AGM Minutes 7 April 2013

British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting, 7 April 2013

1. Minutes of the meeting held on 1 April 2012.

The minutes, a summary of which were published in the May 2012 newsletter, were accepted by the meeting as a correct record.

2. Matters arising from the minutes

Item 2: Stephen Hutchings confirmed that the 20th /21st Century Literature study group had lapsed. Rosalind Marsh volunteered to convene it and to broaden the focus to include cultural studies.

Item 3: Visa issues for conference delegates: Stephen Hutchings had asked for reports of visa issues and sent the collated information to the British Academy. Stephen Hutchings also wrote to a national newspaper on the issue but the letter was not published. Suzy Howes (conference organizer) had written to the local Cambridge MPs but got no response.

Item 9b): Changes to the constitution allowing extension of full membership to international scholars: Stephen Hutchings confirmed that having talked to other presidents of learned societies,  until last year BASEES was in a minority in not doing so. Therefore he confirmed that this change is appropriate.

3. President’s Report

Stephen Hutchings submitted a written report to the meeting. He commended his committee colleagues and society members for making his job so pleasant, and offered his thanks to the committee, especially those who were leaving it. In his capacity as Past President, Stephen would continue on the committee as one of the Nove prize judges.

Item 2:  Stephen Hutchings announced the new postgraduate prize. The committee had not ruled out the possibility of further prizes in the future,  for example an early career researcher prize. Rosalind Marsh asked for clarification of the terms. Stephen confirmed that it is for the best scholarly article or book chapter published by a postgraduate.

Item 3: On the subject of Open Access, Stephen Hutchings stated that BASEES has been active in protesting about the implementation. The situation is still unclear, so BASEES will carry on acting when necessary. David Lane asked for comment more on OA and what might be an acceptable alternative. Stephen replied that the academic community is in favour of OA but has concerns about the speed of introduction and the impact on funding models for journals. There is not enough money to make every article OA under the Gold model, so the Green model makes articles available in university repositories but only after an embargo period so as to protect journals. Hence there is a debate over the length of embargo. RCUK may have conceded 2 years. There is also a debate over creative commons licensing (CC-BY): this allows ‘data-mining’ –the use of extracts of research, including out of context, with minimal requirement for acknowledgement. Peter Sowden noted that monographs will also ultimately be in the frame for OA, with the concern that if books are not funded via sales how will they be funded? RCUK policy currently only applies to articles, but may be made to apply to monographs for REF2020.

Item 3a): Stephen Hutchings noted that there would be another round of nominations for the Academy of Social Sciences in July, so BASEES will ask for suggestions.

Item 3b): Stephen Hutchings had attended a meeting with AHRC who seem genuine in wanting input from learned societies on themed calls. He reported that BASEES had responded to the RCUK Triennial Review, and noted that this is still ongoing so there is still time to make further responses.

Item 3c) Stephen Hutchings invited ideas for maximising the impact of the Dunn report. Stephen White suggested a press release. Returns to the survey showed a perception that BASEES should do more to defend and consolidate position of the field. Stephen Hutchings has spare hard copies of the report.

Item 4: Stephen Hutchings acknowledged that Bulgarian at UCL was not viable but expressed his disappointment that Bulgarian is disappearing from UK HEIs. Peter Duncan thanked Stephen for his letter of support about Bulgarian. On the other hand Stephen expressed pleasure that he had received no other requests to write letters of support to vulnerable depts. Rosalind Marsh queried whether there is now an issue of non-replacement of retiring colleagues and asked if Stephen would write to the University of Bath and ask that she be replaced with a Russianist.

Stephen Hutchings concluded his report by expressing his thanks again and offering good wishes to the new President, Peter Waldron.

4. Secretary’s Report

Sarah Hudspith submitted a written report to the meeting. She announced the new BASEES logo and thanked Matthias Neumann, Stephen Hutchings and Peter Waldron for arranging this. She outlined the various electronic means of communication now used by BASEES, including the email lists (a general members list and a postgraduate members list), Facebook and Twitter, and online file sharing for the committee. She noted that Claire Shaw as Information Officer would comment further on communications issues.

5. Membership Secretary’s Report

Natasha Rulyova was unable to attend the AGM but submitted a written report to the meeting in absentia.  The report shows that membership is holding up well; the number of members is set to grow as there are some applications pending and there has been a steady rise over last 4-6 years. It is hoped that the conference will add to membership numbers through delegates enrolling as they register for the conference or simply by promoting BASEES as an attractive organisation. BASEES is planning a move to online membership; some providers have been identified but can be very expensive to there is a need to consider all the options carefully, and other learned societies are being consulted to find out what their system is. As the membership fees were raised last year partly to allow for the move to online membership, BASEES needs to be certain of the impact of the fees increase on the level of membership before committing finances to an online package.

Melanie Ilic noted that for some members at least, direct debits went out with the old amount. Stephen Hutchings replied that this is being investigated: the fault may lie with CAF (the membership handler). Such glitches are another reason for caution before moving to a new system.

6. Treasurer’s Report

Jon Oldfield was unable to attend the AGM but submitted a written report to the meeting in absentia. The main BASEES account is in deficit but doesn't reflect the income from the conference, which the committee will know in May. It was noted that the accounts show there is not a large margin for error. The reserve accounts have been going down over the years, but the committee is hopeful that the new membership fees will help.

Matthias Neumann commented that the break even figure for the conference was 425 delegates but we have 485 delegates, so BASEES should make a profit. Rosalind Marsh asked whether ICCEES contributes finances for the conference.  It was confirmed that they do not, but the co-hosting with ICCEES has created our profit.

Stephen White asked why a financial report for the conference itself is not presented at the AGM, as BASEES members have little access to decisions made on conference spending , for example financial support for postgraduates. Such reports have been given in the past. The committee agreed to ask Suzy and Charlie Howes (conference organizers) at the committee meeting on 8 April 2013, and that a report on the finances for the 2013 conference would be presented at the next AGM.

Melanie Ilic noted that the Treasurer’s Report shows a large increase in fees for affiliations to other associations, and also in auditors fees. Stephen Hutchings confirmed that Jon Oldfield as the new Treasurer is planning to find a cheaper auditor. Peter Waldron commented that the accounts show 2 years' worth of affiliations fees in one go.

Terry Cox proposed a motion nominating the current auditors retrospectively as this is a requirement of the Charity Commission. The current auditors are Law and Co Chartered Accountants. The meeting agreed that the committee would confirm the auditors on behalf of AGM. The auditors’ signed copy of the accounts was not available to show the AGM but the committee noted this had been received.

Acceptance of the Treasurer's report was proposed by Stephen White and seconded by Judith Pallot, and agreed by the meeting.

7. Information Officer’s Report

Claire Shaw presented a written report to the meeting. She noted that BASEES is in a transition phase in terms of its means of information giving: there is a website, newsletter, email lists and social media. The newsletter has been made electronic only for cost reasons and also because in this format it is more flexible and can be expanded. Given the variety of communications methods now used by BASEES, Claire invited members to express what they value in the newsletter and what they use it for – what could be done differently, and whether members use the website more for conference announcements and calls for papers? Brendan McGeever argued that the newsletter is still very important, particularly for having everything together in one place and could be posted on the BASEES Facebook site to encourage use of both media. Peter Sowden said that the President’s letter is always informative. Jeremy Hicks suggested the request for feedback on the newsletter be circulated on the BASEES members email list. Rosalind Marsh suggested getting information for the newsletter from Richard Ramage’s email list.

8. Report on the work of the Research and Development Committee

Derek Hutcheson presented a written report to the meeting. He reported on an active year with lots of applications; the R&D committee tried to fund as many applicants as possible with as much money as possible within the budget. Not every application was funded and not every application that received funding was fully funded. The R&D committee tried instead to fund specific things such as flights, accommodation, so as to give some funding to as many applicants as possible. It also proved to be a delicate balancing act to spread the year’s budget across the three application deadlines. Out of the three areas to which applications were eligible (postgraduate funding, conference organising and study group funding), the study group fund was the only one undersubscribed. Derek noted that not all applications approved in one year are funded that year, which accounts for some disparities in the accounts. Derek also confirmed that he had undertaken an audit of BASEES study groups which had attested that most are active.

Brendan McGeever formally expressed thanks to Derek on behalf of the postgraduate community, as the R&D committee had funded the highest number of applications from postgraduates in many years.

Stephen Hutchings expressed hope that BASEES will have more money in future for R&D due to the fees increase and if future conferences are as successful as this year’s.

Rosalind Marsh suggested that the existence of the CEELBAS fund may have drawn applications away from BASEES but noted that this fund will come to an end in 2016.

9. Prizes:

a. Alexander Nove Prize

Stephen Hutchings confirmed that the winner of the Nove prize for a book published in 2011 is Andreas Schonle for Architecture of Oblivion. Sarah Hudspith stated that there had been 10 eligible applications for the Nove prize, and expressed thanks to the judges Terry Cox and David Shepherd for their hard work.

. George Blazyca Prize

Stephen Hutchings confirmed that the winner of the Blazyca prize for a book published in 2011 is Anne White for Polish Families and Migration. Sarah Hudspith stated that there had been 3 eligible applications for the Blazyca prize, and expressed thanks to the judges Cathie Carmichael and Karen Henderson for their hard work.

10. Election of Officers and Committee Members

The following nominations for officer posts were received:

Treasurer: Jon Oldfield (University of Glasgow) proposed by Terry Cox, seconded by Sarah Hudspith.

The following nominations were received for Ordinary Members:

Luke March (University of Edinburgh) proposed by Richard Sakwa, seconded by Derek Hutcheson;

Judith Pallot (University of Oxford) proposed by Peter Waldron, seconded by Matthias Neumann;

Sam Greene (Kings Russia Institute) proposed by Cathie Carmichael seconded by Simon Dixon.

All the proposals were unanimously approved.

A new Membership Secretary was also required and likely to be appointed very soon but it had not been possible formally to propose a candidate by the time of the AGM. The new appointee would therefore be formally confirmed in post at the next AGM.

Secretary Sarah Hudspith and Information Officer Claire Shaw were reconfirmed in their posts.

11. Conference 2013

Stephen Hutchings invited the meeting to give feedback on the conference.

Peter Sowden said it had been well organised.

Rosalind Marsh asked whether there were fewer British speakers than usual, and it was agreed that it merely seemed so because there were more international speakers than usual.

Peter Duncan requested that the AGM not coincide with panels again; the committee confirmed that this arrangement was just for this year due to the size of the conference.

Derek Hutcheson noted that Churchill College was very pleasant for accommodation. Matthias Neumann replied that Fitzwilliam College was more flexible with regard to late cancellations etc., but agreed that the Churchill rooms were nicer, bigger and cheaper.

Matthias Neumann reported that there were 143 panels and 485 delegates at the conference. He noted that the properly printed programme booklet, made possible through advertising sales, had proved popular. He also reported that this year overseas delegates had experienced visa problems only in terms of tight timescales rather than rejections. This type of visa problem had unfortunately lost us a few panels.

Judith Pallot expressed that she was  impressed with the conference and that BASEES should try to hold the numbers of delegates, especially taking into account that many UK scholars find the cost of going to ASEEES prohibitive. She asked whether the same scale of conference could be replicated without ICCEES. Matthias replied that the conference can be expanded even within its usual 3 day slot; the conference had already grown during the last couple of years. It was hoped the success of this year would help to promote future conferences.

Matthias Neumann reported that the conference no longer charges publishers for their displays, and delegates have reported being pleased the book stands are back.

Judith Pallot commented that it would be helpful if panel organisers/chairs were told to keep to the order of papers.

Rosalind Marsh lamented that there were no conference folders; with the programme booklet it was felt that a folder was an unnecessary expense.

Brendan McGeever reported that postgraduate attendees are giving very positive feedback, saying that it has been the best BASEES conference so far.

Brendan McGeever also noticed that the registration/information desk staff have struggled this year, as many delegates requested to be taken to Churchill College and back: this may indicate that more signage between the sites is required. Rosalind Marsh was of the view that even signage to the Fitzwilliam College rooms is sometimes inadequate.

Judith Pallot commended Richard Sakwa’s opening keynote speech which set the right tone and drew a high level of conference attendance right from the start. Matthias Neumann reported that the 'in conversation' format for an event after dinner had worked well and was more successful than holding a keynote speech after dinner.

The meeting expressed thanks to Matthias Neumann for the huge amount of work he had done in organising the conference.

12. AOB

Peter Sowden was invited to report to the membership on the BASEES Routledge book series. He tabled a written report and stated that it has been a good year. The entire back catalogue of the series is on display at the conference. He expressed his pleasure at being able to publish lots of first time authors. The meeting registered a vote of thanks to Peter Sowden.

Terry Cox proposed a formal vote of thanks to the outgoing President Stephen Hutchings, which was unanimously agreed.