OAH cutting costs to balance the budget

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The Organization of American Historians is making sharp cutbacks to close a budget deficit that is running in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

At the annual business meeting of the OAH executive director Lee Formwalt announced that the OAH is suspending support for Talking History (as reported by HNN two weeks ago), reducing the OAH Magazine of History to a quarterly schedule, and cutting back on staff. The deputy director's position is currently unoccupied; it is unclear when the position will be filled. The editor of the Magazine is leaving as are two assistants. A marketing position has been left unfilled for years.

To keep the organization in the black the OAH has dipped into its endowment funds, withdrawing two installments of a total of $328,000. That leaves the endowments with $1,868,000. The OAH board promises to work to restore the endowments to full strength within five years.

The treasurer told the meeting that with the help of endowment funds the new budget, due out in a few weeks, will be in balance. $467,894 has been collected or promised in the current fiscal year.

The OAH is dealing with a large deficit as a result of last year's decision to switch its annual convention to San Jose after a hotel labor dispute in San Francisco. The OAH was required to compensate a hotel for rooms that were booked but never rented. The agreement is secret.

Membership is at an all-time high, officials reported: 9,350. The annual meeting attracted 2,430 attendees. That was second only to a recent meeting in Boston.

The Journal of American History meanwhile has decided to begin posting recent scholarship online . The move will save the organization $20,000 a year, but officials told HNN that the change was made to offer better services not to save money.

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