June 2014

SHAFR Council Meetings Minutes
Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 8:00am to 12:45pm
Council Meeting


Lexington Hyatt
Mary Todd Lincoln Board Room
Lexington , KY

Members present: Tim Borstelmann, Robert Brigham, Carol Chin, Christopher Dietrich, Penny Von Eschen, Kristin Hoganson, Fredrik Logevall (presiding), Alan McPherson, Michael Sherry, Sarah Snyder, Marilyn Young

Others present: Jeffrey Crean, Nick Cullather, Mary Dudziak, Anne Foster, David Hadley, Peter Hahn, Andrew Johns, Lien-Hang Nguyen, Chester Pach, Andrew Preston, Jennifer Walton

Business Items

1) Announcements

Logevall called the meeting to order at 8:10. He welcomed all members and expressed his satisfaction about the great number of participants at the conference and the high percentage of international attendees.

2) Recap of motions passed by e-mail since January meeting

Hahn read into the minutes a summary of the three motions that Council passed by e-mail correspondence since the January 2014 meeting: the approval of the minutes of the January meeting; the approval of an “Open the Government” petition; and the approval of the increase in the subsidy for Diplomatic History for summer 2014.

3) Mid-year budget update

Hahn presented oral and written reports on the finances from January 1 to June 21, 2014. He reported that SHAFR’s finances are currently at their expected level, taking into account the costs of the SHAFR Conference and SHAFR Summer Institute.

A discussion on SHAFR’s income from its publication interests ensued. Hahn expressed satisfaction with the current contract between SHAFR and the Oxford University Press and noted that he would be ready to troubleshoot any OUP service issues if they should appear. Logevall thanked Hahn for the report.

Discussion then turned to the question of donations to SHAFR from SHAFR members. It was noted that there was no system in place for requesting or accepting such donations. It was noted that such a system would probably be welcomed by SHAFR members who might be interested in giving to SHAFR. Logevall suggested that the question of a systematic fundraising program be investigated for January.

Hahn informed Council that PNC Bank, through which SHAFR maintains its checking account, had a protocol providing another member with access to the account. Hahn suggested that Council ought to appoint a second person to have access to the account. Von Eschen moved that the SHAFR Endowment Liaison be given monitoring access to SHAFR’s checking account; the motion passed unanimously.

Hahn then reminded Council that in the previous Council meeting, it had been agreed that SHAFR’s fiscal year would be shifted to a November 1 to October 31 basis, to facilitate year end reporting.

4) Discussion of mission of Passport

Logevall asked Council to discuss Passport, its missions, and its relation to Diplomatic History. He welcomed Passport editor Andrew Johns to report on Passport’s current status.

Johns reported that Passport is in good health, noting his appreciation of the active participation and submissions of SHAFR members, and even some non-members, to the review. He noted by way of example that Passport, in its September issue, would be able to include two roundtables. He also observed that Passport’s historiographical essays have been well-received, and expressed a desire to continue to publish such essays.

Johns noted that Passport’s connection the Mershon Center, aided by the efforts of Mitch Lerner, provided valuable support. Johns also expressed appreciation for Passport’s editorial staff.

Logevall inquired about Passport’s relationship with Diplomatic History and H-Diplo. Johns explained that relations with both were productive, and the different strengths of each one allowed a variety of pertinent writing and reviewing to find an audience. It was suggested that Passport might benefit, however, from a clearer distinction in its role from those other venues.

Hoganson expressed concern that Passport’s offerings, valuable as they were, would not be available in the long-term because they were not available via JSTOR, and that steps should be taken to remedy this situation. General agreement was expressed on this point. Johns agreed that JSTOR access would be helpful and suggested that approaches be made to OUP about making Passport available through JSTOR.

Logevall then asked Johns for his views of Passport’s future. Johns noted that Passport had expanded beyond its original status as newsletter; while Passport would continue providing a variety of different types of articles such as guides to archives or suggestions for working through the FOIA process, simple announcements could be made more efficiently on the website.  Johns explained that he sees Passport as growing into a valuable supplement to Diplomatic History.

Council expressed its thanks to Johns for his hard work and his report.

5) SHAFR Guide to the Literature

McPherson withdrew from the meeting. Council discussed SHAFR’s Guide to the Literature. Hahn noted that, as the Guide would no longer be published through its current provider, Council had three options: suspend the initiative, publish the guide online via the SHAFR website, or contract with a new publisher. It was agreed that decisions on these issues should await the appointment of the new editor of the Guide, who would be better suited to recommend a course of action.

Discussion then turned to the application of Alan McPherson to be the editor of the Guide. Support for McPherson’s candidacy and his proposals for the Guide’s future were expressed by the Council. Borstelmann raised the question of compensation for the position of editor. Discussion ensued. Borstelmann moved that McPherson be appointed editor with a stipend of $6,000 a year for three years beginning July 1, with an option to renew. Borstelmann additionally moved that the compensation for the editor of Passport also be increased to an annual rate of $6,000 effective January 1, with a $1,000 prorated adjustment to be paid in 2014. The motion was passed unanimously with a note from Snyder that Council ought to regularly review compensation of vital positions in SHAFR. McPherson returned to the meeting.

6) Diplomatic History editorial transition

Council welcomed Cullather and Foster to discuss the transition of Diplomatic History to Indiana University. Cullather expressed appreciation to the Council for the supplemental funds that had allowed for the hiring of assistants over the summer, and suggested that such support would continue to be valued in the future. Cullather noted that, as Indiana University was also home to the Journal of American History and the American Historical Review, Diplomatic History enjoyed a pool of graduate students experienced in editorial affairs that was quite beneficial.

Logevall inquired whether there were any complications stemming from the fact that Diplomatic History was located at a university where two other major historical publications were located. Cullather acknowledged that at times there might be complications, overall it was beneficial for Diplomatic History.

Discussion turned to the issue of fee remissions for graduate students working on the editorial staff of Diplomatic History. Foster and Cullather agreed that the situation was currently in flux, and would benefit from a later re-appraisal.

Logevall raised the question of copyright in SHAFR publications. Cullather noted that Diplomatic History and Passport had different standards on authorial copyright, but did not feel that a SHAFR-wide policy needed to be adopted. It was ultimately decided that the current policy of copyright retention by the different publications would be continued.

Council discussed DeepDyve, an initiative to rent journal content. It was noted that the effect of such a system was unpredictable. Discussion followed about whether Diplomatic History’s pricing for individual articles was affordable for people and institutions worldwide.

Discussion turned to Diplomatic History’s review publication schedule. Logevall asked whether Diplomatic History was faced with a review backlog that would remain for some time. Foster and Cullather explained that the reviews backlog has eased given a temporary halt in requests for reviews that ended in February. They explained that going forward, their goal would be for three or four reviews per issue, some encompassing multiple books.

Discussion on Diplomatic History concluded with the note that more information was needed on the journal’s move to Indiana University prior to additional supplemental funding being approved. It was agreed that the issue should be addressed at the January 2015 Council meeting.

7) SHAFR archives

Hahn informed the Council that the Texas A&M University library has sent notification that it would no longer store SHAFR’s historical documents. In order to determine what might merit preservation, Hahn had employed TAMU graduate student and SHAFR Member Jeffrey Crean to investigate the archive. Crean prepared two reports for the Council, one a breakdown of the items in the archive and a recommendation as to their final disposition, and the second a brief historical essay on the foundations of SHAFR.

Vigorous discussion then ensued as to what items merited preservation, focusing especially on materials pertaining to Diplomatic History’s article selection process in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Arising during this discussion were concerns over the privacy of those associated with Diplomatic History. Also discussed were how the records might stored, either in digital form or in a physical archive. Young moved that the entirety of the material in the TAMU archive be shipped to the Business Office for temporary storage and further review, with a recommendation to be made by January on final disposition of the collection and further consideration of the privacy issue. The motion passed by majority vote.

8) Annual conference issues

Hahn discussed the Global Scholars Grant and the Diversity & International Grant programs, noting overlaps between them. The former was funded at $10,000 and is up for renewal in 2014, while the latter is funded $25,000 and scheduled through 2016. Hahn noted that separate reports from Petra Goedde and Snyder indicated that there was some redundancy in the grants that might be eliminated.

Discussion then turned as to whether the two grants ought to be consolidated into one and, if so, where responsibility for awarding grants should lie. Snyder suggested it would be useful to consolidate the grants and give responsibility to the Program Committee, while retaining input from the Membership Committee. Concern was raised whether the consolidation might be perceived as devaluing either international participation or domestic minority participation. Snyder proposed that that two programs be merged into one program, to be named the Global Scholars and Diversity Grant funded at $35,000 through 2016, under the guidance of the Program Committee with the participation of the Membership Committee in advertising the program and with possible contributions to Program Committee membership. The motion passed unanimously.

Pursuant to the direction of Council at the January meeting, Snyder reported on data about membership rates among conference participants. She expressed concern at the low number of SHAFR members making panel proposals. Discussion then ensued as to whether conference presenters should be required to be SHAFR members. Consensus developed that a SHAFR membership requirement would not be an onerous burden on conference presenters and could benefit the organization by demonstrating what SHAFR has to offer to a wider audience. Young moved that membership be required for accepted presenters at the annual conference; the motion passed unanimously.

9) Discussion of membership dues

Hahn summarized two questions relating to membership raised by members: the first, whether a discounted price for a lifetime membership should be offered to long-standing members, and second, whether regular and student membership rates should be raised.

After discussion, Council declined to take action on either idea.  During discussion, a consensus emerged that Council should encourage life memberships at the current rate.

10) FOIA Report by National Coalition for History

Hoganson presented a report she had prepared with Richard Immerman on the FOIA process. She requested feedback on the report, and recommended that efforts to educate SHAFR members of the FOIA process be investigated by a research committee. No changes were suggested for the report. Logevall expressed great appreciation to Hoganson and Immerman for their efforts.

 11) Website transition

Dudziak reported on the transition to the new SHAFR website. Dudziak expressed appreciation to Chester Pach who, in his dual role as chair of the Teaching Committee and as a member of the Web Committee, assisted greatly to making the SHAFR website a valuable resource for instructors.

Dudziak noted that she hoped the new website would be a center for communication of matters important to SHAFR members, and that further efforts would be made to utilize it as a resource. She also proposed that SHAFR investigate the creation of a research committee, which could help further exploit the possibilities of the new website. Sherry observed that the SHAFR Teaching Committee would be well-matched by a research committee.

Discussion then ensued as to the benefits and problems of purchasing audio-visual equipment to be used at conferences to generate content for the SHAFR site, such as videotaped panel presentations or author interviews. Consensus emerged that such equipment should not be purchased at this time given difficulties of storing, transporting, and operating it and the difficulties of making web-quality videos.

After Hahn noted that the by-laws authorized the President to appoint ad hoc committees, Logevall noted that he would appoint an ad hoc research committee and encourage Council to consider making it a standing committee in the future.

12) Proposal to designate an official SHAFR representative to the National History Center Board

Logevall presented a proposal from Dane Kennedy, new director of the NHC, to appoint an official SHAFR representative to the NHC program committee that plans Wilson Center seminars. Discussion followed on the benefits and disadvantages of such a connection with the NHC.

Hoganson moved that the president of SHAFR may appoint a member of SHAFR to be a SHAFR representative to serve on the Program Committee of the NHC. The motion passed unanimously.

13) Discussion of policy on photography/video recording of SHAFR conferences

Hahn directed the Council’s attention to the question of filming at the SHAFR conference. Discussion ensured over a proposal from Walton that SHAFR adopt AHA language in registration to include a waiver for filming. There would be an opt-out provision for this waiver. Dietrich moved to adopt AHA language for future SHAFR conferences; the motion passed unanimously.

14) Update on restructuring of SHAFR insurance

Hahn reported that his investigation of insurance options, begun after the January Council meeting, continues. 


15) Diplomatic History

Logevall turned Council’s attention to the written report on Diplomatic History from Tom Zeiler and expressed concern at the number of reviews and the amount of time it will take for books to be reviewed after publication. Young proposed that Council express support for the current editors’ efforts to reduce the backlog, and ask the editors to consider increased attention to reviews.

16) Teaching Committee

Pach, reporting for the Teaching Committee, emphasized the usefulness of SHAFR’s interactive website to the mission of the Teaching Committee. Logevall expressed gratitude for work on Teaching Committee and Pach’s dual involvement with that committee and the Web Committee.

17) 2014 SHAFR Conference

Council welcomed Walton, Preston, and Nguyen to discuss the 2014 annual conference. Walton reported on the conference registration data to the Council. Walton noted that attendance has been particularly strong, and will probably set a record for a non-Washington conference year. Additionally, this year’s conference was one of the largest, with 98 panels. Walton explained the costs were holding steady. Walton and Preston both expressed deep thanks to Amanda Boczar, a graduate student hired to assist the operation of the conference.

Discussion then turned to improved site selection of non-Washington Conferences. Nguyen suggested that no matter what ultimate decisions were made, Walton should be involved due to her competence in such conference arrangements.

Sherry inquired as to whether any problems arose from the increased number of panels. Walton noted the only issue was space. Preston noted that the expansion to 98 panels from 72 had been a great relief, as those panels that were added were of shared academic value to others selected, but space had been the problem. Logevall suggested that in the future, panels be reduced to 90 minutes from 120 minutes to allow for greater ease of planning.

Walton expressed thanks to Nguyen and George Herring for their hard work for this conference.

18) 2015 SHAFR Conference

Borstelmann reported that plans for the 2015 SHAFR Conference in Arlington, VA are evolving well.  He noted that the schedule for the meeting will be adjusted to include 105-minute sessions and to avoid hosting plenary sessions in the evening.

19) 2014 Summer Institute

Reference was made to the cogent written report submitted in advance of the meeting by the co-chairs of the 2014 Summer Institute.

20) Reports on recent prizes (Peter Hahn, 5 minutes)

Hahn relayed a motion from the Ways & Means Committee that the Dissertation Completion Fellowship be increased from $20,000 to $25,000 effective on July 1, 2014. The proposal passed by majority vote.

On behalf of the selection committees, Hahn announced the winners of various 2014 fellowships and prizes. The Dissertation Completion Fellowships were awarded to Julia Mansfield and Kyle Burke; the Oxford University Press USA Dissertation Prize was awarded to Tore C. Olsson; the Stuart L. Bernath Article Prize was awarded to Sarah Davenport; the Myrna Bernath Book Prize was awarded to Amy S. Greenberg; the Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize was awarded to Andrew Friedman; the Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize was awarded to Gary J Bass; and the Norman and Norma Graebner Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Robert D. Schulzinger.

21) Concluding remarks

Logevall expressed his thanks to Council for their attendance and hard work

The meeting adjourned at 12:50 PM.


Respectfully submitted,

Peter L. Hahn, Executive Director