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 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. 

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.

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, 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.

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.