British Association for American Studies
Minutes of the 294th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at Northumbria University on Friday, November 2, 2018, starting at 12 noon for all Subcommittees (except Development and Education: 11.30am). Main Executive at 2pm.
- Present: Brian Ward (Chair), Sylvia Ellis (Secretary), Nick Grant, Eilidh Hall & Nicole Willson (Co-Treasurers), Kate Dossett, Emma Long, Laura MacDonald, Ben Offiler, Chris Parkes, Olivia Wright, Sinead Moynihan, Tom Davies (Sussex 2019), David Hering (Liverpool 2020).
- Apologies: Althea Legal-Miller, Mercedes Aguirre, Rachel Williams, Joe Street, Bevan Sewell, Celeste-Marie Bernier, Nick Witham, Michael Collins, Emily West, Ken Morgan
- Minutes of the Previous Meeting
These were accepted as a true record and will now go up on the website.
- Matters Arising
- Review of Action List
The Chair asked the Exec to comment on the status of their Action List duties. Items will be addressed under the relevant sections below.
- Chair’s Business (BW reporting)
(a) Chair’s activities, meetings and correspondence (June 25, 2018 – November 2, 2018)
- BW has spoken with Anna Martz, new Deputy Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Embassy, regarding the BAAS-Embassy Awards, which will continue with a new extension for 2019. There will be two rounds of applications, in January and May, with $76,870.00 (less administration costs), to be disbursed on projects completed before December 30, 2019. Lydia Plath and Matthew Shaw will continue to administer/manage the Awards with Zalfa Feghali, as in 2018 cycle. Carole Holden is standing down and BW explained that we need a replacement, ideally from beyond the academy, or who has strong links to public engagement activities. Cara Rodway is to be approached. As Chair, BW sits on the judging panel ex-officio and will continue to do so for the January round, but he will make way for the new Chair after the AGM/elections in April.
- BW issued an Anti-Harassment Statement via the Newsletter and a broader code of conduct statement should be forthcoming ahead of Sussex 2019.
- BAAS and the Sussex Conference organisers received two queries/complaints regarding the Sussex 2019 CFP and its policy of accepting no proposals for all-male panels. BW pointed out that such calls were increasingly common as a means to address historic underrepresentation of women in academic conferences and that the complainants seem to have misunderstood or misrepresented both substance (male panels aren’t banned) and intent of the BAAS policy, which has been in place since BAAS 2017 and was explained to the complainants. It is unclear if this episode was just a ‘trolling’ exercise and is now over, but BAAS can take more soundings from other professional organisations on their policies and, if necessary, independent legal advice.
- Treasury issues: BW repeated the Association’s gratitude and indebtedness to Cara Rodway for continuing to support our new co-treasurers.
- On the eve of the BAAS PGR Conference at Northumbria, BW thanked the organisers and noted that this was the first conference that included childcare provision, if required. Although nobody took up the option, this was a good thing to have offered in keeping with BAAS’s stated E&D agenda. JW pointed out that sometimes a bursary to help pay for childcare would be more useful than facilities at the conference site and it was agreed that this should be considered, perhaps for Sussex 2019 and definitely beyond.
- BW noted that elections to the BAAS Officer posts of Secretary and Chair loom and that the terms of several other Exec members also expire in 2019. He urged colleagues to start encouraging colleagues to stand – or to consider standing again themselves, if eligible.
(b) Achievements, Announcements and events of note to BAAS members
BW noted with regret the death of Peter Boyle of Nottingham University.
Peter was a BAAS stalwart who initiated the Graduate Teaching Assistantships that took BAAS student members to NH & VA. BW noted a nice obituary by Peter Ling.
Joy Porter, Hull, was awarded a 2018 National Teaching Fellowship, recognising individuals who have made an outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession in higher education
Lucas Richert, Strathclyde, a former winner of the Arthur Miller First Book Prize in 2015, has been appointed as the George Urdang Chair in the History of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Secretary’s Business (SE reporting)
(a) The Exec was asked to co-opt David Hering, Liverpool BAAS 2020 main organiser, to the Exec to sit on the Conferences subcommittee. This was agreed.
(b) In order to help run the elections effectively, there was some discussion of ‘Election Buddy’ software. This would currently cost $19 for 260 voters. Some members had experience of this or similar. Further discussions might be held regarding management of online elections and membership lists.
(c) The next Executive meeting is a mini-Exec/Conference site visit to Liverpool ahead of BAAS 2020 to be held in January/February 2019, with written reports from Sub-Comm Chairs and updates from others.
- Treasurer’s Business (EH/NW reporting)
- Bank accounts (as at 1 November 2018)
BAAS Current Account £7,916.72
BAAS Savings Account £129,422.07
BAAS Publications Ltd £ 1,486.61
CAF Savings Account £20,258.58
- Membership Figures
In March 2018, total active memberships: 618 (as BW discussed in Chair’s Business. Louise Cunningham was unavailable to give latest figures. EH & NW will report back on this in due course).
- Treasurer role
- Cara Rodway continues to provide EH & NW with support since the handover – as previously discussed in her consultancy role. EH & NW think that continued support until at least the end of the reporting period would be useful to maintain a high standard.
- As of 01.11.18 the mandate change on the bank accounts has successfully gone through. EH & NW will gain full access to the accounts by mid-November 2018.
- BAAS/US Embassy Awards programme 2018-19
As BW discussed in Chair’s Business, confirmation received that there is extra funding available to extend the Embassy’s Cooperative Agreement for another year. The total amount comes to an additional $76,870.00, to be disbursed on smaller grants completing before December 30, 2019. EH & NW will confirm receipt of first payment in due course.
- Forthcoming Issues
- Further to Cara Rodway and BW having had some initial conversations about how the Treasury admin could be streamlined and improved, confirmation on the distribution of the role needs to be clarified. There is ongoing consultation with Cara on the streamlining of these processes.
- In relation to Cara’s consultancy, NW & EH agree with BW’s proposal at Exec 293 that this role should be formalised and that CR should be offered a one-off honoraria in recognition of her continued support
- NW & EH agree that a calendar highlighting key busy periods for treasurers’ business would be useful for planning.
- As discussed in the Publications Subcommittee (02.11.18), SM asked EH & NW to check the viability of not re-advertising for the editorial assistant if the incumbent leaves the post within a short space of time (i.e. a year). Is BAAS bound by any specific guidelines on advertising and appointment protocols?
- All email correspondence with EH & NW should be sent to the following accounts: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
- EH & NW to explore suggestions to increase the ‘rainy day’ fund going forward.
- Equality and Diversity (ALM reporting)
ALM was unable to attend in person, but sent word that she completed the copy for the Targeted Research Panel CFP in July and advertised the scheme via the Black British Studies network in August. She has already received two enquiries about the scheme, and it appears that these individuals were committed to sending a proposal.
As Laura has noted, the tentative plan is to review the Targeted Research Panel proposals separately from the general conference paper and panel submissions, with Laura and myself joining the Toms to review them for Sussex 2019.
- Publications Subcommittee (SM chaired Sub-Comm in absence of JS)
New editors of JAS, SM and Nick Witham will be exploring possibilities of going to 5 issues a year with CUP.
The Subcommittee received summary reports from the annual JAS Editorial Board meeting.
Editorial Assistant Role
SM asked EH & NW to check the viability of not re-advertising for the editorial assistant if the incumbent leaves the post within a short space of time (i.e. a year). Is BAAS bound by any specific guidelines on advertising and appointment protocols? EH & NW to follow up.
JS/RW have been talking to British On-line Archives – The BAAS-BOA Internship held by Rosemary Pearce in 2018 can be repeated but JS asks if can we support at £1250 instead of £800 to fund this PGR/ECR opportunity.
KD raised the issue of how BAAS is factored into any profits for these publications as BOA is a commercial operation and both she and JS have already done some unpaid consultancy to help them develop ideas. This was discussed further in Exec, which welcomed the opportunity for a BAAS member to do paid work that was likely to be of interest and benefit to some other members. However, it was felt that we need to be hard-nosed about this in negotiations for any renewal to ensure that the scheme represents value for money for BAAS. It was proposed that we might also ask for some co-branding on BOA products we have helped to develop.
It was noted that BAAS can walk away from the BOA deal and find other publishing-related fellowships/internships and initiatives to support – perhaps including helping secure open access for some groups?
The Subcommittee received copies of the excellent blog post and end of internship report from Rosemary Pearce, who worked on a prospective ‘Black Power, Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism from the British Perspective’ collection. Clearly she benefitted greatly from the experience and provided BOA with a very useful appraisal.
- Development and Education Subcommittee (KD reporting)
- Matters Arising:
The anti-harassment statement has now been published. It will be posted on the BAAS digest for a couple of weeks and then rested until the build up to the annual conference in April.
- Equalities Report (ALM)
See Althea Legal-Miller’s report above
- Schools Working Group (NG, RW)
Nick and Rachel submitted a proposal to establish a programme of two schools events with a budget of up to £2000. These would be awarded through a competitive call for proposals.
BAAS executive members interested in joining the Schools Working Group should let Nick or Rachel know.
- Harassment Policy Working Group (NG, KD and RW)
KD report on how the conference is shaping up. It is planned for Wednesday 16 January at the BL and will include panels that bring together BAAS’s sister organizations, academics who specialize in equalities in HE and promote cross-generational conversation. Nick reported on his investigations into the Charity Commissions and the possibilities of ACAS training.
- Website Report (NG)
Nick reported that there were ongoing issues with the website including missing banners. Nick and Olivia have both been updating the website and trying to improve it but there is a defined piece of work that needs to be done. This is calculated at around 30 hours and would need to be done by someone with a working knowledge of WordPress.
The committee recommended that BAAS appoint someone to complete this work. NG to follow up.
Set up a website @baas administrative email contact address
Nick and Ben to job share the role until the end of 2018. Ben to take on the role in a job share capacity in 2019 while Nick handover and then steps down.
- Membership Survey Report (BO)
The membership survey report was published in September 2018. The committee discussed developing a report on its findings for discussion at BAAS AGM April 2019 and to be published either on the BAAS website or other outlets.
Action: Chris Parkes to lead on this.
- Peer reading scheme (RW)
Rachel has set this up and it is underway. LM suggested BAAS might want to fund it to allow colleagues to meet up and discuss work in person.
In the first round of applications there were 25 applicants. In her report Rachel has observed that the majority of applicants were male (8 women out of 25); history was disproportionately represented (especially 20th/21st C history). Rachel has been liaising with sister organizations about their ECR and PGR schemes and asked the committee for thoughts on putting together a panel at BAAS 2019 or future BAAS conferences on how best to support PGR/ECRS through mentoring, peer reading and network schemes. The committee was supportive of Rachel’s initiatives and plans for panels addressing these issues at BAAS Conferences.
- Women in American Studies Network and BAAS (KD)
The first meeting of the newly constitute WASN –with representatives from BAAS and her sister organizations will take place on 12 December.
- Conference Subcommittee (LM reporting)
- Targeted conference panels (See also 9. ALM above) to be funded for 2019 Sussex and 2020 Liverpool Conferences. Currently, the plan is to offer £2.5k per year (£5k over two conferences) to the winning panel proposal. If take up and quality is sufficient, we may consider making a request for more awards.
- One of the Sussex 2019 keynotes (Robin Wiegmann) has withdrawn with regrets and so the organisers are seeking an appropriate replacement
- David Hering and the Liverpool 2020 team are looking at possible conference themes, including political dissent and transatlantic connections (embracing American visitors to the city). David will host a site visit in January/February and the dates of the conference are now confirmed as 16-18 April 2020.
- Hull, which will host BAAS 2021, is now in the process of confirming room bookings and has a date of 8-10 April 2021. This does not clash with any current meetings/events (OAH etc) and should fall within the Easter break.
- The Subcommittee is expecting a bid from Keele to host BAAS2022.
- The Subcommittee discussed the language of the CFP and the ‘no all-male panel proposals’ (see Chair’s report, 6a above).
- LM reminded colleagues that the annual BAAS PGR conference starts in Northumbria tonight and runs through tomorrow (Nov 2-3).
- The Subcommittee reviewed and awarded Conference grants. Details to follow.
- Awards Subcommittee (EL submitted written report)
- EL report that things were quiet on the awards front. The awards have been launched via the website, through the BAAS mailing list, and through related organisations. There have been some queries and others are likely to follow.
- EL extended thanks to everyone who agreed to serve on the panels. It takes a lot of time to judge the awards and they only work because people volunteer, so thank you. It is much appreciated.
- EL asked that that, in light of previous discussions regarding low submission numbers from female candidates for the book award in particular, colleagues should use any networks they have to encourage submissions from female academics, or encourage female scholars they know to submit their work for consideration.
- EL suggested that it would be worth the subcommittee, and the Executive Committee, thinking about how we communicate information about the awards to members and into the academic community beyond. Are there better ways to make contact with schools and teachers, for example? Are there tools or networks we could make use of? Any thoughts or suggestions welcome.
- EAAS Rep (JW)
JW verbally reported no new activity.
- Any Other Business
- OW reported on trial of SLACK for PGRs in wake of EBAAS roundtable panel on ECR/PG experiences at which many expressed desire for a bespoke platform for communication and suggested Twitter wasn’t good enough. SLACK not the answer, but Cardsmith (a brainstorming sandbox) might be worth consideration.
- Tom Davies (Sussex 2019 Conference co-organiser) had enquired about the approval process for the BAAS conference poster and was advised to send design to BW to circulate to the Exec for comments and approval.
- Date of next meeting: TBA: Officers and Conference Subcommittee meeting in Liverpool, Jan/Feb 2019