AAS Board of Directors – March 2023 Meeting Summary for Members

The AAS Board of Directors (BOD) assembled for its spring meeting in Boston, Massachusetts on March 15. After ratifying the minutes from its January 2023 meeting, the BOD discussed an array of Association matters and took action on several of them, including the following:

  • The “non-OECD” membership category name, which did not capture the complete list of countries eligible for this rate, will be changed to “Low-income/low-middle-income countries,” in accordance with World Bank designations for the same.
  • In mid-2023, the price of a lifetime membership will increase from $2,000 to $2,500.
  • The Board approved a proposed change to the Bylaws, which will reduce the number of nominees required for each Council of Conferences member organization in the AAS elections. Currently, COC members must submit “at least 3” nominees; this change (which will be voted on by the full AAS membership in fall 2023) will amend that language to “1-3” candidates.
  • The Graduate Education and Training in Southeast Asian Studies (GETSEA) consortium is approved as an affiliate organization of the AAS.

In addition to voting on the motions above, the BOD engaged in various discussions throughout the day about areas in which the AAS could explore new directions or intensify the work already underway. These discussions focused on aligning new or existing programs with the five overarching goals of the Strategic Plan AAS issued in 2022:

1. Grow AAS engagement in Asia

The AAS-in-Asia conference has been an important launchpad for AAS activities in Asia, which continue to expand. Prior to the 2023 conference in Daegu, Korea, AAS and Ewha Womens University will hold a symposium for grantees from our Cultivating the Humanities and Social Sciences initiative, and Kyungpook National University will host a workshop for junior scholars aimed at promoting the publication of research articles in international journals. The Board also decided to offer a discount on new AAS memberships to Asia-based scholars attending AAS-in-Asia.

2. Grow new and maintain existing membership

The Board discussed ideas about how to make education and pedagogy more visible parts of AAS programming. In addition to its previous decision to create a K-12 educator membership category, the BOD seeks to offer more mentorship or workshop opportunities related to teaching, and to further strengthen the Education About Asia teaching journal through support from the SIDA grant awarded to the AAS in 2022.

3. Enact AAS’ ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

The BOD reaffirmed its commitment to holding a virtual component of the Annual Conference, recognizing its importance to scholars for whom attending the in-person conference is not feasible. The AAS will also explore options for future in-person conference locations that will be more affordable for both the organization and its members, given that hotel and event costs in many larger cities have risen considerably in recent years.

4. Grow and maintain financial sustainability

AAS Executive Director Hilary Finchum-Sung and Director of Special Initiatives Krisna Uk are engaged in ongoing efforts to secure grants that will sustain AAS activities. The BOD also endorsed a suggestion that the organization increase its fundraising activities, and explore the possibility of a focused fundraising campaign. Over the past several years, both the AAS Secretariat and the Finance Committee have worked hard to refine the Association’s accounting, budgeting, and investment practices in the interest of controlling costs and ensuring financial sustainability for the organization.

5. Enhance administrative efficiency and effectiveness

The Board recognized the amount of work carried out by the small AAS Secretariat staff and frequently referenced the need to balance the desire for more programming with an awareness of the workload this would place on the staff. In early 2023, Arlo Johnston joined the Secretariat as a half-time Program Support Specialist, and they have taken on some of the administrative duties that keep the Secretariat running smoothly. Students employed through the AAS Internship Program also play key support roles, particularly in their work on the Education About Asia full-text archive, which is nearly complete.