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News from ROPA

After years of deliberation and a series of votes to approve the concept, the Register of Professional Archaeologists (ROPA) has become a reality. As a sponsoring organization, SAA has agreed to publish a regular column in the SAA Bulletin containing news and information about the Register. This is the inaugural column.

During 1997, the memberships of the Society of Professional Archeologists (SOPA), SAA, and the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) approved the proposal to establish ROPA. Based on these votes, the transitional board of the Register held its first meeting in Atlanta in January 1998, in conjunction with the annual SHA meetings.

The transitional board consists of: William B. Lees, President, P.O. Box 60911, Oklahoma City, OK 73146-0911, (405) 522-5233, email; Rochelle A. Marrinan, Secretary-Treasurer, Department of Anthropology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2150, (850) 644-8149, email; Vergil E. Noble, Director (appointed by SHA), National Park Service, 474 Federal Bldg., Lincoln, NE 68508-3873, (402) 437-5392 ext. 108, email; William D. Lipe, Director (appointed by SAA), Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4910, (509) 335-2100, email; John P. Hart, Registrar (ex-officio), Anthropological Survey, New York State Museum, 3122 Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY 12230, (518) 474-5813, email; David L. Browman, Grievance Coordinator (ex-officio), Department of Anthropology, Washington University, Campus P.O. Box 1114, St. Louis, MO 63130, (314) 935-5252, email

The board of directors will also include the position of president-elect, but this position will remain vacant until the first election, scheduled for fall 1998. The Archaeological Institute of America is considering becoming a sponsoring organization along with SAA and SHA. If it decides to sponsor the Register it too will be entitled to appoint a director to the board. At the Atlanta meeting, the transitional board identified a series of tasks necessary to bring the Register into formal, legal existence in the coming year. Important among these tasks were the drafting of bylaws, preparing for legal incorporation, and development of a request for proposals for the operation of an independent business office.

The SOPA and ROPA boards met this past March at the SAA annual meeting in Seattle. The SOPA board took important action necessary for the creation of the Register, voting to (1) suspend all but the minimal caretaking activities of SOPA, (2) transfer all but $1,000 of the SOPA treasury to the Register, and (3) meet again in four years to evaluate the success of the Register and to determine whether to disband SOPA, which remains in existence but at an extremely reduced level.

At the Register transitional board meeting the following day, the Articles of Incorporation for ROPA were signed, the bylaws for this new organization were approved, and the business office request for proposal was discussed and refined. ROPA has thus become a reality; its charter members are the 663 individuals who were members in good standing of SOPA in March 1998.

The Register will be a success if it comes to include the majority of those who consider themselves professional archaeologists whether they practice in the academy, in the private sector, or in government. Registrar John Hart reports that applications are being received in the greatest numbers in recent history. This, coupled with the interest and positive feedback noted at the information booth in Seattle, suggests this goal may be realistically attained in the not too distant future.

An issue that will also be considered in the near future is to insure that registration requirements reflect the nature of our profession by a recognition of the multiple ways in which training and experience can be obtained. A committee has been appointed to address this issue and make recommendations for revisions in the registration requirements.

You can expect substantial activity from the Register in the coming year, and this will be reported in this column. The officers and directors of the Register hope you will declare your status as a professional willing to hold yourself accountable to a Code of Conduct and Standards of Research Performance by submitting your application to become a Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA). Applications can be obtained by contacting John Hart (address above) or by downloading the application directly from the SOPA web site If you have questions or issues you would like to see addressed in the next column, please direct them to President William Lees.

William Lees is president of ROPA.

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