From the AHA Activities column of the April 2008 issue of Perspectives on History
Changes in the AHA Nominations Process
Robert B. Townsend, April 2008
As you review the nominations for this fall's AHA election, you will undoubtedly note a number of changes in the slate of candidates, as the "at-large" positions on Council openings on the three divisions have disappeared. In their place, you will find three positions designated as Council—Research, Council—Profession, and Council—Teaching. These new positions mark the first step in our three-year implementation of the constitutional reforms adopted in January.
The Venn diagram at left demonstrates the current relationship between the Council and the divisions. Currently, the Council consists of 12 members—the three presidents (president, past president, and president-elect), the three divisional vice presidents (teaching, research, and profession), and six "at large" members. Each division consists of two members of Council—a vice president and an at-large member of the Council (appointed to the division)—and three members who are only elected to the division.
Under the new constitution, the divisions will become part of the Council, to facilitate better communication between the divisions, and between the divisions and the rest of the Council. This process will take some time, however, as members who had been elected to the divisions need to be replaced by members who will be elected to Council/Division positions. For instance, this year current members of the Divisions who were not elected to the Council (Nick Salvatore on the Research Division, Allison Kay Ivey on the Teaching Division, and Jane Hathaway on the Professional Division) will be replaced, while current "at-large" members of Council (Alice Kessler-Harris and Elise Lipkowitz) will not be replaced. This process will carry forward through the elections in 2010, so that by January 2011, the circles will converge, and all members of the Divisions will be voting members of the Council.
These changes did present one dilemma for the coming year. One of the "at-large" members to be replaced, Elise Lipkowitz, holds the traditional graduate student position on Council, and also chairs the Committee for Graduate Students. While any of the divisional openings could have been used for a graduate student in the coming year, in preparing for the Nominating Committee meeting staff realized that they had not prepared the committee to address the altered mandate of the Committee for Graduate Students (which will expand to encompass graduate students and early career professionals). Given that change, and to allow a continuity of leadership on the committee during this transitional year, AHA President Gabrielle Spiegel asked Elise Lipkowitz to continue to serve in an ex officio, nonvoting position for another year. Lipkowitz and the full Council agreed to this appointment.
As before, we welcome members' thoughts and concerns about these ongoing revisions. Inquiries or comments may be directed to the AHA's executive director, Arnita Jones.