AAA Executive Board Meeting summary
I hope you are all having restful and productive summers. (Can those two things go together? I hope so.) I thought some of you would be interested in the summary of the recent AAA Exec Board (EB) meeting, sent to the Section Presidents by Leith Mullings (current AAA President) and Vilma Santiago-Irizarry, Section Assembly Convenor. There is some interesting stuff in here, particularly regarding fee structures, recognizing Senior Anthropologists, and an emerging project with the Smithsonian.
We hope all is well with you and that you are looking forward to a productive yet restful summer. As anticipated, we wanted to share with you the outcome of the AAA Executive Board spring meeting, 18-20 May 2012, in Alexandria, Virginia. As usual, the EB addressed a series of institutional issues and situations, many of which you, as SA leaders, have addressed while others represent significant organizational decisions on long-standing projects.
Your annual reports reflected continuing concerns about membership, costs and finances, relations within the AAA and with other professional organizations, meeting-related problems and conditions, the future of print and electronic publication, and the state of the discipline. In the AAA's organizational context, we believe these topics represent interrelated rather than discrete issues or conditions; neither are they amenable to easy solution but are largely on-going and even structurally inherent in our institutional processes. While no single EB meeting, obviously, can hope to address or even encompass all of them, several of the actions taken at the EB's spring meeting represent productive responses for their management. Institutional support and public outreach remain important goals for the EB. As is usual practice, specific concerns have been referred to the pertinent AAA staff or unit.
EB actions included the following:
1. Changes in membership dues to begin in the 2013 budget year were approved at the EB spring meeting. .They are structured as an income-based sliding scale that addresses concerns about affordability while protecting the AAA's financial viability. Based on your annual reports, while membership appears relatively stable, some sections have been impacted by declining numbers. Others reported benefitting from the relatively new undergraduate membership category, which has been retained and kept at the same rate in the new dues structure. Early induction into the AAA also represents the development of a professional habitus that bodes well for future AAA growth, participation, and leadership. The SAEC and the EB favorably noted NASA's initiative Emerging Leaders in Anthropology Program (ELAP), directed to develop engaged disciplinary leadership and practice: it aims to allocate funding for mentoring, student meeting attendance, and governance training, all of which should generate greater recruitment and participation.
The income-based sliding scale applies across membership categories, thus addressing issues related to "ability to pay." For example, the lowest income category, in which the rate is decreased by 15 percent from the 2009-2012 rates, is now open to all categories of members. Members who have incomes below $75,000 will have little or no increase in dues. The increase for those above that income level will be between $10 and $19. The ASA request for a flat membership fee for retirees was seriously considered. Extending the lowest income tier to all categories, including retired members, would accommodate retired members with limited income. We would like to acknowledge our senior colleagues' contribution to the discussion over membership fees and categories. Ultimately, this restructuring should help membership recruitment.
To express institutional and disciplinary appreciation for our senior colleagues, the EB approved the establishment of a program to honor long-term AAA members. Activities contemplated include an online profile series, distinctive lapel pins and meeting badges, podcast chats on their lives and works, and a "life of learning" reception and session at the meetings. This program is slated to begin in September with letters to senior colleagues and a questionnaire for information and input.
Annual meeting attendance appears to be on an upward curve, indicating the significance they have acquired in the discipline's professional life. The Montréal meeting established a new registration and attendance record, and this year's meeting, even at this stage, promises equally robust numbers as total registrants, total paper submissions, international submitters and the number of countries represented have already broken previous records.
Both the new dues structure and burgeoning meeting attendance rates bode well for continued membership recruitment which should, hopefully, benefit all sections. More importantly, although the EB authorized the continuation of the Executive Program Committee in its current form (the appointed Executive Program Committee and the Program Committee comprised by section editors) for another year, it approved the creation of a Task Force to consider all aspects of our annual meeting: finances, waivers, registration fees, collaboration and co-sponsoring, scheduling, and session formats, among other concerns. This Task Force is expected to do its work over this coming year and will report to the EB in May 2013. In light of this, the SA resolution concerning the establishment of a one-day registration fee was tabled, and will be considered by the new Task Force Both the SA and the SAEC will be called on for input into this initiative.
2. Another long-standing initiative-the revision of the AAA Code of Ethics-has also reached a productive end as the EB voted to approve the recommendations of its Ethics Subcommittee, chaired by Vice President and President Elect, Monica Heller. As many of you may remember, the review process began in 2009 with the appointment of an Ethics Task Force. The Task Force submitted its draft to the EB in November 2011, after extensive consultation, research, information-gathering, discussion, and drafting that included live blogs and online input from AAA membership, not only its leadership or governance units. The EB appointed a Subcommittee on Ethics (that included the SA Convenor), which posted the Task Force draft, soliciting additional comments and feedback during January2012, in a last round of consultation with members. After further discussion and revision, the subcommittee consulted with key members of the Committee on Ethics and the original Task Force as well as other EB members.
The discussion at the EB spring meeting thus represents an intense and inclusive process of consultation that honored and acknowledged our members' investment in ethical practices. The revised code, now to be known as Principles of Professional Responsibility, will be submitted to the membership for approval.
3. The EB extensively discussed publication issues within the context of fluid and dynamic conditions in publishing that will need to be addressed through a multipronged approach. You are already aware that the Association Communications Committee, chaired by Alisse Waterston, is developing initiatives intended to protect the viability of the AAA's publication program. Despite its current financial health resulting from the terms of our contract with Wiley-Blackwell, journals are moving away from the traditional subscriber model and are being impacted by new technologies of user access and interactive modes, shrinking institutional budgets, and a rapidly increasing number of journals.
The EB approved a series of requests from the Association Communications Committee, including CFPEP's recommendation to explore and implement, as a pilot project, an open access digital journal drawing from past and current articles in AAA journals that may be of public interest. The EB also authorized establishing a strategic fund for the future of publications. It could be funded by taking 10% off the top of the guaranteed publishing revenue: 5% would come from the AAA publication revenue that is used to sustain the Publishing Office, American Anthropologist, and Anthropology News, and 5% from the publishing sections' revenue. Returns from this special fund would provide sections and the AAA with resources to be applied toward jointly determined long range planning activities.
4. Acknowledging disciplinary diversity, the EB approved the continuation of four interest groups but also the establishment of the new Interest Group on Digital Anthropologies as well as the application for section status from the Interest Group for the Anthropology of Public Policy, which has now become the Association for the Anthropology of Policy (ASAP).
As a point of information, the EB received a preliminary report on the SA's Task Force on Sections and Interest Groups, discussing a series of emergent recommendations that will be further explored by an expanded SA Task Force in the fall. This initiative has grown in weight, given the SA's expansion and the growing intellectual diversity of the discipline.
The EB also authorized the President to sign a letter of intent to negotiate merger with the Society for Economic Anthropology, currently an autonomous organization. If these negotiations are successful, this organization will be incorporated into the AAA as a new section.
The Association Operations Committee, whose Subcommittee on Ethnic and Racial Discrimination has organized a series of meeting events addressing issues of exclusion in the discipline, proposed the creation of a Task Force to respond to the recommendations of the Commission on Race and Racism and identify specific actions to implement them. It is specifically tasked with addressing the original CRR charge to pinpoint "best practices."
Other organizational changes include the imminent departure of our Executive Director, Bill Davies, who will be resigning early in 2013. The EB authorized the President to appoint a search committee and to select and engage a search firm. The Search Committee is composed of former Presidents Don Brenneis and Alan Goodman, distinguished colleagues T.J. Ferguson and Johnetta Cole, and AAA Deputy Executive Director and CFO, Elaine Lynch. Vice President and President-Elect Monica Heller will chair the search committee.
5. Public outreach continues to be an important priority for the EB. For the last five months, the EB subcommittee on funding the next public project has pursued funding and potential collaborators for all three of the front-running projects (immigration, the people we count on, and health) No single theme has emerged as a clear front-runner, but we continue to look for funding. Our search to date makes us wonder about a single theme encompassing all three of the front-runners.
At the same time, President Leith Mullings, Treasurer Ed Liebow, EB member Ana Aparicio, Bill Davis and Damon Dozier have been involved in conversations with the Smithsonian Museum. The Museum is in the planning stages of developing a multi-year project, Americans All This initiative, still in the planning stages, will focus on post- 1492 immigration/ migration in what is now the U.S. They hope to present this in a global context, raising such questions as how the nation is constructed, its boundaries of inclusion and exclusion, its processes of incorporation and displacement, and how immigration represents a fundamental sociocultural dynamics in US society.
"Americans All" will involve extensive consultation with communities and scholars, and will result in educational toolkits, a significant presence at the 2015 National Folk Life Festival, and an exhibit at the National Museum of American History beginning in 2016.
The Smithsonian, familiar with our work through the RACE exhibit, is interested in a collaborative relationship with us. EB member Ana Aparicio is spearheading conversations with them to explore the overlap between an AAA-sponsored project on people in motion and the Smithsonian initiative and how a mutually accommodating initiative could be developed, with the caveat that we maintain our contribution as an AAA-sponsored public education project.
Though the Smithsonian project is likely to be strongly US-centered and may not be invested in a longer history of immigration, they do intend to invoke global population flows. We are also committed to addressing the topic from the perspective of our four fields and multiple practices.
Nevertheless, the EB agreed to continue to explore the possibilities of this partnership. We will be developing a working group and tentatively planning an October workshop. Should we decide to go ahead with this project there will be a well-worded Memorandum of Understanding specifying the parameters of this relationship. The Smithsonian has expressed interest in participating in this year's Annual Meeting and we look forward to continuing our exploration of this important initiative with your input and collaboration. Please contact Ana Aparicio; a-aparicio@...<mailto:a-aparicio@...> and Ed Liebow-LiebowE@...<mailto:Liebow-LiebowE@...>, with a copy to Leith Mullings-Leith.Mullings@...<mailto:Mullings-Leith.Mullings@...> , with any suggestions, ideas or input for the project.
The EB also noted the SA resolution concerning the television shows Digger and American Digger and conveys its appreciation for your public advocacy in this matter. The EB also noted that the President sent letters to both networks in early March. These are posted on the AAA website. Though the response from the networks has not been entirely satisfactory, the publicity provided the occasion for educational outreach about ethical archaeological practices.
In addition, a letter underscoring the value of anthropology in medical education, cosigned by the Presidents of the AAA and the SMA was sent to the MCAT advisory committee. The EB is resolved to continue monitoring the misuse of our discipline and looks forward to working with committees, the SA leadership and sections
Finally, the EB accepted a report on the creation of a new website resource, This Is Anthropology, targeting high school and undergraduate students and their parents by presenting anthropology in a jargon-free, accessible multimedia format. This initiative was the outcome of the widespread concerned caused by Florida governor's dismissal of anthropology as a valid major and other such expressions minimizing the value of anthropology in public media The project design team, chaired by EB member Jason Miller, has developed an interactive website consisting of five sections that include information about the four fields, professional practices and careers, anthropological training, world anthropologies, and a searchable database in which individual anthropologists can post professional profiles summarizing their work. This last feature will have a map in which to geocode projects and upload photographs, videos, and web links. Although intended for a lay audience, this project will also be an informational and networking resource for our members and our graduate students.
transparency, increasing diversity, and fostering collaboration across governance units. We are also concerned with strengthening external and internal relationships, especially in view of the diversification and internationalization of the AAA. We also commend and greatly appreciate your collegiality and good will in accepting the charge of SA leadership. Please let us know if you have any queries or responses to any of these issues.
Leith Mullings Vilma Santiago-Irizarry
President, AAA SA Convenor, AAA