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Report from the Executive Board: Fall 1996

Keith W. Kintigh

The SAA Executive Committee met October 3-6 in San Diego, and the full Executive Board held its fall meeting November 1-3 in Tempe, Ariz. This article reports only on the major issues considered and actions taken at the fall board meeting.

SAA Mission Statement. The board approved a final version of the SAA Mission Statement printed on page 7. This statement reflects the board's sense of the mission and goals that will guide SAA activities.

Publications. The SAA journals will both be on schedule for the 1997 volumes. The board is extremely grateful to American Antiquity editor Lynne Goldstein, Latin American Antiquity coeditors Gary Feinman and Linda Manzanilla, and managing editor Janet Walker for their fine work in editing the journals, for their efficient processing of manuscripts, and for getting the journals back on schedule. Through an additional allocation of funds to American Antiquity, 60 additional pages of articles were published in the 1996 volume, reducing the backlog of unpublished articles and allowing prompt publication of accepted manuscripts. This allocation also allowed SAA to hire additional editorial assistance that permitted both American Antiquity and Latin American Antiquity to get back on schedule.

Henceforth, journal editors are asked to provide written reports for each board meeting. These reports will include standard statistics that will allow the board to assess the progress of manuscripts through the editorial office. The board's goal is to have an informational basis for quickly identifying and correcting problems that have occurred in the past in the operation of the editorial offices (but that are certainly not evident now).

The board decided that no issue of the SAA Bulletin would be put up on SAAWeb until the following issue has been received by members. This preserves an important member benefit and protects advertisers. Making the current issue of SAA Bulletin available on the web will be reconsidered when member-only access to portions of SAAWeb becomes available.

Government Affairs. The extensive activities of the government affairs program led by Government Affairs Committee chair Judy Bense and Government Affairs manager Donald Craib are reported in an article on page 4. The Committee on Repatriation submitted comments on the NAGPRA Review Committee's Draft Recommendations Regarding the Disposition of Culturally Unidentifiable Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects and recommended the SAA position on the proposed amendments to NAGPRA that were introduced, but not passed, late in the 104th Congress.

Meetings. The program chair reports that although we will not break the record set last year in New Orleans, more presentations have been submitted for the Nashville meeting than for the very successful 1995 meeting in Minneapolis. Following the recommendations of the Task Force on Meetings Development, the board decided that starting at the 1998 meeting in Seattle, all papers presented at the annual meeting will be limited to 15 minutes. The board felt that the advantages of this proposal, mainly creating substantially more room on the program, greatly outweighed the disadvantages of shorter papers.

SAA Board and Committees. As the activities of SAA have expanded, the Executive Board has been unable to keep up with the growing agenda. Generally, the board is moving to reduce its active involvement in the operations of the society so it can better focus on policy issues and strategic planning. Operational issues are increasingly dealt with by the Executive Office in Washington and by the Executive Committee of the board (consisting of the officers, officers-elect, and the executive director). In light of this change, the Executive Committee developed proposals regarding governance and committees. After considering these proposals, the board took several actions designed to increase the effectiveness of its own work and to better address the needs of SAA committees.

Henceforth, the editors of American Antiquity, Latin American Antiquity, and the SAA Bulletin will typically not serve ex officio on the board. (However, until a bylaws change is approved by the membership, the American Antiquity editor remains ex officio.) Editors will continue to be fully consulted on publications issues that come before the board and will meet separately with the board at the annual meeting. This reflects the ongoing changes in the board's role, rather than any change in the importance of the editors' work or of publications to SAA. Among other things, this change permits the editors to spend more time at the annual meeting "taking the pulse of the society" by attending sessions and interacting with members, including prospective authors.

From now on, committees will be asked to report only once a year. In the spring, each committee will report on its activities during the past year and propose programs and a budget for the coming year. This will remove the necessity for a report in the early fall, at a time when many committees are just beginning work on their programs. Board liaisons will play a more active role in communicating between the committees and the board during the year. Each committee will have a chance to meet at the annual meeting, and the committee chairs will meet as a group with the board at its Saturday session for a discussion of general issues that affect SAA committees. At the annual meeting, the board will address committee reports and budget requests and will report back to the committees soon afterward.

Over the last year, the board has worked to formalize the committee appointments process. As a part of this effort, the board delegated to the president the responsibility of appointing members to committees. This will speed up the many member appointments that need to be made each year. Our objective is to have in place, by the annual meeting, replacements for all committee chairs and members whose terms expire at the meeting. Thus, the committees can meet with both the outgoing and incoming committee members present at the meeting.

The Task Force on Consulting Archaeology was converted to a continuing advisory committee and charged with assisting the Executive Board in determining how the needs of consulting archaeologists can be better met by SAA. Similarly, appointment of the Committee on Government Archaeology was authorized. This committee will assist the board in determining how archaeologists working for federal, state, and local government agencies can be better served by SAA.

The board decided to move toward a merger of the Publications Committee and the Task Force on Information Technology because their missions increasingly overlap. The committee chairs are directed to formulate plans for a smooth transition and for a possible subcommittee structure.

A Committee on Awards to be chaired by the Coordinator of Awards Committees was established to review the overall content, structure, and scheduling of the awards program. The Task Force on Meetings Development was changed into a permanent advisory committee. The Committee on the Status of Women in Archaeology and the Native American Scholarships Committee were converted from ad hoc to permanent advisory committees. The Geoarchaeology Interest Group was formed; it will sponsor an informal meeting at the Interest Group Reception in Nashville.

The board established the Fund-raising Subcommittee of the board. The committee is charged with recommending policy and procedures with respect to soliciting grants from foundations and agencies and gifts and bequests from members.

At the October Executive Committee meeting, the President and Executive Committee performed the required six-month review of Executive Director Tobi Brimsek. She received a very favorable review and has the gratitude of the board for her excellent work on behalf of SAA.

Budget. SAA ran a substantial deficit for FY 96 (which ended June 30), and SAA's reserves have dropped below the level with which the board is comfortable. Executive Director Brimsek has implemented an aggressive program of cost-cutting, and the board has revised the FY 97 budget accordingly. She proposed, and the board has approved, a four-year program to rebuild the reserves. During this period, SAA will not be in a position to pursue new programs that entail substantial costs. The board expressed its gratitude to Brimsek for turning around our financial situation without a serious impact on SAA's key functions.

SAA/SHA Joint Task Force on Inter-Societal Cooperation. The board accepted the report of the task force and endorsed a number of recommendations concerning publications and jointly sponsored sessions at the annual meetings that are designed to enhance cooperation between historic and prehistoric archaeologists and between SAA and SHA.

Native American Scholarships. The board received the committee's recommendations for funding and awarding field school scholarships for Native Americans and encouraged the committee to move ahead to develop an implementation plan.

Public Education. The Public Education Committee reported to the board on its extensive activities.

Register of Professional Archaeologists. SAA action on the ROPA proposal awaits the SOPA vote. If the vote of the SOPA membership is positive, SAA and SHA will have membership votes on the proposal.

Keith Kintigh is the secretary of the Society for American Archaeology.

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