Greetings from Bloomington, Indiana! Many of us have just returned from the 2017 Annual Meeting of the ASCH in Denver, which was a great success. We had nearly 250 registered participants, including a number of international scholars and many graduate-student presenters. The quality of the panels seemed especially strong. Highlights of the conference include a wealth of Reformation-themed sessions – commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Age of Reform – culminating in an engaging Presidential Address by Professor Ronald Rittgers. The well-attended, abundantly provisioned, reception didn’t draw to a close until nearly 11 p.m.!
Following his address, Ron Rittgers passed the presidential baton onto me, and so I want to take this opportunity to update you on two significant announcements made by ASCH leadership during the conference, regarding:
1) the relationship between the ASCH and the AHA, and,
2) the new Executive Secretary positions.
Please read what follows, as it contains important information that has bearing on the future of the ASCH.
1. ASCH/AHA Relationship
With the approval of the membership at an Extraordinary Business Meeting, the ASCH Council voted unanimously to approve the following motion:
“Assuming the ASCH is able to secure adequate hotel space, the Society will hold its own meeting alongside but not as part of the AHA in 2018.”
The presenting reason for this motion — discussed at length by the membership in Atlanta last year — is that rising costs of mandatory registration for the “one-meeting” of the American Historical Association have made the ASCH meeting very expensive to attend. In turn, this has required the ASCH to cut its own registration fees, causing the Society to lose thousands of dollars each year on its annual conference. This is not, however, merely a financial decision. The ASCH is an independent scholarly organization with a distinctive academic mission, and running our own meetings (as we did before 2015) allows us much more flexibility.
Thus, the ASCH Council has decided to experiment in 2018 with an alternative arrangement for one year: meeting alongside the AHA, in a nearby hotel, but not officially as part of the AHA meeting. We are NOT disaffiliating from the AHA. In fact, we hope to encourage submission of more co-sponsored ASCH-AHA sessions, which is why we are moving up our CFP deadline to February 15, to match the AHA deadline. It is important to note that this is a one-year experiment: the ASCH Council will evaluate its effectiveness in 2018. It is also important that there is a contingency built into the decision: we will only do this if we can secure adequately priced hotel space in reasonable proximity to the AHA meeting.
We will be communicating further about the arrangements in the coming months, but we think this is an important step for the ongoing financial wellbeing, and identity of the Society.
2. New Executive Secretary Positions
The ASCH Council has restructured the position of the Executive Secretary. The newly appointed Executive Secretary is Caleb Maskell. Caleb has been an active member of ASCH for more than a decade, and worked as assistant to former Executive Secretary Ken Minkema from 2004-2007.
Three new positions were also created in the restructuring: Assistant Secretary for Membership, Assistant Secretary for Finance, and Webmaster. The Assistant Secretary for Membership is Andrew Hansen, the Assistant Secretary for Finance is Bryan Bademan, and the Webmaster is Matthew King.
You can find out more about each of these people on the ASCH website. We are thrilled to welcome them to the ASCH leadership team, and we are confident that their work will provide increased strength, accountability, and direction for the Society in this time of transition.