British Association for American Studies
Minutes of the 282nd meeting of the Executive Committee, held at the Institute of the Americas, UCL, on Friday 19 June 2015 at 1.00pm.
- Present: Sue Currell (Chair), Jenny Terry (Secretary), Cara Rodway
(Treasurer), Katie McGettigan, Simon Hall, Brian Ward, Joe Street, Uta Balbier, Sinéad Moynihan, Ben Offiler. For part of the meeting: Jonathan Bell, Keith Lawrey.
Apologies: Doug Haynes, Nick Witham, Celeste-Marie Bernier, Bevan Sewell, Phillip McGowan, Martin Halliwell, Rachael Alexander, Kate Dossett.
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. All Action List duties will be addressed under the relevant section below.
- Chair’s Business (SC reporting)
(a) The Chair offered thanks on behalf of BAAS to Joe Street and his colleagues for their marvelous work in organising the annual conference at Northumbria.
(b) Chair’s activities, meetings and correspondence
- 1 May 2015, Arts and Humanities Alliance meeting at the Royal Historical Society offices, UCL. Discussed:
– The Nurse Review of the research councils, results of which we should be looking out for.
– The RCUK review of Open Access; there is a need for everyone to monitor how the two mandates, Gold and Green, are enforced institutionally, and the expenditure of Gold funds.
– The impact of Open Access on our journals, and new models that might be emerging to accommodate this.
– Upcoming consultations on the next REF and the possibility that some bodies might together issue a joint ‘bottom line’ statement, which would seek a looser qualification for impact (that would include ECRs, permit researcher mobility, and recognise expertise beyond a narrow publication definition) and a minimum 70% allocation for rigorous peer review of publications.
- 11 May 2015, Eccles Centre dinner, following the DW Bryant Lecture by Ambassador Matthew Barzun.
- On behalf of BAAS and the American Studies community, Sue sent a letter to The Rt. Hon. Philip Hammond, MP Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to voice our concern about the possible abolition of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission (MACC) and its proposed replacement by a single UK government Scholarship Commission. The letter contained over 15 signatures from leading scholars and professors of American studies.
- 18 June 2015, Sue visited the BAAS Archive held at Birmingham University. She met with Susan Worrall and Ivana Frlan, Special Collections, discussing the return of items incorrectly deposited, clarification of the deposit policy, cataloguing the archive, and a possible Masters at Birmingham to research BAAS’s history using the archive. BAAS Officers will ensure compliance with the deposit policy.
(c) Achievements, announcements and events of note to BAAS members
- The National Humanities Center Named Fellows for 2015-16 include Daniel Scroop (History, University of Glasgow). While completing work on The Politics of Scale in Modern American History he will hold the Walter Hines Page Fellowship of the Research Triangle Foundation.
- Professor Judie Newman (Nottingham) has announced her retirement (from October 2015). A former chair of BAAS, Judie will be continuing her research and generously has said she ‘will be ready to be useful if needed’.
- Cambridge Professor and US Intellectual Historian and Southern Historian, Michael O’Brien died in May 2015. To mark this JAS is going to post a short tribute on the journal website and make some of his published work available for free.
- Jo Gill has been promoted to Chair at Exeter University.
(d) A suggestion had come from John Fagg that for the next US election an ‘on the campaign trail’ blog made up of posts from UK students on their year abroad could be exciting and good outreach. This could be hosted by USSO or the BAAS website and we could co-ordinate with our Fulbright contacts.
- Secretary’s Business (JT Reporting)
(a) Co-options for 2015-16
The committee approved the co-option of Kate Dossett (Leeds) onto the executive with a particular remit on gender and equality initiatives. They also confirmed the co-option of Matthew Shaw (British Library) onto the Development and Education subcom as Libraries and Resources representative, and Lydia Plath’s joining of the Conferences subcom as one of the Canterbury Christ Church conference organisers (2017).
(b) Vice-Chair of BAAS
The committee confirmed the election of Brian Ward (Northumbria) as Vice-Chair for 2015-16.
(c) Publications and Awards subcommittee standing orders
Two minor amendments to subcom standing orders were agreed in light of subcom composition following the recent elections and complications arising from previous changes.
– In the Publications standing orders ‘Two officers of BAAS (usually the Vice Chair and the Treasurer), one of whom shall act as chair’ was changed to ‘Two or more full members of the Executive Committee (usually including one Officer), one of whom shall act as chair.’
– In the Awards standing orders ‘Two or more members of the Committee, one of whom shall be designated as chair. One officer of the Association (usually the Secretary)’ was changed to ‘Two or more full members of the Executive Committee (usually including one Officer), one of whom shall act as chair.’
(d) Electronic Elections
Following changes to the constitution agreed in April, we now have the possibility of running our annual elections electronically. Jenny circulated one model of how this could work in practice along with responses received via email to that model. The committee had a brief discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of holding elections by electronic means before, rather than at, the AGM. It was agreed to return to this issue for a fuller discussion at the next executive. In the meantime online ballot capability and security could be looked into as part of other website development.
(e) Move to Charitable Incorporated Organisation
Keith Lawrey joined the executive to give a legal perspective on our current status as an unincorporated charity and the options open to BAAS such as a move to being a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Keith explained the purpose of the Association of Learned Societies – set up specifically to advise and support small societies – and his own role within it. If BAAS were to accrue debts, at the moment trustees (that’s elected members of the executive) and ordinary members of the society would be liable for those debts as individuals. With a move to incorporated status this would no longer be the case, although in the event of negligence or misconduct trustees would still be held to account.
The process of the change to CIO would involve replacing our current constitution with one adapted from the template provided by the Charity Commission. This would be likely to incorporate much of our existing constitution and Keith would be able to help with drawing this up. As well as voting to adopt a new constitution, members would need to vote to dissolve BAAS itself for it then to be immediately reformed as the CIO BAAS (alongside the necessary re-registration online with the Charity Commission). Our constitution requires a two-thirds majority at a special General Meeting before the society can be dissolved. At the moment registration as a CIO is free although a charge may be introduced in the future.
Keith answered several questions during discussion. Our trading arm ‘BAAS Publications Ltd’ could be owned by the CIO in a similar way to how BAAS is the sole shareholder of the arm now. We would continue to submit an annual report to the Charity Commission. The change, allowing us to have both charitable and incorporated status, makes us a legal entity and brings an ‘added layer of safety’ in the event of debt. We would need to consult with our bank about their preferred way of conducting any transfer of assets (our constitution makes provision for the transfer of assets, clause 14). There are no tax implications. It was noted that the Charity Commission constitution template contains stipulations regarding the running of elections; Keith would be able to advise on the extent to which we could adapt this document. As trustees our responsibilities are not just to members but also, in line with registered charity objectives, to the public as beneficiaries.
Sue offered our thanks to Keith for his visit and help. With some further clarification of details regarding the process, the executive should be in a position to agree a recommendation at the next meeting.
- Treasurer’s Business (CR reporting)
(a) Bank Accounts (as at 16 June 2015)
BAAS Publications Ltd: £7422
General Deposit: £58,102.10
Dollar Account: $3,399.04
(b) Membership Figures (provided by Louise Cunningham)
Members on fully paid sheet (total = 500)
Individuals – 237 (76 online JAS, 161 with full JAS)
PG – 219 (150 online JAS, 69 with full JAS)
PU (Unwaged) – 6 (3 online JAS, 3 with full JAS)
PR (Retired) – 26 (15 online JAS, 11 with full JAS)
PS (Schools) – 12
(c) Narrative Report
- The handover from outgoing Treasurer Theresa to Cara is well underway. Cara soon hopes to have online access in order to make bank transfers.
- BAAS has received the latest cheque payment from CUP.
- Phil Davies had suggested to Sue that the Charity’s Aid Foundation were a body able to advise on ethical investment for charities.
- Louise Cunningham has been working to clean up the BAAS membership database and also now has access to the Paypal account, meaning she is able to check membership payments. In readiness for the move of the database to the secure area of our website, Katie has been putting the information into the right format. When we make the move, only fully paid up members will get a user login automatically; others will have to pay their membership fees to have access.
- Development and Education Subcommittee (SC reporting in the absence
(a) Katie reported that the website is running well and the members’ area is nearly ready for launch. There has been some use of the media enquiries facility already. Training for executive members is being planned for the next meeting.
(b) Matthew Shaw was welcomed as Libraries and Resources Rep. He reported that he would be consulting with former members of BLARS for suggestions, and for advice with continuing libraries work. It was noted that USSO are putting together a roundtable on Open Access and the Humanities by Martin Eve, with commentary/reviews by Katie McGettigan, Daniel Pearce (Cambridge University Press), and Rupert Gatti (Open Book Publishers), and Eve responding. Matthew would also be keeping an eye on the ‘Open Library for the Humanities’ in case of possible links and opportunities.
(c) Ben Offiler was welcomed as Early Careers Rep. Ben reported that he had several suggestions and ideas for continuing to develop BAAS’s engagement with Early Careers academics, including first book and EC essay prizes. Ben will draw up a written outline of these plans, including practicalities of implementation, costs and context of our existing awards.
Ben also raised the issue of the high cost of attending conferences for EC researchers currently without full institutional affiliation or support; we should formalise the practice of such members being able to register for the BAAS annual conference at the PG rate (as happened at Exeter in 2013).
Sue reported that there had been two applications for schools event funding, one in connection with Congress to Campus and one for a Rosa Parks centenary event in Leicester. It had been decided to award £300 and £500 respectively. It would be good to secure video or other content for the website to publicise our support in this area.
Nick is working on lining up a Schools Rep for 2015-16 with input from Cara.
- Postgraduate Business (RA sent a short report)
The arrangements for the Postgraduate Conference, organised in collaboration with HOTCUS this year, are developing well. It will run 4 – 5 December 2015 in Glasgow, with the HOTCUS workshop on the Friday and the BAAS programme on the Saturday. Members are asked to see http://baashotcus2015.wordpress.com and to encourage postgraduates to attend. The CFP is live and available on the website. See also twitter @baashotcus2015 and http://facebook.com/baashotcus2015. Rachael has written a piece for ASIB, which gives further detail.
The keynote speakers have just been announced as Dr Jenny Barrett (Edgehill University), Prof. Faye Hammill (University of Strathclyde), and Warren Pleece (DC Comics). On the Friday there will be a career development workshop.
- Publications Subcommittee (JS reporting)
Profound thanks were offered to Bridget Bennett for all her important work on Publications.
The good work on USSO, including book hour and podcasts, continues and the Editors have been invited to speak at the Italian Association of American Studies, Naples, in September 2015. They will be sharing their experiences and what they have done to develop the blog. SC proposed, and the executive agreed, that BAAS fund 25% of their travel costs.
They were ‘Highly Commended’ runners up in the UK Blog Awards, a great achievement for a relatively new blog.
(b) Journal of American Studies
Discussions on the process of appointing JAS board members will be resumed at a subsequent meeting when the editors can be present.
The subcom will also return to discussion of the details of the process for appointing JAS Editors.
Emily West had reported on behalf of the series editors in the subcom. The publisher session at the 2015 BAAS conference was a success and the editors hope to run a similar session at the 2016 event. There are currently seven BAAS paperbacks under contract (two were under contract prior to Emily and Martin’s appointment). None are set for publication imminently and there have been no new submissions since the last Exec meeting.
A report had been received from Kenneth Morgan. Publications will return to discussion of the future of BRRAM next time.
- Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)
- Northumbria University 2015
Thanks were offered to Joe Street for organising such a successful conference. In total, there were 225 delegates in attendance; of these 97 were postgraduates. The keynote lecture by Gary Younge, which included a talk and Q&A from Elizabeth Dibble (Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy), attracted an audience of 160, which included 20 members of the general public. On Sunday 12 April, the roundtable ‘BAAS at 60: A Celebration’ took place to celebrate 60 years of the British Association for American Studies and to reflect on the changing nature of the organisation and of American Studies in the UK. This involved Sue Wedlake (US Embassy) and former BAAS Chairs Martin Halliwell, Judie Newman, Philip Davies and Richard King as well as Sue Currell and Nick Witham, who gave a short paper on the Cold War and the early years of BAAS.
Sinéad had received a report on the conference from Joe, which now appears on our website. The conference accounts are being wrapped up.
- Queen’s University, Belfast 2016
Philip reports that all is progressing as planned. The CFP has been sent out and appears on websites. Proposals can be sent to email@example.com and further details found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/baasiaas2016/ Members are asked to publicise the conference.
- Canterbury Christ Church University 2017
Lydia Plath raised some questions regarding the format and scheduling of the slimmed-down conference in 2017. Sinéad will liaise with her about this and what needs to be put in place over the coming months. The conference dates will be 6-8 April 2017. The executive will meet at Canterbury in January 2016.
- EAAS/BAAS 2018
Nothing to report.
- 2019 Conference
It was agreed to issue an invitation for expressions of interest about hosting future conferences via the BAAS newsletter; this should also include an update on the venues for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
- Small Conference SupportApplications
Two applications had been received by the first of two deadlines this year, one for a SAVAnT event at the British Library and another for the BAAS/APG colloquium. It was decided to award £200 each to the two applicants in this first round.
In line with what had been agreed at the April executive, the application form for the scheme will be redrafted to include more of a steer on BAAS’s conference support.
- Awards Subcommittee (UB reporting)
(a) Ambassador Awards
Our report on the awards has been submitted to the US Embassy and accepted. Bradley Moore is leaving the Embassy and Sarah-Jane Mayhew will take over his grant duties. We hope to continue our good relations with the Embassy.
(b) GTA Studentships
Despite Doug’s efforts, we have not yet been successful in securing a new studentship to replace the one withdrawn at Virginia. Executive members are asked to suggest US institutions/individuals that could be approached. We could promote the advantages of involvement by putting interested institutions in touch with our current partners.
Doug has been in contact with current GTA award holders to obtain reports for the website/ASIB.
(c) Future Awards Ceremonies
The format of the awards ceremony had been discussed in the subcom, especially in view of Belfast arrangements. To shorten proceedings, the full list of recipients could be provided on the tables with only those recipients present at the banquet having their names read out and being presented with their awards. This would allow a little more time for brief comment on the winning work. There was support for this option and Uta will look into the practicalities of preparing such a list with Louise Cunningham.
Another possibility raised was that Eccles awards could be presented at the Eccles-sponsored keynote lecture rather than at the banquet.
It was also noted that the cost of covering travel expenses for recipients of the School prize etc could rise steeply for Belfast. It was agreed to review the policy of offering to cover travel costs for 2016.
(d) International Student Essay Prize
A suggestion had been received about a new essay prize for International American Studies Students. It was decided this could be something to look at in future but that at the moment we have a wide and strong portfolio of prize opportunities.
Nothing to add since the AGM report in April.
- Any Other Business
- Date of next meeting
Secretary: Dr. Jenny Terry / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org /