Minutes of the 288th meeting of the Executive Committee, held at Canterbury Christ Church University on Thursday 6 April 2017 at 10.30 am.
- Present: Brian Ward (Chair), Jenny Terry (Secretary), Cara Rodway (Treasurer), Paul Williams, Ben Offiler, Martin Halliwell, David Brown, Joe Street, Emma Long, Katie McGettigan, Katerina Webb-Bourne, Kate Dossett, Martin Dines, Nicole King.
- Apologies: Simon Hall, Bevan Sewell and Celeste-Marie Bernier.
In attendance: Jenny Terry.
- 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 (February 2017 – April 2017)
- Thanks as ever to all members of the Executive Committee for their hard work over the past three months.
- Our response to the REF consultation was submitted. The call for nominations to chair main panels has just been issued.
- Some time back Sue Currell wrote to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in support of the Marshall Programme, which was under threat. In March 2017 BW heard that the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission has retained its status as an independent fellowship programme, with increased funding in recognition of the 70th anniversary of Marshall Aid. Simon Newman wrote thanking SC and BAAS for the support. The number of US students coming to the UK for PGT courses on Marshall fellowships will increase from about 32 to 40 each year.
- Embassy/BAAS Small Grants: for the January 2017 deadline we received 49 applications, marking the wide reach and high profile of the programme. 15 awards were made and the block grant is now fully spent. BW noted thanks to Carole Holden and Jo Gill for administering the scheme and also thanked Martin Dines for his contribution. It is still not clear if there will be a programme of grants next year or if BAAS will be involved. RESERVED: 15 applications were fully or partially funded at an expense of £32,969.60 in this round (13 funded in first round with a Sept 2016 deadline at £35,063).
The volatility in the US political scene and the uncertainty about what course the new Ambassador, presumptively Woody Johnson, will set for the future means that the nature of any awards, indeed, the whole tenor of BAAS’s relationship with the Embassy may change. We need to be aware of this and have contingency plans, but we also need to maintain a sense of perspective about where we fit into the Embassy’s universe – and where the Embassy fits into the world of BAAS and its members. We need to keep in mind our wider and long term responsibilities to our membership and to the overarching mission of BAAS – to continue to promote the study of America – in our dealings with the Embassy and its staff.
- There has been some modest success in our call for American Studies contacts in countries potentially affected by President Trump’s travel ban. BW is in communication with a scholar in Tehran and there is a tentative plan for her to visit the Humanities Institute at Northumbria University next academic year.
(b) Achievements, announcements and events of note to BAAS members
- Martin Padget (Aberystwyth) has completed a three-month senior fellowship at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center in Santa Fe, NM.
- Donald Ratcliffe’s (Oxford) most recent book, The One-Party Presidential Contest: Adams, Jackson, and 1824’s Five-Horse Race (University Press of Kansas, 2015) has been awarded the Lasky Prize for the best book on American Political History published in the United States in 2015, and the Richard E. Neustadt Prize for the best book on American Government and Politics published in 2015 by a British-based scholar.
- Sharon Monteith (Nottingham) has been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for three years for her work on ‘The Civil Rights Movement: A Literary History’.
- Secretary’s Business (JT reporting)
The earlier deadline for candidate nominations and the new mechanism allowing for advance voting seem to have worked well. Advance votes will be added into the count at the AGM. JT thanked all those who had helped encourage and nominate a good range of strong candidates. Thanks also to this year’s independent election scrutineers, Mike Colins and Rachael McLennan, and to George Lewis, who will once again bring his experience to the single transferable vote count this year. JT asked panel chairs to encourage delegates to attend the AGM.
(b) Constitutional Amendment
The proposed amendment, adding our equality and diversity commitment to the BAAS constitution, will be voted on at the AGM under Secretary’s business. It has been available for consultation on our website for the required period in advance of the meeting. If adopted by members, JT will then submit the change to the Charity Commission.
- Treasurer’s Business (CR reporting)
(a) Bank Accounts (as at 5 April 2017)
BAAS Charity Barclays Current Account £13,514.75
BAAS Charity Barclays Savings Account £63,379.10
BAAS Charity Shawbrook Savings Account £20,000.00
BAAS Publications Barclays Current Account £36,836.88
BAAS Charity Barclays Dollar Account $3,405.68
(b) Membership Figures (provided by LC)
Honorary membership – 4
Schools membership – 13
Individual membership – 287 (133 online JAS, 154 with full JAS)
PG membership – 283 (225 online JAS, 58 with full JAS)
Retired (PR) – 27 (18 online JAS, 9 with full JAS)
Unwaged (PU) – 21 (19 online JAS, 2 with full JAS)
Total members on fully paid sheet: 635 [620 in Feb 2017]
(c) Narrative Report
The BAAS accounts are in a healthy position and in terms of what we are able to gift aid from BAAS Publications Ltd to BAAS the charity, this year the amount has been just over £50,000. CR shared our annual report to the Charity Commission and the annual accounts for BAAS and for BAAS Publications Ltd – covering the calendar year 2016 – with the executive. The turnover shown in these has been swelled by the Embassy/BAAS grant programme this year.
Since the last meeting CR has opened a Shawbrook Bank savings account for BAAS, which now holds £20,000 of our reserves, earning a higher rate of interest than our standard savings account (1.30% gross).
Our PAYE scheme for administrative support employees and the JAS editorial team is now fully operational. The opening of new bank accounts for BAAS the CIO and transfer of assets is still ongoing.
Now that we have reached our aim of reserves consisting of 18 months unrestricted spending, we need to agree on plans for spending more of the income from BAAS Publications Ltd. We are in a position to develop initiatives but do need to bear in mind that the CUP royalties may not remain constant over time and can fluctuate. One possibility is investing further in the Short Term Travel Award Fund (in 2016 and 2017, 5 named awards and 3 general awards were made, totalling £8000 per year). We also still need to bear in mind diversifying our income, for example targeted fundraising (e.g. to support a travel scholarship or named grant, perhaps drawing on Honorary Fellows to spearhead and promote fundraising).
- Equality and Diversity
All those standing for election this year have been asked to consider equality and diversity issues and initiatives in their candidate statements. After the elections, a member of the executive will be selected to hold the brief of co-ordinating on Equality and Diversity for 2017-18.
KD and KMcG proposed some training for the executive on trans equality issues. Some UK universities are now drafting policies tackling discrimination against trans groups and our need of some input arose in relation to the development of the American Studies Women’s Network. KMcG suggests Ray Filar, a trans journalist and activist who would be willing to offer some training. Agreed: To pay for travel and a fee (£125) for this training. The training could be scheduled to fit with an executive meeting in June or Nov.
- Awards Subcommittee (EL reporting)
The BAAS awards programme has run successfully again this year. 44 awards have been made, showcasing the depth and breadth of work by the American Studies community. EL thanked everyone involved, especially the Awards subcommittee, former subcommittee chair Uta Balbier, and our administrator Louise Cunningham.
17 BAAS winners are collecting their awards in person as are 2 of the Eccles winners. Following the successful arrangement last year, the Eccles Centre prizes will be announced and awarded at the drinks reception on Thursday 6 April. The BAAS awards will follow at the conference dinner on Friday 7 April. A booklet containing the names of all the award winners will be available to all delegates.
Looking ahead, in line with the Association’s policy on equality and diversity, in the coming year we will be looking into ways to support and encourage scholars to participate in our awards programme. Collecting demographic information at the points of application and award may prove helpful.
We will also be looking at our advertising strategy for the BAAS awards to consider whether our current methods are effectively reaching the target communities, particularly in relation to the schools and undergraduate awards. EL would welcome suggestions from executive members on this.
- Conference Subcommittee (PW reporting)
(a) Belfast 2016
The accounts are now just about closed. Queen’s University Belfast has had to absorb a loss on the conference. For conferences involving multiple partners working together, the need for robust budgeting and clear expectations is all the more important.
(b) London 2018
Plans are looking good for London (4-7 April 2018), which could see the conference numbers reach 500. It should be attractive to delegates from the US. A smaller group, including Nick Witham, had met earlier in the day before the exec to discuss scheduling, venues, breakout lunches, bursaries etc. More of the conference will be based at King’s than at UCL and the organisers are looking carefully at delegates getting between venues. There will be recommendations of accommodation to suit all budgets. The CFP is included in the Canterbury conference pack and has an earlier deadline of 1 October 2017. Following a meeting in Switzerland last week, MH reports that the EAAS committee are happy with the conference identity/design and plans so far. KWB made a request for a BAAS postgraduate gathering to be factored into the programming. A launch will follow at the drinks reception tonight, which is sponsored by London conference partners.
(c) Sussex 2019
Representation from Sussex will be co-opted onto the subcommittee from June on. Organisers Tom Wright and Tom Davies are likely to take it in turns to attend. The provisional dates for the Sussex conference are 11-13 April 2019.
Applications will open later in the year, with an end of year deadline, for bids to host the 2021 conference. So far PW has had one expression of interest (from Hull).
(e) Conference Hardship and Reciprocal Bursaries
PW and the Conferences subcommittee have administered the new fund to support Postgraduate and Early Career participation at Canterbury in cases where other funding is not available or sufficient. We have made 9 awards, totalling £2195. In future years it might be worth looking at other ways of supporting Postgraduate and Early Career attendance. However, the number and strength of cases this time reinforce the need for a scheme or dispensation of some kind. For London 2018, this is likely to be rolled into the EAAS bursary scheme.
KWB has administered our reciprocal award with the IAAS, supporting BAAS postgraduates to attend IAAS conferences and vice versa. PW thanked KWB for her excellent work on this. This year two BAAS postgraduates will be attending the main IAAS conference later in April with this support, although the usual pattern is for one recipient to go to the main conference and another to the IAAS postgraduate conference.
(f) Postgraduate Conference
KWB has also administered the bidding process to host this year’s BAAS Postgraduate conference in the Autumn. Pleasingly, we received three strong applications (from Essex, Hull and Nottingham). Applicants are just in the process of being notified about the outcome, with Essex’s bid being the successful one.
(g) Small Conference Support Grants
Following the 1 April deadline, we just have the latest round of applications to this scheme in. An increase in the pot to be distributed to £1500 has been agreed. The Conference subcommittee will judge these applications after the Canterbury conference.
- Development and Education Subcommittee (KD reporting)
The BAAS membership survey has just launched. KD noted our big thanks to BO for all his work on it and asked the executive to encourage as many people as possible to complete it.
The new Public Engagement award has also run successfully for the first time, and through this BAAS will be supporting an upcoming exhibition in Nottingham organised by Hannah Murray and part of ‘Journey to Justice’.
There has also been progress with the resources pages for Schools on our website and KMcG will be launching the expanded and new resources soon.
(b) BAAS Archive Internship
A proposal had been circulated to the executive for consideration in advance. KD has been liaising with the Cadbury Research Library at Birmingham University and they are keen to encourage more use of the archive and are happy to support an internship scheme via help with induction, skills development, and a sense of community among researchers at the library. As the proposal sets out, the research could have a focus on the archive and equality and diversity matters, public engagement, BAAS input on the school syllabus, or a number of other areas where the archive might prove rich. In the first instance, we could offer one paid internship to a postgraduate or Early Career researcher as a pilot, starting in the summer. In the future there could be something bigger in collaboration with the Midlands Three Cities AHRC Doctoral Training Centre and/or a funded PhD place. Our pilot could be advertised via the Three Cities partnership.
Discussion followed of how the promised research supervision of the intern would work, and about legacy and ensuring that the findings and connection are not lost at the end of the award. The intern would write a blog post and a note or short article could also be submitted to American Quarterly as the work might be something that US readers and ASA members would be interested in.
Agreed: to fund this important initiative up to £3500. The intern will be paid and the cost will vary depending on duration (envisaged as 15-20 days over three months) and the distance the successful applicant has to travel.
- Publications Subcommittee (JS reporting)
(a) Journal of American Studies
As discussed at the last executive meeting, the JAS editors propose an expansion of the editorial board, in the first instance making three new appointments. They have re-emphasised the importance of this in terms of improving diversity of representation on the board. Their proposal had been circulated to the executive in advance. Agreed: the appointment process should go ahead and we give our full support to the editors’ initiative. RESERVED: The proposal as accepted involves suspension of the usual vote to approve appointments.
Also, as discussed last time, the editors are hoping to mark the 50th anniversary of the Journal with an event in Edinburgh in 2018. The executive had asked if Edinburgh could share some of the event costs and also for further consideration of audience and reach, including perhaps running an Early Career session. Financial support from Edinburgh was not available.
Agreed: We are glad to support this celebration of the Journal and its history. £2000 was approved. The executive would welcome the incorporation of a session on publication for Early Career researchers (possibly with some travel bursaries to support the attendance of those outside of Edinburgh). If the event takes place in a venue with the technical capacity for recording then it can also be captured and shared online in order to reach and benefit more people. It would make good practical and financial sense if the event could be tied in with a BAAS executive meeting, boosting exec member attendance and saving costs.
(b) British Records Relating to America in Microform (BRRAM)
A proposal had been circulated to the executive for consideration in advance. Following on from David Sarsfield’s visit to the last exec meeting and discussion of the future of BRRAM, JS and the subcom would like approval to proceed with plans for an internship scheme.
In terms of digitising new collections and resources, and widening use, an editorial board will be formed, offering expertise and new ideas. An intern or team of interns would be able to help in identifying new American Studies resources and also possibly in promoting new packages. Such an internship initiative also fits with BAAS’s commitment to developing new Early Career and skills development opportunities; it should appeal to those planning publishing, archiving or other careers, not just those hoping to become university academics.
Discussion followed on the potential composition of the board, which would draw on PhD and Early Career expertise and could be recruited via BAAS channels. JS envisages drawing on members of Publications and Development in setting this up. JS pointed out that the board costs, such as member expenses, could be shared with Microform Academic Publishers (MAP) and the internship scheme could be cost neutral given that there is an annual royalty from BRRAM, although the details need to be worked out with MAP. Agreed: to take forward discussions with Kenneth Morgan and MAP, with finalisation of the financial support and details in due course.
- EAAS (MH reporting)
Most EAAS matters to report have already been covered under conferences. Venice had been scheduled as the venue for the 2020 EAAS conference but that is no longer the case and bidding to host will reopen. MH will put KD in touch with the co-ordinator of a recent EAAS women’s network event.
- Any Other Business.
- Date of next meeting. June 2017; date tbc.
Secretary: Dr Jenny Terry / Email: email@example.com / Phone: 01913 342570