Executive Director's Report 1997
During the second year of our designated two-year transition, we continued to focus on the heart of the Association-its member services and programmatic initiatives. We built on the initial planning discussions (described in my report in last year's annual meeting Program) to reposition the AHA both substantively and technologically for the future, so that we could address more effectively the amalgam of services and programs. It has been a challenging year for us: that descriptive word "challenging" refers both to triumphant conclusions for some of our planning efforts and to frustrating delays in accomplishing other goals.
Moving into the Association's Future
1. Following Up Our Planning Discussions: Intellectual Leadership and Membership Services
The 1996-97 academic year was heralded for the AHA, especially by the newsletter publication of the Council's new statement on the AHA's mission. The statement summarized for the membership the conclusions drawn by the Council at its June 1996 retreat, which was designed to serve as culmination for the year's iterative planning discussions. Entitled "Doing History in the 21st Century: A Statement of Priorities," the statement balanced the Council's "excitement about new [intellectual and technological] frontiers" with "realism, even discouragement" about the current environment. The Association, like the profession, now faces a lack of public support, downsizing, diminished funding for scholarship and publication, and the fiscal realities of trying to meet new needs while keeping operating costs close to previous levels. At the heart of the priorities established in our planning discussions was the ongoing commitment to the organizational goal "to initiate, nurture, and communicate historical knowledge." In this context, the nature of the AHA as an organization seems especially important: "More than a list of members, we are truly a scholarly community and a valuable national resource."
This analysis was followed by a list of activities and outcomes that would receive highest priority, including the need to be fiscally sound, to broaden membership to be ever more inclusive, and to undertake a development initiative to help fund special projects. Such special projects included not only new forms of scholarly communication but also activities traditionally supported by the AHA in research, teaching, and the dissemination of knowledge. A strong commitment emerged in the planning discussions to speak out forcefully in favor of our shared intellectual values and against interference with research and teaching, and to engage in the public debates where historical expertise is central. The following report illustrates ways in which the organization is moving forward to realize these priorities.
Described in more detail below, the work of the divisions and committees to implement policy goals and priorities identified by the Council takes some time to develop. Given this time lag, the vision exercised by the divisions and committees is proving to be crucially important in ensuring that the AHA demonstrates real leadership in the field as well as beyond it. Outstanding examples of this leadership include, for instance, a conference taking place this fall on the expanding use of part-time and adjunct faculty. Under AHA aegis, 11 scholarly societies and higher education organizations joined together to explore the ramifications of this significant shift on many campuses. The hope is that this project initiated more than three years ago by the Professional Division, will extend beyond the fall conference to the creation of guidelines to be used by campus administrations and accrediting societies as well as to the development of model projects that address some of the issues raised in the conference discussions. In the course of developing this collaborative, cross discipline examination of the changing curricular and economic contexts on campuses, the prescience of the Professional Division has been validated by the increasing importance assigned to the issue by our fellow societies in the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).
In a similar exercise of vision, more than two years ago the Council approved a plan to broaden membership through a combination of programmatic initiatives and recruitment drives addressed to key constituencies who were then underrepresented among the AHA membership-particularly area studies historians, community college faculty, and public historians. These emphases have been added to the long-standing coverage in Perspectives of teaching and research issues. In addition, many of the AHA's committees have contributed to this targeted effort. Looking at area studies, for example, the first committee to reflect this concern was the 1995 Program Committee, which analyzed the under-representation of regions in the annual meeting sessions and, among other things, initiated a long-term project ("Globalizing Regional Histories") designed to bring the area studies associations and the AHA together around certain research topics; this is now an ongoing project of the Research Division. Indeed, Research Division has identified area studies-related issues as one of its top emphases for the next three years. As a result, a new project exploring the relationship between area studies and the disciplines is being crafted by the ACLS societies, and we have made sure that this topic remains on the agendas of two advocacy coalitions in which the AHA participates, the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) and the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA). For its part the AHA Nominating Committee analyzed a decade of previous elections and began designing election races to ensure the participation and visibility in the AHA governance structure of specialists who work on all parts of the world. And under the editorship of Michael Grossberg, the American Historical Review has been much more aggressive in seeking out articles and book reviews by area studies historians that are of broad, general interest to the AHR readership.
Over the past two or three years, parallel efforts have been under way to ensure greater attention to the issues and concerns of community college faculty. AHA headquarters has been working in concert with the Organization of American Historians (OAH) to produce a pamphlet that will include articles on teaching in the community colleges as well as a directory of history faculty responding to OAH-AHA surveys. We hope this pamphlet will serve the interests of current community college faculty and provide valuable information for graduate students to pursue this career option. In addition, the Teaching Division has proposed a project to improve the survey course that would bring together collaboratives of community college and four-year faculty in three clusters across the country. Finally, under the energetic and thoughtful direction of Council member David Trask a number of presentations at the regional meetings of the Community College Humanities Association has brought "home" the interest of the AHA in seeking out community college faculty.
Staff analysis of membership trends at the end of the calendar year pointed the way toward other strategies pursued this year by the Council. Most important, the balance between cohorts has been shifting, with a much higher proportion of graduate students and reduced numbers at the more senior levels. Because the cost of supplying membership services to the first category is substantially subsidized, this alteration has significant financial repercussions for the Association. The Council reaffirmed its commitment to subsidizing graduate student memberships as an investment in the future, and President Joyce Appleby has spearheaded a campaign to make clear to the profession's senior members that the AHA's activities justify their support.
At the same time, the Association has been examining what else it does for the growing cohort of graduate students, working particularly through the Task Force on the Role of Graduate Students in the AHA. Created for an initial two-year period (chaired by Leslie Brown, University of Missouri at St. Louis, the graduate student elected to the Council), this task force has just been renewed for an additional two years, chaired again by the graduate student elected to the Council (Emily Hill, Yale University.). Following task force recommendations, the ad hoc committee will function under a slightly different organizational format in this second phase, but it will continue to work on annual meeting programming and other issues of central concern to gradate students and will explore the best ways to link most productively with the other entities in the AHA's governance structure. (See below for more details on the task force's work.) Special efforts have been made to link the task force to the Professional Division, which has begun exploring issues that affect graduate students, such as the need for graduate training to recognize non teaching career options.
As these examples suggest, one outcome from the planning discussions and establishment of priorities has been renewed examination of the governance structure and the nature of historians' participation in the Association itself. At first blush, the AHA appears to have an immensely elaborate and convoluted structure. But the past three years have demonstrated that this structure successfully enables diverse representation from the field (a goal toward which both the Nominating Committee and the Committee on Committees work very hard), and hence the opportunity to reflect many voices and interests. The relationship of the divisions and committees to the Council and to AHA headquarters also ensures that specific constituencies are served by the programmatic initiatives designed by the committees, while the Council provides a field-wide perspective and policy-setting function. Especially important in facilitating the connections between these two sets of activities is the presence of two Council members on each division-the vice president of that division and a Council member-at-large. Ways to fine-tune these relationships are being explored, including the expansion the Council's Executive Committee to include the three presidents and to three vice presidents, thus providing another conduit for connecting the Council's policy goals with the divisions' implementation work. For example, the expanded Executive Committee is now setting the agenda for the semi-annual Council meetings.
2. Improving Our Infrastructure and "Delivery" of Services and Products
Central to the Association's ability to do its work better and more efficiently, without greatly increasing operating costs, has been the need to vastly improve its infrastructure. As noted in last year's executive director's report, this involved significant upgrades in headquarters' technological capacity. The second stage of this process introduced new computer programs for the membership database and accounting functions during 1996-97. Always a fraught enterprise, this shift became a more prolonged trauma in part because it was accompanied by building renovation. From the perspective of completion, both projects have accomplished their purposes-we now occupy a much-improved work environment. But living through what turned out to be five months of renovation (instead of six weeks), accompanied by endless adjustments in the two new computer programs, not only served as a severe measure of the staff's extraordinary good humor and ability to accomplish tasks against all odds, but also resulted in financial complications as well (see the section on "Finances" for more information).
The Association's enhanced technological capacity is not simply a matter of the mechanics of delivery of services and publications to the field. Rather, it has a fundamental connection to the intellectual leadership to be exercised by the AHA, especially as that is expressed through its publication program. Perhaps this is nowhere more evident than in the AHA pamphlet series, a unique form of publication that occupies a niche quite distinct from journal articles, monographs, and newsletter articles. Each pamphlet provides a synthetic overview in fewer than 100 pages, written by recognized experts in the field, peer-reviewed, and offered at a remarkably low price. At least four audiences appreciate these essays-graduate students, faculty interested in teaching new topics, K-12 teachers, and overseas scholars. As more historians have become familiar with this aspect of our publishing program, demand for the already published pamphlets has grown dramatically. In addition, the divisions and committees have seen this format as an appealing way to reach their particular constituencies. Accordingly, the titles published in our pamphlet series will expand significantly over the next three years, with additional subjects in our Essays on Global and Comparative History series; a revised edition of the New American History series, including three new essays; more than thirty essays on the history of ethnic groups in the U.S. in the series Teaching Diversity: People of Color and Women of Color; a new series on the history of women and feminist scholarship situated in a global perspective; and focused recombinations of materials published elsewhere (especially in Perspectives).
In addition to introducing new subject matter, the AHA pamphlet series will also address the issues posed by changing forms of dissemination of scholarship. The new series now being published will soon be available electronically through the AHA Web site. This will enable us to explore the potential for building a collection of historical materials that can be searched and recombined by members themselves to serve diverse purposes. We will also be digitizing other popular materials produced by the Association, particularly the newsletter, the Directory of History Departments, and primary source materials published by the AHA earlier this century-all of which will become available either on AHA's home page or through a Web fee space, under development in the coming year. On behalf of the Council, the Research Division and the AHR editor are exploring the ramifications of electronic dissemination of the journal; archived back issues are already available through the J-STOR project (spanning initial issues of the journal through volumes published up to five years ago).
The intellectual leadership exercised by the Association will be directed not only toward exploring the technological possibilities of new electronic forms of scholarly dissemination, but also to the implications of electronic publication for scholarly communication writ large. This year's experience of reaching out through our Web site has led us to significantly revise our understanding of our audience. Similarly, this summer, editors of historical journals convened in a conference organized at Bloomington under the direction of the AHA and OAH journal editors (see Michael Grossberg's report in this report). In addition, a conference jointly sponsored by the ACLS, the American Association of University Presses (AAUP), and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) on the future of the scholarly monograph (in which the AHA participated as part of the planning group and as presenter) brought together academic presses, librarians, and scholars. Building on these activities, the AHA is also exploring ways to create consensus among those who disseminate historical materials to ensure that larger "databases" of these materials can be mounted that are searchable, widely accessible, and that preserve the capacity to serve the fundamental needs of scholarly communication that is now so satisfactorily served by print publication. Because the AHA headquarters is in an old townhouse on Capitol Hill, establishing a viable connection to the Internet has been quite difficult. The AHA has been able to make great strides through the generous assistance of H-NET, who provided the AHA staff with e-mail accounts last year. Equally important, the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has generously provided a home for the Association's World Wide Web home page.
An absolutely central component of the AHA's infrastructure is the headquarters staff, without which virtually none of the activities of elected officers and appointed committee members could be accomplished. We have assembled a truly extraordinary staff over the past three years, with a significantly higher level of training and accomplishment than has ever been possible before. In the course of new recruitments we have been able to target new and emerging areas of needed expertise, and thus we have been able to address future AHA needs through not only technology but "personpower" as well. Although the Association accomplishes an awesome range of work, it does so with a lower staff-to-membership ratio than any comparable scholarly association, and the dedication of our workforce must count as an important contribution toward this cost-effectiveness.
3. Advocacy and the Relationship of Historians to the Public
The Council's approval last year of an "advocacy plan" provided a coherent framework for a set of activities and collaborations that have gained increasing importance in the wake of controversies over such exhibitions as Enola Gay and Back of the House, national debates about history standards, cuts in support for research (through the NEH and elsewhere), attacks on nonprofit organizations and intellectuals, and the like. This advocacy plan identifies a range of activities to be undertaken by the AHA when issues emerge on which we wish to "to speak out forcefully." These activities include resolutions and letters sent directly by the AHA; work with other organization in coalitions; and alerts to our membership about crucial issues emerging at the federal and state levels. Developments of concern to historians occupy a larger and more prominent portion of the Council's agenda time and attention, and these emerge on division and committee agendas as well.
These responsibilities have become harder to fulfill, however, in a world in which such legislators as Representatives David McIntosh (R-Ind.) and Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) continue to mount attacks on nonprofits' participation in the public sphere. Last year they set new and different restrictions on nonprofit lobbying, and significantly expanded the definitions of what constitutes "lobbying." As a result, nonprofits risk a cutoff of federal grants if they exceed these limits. By contrast, no such limits were imposed on for-profit organizations that receive federal contracts. This year they are attempting to extend the limitations to activities in the states, where delineating the distinctions between local executive and legislative authority is extremely difficult. The intent is not only to prevent nonprofits from informing administrators and policymakers on the subjects in which they have expertise, but also to exercise a chilling effect on all efforts by nonprofits to connect up to policymakers by threatening their access to federal funds. Therefore, we carefully leave many of the overt lobbying actions to the coalitions in which we participate, and we direct our members' attention to the information available through these coalitions should they wish to act individually. Links to the coalitions listed below may be found on the AHA's Web site. This approach has made the coalitions in which we participate even more important than in the past.
Two key issues the AHA has pursued this year are (1) support for the creation and distribution of new knowledge (especially the funding of NEH and the inclusion of research support in Title VI [area studies] provisions of the new Higher Education Act), and (2) the range of activities focused on treatment of intellectual property in an electronic age. Support for NEH is accomplished through participation in the NHA and the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History (NCC); support for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is channeled through the work of two coalitions in which the AHA has had long-standing participation (NHA and COSSA), who in turn form part of a larger coalition focused on Title VI (area studies) concerns. Intellectual property issues, although often arcane in their legislative form, represent the most fundamental challenge facing scholars in some decades, and the AHA has been very active not only by responding to legislative language (particularly through its participation in the Digital Futures Coalition) but also through broader general discussions within the educational community that are focused on creating policy frameworks that balance fair use concerns with the need to ensure that scholarly publishing remains financially viable. These conversations have been fostered by the NHA and the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH), a relatively new coalition of which the AHA was a founding member. Perhaps the most important contribution made by the NHA to the national educational community has been the creation and promulgation of a set of guiding principles we will all use in the future as new issues emerge and legislative language is drafted. These principles supplant and considerably extend the futile discussions that occurred over the past two years in the Commerce Department's Conference on Fair Use (CONFU). The Council approved these principles in June 1997, not only for endorsement but also as a guide for future AHA policy positions.
In addition, the AHA has responded to a range of events connected to preservation, declassification, support for documentary editions, and access to government records. The Research Division and the Council have sent letters and authorized the AHA's participation in several lawsuits relating to these concerns, working particularly through the NCC. The Teaching Division has paid significant attention to the creation of state-level standards for teaching high school history and social studies, commenting on a number of state documents and often alerting local AHA members to the concerns prompted by these guidelines. The AHA-supported coalition, the National History Education Network (NHEN), has also become a central player in these state-level discussions, and we expect NHEN to offer leadership as the focus shifts over the next year or two from standards to assessment.
Working through the Association's Structures
As this discussion of advocacy suggests, one of the central strategies now being pursued by the AHA is participation in collaborations that enable the Association to have an impact beyond the capacity and skill of its own staff and elected officers. Essential in advocacy activities, these kinds of partnerships are also proving to be very important in our publishing program, our creation of a Web presence, and in several programmatic initiatives that are designed to better serve our expanded membership.
Our partnerships pursue the goals defined by the Council, and often they occur within the activities undertaken by the Association's divisions and committees. Most often, these partnerships include other scholarly associations (usually those with whom we interact within the ACLS umbrella), particularly the Modern Language Association, the American Political Science Association, the College Art Association, the ARL, and a number of area studies associations (in addition to the umbrella organization for the area studies societies). Similarly, we are working to deepen our relationships with affiliated societies through enlarged discussions on teaching, explorations with potential partners in the creation of new pamphlets, and conversations among our journal editors. We also have begun working more directly and intensely with campus-based organizations and departments on issues of concern regarding the field's future. These kinds of connections are pursued by way of our Institutional Services Program (involving more than 700 departments), annual surveys, the increasingly focused lunch discussion for department chairs at the annual meeting, and in new efforts to form regional clusters of nearby history departments from different types of post-secondary institutions.
1. Teaching Division
This year the Teaching Division has advanced Council policy goals in a number of ways. Community college initiatives, long a priority for the division, have already been described. More systematic discussions with affiliated societies who share an interest in teaching have been undertaken this year, through invitations both to an open meeting with an invited speaker at the annual meeting and to one of the division's semiannual meetings. The division continues its earlier successful strategies to keep central to members' attention the connection between teaching and research, by prompting cosponsoring a number of sessions at the annual meeting and ensuring sustained coverage in Perspectives.
Strengthening ties among the AHA's divisions and committees has worked quite successfully for the Teaching Division. Last year's meeting between the Teaching and the Research divisions, which led to an emphasis on the connections between teaching and research, will be replicated this fall with overlapping meetings of the Teaching and the Professional divisions. A number of shared issues have been identified for that meeting, including graduate student training (and alternative careers) and the potential for providing guidelines for "ideal" history departments. These consultations among the Association's committees help to crystallize shared priorities, strengthen the governance system, and facilitate the pursuit of policy goals identified by Council.
Publications continue to be a central interest of the division. Single pamphlet projects, under way for several years, are now reaching completion, including Why Study History? (by Peter Stearns, available electronically on AHA's Web site) and Making History Matter. Strengthening History Teaching (by Kathy Steeves, to be completed this year, also to be available on the Web site). Division members also expect to be quite active in designing recombination projects that will lead to new pamphlets in both print and electronic form. The division oversaw a project funded by the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) to place sample teaching portfolios on the Web. This portfolio project illustrates the connections between research and teaching, and it demonstrates how this connection can be documented through the assembly of portfolio presentations for departmental evaluations.
Finally, the Teaching Division has followed the development of history standards from the national to the state levels. A significant amount of work has been accomplished by the division as states design documents directing the work of their teachers in history and social studies. Working in concert with NHEN (an AHA-supported organization of partnerships of K-12 and postsecondary faculty), the division has identified almost 30 states that are active on this front and has tried to influence the design of the standards being produced. This fall the division expects to complete a set of measures to be used to determine quality state standards. They have completed similar measures for evaluating history textbooks.
2. Research Division
The scale of work required by the Research Division and its vice president seems to have expanded exponentially, although the focus of the work remains much the same. Lending the weight and credibility of the AHA to issues involving access to research materials (through open collections, declassification, and funding priorities assigned to documentary editing projects) has prompted this year a large number of letters and other forms of intervention. The division also continues to exercise oversight of the journal and the Program Committee, two of the AHA's ongoing major commitments to fostering scholarly communication.
Given this increased scale of work, the division has decided to turn over to two new grant committees the deliberations for award research support from the four funds established for this purpose (the Beveridge, Kraus, Littleton-Griswold, and Schmitt funds). Members of these committees will be chosen in the same way all other prize and awards committee are selected-by the Committee on Committees-and will be responsible for awards in Western hemisphere and non-American topics. To ensure a smooth transition, each committee will be chaired for the first year by an experienced member of the Research Division; documents on the guidelines and deliberations process have also been prepared.
Top priorities established by the Research Division for the next three years are attention to intellectual property rights and the future of area studies and its relation to history. Both issues, of course, are central to the Council's policy goals and the profession's future. (Both issues have been discussed earlier in this report.) Reporting back to the Council, the division will work its way through knotty electronic rights issues this fall, hoping to sort out the Association's needs and the complicated set of offers made by vendors for dissemination of our intellectual property. Thanks to the conference of journal editors this summer, we hope to have these discussions not only in context of the Association's own legal and intellectual interests, but also within a broader context of the need to keep a diversity of scholarly alive and circulating. In addition, elaboration of and fundraising for new programmatic initiatives (focused especially on global history) will be pursued collaboratively this next year with area studies historians and organizations. We hope the discussion within the ACLS of the relationship between area studies and the disciplines will provide the broader context there, and that the AHA's efforts may serve as a model for this larger discussion.
3. Professional Division
Central to the Professional Division's work is the review and adjudication of cases brought to the AHA. Processes that streamline the division's deliberations (particularly in terms of the initial decision regarding the capacity the division to deal with an issue) have made this work more efficient, thus freeing up some of its time to deal with the wide range of issues emerging around changes in professional life. It was not surprising, then, that many of the issues identified in the AHA planning process have been referred to this division. Sometimes the concerns also emerged from issues referred to the division through the case process. A recent example of this was the need for historians using oral interviews to see their work as falling within the purview of the human subject controls exercised by the federal government and through campus review boards. After sustained investigation with the National Institute of Health's Office for Protection from Research Risks and consultation with the Oral History Association, the division revised its "Statement on Interviewing for Historical Documentation" (part of the AHA's Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct), which provides guidance to historians working in this field. The division also expressed concern that circumstances for historians working in this area, however, needed to balance the protections provided for individuals being interviewed with authors' need to resist efforts by powerholders to prevent them from situating what they learn from interviews into larger analyses that may not be popular in some quarters.
To bring the planning issues out for broader discussion, the division has begun a series of panel sessions at the annual meeting called "Doing History in the 21st Century," discussed earlier in this report. An ongoing interest in the effects of downsizing, for instance, began with a division-sponsored panel (and follow-up discussion at the Department Chairs' luncheon) at the 1997 annual meeting. At the 1998 annual meeting the focus will be tenure issues (session no. S7), and at the 1999 annual meeting the focus will be graduate training for alternative careers. Generally, such sessions are followed up first by the discussion at the Department Chairs' luncheon and then by an article in Perspectives. These sessions are offered along with the division's popular session on interview training for graduate students (session no. 1). This year there is an additional session on part-time/adjunct use (session no. 85), which will serve in part to report on the progress made at the larger conference held this fall on that subject.
The Professional Division is also working with the other divisions and committees on shared issues. From this perspective, the monograph crisis is not only a concern regarding publication but also a challenge for affecting peer review without reliance on publishers: an initial session on publishing offered at the 1997 annual meeting has been followed up by the creation of a small, interdivisional committee that will be looking into the campus reward system to see what might be offered by the Association for assistance to departments and faculty authors in this arena. (This internal Association work is complemented by the aforementioned September conference on the endangered monograph.) Another area to be explored jointly with other divisions and committees is the possibility of identifying ways to measure "ideal" history departments, a project described earlier in this report.
4. Committees on Women and Minority Historians
As committees that report directly to the Council, the two standing Committees on Women and Minority Historians have also become involved in these larger discussions and have identified issues of particular concern to their constituencies, which now form part of the frame for discussions on rewards for research and "ideal" departments. Both committees also continue to work on the challenge presented by current legal and social realities to the commitment to diversify the history profession, including ways to effectively monitor and encourage institutions toward this goal.
As part of the normal three-year rotation pattern, both committees welcomed new chairs this year and have begun identifying the issues they wish to focus on for the next three years. They continue to work on their publishing programs. Each also organizes a session at the annual meeting. This year the Committee on Minority Historians offers "Which Way Do the Footsteps Go? New Models for Immigration Studies" (session no. 59), an examination of issues surrounding migration and intended to address the topic of the final pamphlet in their Teaching Diversity essay series. The Committee on Women Historians has organized "Gender and Public Policy in an International Context" (session no. 140). Both committees host gatherings at the annual meeting that serve important functions for the Association; the Committee on Minority Historians will again provide a reception that serves as a highly popular gathering (Saturday, January 10, 5:30-7:30 P.M.), and the Committee on Women Historians offers its annual breakfast meeting, this year featuring as speaker Lynn Hunt (University of Pennsylvania).
The Committee on Minority Historians' pamphlet series Teaching Diversity: People of Color and Women of Color is well-launched; several pamphlets have completed the peer review stage in the process and will be published this year, and more are expected in a steady pace throughout the coming year. Committee members continue to work on a series of articles for Perspectives as well, articles designed to illuminate for other historians the issues facing minority faculty. To explore new directions for the committee's work, they identified in an initial discussion the intellectual changes surrounding the rubric of "ethnic studies" as a promising topic. The Committee on Minority Historians is particularly interested in the possibility of overlap in intellectual trajectories with the "Globalizing Regional Histories" project initially conceptualized in relation to area studies.
Similarly, the Committee on Women Historians is finalizing plans for its pamphlet series that will treat in a global perspective the development of women's history and feminist theory. This series will begin to be published as the Committee on Minority Historians' Teaching Diversity series reaches completion. The committee is also beginning to identify the issues it would like to explore over the next three years. This initial discussion brought in feedback from the field, looking broadly at the changing conditions under which women academics do their work. The Committee on Women Historians also agreed to publish in Perspectives a statement on spousal-partner hiring, as the committee is particularly interested in prompting discussion of this crucial issue. Finally, considering an important moment in examining the intersection of conditions and intellectual trajectories for women historians, the programming for the Committee on Women Historians' annual breakfast meeting also occupied significant discussion time.
5. Task Force on the Role of Graduate Students in the AHA
In its initial two years the Task Force on the Role of Graduate Students in the AHA identified a range of activities it wished to undertake on behalf of graduate students (particularly programming at the annual meeting) and a number of issues to be addressed. In this first phase, the task force was composed of the graduate student members of AHA committees and representatives of each of the three divisions. The fact that all of these members served "double duty" facilitated good communication between the task force and the Association's divisions and committees, but also made it especially difficult for the group to convene. In the alternative form of organization set up for the task force's second phase, some members will come from the Council and the committees, others will be named by the Committee on Committees. Members will "meet" electronically and by conference call to address a prioritized set of issues and activities.
Programming for the annual meeting will continue to be an important contribution made by the task force. An ambitious five-session offering marked their first year; plans are under way for additional sessions this year and next. The taskforce now cosponsors the interviewing workshop with the Professional Division and the Coordinating Council for Women in History (CCWH), an affiliated society of the AHA. It will also offer an open forum each year for graduate students to take up issues of particular concern. One member of the task force will be identified as the liaison to Perspectives, so that newsletter coverage of issues important to this constituency, including the discussion at the open forum, can be covered systematically.
Because of timing difficulties, the Council decided that the external auditor's report on Association finances will no longer be included in the annual program. Rather, it will be printed later this year in Perspectives. Accordingly, I will comment only briefly in this report on the AHA's financial circumstances, but I direct your attention to the report that will appear in Perspectives.
Fiscal year 1996 97 was the second of two planned-deficit years. The deficits paralleled the transitions necessary to reposition the AHA (although the heart of the deficits in each year reflected severance packages, not ongoing operating expenses). However, the chaos attendant on the building renovation, coupled with the switchover to the new membership database and accounting packages, had a much more prolonged effect on our finances this past year than had been planned. For instance, because construction precluded access to our mailing machine for three months rather than six weeks, the normal rhythm of sending out renewal notices was severely impaired. Although members ultimately received the usual number of notices, they did not receive or return their forms within the traditional time, and our membership revenues dipped alarmingly for the first four months of this calendar year. We have been monitoring renewals carefully, and it appears that we will return to levels very close to previous numbers during the fall, but the impact on the 1996-97 fiscal year has been serious, and our projected deficit of $31,000 increased to $61,000 instead. This has affected the budgets we prepared for fiscal 1997-98 as well, because we felt the need to be conservative until we can see what happens to membership numbers in the fall.
Further changes in reporting format (particularly the federally mandated use of FASB 117, a format designed to make the financial conditions of nonprofits comparable from one organization to the next) again make it difficult to gauge the financial health of the Association when placing this year's financial report next to that of the preceding year. We are trying to work with the auditor to design supplementary statements to facilitate such comparison, but it will still be difficult to measure progress and financial well-being, given all the reporting changes necessitated in the past three years.
Perhaps the most important decisions affecting the Association's financial status made this past year by the Finance Committee (and then approved by the Council) relate to the connections between the AHA's portfolio and the annual budgets. The Council has now adopted a Total Return Policy, which will assign to the annual operating budget a 5 percent return on the total value of those portions of the portfolio that are unrestricted This figure will be calculated on a rolling average of the value of the past three years. Similarly, new methodologies have been adopted for allocation of money from the funds used to support research grants; these allocations will also be based on Total Return figures. And for the first time this past year, we implemented the recommendations from the previous year's Finance Committee that the direct and indirect costs of managing the book and teaching prizes must be deducted from the available funds before an award amount could be designated. Accordingly, prize amounts will vary from year to year, depending on the interest and dividends earned and the costs incurred in awarding the prizes.
These developments, although important for the documentation of the Association's financial health, do not speak to the heart of the operation which must continue to be focused on the amalgam of member service and programmatic initiatives described throughout this report. Historians belong to and support the AHA because it addresses their needs as members of a profession and as practitioners of a discipline. We hope to continue our activities at a visible and convincing level so that membership levels will be solidified or expand; to design programmatic innovations that will bring in external funding while offering valuable services and support to members; and to create new revenue sources that can be created from the projects and products that historians find useful and significant. In this way, our financial health will reflect the successful accomplishment of priorities identified in "Doing History in the 21st Century: A Statement of Priorities."