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    Jack Fitzmier and David Harrington Watt, representatives of the American Academy of Religion

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2013 CAO Fall Meeting


The ACLS Conference of Administrative Officers (CAO) held its 2013 fall meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 14-17, hosted by the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau.  

The meeting schedule is available here.

The meeting began on Friday morning, November 15, at the Kentucky International Convention Center, with opening remarks by ACLS President Pauline Yu and CAO Executive Committee Chair Jack Fitzmier. Stephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance, provided an update on NHA advocacy efforts, including short videos offering first-person testimonials from those engaged in the humanities to be disseminated through social media (read more). 

In a series of brief reports, Alyson Reed (Linguistic Society of America) informed the group of a new census instrument to gather data from all ACLS member societies to gauge trends in the humanities field; Lynda Park (Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies) and Amy Newhall (Middle East Studies Association) spoke of the need to advocate for the restoration of Title VI and IX funds for foreign language education through the State Department; and Rosemary G. Feal (Modern Language Association) described plans for Humanities Common, which will link the existing MLA Commons with other humanities organizations to further collaborative interdisciplinary research (read more).

The afternoon session offered case studies for navigating leadership in mission-driven organizations, with contributions from Kent Williamson (College Forum of the National Council of Teachers of English), Rona Sheramy (Association for Jewish Studies), and Nancy Kidd (National Communication Association).  In a subsequent session entitled "Beyond Force Majeure," Jack Fitzmier (American Academy of Religion) and John Kutsko (Society of Biblical Literature) spoke about the SBL/AAR Joint Labor Task Force formed to deal with the threat of strikes at conference hotels. There was an optional session, led by Charles Haws (Society of Biblical Literature), to explore the value of convening annual meeting program planners.

On Saturday, Trevor Parry-Giles (National Communication Association) spoke on the development of impact factors as measures of research quality and productivity.  Also, in a session on innovative revenue streams and expanded member benefits, the group heard from Milagros Pereyra (Latin American Studies Association) on establishing a separate non-profit subsidiary to serve meeting/conference planning needs, Linda Downs (College Art Association) on a copublishing agreement for digital versions of CAA journals (read more), Pauline Saliga (Society of Architectural Historians) on the new SAH Archipedia, and Ann Moyer (Renaissance Society of America) on no-cost member access to the Early English Books Online (EEBO) database (read more).

ACLS Vice President Steve Wheatley chaired the final session on humanities advocacy. He noted the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the Report of the Commission on the Humanities, the recommendations of which led to the establishment of the National Endowment for the Humanities. ACLS, the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States, and the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa created the Commission, and the report included supporting statements from 24 ACLS member societies. Jim Castonguay (Society for Cinema and Media Studies), Amy Ferrer (American Philosophical Association), and Allan Metcalf (American Dialect Society) compared today’s environment to 1964.  Two important positive developments were noted: 1) although academic departments have been consolidated, more collaboration takes place between departments and humanities centers, and 2) there is momentum now to engage the public in the argument for the value of the humanities.

Fall meetings of the CAO are held in cities of interest as possible convention sites and are hosted by each city's convention bureau. Thanks to the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the group enjoyed accommodations at The Galt House Hotel, receptions and meals at other select hotels (The Hyatt Regency Hotel, the Marriott Louisville, the Brown Hotel, 610Magnolia, 21cMuseum and Hotel), and events at city attractions (The Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, the University of Louisville Men’s Basketball), as well as a memorable evening of horse racing at Churchill Downs.

The CAO will next convene on May 10, 2014, in Philadelphia, following the ACLS annual meeting.


  • The Conference of Administrative Officers in Louisville

  • CAO Executive Committee Chair Jack Fitzmier with ACLS President Pauline Yu

  • Nancy Kidd, National Communication Association, and Rona Sheramy, Association for Jewish Studies.

  • David Barclay, German Studies Association, in the Seelbach Hilton Rathskeller

  • Nancy Sevcenko, International Center of Medieval Art, and Pauline Saliger, Society of Architectural Historians

  • John Kutsko, Society of Biblical Literature, spoke about hotel contract issues

  • Breakout discussions of contract issues by society size

  • Amy Ferrer, American Philosophical Association, spoke on "Fifty Years of Humanities Advocacy"

  • Stephen Kidd reported on the activities of the National Humanities Allliance.

  • The panel on "Diversifying Member Benefits/Innovative Revenue Streams"

  • Listening to panelists

  • Allan Metcalf, American Dialect Society, and Rebecca Shapiro, Dictionary Society of North America

  • Our animated city tour guide

  • Olavi Arens, Richard Jensen, and Donald Harreld

  • Winners at Churchill Downs: Victoria Long, Society for American Music, and Andrew Vaughn, American Schools of Oriental Research