British Association for American Studies
Minutes of the 283rd meeting of the Executive Committee, held at Canterbury Christ Church University, on Saturday 16 January 2016 at 1.30pm.
- Present: Sue Currell (Chair), Jenny Terry (Secretary), Cara Rodway
(Treasurer), Simon Hall, Martin Halliwell, Brian Ward, Joe Street, Uta Balbier, Nick Witham, Sinéad Moynihan, Kate Dossett, Doug Haynes.
Apologies: Celeste-Marie Bernier, Bevan Sewell, Rachael Alexander, Ben Offiler, Katie McGettigan.
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. Website training for executive committee members will be scheduled for the June meeting. 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 (June 2015 – January 2016)
- 2 July 2015 Sue attended Independence Day celebrations at Ambassador Barzun’s mansion, Winfield House.
- 10 July she attended the Eccles Centre for American Studies Network Launch Party.
- September 2015 Sue responded to the UKCASA Questionnaire to Member Associations.
- Sue has been appointed as a reading panelist for the Fulbright Commission’s UK awardee selection process for 2016-17.
- She has also been appointed as a member for the QAA review panel for the Subject benchmark statement for Area studies and although unable to attend the October meeting, sent comments on behalf of BAAS electronically.
- Sue communicated with Peter Mandler on behalf of BAAS in relation to the Arts and Humanities Alliance response to the Government’s Green Paper consultation on HE. BAAS has been included in this response.
- 5-6 December 2015 Sue attended the BAAS/HOTCUS Postgraduate Conference in Glasgow.
- Sue has been appointed to the interview panel for Senior Fulbright Fellowships taking place at the Fulbright Commission: interview dates are 14 January and 18 February 2016.
Due to health and teaching reasons, Sue was unable to attend several events in the Autumn. For information these included:
- 23 September 2015 Annual AHRC Subject Associations meeting. A programme for the day included speakers Professor Rick Rylance, Chief Executive of the AHRC, and Professor Mark Llewellyn, AHRC’s Director of Research. Among the topics discussed were postgraduate support and training, including a presentation from the AHRC’s Creative Exchange Hub on new models of doctoral training, updates on AHRC Commons (from Dr Richard Clay) and the Academic Book of the Future (Dr Samantha Rayner). Nick Witham attended on behalf of BAAS and reported that the presentation on the Academic Book of the Future contained interesting information about REF and new forms of monograph publishing; he also had the opportunity to discuss with the other subject associations and the AHRC the difficulties of supporting ECRs.
- 23 October 2015 The Arts and Humanities Alliance meeting at the Royal Historical Society.
- A meeting of UKCASA at UCL on 9 November 2015 in tandem with a conference, ‘Area Studies in the 21st Century’, organised by UCL.
- 11 November 2015 ‘Gender, Inequalities and Academic Careers: History, American Studies and British Universities’, University of Leeds, an event supported by BAAS.
- 13 November 2015 the American Politics Group colloquium (Sue was asked to chair the afternoon panel with the Former Members of Congress).
- 2 December 2015 Humanities and Social Sciences Learned Societies and Subject Associations Network event at the British Academy. The agenda was changed after the Comprehensive Spending Review appeared to create less impact on HE than originally thought. Instead the focus was a speaker and discussion on interdisciplinarity.
(b) Achievements, announcements and events of note to BAAS members
- Heidi Macpherson, former Chair of BAAS, has been appointed The College at Brockport’s President by The State University of New York Board of Trustees. Heidi, formerly Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, in July 2015 became the first female president in the College’s history, and its seventh overall.
(c) Succession (Chair and Executive roles)
A number of the current terms of executive committee members end in April 2016, including those of the Chair and Postgraduate Rep. We are looking ahead to elections at the AGM and also, inevitably, reconfiguration of our subcoms. Sue would like to explore the possibility of a new executive position to support the work of BAAS; one possibility is of an Equalities and Diversity Rep, another is of a Senior academic post. A proposal will be brought to the next executive meeting in April.
- Secretary’s Business (JT Reporting)
(a) Narrative report
Jenny has been liaising with Louise Cunningham on matters like the membership database, and dealing with the usual enquiries and correspondence.
On 1 December 2015 she spoke on the phone with Susan Worrall from Birmingham University Library about the BAAS archive, the deposit policy, and incomplete sequences of material. If anyone is able to help with locating a copy of the BAAS conference programmes from 2009 (Nottingham) and 2010 (East Anglia) that would be much appreciated. Susan recommended the archiving of any photographs relevant to BAAS activities and events. Jenny will visit the archive in Spring 2016 and if passed material can deposit it then (the library’s policy is hardcopy over electronic).
Jenny attended the JAS editorial board meeting on 15 September 2015. On the same day there was a small meeting of BAAS officers and subcom chairs at the Institute of the Americas, UCL. As Sue could not attend, this was chaired by Brian and Jenny, and allowed for updates on Awards, the website, Schools liaison, the proposed change to CIO status, and the ballot model offered in the template constitution from the Charity Commission.
The committee confirmed the co-option of Mike Simpson (Bradford Grammar) onto the Development and Education subcom as Schools representative. Nick will be staying in touch with Mike about plans and potential events.
(c) Charitable Incorporated Organisation Constitution
As part of the move to CIO status, Jenny circulated a draft beginning to integrate our current constitution with the Charity Commission template for CIOs on 11 January 2016. Responses from the committee were invited. A difference that has emerged is that our current constitution deals only with the election and terms of executive committee members, while the Commission model deals only with the appointment and remit of charity trustees. At the moment all elected executive members are registered as trustees. Jenny will consult with Keith Lawrey on this terminology and any other issue arising where his expert input might be helpful. The next steps are to complete the draft constitution and to share information with the membership about the proposed change, which will be voted on at the AGM. 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. Cara consulted with the accountants in September and was advised that the transfer of assets from the old BAAS to the new should be a relatively smooth process.
(d) Election Process
As of April 2015, the BAAS constitution allows for the possibility of electronic or postal voting in executive elections. This option is intended to bring flexibility and to give those who can’t attend the conference the chance of voting. Although we do not have mechanisms in place for the 2016 elections, the template constitution from the Charity Commission lays out a model that could be adopted along with the proposed change to CIO status. The model is ‘hybrid’; it means the AGM ballot is combined with the option of an electronic ballot. Jenny explained that this would mean nominations and submission of statements from candidates would happen earlier (for example, six weeks before the AGM). The CIO constitution also appears to stipulate that the membership of every voter is checked (those voting at the AGM and those voting in advance). Whether we adopt the Charity Commission’s model of electronic voting or not, we will need to put in place membership checks for the AGM under the CIO constitution. According to the template, two non-trustee scrutineers are required to oversee advance voting and associated membership checks (i.e. it can’t be the BAAS secretary).
There were several suggestions for handling membership verification and voting. Members could be asked to bring their membership number to the AGM and could be checked off a list drawn from registered conference delegates. Another option would be to include a ballot paper in the conference packs of verified BAAS members. Software used for live classroom surveys could be adopted to allow login and electronic voting within the AGM, although access to devices could be an issue.
Jenny will write up and circulate an outline of the ‘hybrid’ election process and requirements (including the need to attend the AGM if standing for election). She will also seek advice from Keith Lawrey on how other learned societies verify membership at AGM ballots.
- Treasurer’s Business (CR reporting)
(a) Bank Accounts (as at 15 January 2016)
BAAS Publications Ltd £33,535.96
(b) Membership Figures (provided by Louise Cunningham)
Honorary membership – 3
Schools membership (PS) – 9
Individual membership – 249 (97 online JAS, 152 with full JAS)
PG membership – 243 (182 online JAS, 61 with full JAS)
Retired (PR) – 25 (19 online JAS, 6 with full JAS)
Unwaged (PU) – 6 (4 online JAS, 2 with full JAS)
Members on fully paid sheet (total 535)
The 16 June 2015 total was 500.
Louise Cunningham had also provided Jenny with a written report on usability and the transfer of membership data to the system that is part of the new website; there are some issues to be followed up via Katie.
(c) Narrative Report
The BAAS finances look healthy. Our projected royalty income from CUP for 2015 is £82,140, with half due as an advance in January.
From the 2015 period onwards, BAAS is required to pay £25 per member for distributing hard copies of the journal (this was waived in 2014 under the terms of the royalty agreement). This is likely to cost us £6,443.75 over the course of last year, although these figures are approximate and will be finalised by CUP in the spring. Therefore the final income for the 2015 journal issue will be approximately £75,696.25.
The executive discussed print subscriptions and whether current arrangements will mean that BAAS will be modestly subsidizing the distribution costs for those members who prefer to retain print subscription. One option would be to raise the cost of the print option for non-concessionary members; any proposal to raise the cost of BAAS membership has to be agreed by the executive and put to members by the Treasurer at the AGM. Another suggestion involved a voluntary contribution from print subscribers, which could be dedicated to a Postgraduate or Early Career travel fund for example. If need be, this issue can be revisited.
In terms of long term sustainability, Cara has been implementing a plan to build up the BAAS reserves to £41,000 (this equals 14 months of our unrestricted spending, i.e. not Eccles or Embassy monies, based on the 2014 figures; if our spending increases we may wish to revise this reserve upwards). We are on course to achieve this reserve target from April 2016. We can then start to consider how we want to use our improved income to benefit the American Studies community and ensure the continuation of BAAS’s work.
- Awards Subcommittee (UB reporting)
Uta thanked all those committee members who had agreed to sit on judging panels this year. Interviews for our GTA scheme had taken place in London on 15 January 2016 with a very strong field; the successful candidate will be notified shortly.
For most of our awards and prizes we received a similarly healthy number of submissions to in previous years. We should consider ways in which to raise the profile of all our schemes but in particular the Ambassador awards and Schools prize; it would be helpful to draw on the networks of executive members, including the Eccles Centre, and for us to promote awards at events like university Open Days where possible. A new Early Career essay prize in collaboration with Adam Matthew digital collections has been launched. Thanks were noted to Ben for his work on this. The scheme’s deadline has just been extended. The BAAS bookmark (in progress) will be an aid to promotion in future.
Uta has initiated conversation with Jonathan Bell, Director of the Institute of the Americas, about an award to replace the UCL-BAAS fellowship scheme, which has come to an end. She would like to involve Ben as Early Career Rep in those discussions.
Uta will be working with Katie on an electronic submission system for awards in the future. She is also improving communication channels with the Arthur Miller Centre about their prizes. There had been a suggestion from Bevan about perhaps splitting travel awards into dedicated or alternating streams for history and literature.
The executive discussed the issue of whether committee members should be able to enter themselves for BAAS awards. Clarification is needed on application forms and the website with transparency in view. Setting aside the Eccles and Arthur Miller prizes, for BAAS schemes there has been some variation in practice in recent years. Given the sometimes long cycle of academic book writing, executive members have always been able to enter the BAAS book prize if they have a book out during their term on the committee. It was agreed that eligibility and ineligibility needs to be more clearly specified before the next awards round and that for the current round executive members would be excluded from the BAAS Founders travel award.
The proposed new CIO constitution has more detail on regulating any financial benefit to trustees; we should seek advice regarding how prizes and awards fit into this.
(a) BAAS Honorary Fellowship
The committee discussed nominations for the BAAS Honorary Fellowship and agreed to make an award this year.
Procedure was clarified for future years: this is a decision made at the main executive meeting rather than in the Awards subcommittee, and the guidance that nominations should come from outside of the nominee’s institution will be added to the website.
- Development and Education Subcommittee (NW reporting)
The subcommittee had received reports from Katie (Website) and Ben (Early Career Rep). Katie is continuing to work on membership login with Clear and Creative. The terms of Ben Offiler and Michelle Green as USSO editors will soon be up and replacements will need to be sought. Nick will be looking to appoint a new Library and Resources Representative, as Matthew Shaw no longer wishes to continue after April.
A member had suggested that BAAS initiate a new award in the form of a Public Engagement Grant; this would aim to encourage public facing / outreach work and events, and collaboration with activist networks.
(a) Gender, Inequalities and Academia Symposium
Kate had reported to the subcom on ‘Gender, Inequalities and Academic Careers: History, American Studies and British Universities’, an event supported by BAAS that took place on 11 November 2015 at Leeds University. The day had been very successful with approximately twenty-five participants. Video recordings will be posted online soon. A further outcome will be a Special Issue of the Journal of American Studies on gender and inequalities.
The subcommittee had also discussed the possibility of a new post of Equality and Diversity Rep on the BAAS executive (see the minute and Action Point under Chair’s business).
(b) International Officer Suggestion
Joe Street had suggested the possibility of a US-based International Rep. This point of contact could support the promotion of BAAS’s work in the US and might assist in the co-ordination of conference panels. The role would not involve an elected position on the exec nor attendance at most meetings; fees could be waived at our annual conference for the holder, for example.
(c) Demographic Review / Gender and Inequalities Survey
Since Sue got the ball rolling last year, Ben is continuing with the design and implementation of a survey focused on the UK American Studies community. It may extend to interviews rather than being reliant on survey questions alone. Additional questions may be modelled on the Royal Historical Society’s survey, which was discussed at Leeds and is available here http://royalhistsoc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/RHSGenderEqualityReport-Jan-15.pdf
(d) BAAS Bookmark
Sue is working on the redesign and update of our flyer as a bookmark/insert for promotional purposes. The executive agreed to support the cost of the design and printing.
- Postgraduate Business (RA sent a short report)
The BAAS Postgraduate Conference took place at the University of Glasgow 4-5 December 2015 with a focus on the theme of collaboration. It involved a HOTCUS Career Development Workshop and both days of the event were well attended (84 across the two days). There has been a very positive response overall to the event and a fuller report will appear in the next ASIB. The filmed keynote and interviews will appear on websites soon. The continuation of the two-day format, including a development session, may be useful for future PG conferences.
With the IAAS PG symposium being so close, both in time and theme, to the BAAS PG conference there were no attendees from the IAAS/Irish institutions in 2015. It may be worthwhile reconsidering a joint conference, or setting a different date in future.
Queries had been received about BAAS’s reciprocal arrangement with the IAAS that they will fund one IAAS member to attend the BAAS PG conference, while we will fund one member to attend the IAAS PG conference. The information on our website needs to be brought into line with that on the IAAS pages (http://iaas.ie/funding-opportunities/) in order to publicise and foster this connection. It was agreed the PG Rep could be the main point of contact for this funding.
- Publications Subcommittee (JS reporting)
The new design for the cover of the Journal of American Studies from CUP was circulated. The 50th anniversary of JAS this year will be marked by a special issue and the cover coincides with this landmark. The Editors have recently advertised for a new Editorial Assistant, who will need to be positioned to work closely with them.
Joe and the Publications subcom are currently looking at the process by which JAS Editors are appointed. Joe is consulting with the current editors and CUP, and a written model will be brought to the next executive meeting.
Similarly, to clarify the procedure for appointment and ratification of JAS editorial board members, after consultation a written outline on voting etc will be brought to the next executive meeting.
(b) British Records Relating to America on Microfilm
Joe has been consulting with Kenneth Morgan about his role and the work of BRRAM. Kenneth has been running BRRAM, which microfilms and digitises a range of resources, since 2003. BAAS receives a modest annual income from subscriptions (mainly overseas) and BRRAM furthers our commitment to preserving and making available resources. Given the holdings are digital as well as on microfilm we might consider a name change to reflect this. Also, we should consider how better to promote BRRAM, especially to BAAS members and UK universities. A full list of the titles available is at: https://www.baas.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/British-Records-Relating-to-America-in-Microfilm.pdf Although Kenneth has no plans to retire at the moment, he and Joe will write a job outline and we should think ahead to plans for the role in the future.
- Conference Subcommittee (SM reporting)
(a) Queen’s University Belfast 2016
Conference paper acceptance emails have gone out and registration is open. The subcommittee received the draft conference programme. Sinéad is liasing with Philip McGowan over our application to the US Embassy grants programme, which has opened later than in the past this year.
(b) Canterbury Christ Church 2017
Two keynotes are already in place: Brian Ward, Northumbria University (Eccles speaker) and Marjorie Spruill, University of South Carolina (JAS speaker). The subcommittee considered possible programme models for the new two-night timeframe.
(c) EAAS/BAAS London 2018
The EAAS/BAAS 2018 committee met on 25 November 2015 at UCL’s Institute for the Americas to discuss the upcoming conference, with representation from Eccles, BAAS, EAAS, UCL and King’s. The official organiser will be co-opted on to the BAAS Conferences subcom from April 2016. Because of disaggregation at King’s, Clare Birchall has stepped away from the organisation, but we’re very grateful to her for putting so much work into the bid and early organisational efforts.
The conference will take place at different sites (probably 1.5 days at King’s, 1.5 days at UCL, with one or two events at the Eccles centre, too). The dates are to be confirmed.
(d) Bids to host the 2019 conference
The subcommittee gave all bids close consideration before making a recommendation to the executive. It was agreed that the 2019 conference would be held at Sussex.
(e) BAAS Conference Support Awards
Sinéad reported that the subcommittee had received a comparatively high number of applications in the November round. To ensure a more even distribution across the two deadlines, it was agreed to add guidance to the application form that the events must be scheduled to take place within twelve months of the scheme deadline.
- EAAS (MH reporting)
The next EAAS conference will be in Constanta, Romania, 22-25 April 2016. Sue will be in attendance and happy to undertake BAAS work, although no longer Chair by that time. Phil Davies will step down as President of EAAS in April and that vacancy will be advertised.
The main EAAS business has been planning towards the joint conference in London in 2018. The organising team is in place as is a schedule of meetings.
Martin’s term as EAAS representative for BAAS will come to an end in 2017 and discussion about succession and handover with regard to the 2018 arrangements will therefore need revisiting early in 2017.
- Any Other Business
Cara will be taking one month of maternity leave from her duties as BAAS Treasurer (approximately mid-Feb to mid-March). Sue will cover matters relating to banking during this period.
- Date of next meeting
Thursday 7 April 2016 (time TBC), Queen’s University Belfast.
Secretary: Dr. Jenny Terry / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org /