had come out since the last meeting and was again a very professional production. The next deadline will be 11 August.
i) In relation to US Studies Online, there is a need for more people to sit on the editorial board itself, especially now that it is moving to 3 issues a year. The current editor, Elizabeth Boyle, is in the process of devising a form for the refereeing process.
j) CS reported that the joint webster/mailbase coordinator position has been advertised with a 1 June 2007 deadline, to commence 1 September. Thanks were formally extended to GT and Clare Elliott for their hard work over the last few years.
k) CS reported that the website continues to run smoothly. IR and Matthew Shaw (BL) contacted GT about setting up a wiki on the website. This has been done, but more discussion is needed about how to make this work in practice.
9. Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)
a) SM reported that everything is running smoothly for the Edinburgh conference for 2008. The Nottingham conference organizer, Celeste-Marie Bernier, has confirmed the dates of the 2009 conference: 16-19 April 2009. GT reported that the contract will be signed next week and noted that individuals will be required to sign out by 9am on Sunday, but that there will be somewhere to store bags.
b) There followed a discussion about a subsidized conference fee for retired members in order to encourage their attendance at the conference. Issues were raised as to where the funds would come from (postgraduate fees are subsidized in part by the US Embassy). After a long discussion, which included discussions about funding it from the GiftAid monies, it was agreed to trial this for one year at Edinburgh, and that such a rate would be “subject to availability”, ie, we could cap the numbers if necessary.
c) SM noted that she would coordinate early with Robert Mason, Philip Davies (Eccles Centre) and Susan Castillo (JAS/CUP) regarding who to invite as visiting speakers next year.
d) MH gave an update on the Leicester conference. There were two main issues: banquet attendance and the additional activity at the Space Centre. Because the banquet was being held off campus, at Athena, the conference organizers had to confirm numbers a week early, but some awards information was received late, and therefore there was a last minute negotiation trying to change the numbers, which had not been easy. MH asked that awards information be supplied much earlier in the cycle next year. This was agreed, though IS noted that there had been a number of special circumstances this year which had led to the difficulties, including the late confirmation of prizes in some cases. MH also noted that organizing the Space Centre event had been time consuming, with a smaller take up rate than had been hoped (though the numbers were supplemented by the general public). A discussion ensued regarding the amount of effort such an event took, and it was agreed that in the future, a smaller event might be just as useful as a large one. Conference organizers needed to be aware of the fact that additional events could sometimes entail excessive planning.
10. Awards Subcommittee (IS reporting)
a) IS circulated a report for the Committee, which he had previously circulated via email, regarding the Awards subcommittee, on its first year of existence. As had been noted, there is a huge expansion in the number of awards that BAAS is responsible for or helps to judge. IS felt that he underestimated the amount of time and organization that the whole awards structure would take, as well as the amount of administrative support needed. IS noted that Manchester had provided computer access, printing costs, an office, and technical support, which was much appreciated. BAAS had provided the administrator, Michelle Smith, with a BAAS email address which had helped with communication, but IS noted that sometimes, there were up to 200 emails a week to which to respond, and that MS was on a steep learning curve. A long discussion ensued regarding ways to improve the process, including the compilation of an FAQ page for the website, which may help. IS is to work with the Awards subcommittee and the administrator on this, and members were asked to come to the summer meeting with ideas. There was also an extended discussion about whether the administrator was being remunerated sufficiently for her work and/or whether an expansion of her role to cover other areas would be advisable. In the end, it was agreed that this was not warranted, but that an additional honorarium of £500 be allocated to MS this year in recognition of the amount of work she had done to set up the awards administration. It is likely that next year, it will be easier to administer the awards because systems will have been tried and tested.
b) Regarding the structure of the awards, IS acknowledged that the Wyoming TA award had been taken on very late, and this was problematic in relation to the banquet. This would not happen in subsequent years. However, he also noted that even if the awards timetable was re-jigged somewhat, there is still a lot of reading for judges to do, which may cause delays; for example, the BAAS postgraduate essay prize received 21 entries of 5000 words each and judging this award was therefore necessarily time-consuming.
c) IS confirmed that this year, there were 29 awards given worth approximately £29,000 pounds, plus honourable mentions (see attached list of winners). There were, overall, more than 250 applications for all various awards that we offer.
d) GT raised the issue of the amount of the Eccles Awards offered being slightly out of line with the funding that had been promised; IS and GT are to raise this with PD, who had agreed to fund additional awards once the pool of applicants was shown to be so strong.
e) HM raised the issue of requiring references from applicants. Some applications did not include references this year, since applicants relied on their referees to submit them. Many judges felt that these applications should be therefore disqualified, and noted that even if they were not, they offered less information to go on and were therefore disadvantaged. It was agreed that no applications without references would be accepted in the future, and that a new protocol would be set up; either applicants would include signed references with signatures over seals, or referees would be responsible for passing on the application in its entirety as happens with many other competitions. IS is to pursue this and change the information on the web accordingly.
f) The Chair agreed to send MS a formal note of thanks for her efforts. Thanks were also extended to the judges, who worked anonymously (apart from the Book Prize Judges who this year were Catherine Morley, Carol Smith and Richard Follett, a former winner). IS is to construct a list of judges for reserved business; he has thanked them all formally. It was also noted that ASIB will have a call for judges for next year, and that such a call will also be noted at the AGM.
11. Libraries and Resources Subcommittee (HM reported on IR’s behalf)
a) HM noted that IR had offered a written report, which she read to the Committee and which was subsequently discussed. IR apologized for not being able to attend the Executive meeting but noted that he would be available during the conference to discuss any matters arising.
b) It was noted that at the last meeting of the subcommittee, the subcommittee agreed to reverse the earlier decision regarding the role of the Treasurer of BLARS and the separate bank account. David Forster (BLARS Treasurer) has come to agree with the points GT has made regarding the duplication of procedures.
c) It was noted that the preparation for the next edition of Resources for American Studies is well under way, but that the external funding that had been promised for it may not be forthcoming. Therefore IR requested a temporary grant from BAAS for £300 to cover outstanding costs of publication. This was agreed. Some advertising revenue has yet to be generated.
d) It was reported that there will be significant changes in the make up of the subcommittee next year. David Forster will be retiring, although he will be staying on as Web Manager of the American Studies Resources Centre on a part time basis. IR will also be standing down from his position as Chair and member of the subcommittee after 4 years. He formally proposed that the new chair be an academic with close ties to BAAS and suggested an active call for a new chair at the AGM. This was agreed. Thanks were formally extended to IR in his absence for his hard work on behalf of the subcommittee.
12. EAAS (JV reporting)
a) 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.
b) JV reported that the major item for the meeting was the sorting out of 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 has had some success with Dick Ellis, Theresa Saxon, Carol Smith, and Jude Davies having their proposals accepted, as well as one parallel lecture accepted by Robert Lewis.
c) 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.
d) JV noted that the Nicosia proceedings have been edited and are in the process of being produced; a new publisher has been located who will do the proceedings as part of a sub-series.
e) JV reported that the next newsletter is coming out in May. The Vice President is ready to set it up but Committee members should let JV’s successor know about anything that members want to include from BAAS.
f) JV reported that the Oslo conference organizer visited the Board 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 will be a garden party if the weather is nice. On the 3rd night, a sightseeing coach will take delegates around the city, and this will be followed by a cruise banquet. It is Pentecostal weekend, and before the tourist season, so the organizer has been able to negotiate hotel costs of 50-100 euros per night. They also note that there are budget airlines which fly to Oslo (ie from Stansted for BAAS members). Another option is an overnight ferry from Copenhagen. One request is that PowerPoint presentations are kept to a minimum. JV is going to Oslo to visit the venue in January or February 2008.
g) 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.
h) JV noted that the first official issue of the online journal European Journal of American Studies (EJAS) came out 2 weeks ago. It has 6 articles (4 literature/culture articles and, 2 history/political science articles). Two more 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, Committee members should look on the EAAS website and contact the journal editors directly.
i) There is one new member of EAAS: Bulgaria. Their association’s acronym is BASA.
j) 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 Nov. 1 2007. Information on where to send books is available on the web.
13. Any Other Business
a) Thanks were offered to outgoing Committee members and officers: JV, CS, CM, SM and SN. The Committee then presented SN with a gift of thanks for his service to BAAS as Chair over the last three years.
14. Date of next meeting
Saturday 16 June 2007. Rothermere American Institute. Venue to be confirmed.
Prof. Heidi Macpherson, Outgoing Secretary.
Dr. Catherine Morley has been elected Secretary and her contact details are below:
Office Phone: (01865) 484977