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Minutes for Board Meeting - March 2012

Minutes for the ACLA Board Meeting
12:30-4:30 PM, Thursday 29 March 2012
Brown University Faculty Club, Providence, RI
In Attendance: Antic, Beecroft, Berman, Damrosch, Eckhardt, Hayot, Lionnet, Slaughter, Swacha, Tarlaci, Walkowitz, Zamora
  1. Report of the Nominations Committee (Slaughter)
    1. Joseph Slaughter informed members of the results of the recent elections for Second Vice-President (Ali Behdad), Chair of the Publications Committee (Sophia McClennan),and one of the two graduate student representatives (Michael Swacha)
  2. Report from the Financial Committee (Berman)
    1. Jessica Berman presented a report on the finances of the Association, which have stabilized after the last few years of extra conference expenses.
    2. Discussion of fee levels. It was agreed that there were several issues needing to be addressed in the levels charged for membership fees and conference registrations, both to ensure the financial stability of the Association and to promote equity. It was agreed to raise membership dues for 2013 by $5/year for graduate students (new rate: $30); for those earning under $40 000/year (new rate: $40); and for those making $40-80 000 (new rate: $60). Dues for members earning $80-100 000/year will increase by $10, to $75, and dues for those earning over $100 000/year will increase by $10, to $85. Conference registration fees will increase by $5 for faculty, to $110, and will be reduced by $5 for graduate students, to $50. These changes will have the effect of generating approximately $5000/year extra operating revenue for the association, without increasing the burden on graduate student members.
    3. Proposed changes to fee structure for Canadian/International members and for Independent scholars: It was agreed that the membership rates for Canadian and international members in each category should be the same as for domestic members. The rates listed in the previous paragraph will now apply to all members, regardless of where they live.
  3. Report of the Program Committee (Damrosch)
    1. Updates on definite or possible future conferences (Toronto 2013, New York 2014, Seattle 2015, Mexico City 2016, Boston 2017, Atlanta 2018). David Damrosch discussed the above list of definite and/or possible future venues for our annual conference. Preparations with Toronto are well underway, and discussions with NYU for 2014 are in progress. Negotiations with hotels for 2015 are also in progress. Later conference locations are, as yet, less certain.
    2. Discussion of conference finances for hotel-based and campus-based conferences. It was agreed that the Association needs to balance hotel-based and campus-based conferences, in the interest of minimizing the financial risks of the former. Some hotel-based conferences will be necessary, since the number of universities able to host a conference on their own campus are limited. Consideration should also be given to the costs of hotel rooms.
    3. Discussion of conference format and logistics (size, graduate student/faculty balance, seminar format, other issues). There was discussion of the idea that each seminar at the annual conference should include both graduate student and faculty members, to ensure the strength of each panel, and to ensure that members at all ranks find our seminars worthwhile. There was excitement at the fact that our conference is now larger than ever, with approximately 2000 attendees; however, concerns were expressed that this growth be balanced with a continued commitment to the traditional strengths of the conference. It was agreed that the Secretariat would conduct a survey of conference attendees after the event, and report back to the board.
    4. Discussion of conference themes. It was agreed that future conferences would not have themes, since it is difficult to create a meaningful theme uniting a conference as large and diverse as this one has become. The possibility was discussed of having “Presidential Themes” at each conference instead, as the MLA does.
    5. ACL(x). There will be no ACL(x) this fall, but one is still scheduled for the fall of 2013 at Penn State.
  4. Report of the Publications Committee (Walkowitz) 2:45-3:30
    1. Possibility of Book Series: There continues to be interest in an ACLA-sponsored book series, though earlier discussions with specific presses have fallen through. The Association would likely need to offer a small subvention to support the series, which it was agreed would be possible within the current financial framework. There were questions about how the series would be organized, and it was felt that this responsibility should be distinct from the work of the Publications Committee. It was agreed that the Committee would investigate the matter further, and report back to the Board at its next meeting.
    2. Relationships with Journals. Rebecca Walkowitz updated the board on the series of special issues arranged with Comparative Literature, and noted that a decision would need to be made on the 2015 issue by the time of the 2013 MLA.
    3. State of the Discipline Report for the 2010’s. There was a preliminary discussion of this question, with several possibilities considered, including a more collaborative format, possibly tied into ACL(x). It was agreed that the current, former and future Presidents of the Association would discuss the matter further, and report back at the next meeting.
  5. Student Representatives Update (Tarlaci and Antic)
    1. Graduate Student Survey: The Graduate Student Representatives presented the results of a survey of graduate student members conducted on their behalf by the Secretariat. Respondents generally expressed satisfaction with the Association, and with the conference, though there were a number of concerns expressed about the cost of attending, as well as a desire for some sort of workshop on professionalization to be held at the conference.
  6. Discussion of Prizes: several of the prize committees expressed concerns about the number and quantity of nominations. For the departmentally-nominated prizes (the Bernheimer, and the Presidential Masters’ and Undergraduate Essay Prizes), this remains an ongoing problem, and the Secretariat undertakes to contact departments every year to encourage them to become institutional members and to submit nominations. For the book prizes, the Board agreed to clarify that authors can nominate their own books. It was also decided that the current book prize structure was unwieldy, with the Levin and Wellek prizes in alternate years for literary theory and literary history. It was felt that this division no longer appropriately represented the work being done in the field. It was agreed to offer each prize annually, and to make the Levin Prize a first book prize, with the Wellek as a general book prize. Any first book could be nominated for either of these prizes, but not for both.
The meeting adjourned at 4:30 PM
Respectfully submitted,
Alexander Beecroft