The following email went out to current and last year’s member on Aug. 23, 2023.
I hope this message finds you well and that amid the research, teaching, and other regular work you may have taken on this summer, you also had some time for some rest and relaxation.
As we take the turn into a new academic year, I wanted to reach out to you, by way of a commitment to regular and transparent communications, to let you know what you can expect from ASECS in the year ahead. Before doing so, however, I want, first, to thank now Past President Wendy Wassyng Roworth for her strong leadership last year; we are all greatly in her debt. I also want to acknowledge the accomplishments of our Executive Director, Benita Blessing, in continuing the work of preparing ASECS to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. The Board is delighted to have completed contract negotiations with Benita that not only formalize our relationship with her but also provide a solid foundation for ASECS to operate as a professionally run scholarly society.
The ASECS Executive Board meets monthly, and as needed, to conduct ASECS business and respond to pressing issues as they arise. I am happy to report that the Board held its first meeting of the year earlier this month, and we are off to a good start organizationally. Like many of you, we are distressed by the attacks on academic and intellectual freedom that we are seeing around the country, as well as by wholesale moves to dismantle important areas of research and education across the humanities. We also understand that ASECS, with its commitment to act as a good steward of our fields and the objects of study we take up in our research and teaching, has an obligation to its members and to the academic community at large to add our voice to those efforts designed to defend the humanities and the various approaches, theories, methods, and fields of study encompassed by the humanities. And the need to add our voices is pressing. To that end, the ASECS Board will be taking up the question of our policy on statements at our next Board meeting in early September. While our current moratorium on statements unfortunately prevents us from doing so now, I am hopeful that we will be in a solid position soon to respond to our members’ needs and advocate for our collective interests. In the meantime, too, I would urge those who are in search of teaching resources and bibliographical support related to our besieged fields to consult our collectively generated ASECS Teaching and Bibliographical Resources.
Looking beyond these very immediate needs, the major project for ASECS this year will be the overhaul of our Constitution and Bylaws. Our Constitution and Bylaws have undergone only minimal revision since ASECS was founded over fifty years ago, and as an organization, we have been feeling the pinch and constraint of governing documents that prevent us from meeting all the needs and interests of our members. To that end, we will be appointing a new taskforce chaired by our two Vice Presidents, Paola Bertucci and Misty Anderson. As they guide our society through this difficult task, with an emphasis on wide consultation, I hope you will all make an effort to participate in the important discussions and debates about transparent and inclusive governance that will arise along the way. Our current goal is to be able to present at least an outline or rough draft for feedback both at the 54th ASECS Annual Meeting in Toronto, April 4-6, 2024, and at a Town Hall soon thereafter; and, depending on our progress, to be able to put the proposed new Constitution and Bylaws forward for a vote by our members before the end of this fiscal year, with an implementation date of July 2025. This is a long and complicated process, and I would ask in advance for your patience and forbearance, as we work within the constraints of our current governing documents. Please bear in mind as well that all of our board members serve voluntarily—they are your colleagues and peers—and that we have only one full-time employee. We won’t always be able to respond quickly to your queries and concerns, but we will all try to do so as often and as thoughtfully as our time and energies allow.
On a personal note, I want to convey to you what an honor I consider it to be to serve as the President of ASECS. I hope to serve you and our society well and look forward to working with all of you to shape a strong and enduring future for ASECS.
Lisa A. Freeman
ASECS President, 2023-2024