British Association for American Studies
Minutes of the 284th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at Queen’s University Belfast on Thursday 7 April 2016 at 9.30.
- Present: Sue Currell (Chair), Jenny Terry (Secretary), Brian Ward, Simon Hall, Rachael Alexander, Martin Halliwell, Joe Street, Uta Balbier, Nick Witham, Sinéad Moynihan, Doug Haynes, Ben Offiler, Katie McGettigan.
Apologies: Cara Rodway (Treasurer), Kate Dossett, Celeste-Marie Bernier, Bevan Sewell.
In attendance: Jenny Terry.
- Minutes of the Previous Meeting
These were accepted as a true record and will now go on the website.
- Matters Arising
- Review of Action List
The Chair asked the Exec to comment on the status of their Action List duties.
JT reported that she had checked with Keith Lawrey regarding executive members putting in for awards. During their time serving on the executive, members should not put in for BAAS awards (Eccles and Ambassador awards are a separate case). If we continue to permit members to enter for the BAAS Book Prize because of the long nature of monograph publication cycles, in the event of the award going to a member of the executive we should give notice of our actions to the Charity Commission.
All other Action List duties will be addressed under the relevant section below.
- Chair’s Business (SC reporting)
(a) Chair’s activities, meetings and correspondence (January 2016 – April 2016)
- SC acted as an interview panelist for both the Senior Fulbright Fellowships and Postgraduate Fellowships at the Fulbright Commission: Thursday 14 Jan and Thursday 18 Feb 2016.
- She had a meeting with Penny Egan at the Fulbright Commission on Thursday 18 Feb to discuss BAAS’s US embassy grant application and the future funding outlook.
- SC commissioned designer Andrew Kingham to create a BAAS bookmark to include in conference packs and to promote BAAS at the various events we support. She will pass them on to JT.
- SC congratulated Cara and family on the happy arrival of baby Dexter on 22 Feb 2016. JT and SC have covered as much Treasurer work as possible in the interim period before CR is back on full duties, including drafting the annual Trustees’ Report and liaison with the accountants in preparation for the AGM accounts.
- SC sought and obtained email agreement from the executive to support one extra Early Career award via the Eccles Centre this year totaling £2,500, which was matched by the Eccles (with the view that we would institute an Early Career award next year as discussed in previous committee meetings; this will make the total number of awards from the Eccles 22, totaling c. £33,000 from the Eccles for BAAS to administer).
- US Embassy application and grant: This call came after our last meeting and SC liaised with the executive to put in a successful application for us to administer the $90,000 small grant award. Issues arising from this will come up later on the meeting agenda but we need to be particularly aware of the administrative load regarding the increase in the number of awards overall.
(b) Achievements, announcements and events of note to BAAS members
- March 2016: The University of Keele announced the death of Prof. David Adams, founding Head of Keele’s American Studies Department in 1961 and a central figure in the creation and development of American Studies in the UK.
- The Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR) at the University of Central Lancashire has been awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship grant (worth approx. €200,000), allowing Dr Izabella Penier from Lodsz, Poland to develop a project and activities on Womanism and Feminism in Black Atlantic Women’s Literature there over a two year period.
- Secretary’s Business (JT Reporting)
(a) Charitable Incorporated Organisation Constitution
Following the circulation of drafts among the exec and consultation with Keith Lawrey, the proposed new constitution to accompany BAAS’s move to CIO status has been made available to members on the website with the required notice of an AGM vote on the change. The document integrates our current constitution with an adapted version of the Charity Commission template for CIOs. As discussed previously, it includes a hybrid election model of both postal/electronic voting for those who can’t attend, and voting in the AGM. JT explained that Keith had recommended including a maximum and a minimum number of charity trustees (the trustees make up the executive committee); this could be a narrow field of 14-16 but allows greater flexibility than specifying an exact number of executive members/trustees as our current constitution does. Keith also recommended that we follow the Charity Commission template and lower the quoracy for AGMs to 5% (from the current 10%, which he described as ‘a remarkably high expectation’).
The change to CIO necessitates a vote to dissolve and reform BAAS, after which, if the motion is passed, we register anew with the Charity Commission and the new constitution will come into effect.
- Treasurer’s Business (JT reporting on behalf of CR)
- Bank Accounts (as at 5 April 2016)
BAAS Publications Ltd Current £73,886.96
(b) Membership Figures (provided by Louise Cunningham)
Honorary membership – 3
Schools membership – 12
Individual membership – 272 (121 online JAS, 151 with full JAS)
PG membership – 272 (208 online JAS, 64 with full JAS)
Retired (PR) – 28 (18 online JAS, 10 with full JAS)
Unwaged (PU) – 10 (8 online JAS, 2 with full JAS)
Members on fully paid sheet (total 597)
The January 2016 total was 535.
(c) Narrative Report (sent by CR for the exec and AGM)
2015 saw a marked improvement in income for BAAS thanks to the new royalty agreement with CUP. However, given the need to build up reserves, there was not a push to massively increase spending by the organisation. CR is looking forward to working with the new Chair and committee to identify new spending priorities for 2016/17 once the reserves have been fully replenished. She is also looking forward to distributing the new small grants under BAAS’s agreement with the US Embassy. CR sent thanks to SC, JT, Theresa Saxon and Louise Cunningham for all their help ensuring the smooth running of the Treasury this year, both during the handover of the Treasurer role and during her maternity leave.
- Development and Education Subcommittee (NW reporting)
NW will step down from the Development and Education subcommittee chair and his position on the BAAS exec a year early due to too many commitments.
The subcommittee had received an application for support for the Campus to Congress programme from Phil Davies (Eccles Centre). The executive approved the allocation of £300 for this important outreach work around the country.
Kate Dossett has drafted a paper on a potential new executive post with an Equalities and Diversity remit. At the moment introducing a new post requires amendment of our constitution and due notice of the change. There could be a co-option with this remit in 2016/17, with the named elected position being developed for the following year.
An associated initiative, the demographic review or survey discussed in previous meetings will be taken forward by BO and the new subcommittee chair in due course.
KM reported that website business is in good order. Members’ access to the Journal of American Studies via the BAAS website is still a work in progress, but is due to be resolved imminently with emails about login going out within days.
Matthew Shaw has stepped down as Library and Resources Representative and a new person will need to be found to fulfill that role.
- Postgraduate Business (RA reporting)
RA has reached the end of her two-year term and, in order to promote the vacancy and the important work of the Postgraduate Rep, USSO has done a feature on the opportunity. RA will try to ensure a smooth handover to her successor.
RA reported a strong field of applications to run the next BAAS Postgraduate Conference. The successful one came from Leeds University and Rachael will liaise with her successor and Leeds organisers to facilitate planning for Autumn 2016.
Following previous correspondence about the reciprocal award between the IAAS and BAAS supporting PG attendance at each other’s conferences, RA reported that £250 had been awarded to a postgraduate this year.
- Publications Subcommittee (JS reporting)
(a) Journal of American Studies
Four members of the editorial board have reached the end of their terms. Two are stepping down and the Editors would like to ask two (Mark Whalan and Stephen Tuck) to renew.
A paper had been circulated and JS explained the process for appointing board members, which involves a vote to approve candidates by the editorial board and members of the BAAS exec (in the case of overlap between membership of the exec and the board, only one vote may be cast).
JAS is seeing increased submissions and in light of this the Editors CMB and BS would like to add to the editorial board, increasing its membership by one. Further expansion of the board will need careful monitoring. The proposed additional appointment could help support submissions in the areas of film and visual culture, music, and nineteenth-century history. Prior to the vote the Editors will suggest candidates, with a timeframe of one month for BAAS to make alternative suggestions.
JS also circulated a paper on the process for appointing new editors to JAS. He had consulted with the current Editors on this. It was asked if the process and Editor contracts allowed for the possibility of renewal or extension. The executive approved the process and JS will look into whether the option of renewal is already written into existing contracts.
JS reported that the appointment is underway for two new editors for USSO as Ben Offiler and Michelle Green step down. There is a very robust field of applicants; the outcome will be finalised after the conference. Warm thanks were offered to BO and MG and the rest of the USSO team for their very valuable work.
- Awards Subcommittee (UB reporting)
The Awards programme has again run successfully with over 40 awards being made this year. The Eccles awards will be handed out following the Eccles sponsored lecture, and the rest will follow at the conference banquet. This year a new booklet lists all the award winners. Anneliese Reinemeyer from the London US Embassy will be in attendance along with a representative of the Belfast US Consulate.
Despite a strong field of applications, we still need to do more to publicise our awards. In particular, we need to encourage Schools and Undergraduate applicants and make use of existing databases and contacts to promote these opportunities.
It was suggested that the judging process would be smoother if the deadline for the Eccles awards was moved slightly earlier to mid December. We will also need to revisit the Ambassador awards next year, given that the grounds for Embassy funding have changed.
UB thanked those who served on judging panels. Special thanks were noted to Louise Cunningham for her work in running the ever-growing Awards process. We need to review ways of further supporting Louise in this.
- Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)
Flyers for Canterbury Christ Church are in our conference packs and the Friday reception is sponsored by the 2017 hosts.
The planning for the joint conference in London is well underway. It will run 4-7 April 2018 (Weds afternoon to Saturday afternoon, thus accommodating orthodox Easter Sunday). One keynote will be held at King’s (a European speaker; this will be the conference-sponsored keynote); two at UCL (a JAS speaker, who will be U.S.-based and an Eccles speaker, who will be U.K.-based). The organisers are Uta Balbier and Dan Matlin (King’s), Nick Witham and someone else TBC at UCL, with the involvement of Cara Rodway and Phil Davies from the Eccles Centre at the British Library.
The Sussex organisers/contacts will be Tom Davies and Tom Wright. One of them will be co-opted on to the BAAS Conferences subcom from April 2017.
Applications are invited to host the 2020 conference. SM’s replacement as subcom chair will need to follow up on this in due course.
(e) Small Conference Support Grants
It was noted that we are now receiving a high number of high-quality applications for this fund (across two deadlines per year); applicants are meeting the brief and tailoring their applications well. In the April 2016 round alone there were nine applications and approx. £2,500 was requested, which far exceeds the £1500 allocated for the entire year. A request for conference support funding to be increased from £1500 to £3000 over the April/Nov 2016 rounds was approved by the Exec. The judging of the April round is in progress and SM will notify successful applicants shortly after the conference.
- EAAS (MH reporting)
The EAAS conference in Constanta, Romania is approaching soon (22-25 April 2016). Planning for the joint conference in London in 2018 is progressing well, with a meeting taking place at the BAAS conference and reports being delivered to the EAAS board next week.
- Any Other Business
(a) Embassy Grant
As mentioned in the Chair’s report, BAAS’s bid to administer a small grants programme covering American Studies on behalf of the US Embassy was successful. SC, JT, CR and UB will meet with Sarah-Jane Mayhew and Anneliese Reinemeyer at the Embassy on 18 April 2016 to discuss plans and guidelines. A call for applications will need to be devised in order to distribute the funds in accordance with the eighteen-month timeframe set out in our bid.
In the meantime, the Embassy has passed on nine applications rolled over from their February deadline that fall in the area of American Studies; we are asked to consider these and decide whether to award funding from out of the main sum of 2016/17 funding. SC had circulated the applications, in which the amount requested varies significantly. The exec approved an interim process whereby these applicants are invited to resubmit bearing in mind the remit of BAAS’s programme, the promotion of American Studies in the UK and in some cases with a scaled down request.
BAAS may wish to target particular areas (e.g. events that reach schools) in its open call. Our bid set out that we would appoint a senior academic as Managing Director to oversee the programme and it also budgeted for additional administrative assistance. We now need to get an MD in place (ideally by the end of April) and secure administrative support. Suggestions for the MD role should be passed on to BW; BW and SC will also communicate with the authors of the funding applications already passed on to us. Rather than the Embassy Grant being folded into the business of the Awards subcom (already dealing with over 40 awards per year), the MD should report to the Chair and other officers and thus to the exec, and ongoing liaison with the Embassy will also be required.
(b) MH drew attention to the next meeting of the Arts and Humanities Alliance on 22 April. It would be good for BAAS to be represented and volunteers from the exec to attend are welcome.
(c) SC thanked all those on the exec whose terms are ending this April for their contributions and commitment. Public thanks to Sue for her tremendous work as Chair will follow at the AGM, but the exec also extended their thanks to her at this, her last executive committee meeting.
- Date of next meeting TBC
Secretary: Dr. Jenny Terry / Email: email@example.com / Phone: 01913 342570