Report of the President,
Stanley N. Katz
This year's President's Report covers not only the past year, but the full eleven years I have had the privilege of serving as President of the
American Council of Learned Societies. I intend to survey in broad terms the
course we have traveled and where we stand as we prepare to welcome
John D'Arms as ACLS's next President.
Awarding fellowships for humanistic scholarship is, traditionally, the
most important activity of ACLS. For most of our history, ACLS relied on
term grants from national foundations and the federal government for the
funds to make these awards. During the 1970s and early 1980s, however,
the national foundations withdrew from the practice of making grants for
the purpose of regranting for fellowships to individual scholars. We
recognized that the federal government might withdraw as well. It was
therefore imperative that we build an endowment to support our fellowship awards.
Endowment-building efforts began with Frederick Burkhardt's
50th Anniversary Campaign in 1969, and were continued with Bob
Lumiansky's 60th Anniversary Campaign, and Bill Ward's initiation of a Capital
Fund Raising Campaign. Building on Bill's preparation, I completed
that campaign by obtaining one million dollars each from the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford, Rockefeller, and Andrew
W. Mellon Foundations. In 1990, we received an additional endowment
grant pledge of $2,500,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As part
of our new approach, we also changed the Council's investment strategy
to a total-return approach and moved to a diversified portfolio, half of
which is now invested in equities. In consequence we have enjoyed
considerable endowment growth since the late 1980s.
At the close of the 1996 fiscal year, the ACLS endowment
totalled $38,586,989, of which $23,345,414 is devoted exclusively to
supporting fellowships. With prudent spending rates, we expect to be able to
sustain indefinitely the present real dollar level of $1.1 million each year
in awardscurrently providing fifty-five fellowships at $20,000.
One of the purposes of building an endowment was to ensure
the continuation of the ACLS core fellowship program despite the
uncertainty of external term funding. Over a period of several years in the early
1990s, the Grants-in-Aid and the Fellowships for Recent Recipients of the
Ph.D. were gradually collapsed into the present unitary ACLS
Fellowship Program. This allowed us to build the fellowship endowment and to
raise the maximum stipend from $15,000 to $20,000. The result has been
that the ACLS Fellowship Program, almost fully dependent upon term grants
in the mid-1980s, is today fully funded by our own endowment income.
While continuing to look for ways to increase the endowment, we
have also sought additional funding for other types of fellowships and grants.
In doing this, we have tried to develop programs where funds were
available and where the interests of the funders were compatible with
ACLS priorities. In 1991-92 we received a grant from the Henry Luce
Foundation to administer a program of dissertation fellowships for doctoral students
in American art history. The program has been very successful and
was renewed by Luce last spring for another five years.
In 1993-94 we received a three-year grant from the Gladys
Krieble Delmas Foundation, with additional grants from the National
Research Council/National Academy of Sciences for UNESCO-related activities,
to support a program of $500 awards for travel to international
meetings abroad. During the past year, with funds from the Nathan
Cummings Foundation, we initiated a fellowship program to support scholars
in developing university-level courses and teaching materials that
explore contemplative practice. This has been a developmental year for
the program, but I expect that funds for an additional period will be
available. The general availability of funds for fellowship and grant
programs, however, is obviously very limited, and I would not wish to give
the impression that securing additional fellowship money will be an easier
task in the future.
American Studies, Area Studies, and Beyond
The founding purpose of ACLS was to represent American
scholarship abroad and thereby to build connections with academics and
intellectuals throughout the world. After World War I, an invitation for the U.S. to
join the Union Académique Internationale (UAI) was presented to historian
J. Franklin Jameson of the Library of Congress. While the academies of
most other countries represented in the UAI were composed of
selected individuals, Jameson felt that following suit would be "incompatible
with our democratic ethos." He proposed instead that the U.S. be
represented by a federation of learned societies. The ACLS was thus organized in
1919 and formally incorporated in 1924.
This basic mission has taken many forms throughout the history of
the Council, and especially in the past eleven years. We have
supported international scholar exchange, research planning and conference
activities, and international programs aimed at establishing or
re-establishing academic relations with isolated countries. Some of the major programs
in these areas are discussed below. In carrying out these programs, we
have sought to adhere to several guiding principles.
Most basically, the Council's international work is a recognition of
the ideal that knowledge and scholarship are not bounded by political
and cultural borders and are inherently transnational. We have proceeded
from the assumption that the internationalization of scholarship is valuable
in itself: we can understand our own culture only in relation to
others. Furthermore, we believe that the growth and strengthening of the
global academy can only accelerate the advance of knowledge in all fields.
The international presence of the ACLS gives voice to principles of
academic freedom, the integrity of scholarship, and the open community
of knowledge. We have sought to provide opportunities which might
not otherwise exist for American scholars to carry out scholarly projects on
an international basis.
American Studies Program. My first formal contact with ACLS
before becoming President was as a member of the American Studies
Program's Advisory Committee. For thirty-five years, from 1961 to 1996, this
program helped develop and sustain communities of Americanists overseas. Its
basic mechanism was to provide advanced research fellowships at
American institutions, usually for scholars at the assistant or associate professor
level. In thirty years, we supported more than 1,300 ACLS American
Studies Fellows from twenty-seven different countries. It is particularly
worth noting that the program supported scholars from Eastern Europe
starting in 1968, long before the end of the Cold War. Many of today's leaders
in international American Studies are alumni of the program.
The American Studies Program was funded through a complex
matching fund arrangement whereby funds from or for particular countries
were matched by core funds provided by the Ford and Mellon Foundations.
After many years of generous grants, those foundations discontinued
their support after 1996. A search for other donors was unavailing. That
the program has come to an end can be seen as part of the natural life
cycle of externally funded programs, especially fellowship programs which
are by their very nature quite expensive. This outcome, at one level, is to
be expected, but it also points to the difficulty of maintaining
infrastructural programs. I would add that in addition to benefiting many
individual scholars, the American Studies Program provided ACLS with an
extraordinary network of international contacts that continue to be of valuable
to other program activities.
ACLS-SSRC Joint Area and International Programs.
One of the key elements of the Council's international programs has been the
work undertaken jointly with the Social Science Research Council in area
and international studies. For more than thirty years, the program of the
two Councils was carried out by a series of area-based committees
jointly appointed by the two Councils and administered by one or the other.
In 1996, after long and wide discussions, the two Councils redesigned
their joint program, and the new structure is only now being put in place
Under the "old" structure, we administered two of the eleven joint
area committees: the Joint Committee on Eastern Europe, founded in 1971;
and the Joint Committee on Chinese Studies, founded in 1982. The unique
role of the committees was the administration of national competitions to
award scholarships to students and scholars for research and training, and
the national distribution of relatively small amounts of money for
cooperative research projects and other activities of importance to the development
of scholarship. The committees themselves were composed of
knowledgeable groups of scholars, thereby ensuring that decisions about policy
and allocations were made on the basis of merit. Committee members
were both experts in the area and specialists in particular disciplines. They
were drawn from universities and colleges throughout the world, and
they served without compensation. Few comparable associations of
scholars exist anywhere in the world, even in the largest research universities.
The most important aspect of the committees' work was the
identification and clarification of research priorities and the support and
encouragement of excellent work in existing disciplines, interdisciplinary areas,
and emerging or evolving fields. The committees encouraged scholars
to devote themselves to difficult and long-term projects of lasting
significance, through both open competitions and the work organized
by our committees.
The committees' fellowship competitions were among the least
problematic and most widely known and respected components of the
Councils' research support. With smaller grants, the committees also
organized research projects themselves or encouraged other scholars to do so:
some topics, because of their complexity or their innovative character, seem
to be more amenable to collaborative approaches and less likely to
be attempted by individual scholars.
Joint Committee on Chinese Studies (JCCS). The mandate of the JCCS was to support the field of China Studies while maintaining a balance
between the humanities and the social sciences and promoting
interdisciplinary exchanges to enhance both traditional and contemporary studies.
Its primary concern was the promotion of scholarly research, but it also
tried to represent the general interests of China research specialists to
other institutions concerned with public education, library resources,
and language training. Simply put, the main contribution of the JCCS was
to encourage and support research and training of the highest quality
on China, and in this it did well.
The field of China Studies has been revolutionized in recent
years because of new access to the PRC for research and training:
American students and scholars are better trained, especially in languages and
cultural awareness; and immigrant scholars from the PRC enrich our
departments. As ideological constraints have diminished, both in the PRC and in
Taiwan, new collaborative possibilities have arisen. To a large degree because
of the Committee on Scholarly Communication with China (which I
discuss later), we have begun to develop unprecedented field research
opportunities, almost unlimited new access to libraries and archives in the PRC,
and access to rich new varieties of research materials completely
unavailable in the past. These changes have made possible the expansion of
research on China to previously obscure areas, the re-evaluation of existing
scholarly paradigms and bodies of received knowledge on Chinese culture
and society, the investigation of newly salient issues, and the utilization of
new theoretical or methodological approaches.
The record of the JCCS is quite strong. We are especially proud of
its Studies on China, a refereed series published by the University of
California Press, containing the best of the conference volumes resulting from
projects the Committee sponsored. These volumes, twenty-one in the
last fourteen years, are concrete examples of the range of the
Committee's work, indicating the involvement therein of large numbers of
diverse scholars in and out of the China field. These volumes have helped
define the field of China Studies by creating new areas of research; they are
valuable teaching resources; and they have influenced the scholarship
of other areas of the world. We have been able to publish two or three
such volumes a year for over a decade. Of particular influence have
been volumes onelite groups, kinship ties, women's studies, and the
importance of cities.
Joint Committee on Eastern Europe (JCEE).
The JCEE, now succeeded by the ACLS Working Group on East Europe, took advantage of the
new opportunities provided by the opening of the area after 1989 and
the increased scholarly interest in Eastern Europe to expand and to
consolidate scholarship on the area. Specifically, the Committee attempted to
promote scholarship in the area itself, to encourage wider non-specialist
scholarly interest, and to strengthen the ties of East European specialists to
their disciplines. The Committee simultaneously served three audiences:
the disciplinary specialist interested in science in the abstract; the area
specialist interested in East Europe; and the scholar from the area with
important talents, insights, and experience.
Amply funded by the U.S. State Department's Title VIII program
and other sources, the Committee has tried to provide a balanced,
comprehensive set of programs designed to develop the field. They have
included fellowships for graduate student training, dissertation research, and
post-doctoral research; grants for language training and for travel to East
Europe for graduate students; and sponsorship of research conferences. It
has provided 238 full-year fellowships and almost one thousand summer
grants in the last eleven years. Funding for Eastern Europe has been strong
since before 1989, although it is now in jeopardy. The Committee also
sponsors a very important journal, East European Politics and
Societies, published by the University of California Press.
The Committee's major concern was to promote rich,
productive interaction between conceptual knowledge of the area and general
theory in the social sciences and humanities. The Committee sought balance; it
felt strongly that a scholarship not sensitive and competent to deal with
the subtleties of culture, languages, geography, history, and other
"details" often misinterprets the underlying logic of social dynamics by forcing
them into abstract, rigid frameworks.
At this time, much of the scholarly enterprise within East Europe
is collapsing because of precipitous declines in financial support.
Ideological blinders and more direct political constraints no longer exist, but
scholars in East Europe often lack the resources needed to take advantage of
even the most basic new opportunities. Archival resources not
previously accessible are available, but for how long is uncertain. Scholarly
publishing networks are collapsing. The Committee tried in a variety of ways to
help scholars and scholarly institutions adjust to this new environment. It
also tried to promote better collaborative ties with scholars from East
Europe. The Committee organized its first meetings in Eastern Europe before
1989, and since then it has regularly met or held conferences in the area.
There are many reasons for serious concern about the prospects for
area studies, including the growing popularity of comparative and
international studies in this country. At the same time, there are clear indications
of strength, vitality, and productivity: scholars specializing in area studies
have produced a greater, more sophisticated understanding of the world;
they have created many new fields of knowledge and more advanced levels
of training; and they have applied that knowledge to a broad array of
urgent social problems. ACLS remains strongly committed to the project of
area studies as it is central to the larger humanities enterprise.
The New ACLS-SSRC International Program. This report can only briefly outline the form and function of the new ACLS-SSRC international
program structure. The new program, like the old one, provides for pre- and
post-doctoral fellowships and training, research planning, and
area-based discussion. Most of these activities, however, are organized across
area lines. The competitions for pre- and post-doctoral fellowships have
been centralized at SSRC and ACLS, respectively. The Councils will seek
to develop new research projects via seed grants awarded to
transnational, transdisciplinary networks of researchers. Special committees will
also consider issues of scholarly infrastructure and formation. Eight panels
of scholars studying particular regions will provide advice and
programmatic suggestions from area-based perspectives.
Much that is inadequate and inaccurate has been written about
this redesign. The Councils, in fact, can be justifiably proud of their work
in developing area studies. This has been a very great personal interest
of mine as well as an important reason wny I wanted to have the ACLS
include as member societies all the area studies societies. The new
international program does not abandon area studies, but rather builds on the
strong foundation built over the past forty years in order to bring
place-based knowledge into engagement with a new range of issues.
Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES): The
Senior Fulbright Program. When the Fulbright Program began, ACLS, the
Social Science Research Council, the National Academy of Science, and
the American Council on Education joined to form the Conference Board
of Associated Research Councils as the governing authority for the
domestic administration of the Senior (faculty) Fulbright Program. The intent
was, and remains, to separate academic peer review and grant
administration from direct government administration by the United States
Information Agency. Two of these Councilsfirst NAS and then ACEtook
the fiduciary and managerial responsibility for CIES.
I served as Chairman of the CIES Board during the early Reagan
years when it took a major mobilization of the scholarly community to resist
what then seemed like drastic cuts to the Senior Fulbright Program.
In administering the Senior Fulbright Program, CIES sought a closer
relationship with the scholarly community, which it relied upon for applicants,
peer-reviewers, and placements of visiting Fulbrighters. When I
became President of ACLS, I was determined that ACLS take a strong position
in support of the Senior Fulbright Program as one of the few
opportunities available to scholars qua scholars for study abroad, regardless of
the international connections of their institution. For all these reasons,
CIES sought and I welcomed an affiliation with ACLS as the legal parent of
CIES. It is unfortunate that in the last few years, the funding climate has
become even more dire than we imagined in the early 1980s. As federal
cutbacks ordained staff cuts at exchange agencies, we realized that
financial liabilities might be imposed upon ACLS (a fact brought home by
the experience with the CSCC described later in this report). Therefore,
I reluctantly concluded that we could no longer assume responsibility
for CIES. Our first duty was to protect the endowment so painfully built up
over the years. Accordingly, on January 1, 1997, the Institute for
International Education assumed responsibility for CIES.
Opening Contacts: Vietnam, China, Cuba and
Beyond. I have taken it as a principle of our international work that scholarship be insulated
from politics and that the Council advance academic principles by practical
work as well as by advocacy. Our strategic position as a mediating agency is
again important in this respect. We have stood for academic administration of
the Senior Fulbright Program to be sure that peer review and grant
management remain separate from direct governmental administration. In
several areas, ACLS has provided for academic exchange and research contact
in advance of diplomatic relations or in the face of political hostility
between states. In earlier years, ACLS helped to create the International Research
& Exchanges Board (IREX) to oversee such programs in Eastern Europe
and the Soviet Union. Founded in 1968, IREX became an
independent organization in 1991. During my years as President, we have
also undertaken important work in China, Vietnam, and, most recently, Cuba.
Committee on Scholarly Communication with China
(CSCC). The CSCC (formerly the CSCPRC) has been, simultaneously, one of my
most gratifying and frustrating concerns. It is a marvelously effective
and important organization, but its funding is seriously endangered,
having fallen by 75% since Tiananmen. The CSCC is jointly sponsored by the
ACLS, the National Academy of Sciences, and the SSRC. The CSCC administers
the National Program for Advanced Study and Research in China, a
nationwide, competitive program providing support for scholarly research and
training. By facilitating research in China, the CSCC supports the best of
U.S. scholarship and trains the teachers whose work will produce a
more widespread and nuanced public awareness of China and
Founded in 1966, the CSCC was initially more a vision than a
reality, because American scholars had not been routinely able to study
and conduct research in China since the 1940s. 1966 was of course also
the height of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and there seemed little
chance that the situation might change. But in 1972, following President
Nixon's visit to China, and especially after normalization of U.S.-China relations
in 1978, American scholars supported by the CSCC had their first
direct contacts with the mainland in more than two decades. CSCC's sending
of students and scholars to China since then has been a singular and vital
part of the revolution in China Studies described earlier in this report. The
first class of scholars who went to China in 1979 sometimes had
disappointing experiences, but most succeeded in unexpected ways.
Everything had to be negotiated, in the words of an early grantee, but everything
was therefore negotiable. Graduate students and research scholars
often learned when and where they least expected. But they could stay in
China for as long as a year at one location, and they had time to sink deeply
into their environments, to penetrate layers of social life, and to gain access
to libraries, archives, and the thinking and memories of remarkable
The situation subsequently changed dramatically. Perhaps the greatest
improvement was simply the increased understanding on both
sides. Chinese officials have learned what to expect of visiting American
scholars, and Americans have learned to build upon the visits of earlier grantees
and their advice on everything from the mundane to the erudite. Greater
mutual familiarity means that it is no longer necessary to devote much energy
to alleviating political suspicions, and that it is possible to focus instead
on research. The more relaxed atmosphere allows scholars to develop
wide ranges of contacts, and personal contacts are essential to
accomplishing anything in China, including obtaining access to research material
not available through formal channels. Political problems remain,
however, and changes in China have created new problems. Most
seriously, economic reform has brought financial problems to the fore as the
most serious barrier to research. Our grantees face unpredictable charges
for everything from scholarly affiliation to housing and interviews. If
the possibilities seem boundless, the costs often seem prohibitiveand this
at a time when our funding is jeopardized.
Last summer, to reduce our administrative costs, we transferred
the administration of CSCC to ACLS in New York and closed the
CSCC's Washington office. We are confident that will not affect the quality of
the National Program. We will maintain the CSCC's Beijing office, an
essential element of that program.
The most valuable features of the CSCC have been, first, its capacity
to place grantees in appropriate host institutions in China and
thereby enhance their ability to carry out successful research, and, second,
the reputation, recognized throughout China, of its grantees for
professional competence and ethical behavior. This program differs from the
other fellowship programs at ACLS in that the more difficult
workthe placement of fellows in Chinabegins rather than ends at the point
of selection. Therefore, the most valuable and distinguishing feature of
the CSCC has been its capacity to support grantees and thereby enable
them to carry out successful research in China. Maintaining the established
record of the CSCC and its grantees for professional competence and
ethical behavior is our essential goal. This said, I doff my cap to the
indefatigable and admirable Keith Clemenger, who manages our Beijing CSCC office.
Vietnam Programs. Vietnam programs have become a distinct
element of the Council's programming since 1990. As noted earlier, the ACLS
has had an historic role in developing scholarly contact with foreign
academic communities in countries politically estranged from the United States.
ACLS management of the International Research & Exchanges Board during
the Cold War and its establishment (with SSRC and NAS) of the CSCPRC are
only the most apparent instances of this role.
Why are we in Vietnam? ACLS work in Vietnam has two
related dimensions. It is pioneering work establishing the infrastructure
for academic exchange, scholarly communication, and eventual
research collaboration. It is also, one hopes, exemplary work establishing open
and high-quality programs in these areas. In 1993, the United States
Information Agency awarded ACLS a contract to develop a program of fellowships
for Vietnamese scholars under authority of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961.
The ACLS cooperates with other private organizations in administering
this program: the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID)
and ACLS interview Vietnamese candidates and counsel them in the
development of applications; ACLS, HIID, and the Institute for
International Education place the successful applicants at American institutions
and administer fellowships in the U.S.; and finally, HIID and ACLS
cooperate in managing a teaching program with American faculty in economics in
Ho Chi Minh City.
It is especially worth noting that ACLS has been able to obtain
the agreement of the Vietnamese authorities for the open operation of
the recruitment and selection process. Through extensive contacts
with Vietnamese ministries, universities, and institutions, the program has
been able to stimulate significant interest in Fulbright opportunities.
Program staff then channel that interest into a deliberate and careful process
of interviewing, testing, and application counseling in order to
develop qualified applicants for review by a distinguished selection
committee appointed by the ACLS. As of this report there have been 148
Vietnam Fulbright Fellowships awarded under the program. The teaching
program opened in September 1994, and so far more than 125 students have
gone through its several elements.
The second element of our Vietnam programming has been
the sponsorship of the Center for Educational Exchange with Vietnam,
directed by the remarkable Minh Kauffman. The Center is an ACLS affiliate
that provides support for the Fulbright Program, university exchanges,
and high-level contacts. Its offices are in Philadelphia and Hanoi.
The overarching goal of the Center is to make external educational
resources available to Vietnam and to improve contact among Vietnamese,
American, and regional scholars.
Cuba. Cuba is our next frontier for fostering renewed
scholarly communication. Together with SSRC, and with support from the
Christopher Reynolds and MacArthur Foundations, we have sent a first
delegation to Cuba in June 1996. Subsequently we have used a new mechanism of
the ACLS/SSRC International Program and appointed a Working Group on
the United States and Cuba to initiate programs of joint activity and
scholarly exchange. This committee, which I chair and which includes scholars
from both Cuba and Mexico, traveled to Cuba for its second meeting in June
of this year. We plan to work in partnership with the Cuban Academy
of Sciences, and we hope to carry out in the Caribbean activities similar
to those we undertake in Viet Nam.
The Future of International Programs. When we view these
programs retrospectively, we can see a basic paradox. Internationalization
and globalization are undeniable phenomena, even if our descriptions
and understandings are inadequate and often blinkered by particular
ideological and methodological presuppositions. Learned societies,
universities, and scholars in many configurations are organizing and reorganizing
for new or continuing international work. At the same time, many of
the mechanisms developed in the past fifty years to provide for
regionally specific area studies are under strain. Federal resources for
international study in general, and area studies in particular, will almost
certainly continue to diminish. While episodically interested in international
policy issues, private foundations are increasingly reluctant to make
sustained investments in the academic infrastructure necessary to prepare
scholars for global research. In an ACLS-commissioned report,
The Forgotten Payoff: Support for International Educational Exchange Among American
Private Foundations, Craufurd Goodwin and Michael Nacht describe how
reigning professional and programmatic ideals in private foundations make
program officers wary of entanglements with international study and
exchange programs. There are notable exceptions to this dreary picture, to be
sure, but energy and commitment from the ACLS and its constituent societies
are essential to countering these trends. We must simultaneously explore
the new global, transnational, and comparative approaches to
international scholarship while continuing to champion the humanistic aspects of
area studies: language, history, philosophy, and culture.
Shortly after I became President, the Ford Foundation asked ACLS
to propose activities to mark the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, with
a serious program taking a global perspective on relations of
constitutional processes to state and society. Programs aimed at developing the study
of constitutionalism have been part of the international programs of
ACLS since then. These programs, including the Comparative
Constitutionalism Project (1987 to 1990) and the East European Constitutionalism
Project (1992 to 1994), continue the ACLS tradition of developing programs
to incubate interdisciplinary fields of study. They also illustrate
another important aspect of ACLS program work: bringing humanistic
scholarship into fuller engagement with the world beyond the academy.
The Comparative Constitutionalism Project, supported by the
Ford Foundation, convened a series of six international institutes over a
four-year period. While constitutional law and comparative government are
venerable academic subjects, scholarly work on comparative
constitutionalism has been relatively thin. The ACLS institutes were comparative
across disciples, cultures, regimes, and time. The project did not attempt
to produce a global definition of constitutionalism or a generalized theory
of constitutional change; instead, its goals were to stimulate the study
of comparative constitutionalism and to expand networks of
knowledgeable scholars and practitioners committed to collaborating on further
inquiry. There have been very encouraging signs that the new scholarly
networks that grew out of the project have taken root. Numerous
publications resulted, most particularly Constitutionalism and
Democracy (Oxford University Press, 1993), which our staff edited. In addition, several of
the regional institute host committees reconstituted themselves as
freestanding working groups. Melanie Beth Oliviero served with distinction as
the program officer in charge of this project.
The penultimate meeting took place, by historic coincidence, in the
fall of 1990, just days before the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. It
seemed appropriate to shift focus to the newly emerging democracies in the
region, which a timely grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts made possible.
The ACLS tradition of scholarly excellence, coupled with the commitment of
our international programs to local definition, produced a series of
conferences in four countriesPoland, Hungary, and the Czech and Slovak
Republicswith publications recording the conference discussions on each
country's legacy of constitutionalism and its current prospects. We were fortunate
to have Irena Grudzinska Gross lead this effort.
This would have made a fitting end to the intellectual project begun
with the Ford grant. Yet, in a third phase, the East European
Constitutionalism Project organized the establishment of five autonomous centers for
the training of high school teachers in new subjects relevant to
constitutional democracy and preparation of appropriate curricular material.
(Competitions were conducted by in-country commissions drawn from
participants of the scholarly conferences; the present teacher-training centers
were chosen from among proposals received. Thus, from inception each
center has had its own program and organizational structure.) In preparation
at press time is a two-year renewal for the Constitutionalism Project
focusing on workshops and pilot classrooms for the development of
interactive teaching methods and new forms of pupil assessment (portfolios
and exhibitions as opposed to standardized testing and grades). This
undertaking will involve collaboration with U.S. education researchers.
The Council is also currently engaged in a Social Science
Curriculum Development Project at selected universities in East and Central
Europe. This program is jointly administered by ACLS and IREX and supported
by a grant from the U.S. Information Agency, drawing on funds from
the Support for East European Democracies Act. Three university
departments (in Warsaw, Budapest, and Cluj, Romania) were selected for
intensive development, including faculty exchanges, book and equipment
donations, student research scholarships, and collaborative seminars,
all directed at introducing empirical methods and improving teaching
capacities. We were asked to collaborate in the design and implementation
of various program elements because of our experience in
international scholarly exchanges, and our interest in the changes underway in
the worldwide community of scholarship and research.
I brought to ACLS a concern that we needed to be engaged in
questions of education as well as scholarship. Particularly in the fields of
humanistic learning, scholarship must closely serve education or be
considered to be without relevance. Moreover, our nation is currently
in a period of intense scrutiny of our educational system, from
pre-kindergarten to graduate school. ACLS had much to contribute to efforts
at renewal. In April 1989, we made "Scholars and the Schools" the theme
of our Annual Meeting. A year later, we began designing a project that
would involve collaborative partnerships between teachers in K-12 schools
and faculty in colleges and universities.
In 1992, with grants from the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund,
the Pew Charitable Trusts, and an anonymous funder, we embarked on a
three-year project whose core idea was to treat "teachers as scholars." In
several cities around the country, teachers were designated as teacher-fellows,
and given an opportunity to pursue a year's program of professional
development. The teacher-fellows formed workshops with two or three
university humanities faculty members to explore ideas of mutual interest.
Each teacher-fellow also worked with a team of teachers in her/his own
school on a curriculum development project. The fruits of these
curriculum development projects were disseminated in a variety of ways,
including year-end national conferences for all participants. The project,
ably managed by Michael Holzman, sought to stimulate the formation
of institutions that could sustain the collaborations after the funding from
ACLS came to an end. The two most successful continuing efforts are in
Boulder and in Boston, and we hope they will be a model for similar efforts in
Many of the member learned societies of ACLS also have
significant activities in education, and we sought to work more closely with them
in our education-related activities. In 1996, we were awarded grants by
the Pew Charitable Trusts and an anonymous funder to work with our
member learned societies on issues in K-12 education and to assist
collaborative school/university projects. The Conference of Administrative Officers
has also taken a strong interest in education issues. At recent CAO
meetings, sessions have been offered on the role of learned societies
vis-à-vis national education standards, on preparing future faculty for teaching, and on the evaluation of teaching through peer review procedures.
In 1995, we were awarded a grant by the Freeman Foundation for
a teacher exchange between the United States and China. We are
currently in the first cycle of this program, in which school districts in the
two countries exchange teachers for a year, the Americans teaching English
and the Chinese teaching Chinese language and culture and a variety of
other subjects. Through this program our education activities intersect
beautifully with our long-standing international commitments.
Also in 1995, we were awarded a grant by the MacArthur
Foundation for a project on "Innovation and Vitality in Contemporary Liberal
Education." The grant allows us to make project grants to relatively under-
endowed liberal arts colleges for innovative projects and programs,
and also to sponsor conferences calling attention to cutting-edge practices
and their relationship to contemporary scholarship
Through these various efforts, we have demonstrated the
contemporary relevance of sustaining liberal education and explored the conditions
for its continuation. Drawing on our experiences, I have on a number
of occasions spoken out forcefully on behalf of liberal education and
contributed to national policy discussions about such topics as the
transition from schools to college, national education standards, and the clamor
for accountability in education.
ACLS has been involved with issues of scholarly communication since
we began preparation of the Dictionary of American
Biography in 1927.
American National Biography. Even before becoming President, I
was aware of the need (first articulated by John William Ward) for a
new biographical encyclopedia to succeed the Dictionary of American
Biography (DAB). The ACLS began work on the
DAB in 1927, with Charles Scribner's Sons as publisher, and the last of the original twenty volumes was published in 1937. Although supplemented since then, by 1987 the
DAB was historiographically out of date and in need of substantial revision
or substitution. Discussions with several publishers led us to reach
an agreement with Oxford University Press (New York) to publish
the American National Biography (ANB).
The American National Biography will be a twenty-volume
collection of approximately 19,000 biographies of significant individuals in
American history. It will be an original work, drawing upon the wealth of
research that has immeasurably deepened our knowledge of the American
past since ACLS began publishing the DAB more than sixty years ago. The
ANB is designed to provide a richer, more representative portrait of
American history than the DAB did. It will be available in both print and
electronic to make it accessible to the largest possible audience.
A work of this magnitude has inevitably presented
considerable difficulties. It attempts to provide a broad and deep representation
of historical scholarship and to cover a wide range of subjects. That
coverage has made the process of commissioning authors and editing
manuscripts extremely labor intensive. Locating properly qualified scholars for many
of the minor figures has proved difficult and, overall, more than
15,000 scholars will contribute to the ANB. As the project nears completion, I
want to commend our colleagues at Oxford University Press, especially
Managing Editor Paul Betz; and the ANB office at Columbia University,
brilliantly led by Professors Jack Garraty and Mark Carnes, the General and
Deputy General Editors of the ANB, for overcoming these many difficulties.
An unforeseen difficulty in this project was the necessity of legal
action to maintain ACLS's rights in the publication of the
Dictionary of American Biography. A dispute arose with Macmillan, Inc., publishers of the
DAB, over plans to issue an electronic edition of the
DAB. ACLS commenced litigation only with the greatest reluctance, and only after all
alternative avenues of redress had been exhausted. Even now, Macmillan remains
a business partner with ACLS in other ventures, as well as in the
continued marketing of the DAB in its present form. Having reached an impasse
in these matters, however, ACLS concluded that a lawsuit was the only
means to maintaining its rightful control over the
DAB and its ability to preserve that work as an irreplaceableand unalteredmonument to the great historians of the first half of the twentieth century. This lawsuit resulted in a settlement. ACLS believes that the settlement terms preserve the
scholarly and historiographic integrity of the DAB by ensuring that the public not be led to believe that the DAB is a contemporary biographical work. The
ANB, scheduled to appear in late 1998 in both print and electronic forms, will
be such a work.
Other Reference Works. Committees of scholars organized by the
ACLS have written and edited several other reference works now in press or
in print. The Dictionary of the Middle Ageshas been adapted by the ACLS for use in schools as The Middle Ages: An Encyclopedia for Students. This "Junior DMA" has received admiring reviews and commercial success.
The DMA itself and the Dictionary of Scientific
Biography continue to be of service to scholars everywhere.
Two other works deserve special mention, and I am especially
proud to have been associated with them. The Correspondence of William
James, in continuing production at the University of Virginia, has been called
by one reviewer, "an awesome labor of love and erudition."
Equally impressive is the ongoing The Correspondence of Charles Darwin,
edited by my distinguished predecessor as ACLS President, Frederick Burkhardt.
Electronic Scholarly Communication. While ACLS has continued
its long-standing role with regard to the preparation of important
scholarly reference works, we have also been very active in helping the
academy understand the possibilities and the potential perils of digital
network technology in transforming scholarly communication. ACLS had an
Office of Scholarly Communication and Technology when I arrived, but we
had to close it in 1987, after just three years, for lack of funding. Almost
certainly it was ahead of its time.
In the fall of 1992, we held a conference on "Technology,
Scholarship and the Humanities: The Implications of Electronic Information,"
in partnership with the Getty Art History Information Program (AHIP),
the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), the Council on
Library Resources (CLR), and the Research Libraries Group (RLG). Support for
the gathering came from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and
the conference proceedings have been widely disseminated and
discussed. With Getty AHIP and CNI, again, we began to imagine an ongoing
national project to bring together all the not-for-profit institutions concerned
with digital networked technology. Together, in 1994, we produced a report
on Humanities and Arts on the Information Highway: A National
Initiative. We were particularly eager to influence national policy in developing
a national information infrastructure.
In 1996, again in partnership with Getty and CNI, and now joined by
two dozen other organizations, we created the National Initiative for
a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH). It is already proving a very
valuable organization in bringing together scholarly societies, libraries,
archives, museums, colleges and universities, schools, and others concerned
with making the Internet and its successors a valuable resource for
scholarship and education. David Green, the first Executive Director of NINCH, is
doing a splendid job. I also want to pay tribute to the extraordinary
and indispensable work of Paul Evan Peters, Executive Director of CNI until
his untimely death this past winter.
A parallel line of work has involved fostering conversations
among scholars, librarians, and university presses. In the early years of my
tenure we had a Research Library Committee, jointly sponsored by the ACLS,
the Council on Library Resources, SSRC, and the Association of
American Universities. As my term draws to a close, we are launching a new
project with the Council on Library and Information Resources to study
changes in scholarly processes resulting from new technology; we are also
working with the Association of Research Libraries and the Association of
American University Presses on a symposium on the future of the monograph.
A third line of activity has involved close work with our member
learned societies helping them understand the possibilities of digital networks
for their own activities, particularly for the publication of journals. For the
past five years, nearly every meeting of the Conference of
Administrative Officers has included at least one session focused on some aspect of
this question. ACLS has convened an ongoing seminar for our members
on these matters. We have learned a great deal from one another, and
there is still much to learn.
Finally, we have been very active in discussions of copyright,
especially over the past three years. The technology alone will not transform
scholarly communication; copyright law and policy will shape how the
technology can be used. In a variety of settingsthe Conference on Fair Use
(CONFU), discussions of domestic legislation, consideration of new
international agreements through the World Intellectual Property Organization
(WIPO)we have worked closely with representatives of academic libraries
and scholarly publishers, but ACLS has been virtually alone in representing
the concerns of scholars. Much is at stake in these ongoing discussions.
Here I want to acknowledge the indispensable national leadership ACLS
was able to provide in the person of Vice President Douglas Bennett.
Conference of Administrative Officers (CAO)
The Conference of Administrative Officers (which changed its name in
1989 from the Conference of Secretaries) meets twice a year: in the fall and
again in the spring in conjunction with the ACLS Annual Meeting. One focus
of CAO discussions concerns the many aspects of running a learned
society: holding annual meetings, publishing journals and newsletters, and
providing services to members. These discussions continue, facilitated for the
past two years by an electronic listserv for the members of the CAO.
One of my first decisions was to increase the attention of ACLS to
the CAO and thus to both our constituent societies and the actual activities
of scholars in the humanities and social sciences. In recent years we have
also tried to foster attention within the CAO to larger issues affecting
humanistic scholarship and education, and to coordinate some aspects of the
program work of the Council more closely with the activities of its member
learned societies. In 1989 we held a retreat for the CAO focused on the current
and changing situation of learned societies and the disciplines they
represent. We held a second retreat in November 1994, with support from the
Mellon Foundation, on "The Internationalization of Scholarship and
Scholarly Societies." Over the years, Christina Gillis, Nina K. Cobb, Janet
Greenberg, Julie Sissman, and Jennie Raab lent their strengths to the work of the
CAO. Coordination of the Council's work with the CAO is now the
responsibility of the Vice President, who draws on the expertise of our program
officers when appropriate. Four topics or threads now shape the program
activities of the CAO: internationalization of scholarship, electronic
scholarly communication, education, and issues around the education and
professional development of new scholars ("pipeline" questions).
The ACLS publications program was re-energized and expanded in
1987 with the redesign of the Newsletter and the introduction of the
Occasional Paper series. The "new" Newsletter featured a mix of news on
ACLS activities and brief essays. More recent issues of the Newsletter
have focused on a single area of interest: the February 1997 issue, for
example, was devoted to Internet-accessible scholarly resources. Thirty-five
titles have been published in the Occasional Paper series so far. The series
serves as a vehicle for the dissemination of the annual Charles Homer
Haskins Lecture, Annual Meeting presentations, final reports of ACLS projects,
and other substantive essays, and it has been very well received.
Notable Occasional Papers include The Improvement of
Teaching by Derek Bok; Speaking for the Humanities
by George Levine et al.; Fellowships in the Humanities,
1983-1991 by Douglas Greenberg; The Limits of
Expression in American Intellectual Life by Kathryn Abrams, W.B. Carnochan,
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Robert M. O'Neil; and the annual Haskins Lectures.
The first ten Haskins Lectures were also published by Oxford University
Press in a volume entitled A Life of Learning,
which Douglas Greenberg, Candace Frede, and I edited.
In conjunction with the design of the "new" Newsletter and
Occasional Paper series, in 1986 we adopted a new logo and design for all ACLS
printed matter, a scheme later carried forward to our web site.
I was very pleased to present the ACLS web site at the 1996
Annual Meeting. The site provides the organization a presence on line: it
offers frequent "EXTRA!" bulletins on the latest ACLS news; timely information
on our fellowship and grant competitions; "hot links" to our
constituent societies, affiliates, and associates, as well as other scholarly resources;
and online versions of ACLS publications. Designed and maintained in
house, the site is evolving to better serve our interests and those of our
users. Candace Frede, Director of Publications, deserves special mention for
her efforts in creating and maintaining the web site.
ACLS as an Organization
As an organization, ACLS has grown and changed over the past
eleven years. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, membership in ACLS grew
very slowly. The guidelines for membership were interpreted to be
exclusive rather than inclusive, particularly with respect to overlapping
membership and field definition. Potential constituent societies were deemed
not eligible if a large percentage of their membership was included in
an existing member society, or if their area of scholarly concern did
not represent a defined degree-granting discipline. For the period 1976-85,
just four new societies were admitted to the ACLS. In practice this
excluded many learned societies in interdisciplinary and other emerging fields.
Early in my Presidency I asked for a review of our admissions
policy. At the 1990 Annual Meeting, the policy statement on Admission of
New Constituent Societies was modified to open the door to membership
for these new or otherwise neglected societies in important fields of
the humanities and social sciences. From 1986 to 1997, sixteen societies
were admitted to the ACLS. Among those admitted were a number of area
studies organizations, including the African Studies Association, the Association
for the Advancement of Baltic Studies, the Latin American Studies
Association, and the Middle East Studies Association.
We have made continuous efforts over the past eleven years to
increase the substantive role of the Delegates in the activities of the Council,
a process initiated by Bill Ward. I have encouraged the appointment
of Delegates as both panelists and prescreeners for the Fellowship
Program. The Executive Committee, which also serves as the Committee
on Admissions, develops the Annual Meeting program, and a session at
the Annual Meeting is devoted to the Delegates' views on important
intellectual and scholarly issues.
I also sought implementation of a new membership category,
Affiliates, which was approved by the ACLS Board in 1991. There are
many organizations and institutions whose goals and purposes are so
closely linked to those of ACLS that a formal connection is desirable for both
parties. Currently there are ten such Affiliate members: the Association of
Research Libraries, the Camargo Foundation, the Center for Research Libraries,
the Community College Humanities Association, the Federation of
State Humanities Councils, the International Society for Third Sector
Research, the National Coalition of Independent Scholars, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi
Theta Kappa, and the Research Libraries Group. Affiliate membership offers
these organizations the benefits of participating in the activities of the
Conference of Administrative Officers, an open door to shared projects, ongoing
contact with the ACLS staff on matters of interest to the scholarly community,
and continuing involvement in the crucial network of contacts with whom
ACLS works on a daily basis.
The support of the colleges and universities which are ACLS
Associates represents both significant annual funding and, equally important,
symbolic national support of the work of the ACLS from a diverse group
of institutions of higher education. This category of membership was
created in 1969 by Frederick Burkhardt. Although it requires diligent ongoing
effort to maintain this support, in 1996-97 there are 177 Associate members.
A dues increase for Associates in 1989-90 increased our annual income
by almost $100,000, and the number of Associates has increased slowly
but steadily since that time. My Executive Assistant, Barbara Henning,
deserves special recognition for making this happen.
One last, recent organizational change of import: in 1994 the
Council approved a significant revision of the ACLS Constitution and
By-laws, updating and clarifying many of their provisions.
I have been fortunate to work with three distinguished and
attentive Board ChairsGeorges May, Neil Harris, and Francis Oakleyand
two Vice Chairs, Nina Garsoian and Patricia Meyer Spacks. For most of the
years I have been President, William Jordan and Arnold Thackray
served, respectively, as Secretary and Treasurer. Marshall Cohen and James
Millar recently succeeded them. I am grateful to them and to the other
dedicated scholars who have served on the ACLS Board during these years.
I have been fortunate, as well, to work with a wonderful staff.
Barbara Henning has served superbly as my Executive Assistant, carrying
an unbelievably heavy load and serving as the institutional memory of
ACLS. Jason Parker and his assistant, Louise Medby, have long been
conscientious stewards of the Council's China and Eastern European programs.
Ruth Waters, Director of Fellowships, has made our fellowship programs
a model of integrity and efficiency. These four greeted my arrival at ACLS
and will continue after I depart. Hugh O'Neill served devotedly as Director
of Finance from 1984 until this past September; his successor is
Jacqueline Kuhls. Douglas Greenberg and Steven Wheatley came to ACLS at the
same time that I did. Doug's tremendous energy and intelligence served
ACLS in a variety of areas, from constitutionalism to fellowships to
scholarly publishing, until he departed to become President of the Chicago
Historical Society in 1992. Steve Wheatley continues at the Council, handling
an extraordinary array of difficult assignments, including leading our effort
in restructuring the joint international programs with SSRC, directing
our activities in Vietnam, and overseeing work on the
American National Biography. ACLS would not be where it now is without Doug and
Steve. Others directing programs at present include Andrzej Tymowski
(Constitutionalism), Maureen Grolnick (Education), and Margot
Landman (U.S.-China Teachers Exchange). Candace Frede has directed
ACLS publications since 1987, deftly broadening her competence to include
our web site and electronic publications as well as our traditional print
titles. Eileen Dettmer, our Office Manager, has faithfully kept our
day-to-day operations running smoothly. Susan Dickerson, my Administrative
Assistant, has been essential to my work as President. I want to thank all the
other members of the staff for their good work on my behalf: Michael
Cortez, Evangelos Gregoriou, Harold Howard, Colette Kunkel, Servio
Moreno, Christine Pedersen, Jennie Raab, Sandra Sciford, and Karen Watt.
Douglas Bennett has served superbly as Vice President since 1994, particularly
in guiding our efforts in information technology and intellectual property;
he will depart this summer to become President of Earlham College.
Our offices have been on the sixteenth floor of 228 East 45th Street
since 1983, three years before I arrived. We recently signed, at much more
favorable terms, a new lease that keeps us at this convenient location
for several more years. While the organization now undertakes a wider
variety of program activities, the staff has not grown appreciably: in 1986 the
staff numbered eighteen, in 1997 we number twenty-one. Much has
changed, however, in how the staff works together. There were only two
personal computers at ACLS when I arrived in July 1986. A computer network
now allows us to share materials more easily; and a linked set of databases
allow us to coordinate the collection, maintenance, and flow of information.
We desktop publish most of our publications. We are now changing
our approach to finance and accounting towards program budgeting,
and strengthening our ability to do financial planning.
Advocacy for Humanistic Scholarship
The ACLS is in many ways a unique organization. Our constituent
societies represent the majority of the most important U.S. academic
professional associations in the humanities and social sciences, and we have
always worked to support those organizations and their intellectual and
professional goals. Unlike the humanities academies of so many other
countries, we are not an elective organization. We are a representative
organization: representative of both the constituent societies and of the larger
humanities and social science intellectual community in this country.
We also, crucially, represent the views and needs of these
communities to the rest of the world through the UAI, the new Academies Group
(the humanities academies of the English-speaking countries), our
exchange and scholarly projects, our international collaboration with SSRC, and
our offices in Beijing and Hanoi. At a time when the speed and ease
of communications has expanded exponentially, the mission of the ACLS
can be envisioned only in global terms. So our responsibilities continue to grow.
The imperatives of representing the scholarly community have
meant that ACLS must take a role in the public arena on many issues of
substance. For example:
- the importance of peer-review in federal grantmaking;
- the importance of academic freedom in universities and in public
and private academic programs;
- the necessity of scholarly access to information;
- the importance of scholarship to our national and cultural life; and
- the ideal that knowledge and scholarship are not bounded by
political and cultural borders and that they are inherently transnational.
Over the years during which I have been President, ACLS has
directed much of its energy to advocating the ideas and institutions to which it
has always been devoted. We were among the founders of the
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and much of my time as
President has been devoted to support and defense of this crucial institution. It
has not been easy. It is not yet clear that even a much reduced NEH will
survive, though I believe it will. Our advocacy would not have been effective if
we had not allied ourselves with our peers in the National Humanities
Alliance (NHA). And even then we would not have succeeded without the
tireless efforts and brilliant field-generalship of John Hammer, Director of
NHA. Similarly, we could not have accomplished our own goals without
the support of Jamil Zainaldin and the Federation of State Humanities
Councils. The same is true of the efforts of the Alliance for International
Educational and Cultural Exchange in our championing of the Senior (faculty)
Fulbright Program, and of our work with the National Cultural Alliance in
improving the image of the arts and humanities. Our new relationship to NINCH
is central to the development of user-friendly public policies with respect
to networked cultural heritage information. The list of our collaborators is
very long, and our associations with all of them gratifying.
As many readers of this report will know, these have not always
been easy years. National politics have too often intruded into our work,
though of course that is the price of living in a democracy. Civility has not
always characterized our relations with the government and its officials. From
my point of view, the culture wars were not productive, and they were
certainly not fun.
Still, I will always feel grateful to the Board of Directors for selecting
me in January of 1986 to take on the responsibility for ACLS. It has allowed
me to grow intellectually, to work with an extraordinary range of
people around the world, and to assist our Board and societies in thinking
through the challenges and opportunities of research, teaching, and the
propagation of the humanities as we approach the end of the millennium. It has
been a wild ride, and I have enjoyed almost all of it.
This report was presented to the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies at the ACLS Annual Meeting in May 1997.