Past-President, ARLIS NA
After serving as President-Elect and President of the Society during an especially challenging time in its history, it was a pleasure finally to step into the more predictable if less rewarding role of Past President, wise bearer of Society oral traditions and history. The Society is a complex, multi-layered organism well-supported by exhaustive policy manuals and strategic plans, yet the role of Past-President is a vital one that ensures continuity in decision-making and the completion of initiatives that extend over the mandate of more than one President. Having seen it all before (or much of it, at any rate) the Past-President brings a larger perspective to issues with which new Board members may lack experience.
As Past-President, I attended and participated in all meetings of the Executive Board both in-person (Post-Conference, Los Angeles, 4 April, 2001; Midyear, New York, 11-13 August 2001; upcoming Pre-Conference, St. Louis, 20 March 2002) and electronically via Blackboard (1 June 2001 and 8 February 2002). Motions and action items prepared with other Board members included the recommendation of new approaches to financial support for Board members, bearing in mind both fiscal reality and the need to keep Board volunteer service accessible and attractive to all Society members who desire to participate.
As Board liaison, it was my great pleasure to work with two senior members of the Society who led committees responsible for the Society’s most prestigious and competitive awards: George Wittenborn Awards, chaired by Sheila Klos (Dumbarton Oaks), recognizing the highest achievement in art publishing, and Distinguished Service Award, chaired by Milan Hughston (Museum of Modern Art), recognizing lifetime accomplishment by an art information professional. The design of this year’s award certificates will, for the first time, be recognizably and visually associated with the Society – sharing the same design, they are part of the Society’s overall graphic identity, an initiative spearheaded by the Executive Director and carried out by ION Communications, Calgary, Alberta.
A special assignment was participating in the Board Ad Hoc Finance Advisory Committee, struck during my tenure as President. Individual investments were successfully removed from the market by the Treasurer prior to the period of most serious uncertainty post-September, and no funds were lost when several firms in the former portfolio declared bankruptcy. The Society’s funds were protected and their management is now again in compliance with policy. This committee will complete its work with recommendations regarding the standing Finance Committee, to be presented at the upcoming 2002 Pre-Conference Board meeting in St. Louis.
The considerably lighter workload of the Past-President permitted me to contribute time this year to my, relatively small, local chapter, ARLIS/Ontario – participation included the Chapter’s Nominating Committee and Travel Award Committee, a wonderful fall meeting in Elliot Lake, northern Ontario, and a successful December holiday get-together with silent auction fundraiser.
It has been especially gratifying to watch key appointees grow into their roles with the Society. Elizabeth Clarke and her staff at Clarke Association Management Services (Vicky Roper, Bonnie James, Susan Rawlyk, Derek Crosley), now in their second year as the Society’s management services provider, develop into true partners with the Executive Board in leading ARLIS/NA. They overcame some daunting obstacles in their first year and have put in place sound business and conference management practices, good fiscal economies, a new membership database, online services to members and much else. The Society is in good hands with CAMS even as it has challenged the firm’s capabilities. ARLIS-L, the Society’s indispensable communications vehicle and wide-open doorway to the world of art information issues, has been efficiently moderated and improved by Kerri A. Scannell, while Jonathan Franklin has taken the Society’s web site in hand as its first Editor. The first issue of Art Documentation edited by the new team of Tom Jacoby and Kathy Zimon will soon reach ARLIS/NA members.
Some ongoing issues remain to be addressed, among them the revision and updating of the Conference Planning Manual in light of current needs, and a review of the Policy Manual, which has over time become unwieldy and difficult to use.
ARLIS/NA Past-President, 2001/2002