Nell Irvin Painter: Says OAH deficits require change





[Ms. Painter is president of the OAH.]

... Though we have many reasons to celebrate as we enter our second century, I want to call us to the task of thinking about our aspirations and our means toward reaching our goals. Here I need to tread a fine line between complacency and alarm. On the one hand, we are nicely solvent, with a financial cushion set aside for the inevitable rainy day. On the other hand, we have in the last couple of years overspent our income to the tune of $179,000 in fiscal year 2005-2006 and an additional $44,000 in 2006-2007. We have covered these shortfalls from our General Reserve Fund. If we continue along the present path, we may well exhaust our savings.

Let me try to clarify. These recent deficits are not related to the annual meetings of 2000 and 2005. Moving the annual meeting between two venues in St. Louis in 2000 and between San Francisco and San Jose in 2005 did not create enduring deficits, because the OAH Executive Board covered those extraordinary expenses by drawing on the OAH’s General Endowment. ...

We need to think again about how best to serve the interests of our 9,000 members. We are a varied group: professors, teachers, writers, independent scholars, and lovers of the history of the United States whose needs as historians the OAH seeks to serve. At the same time, we operate in a context of financial stringency. I come to you now to ask what’s most important to you, our members. Do you see the OAH as a professional organization, one whose dues mainly support an annual meeting and the publication of a scholarly journal, a newsletter, and a magazine for teachers of U.S. history? To what parts of the Strategic Plan do you give higher priority than to others? How broadly do you interpret the OAH’s mission, in terms of activities and in terms of fundraising?...

As a historian of the United States, how do you see the OAH’s furthering your interests? You can write to me at the OAH: P.O. Box 5457, Bloomington, IN 47407-5457 or online at: <http://www.oah.org/feedback/>. (Please select my name in the recipient pull down menu.) The other members of the OAH Executive Board will have access to your comments. You can find our names and photos on the OAH website: <http://www.oah.org/about/execbd/>. We will be discussing the Strategic Plan at the October meeting of the OAH Executive Board.


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