Message to Members

Dear Members,

The report of the resignation of the Executive Director, sent to you last Friday, summarized events and also looked forward to a resolution of the difficult position in which the Academy now finds itself, due to the sudden loss of its administrative officers.  That message generated dismay, sadness and puzzlement, a response we share.  Ron Musto, in statements quoted in Inside Higher Ed, has now given more information about the decision to resign than he and Eileen Gardiner gave when their resignation was announced to the Council on 9 April.  If correctly reported, the statement restricts the limits of what has been at times wild speculation.

The date Ron Musto and Eileen Gardiner chose to leave their post was 19 April, the same day on which you received notice of their departure.  Members of the Council had written to them earlier, asking them to reconsider their decision, but they did not.  Of course, the Council could not force them to stay.  Their resignation had to be accepted, along with wishes for their future success.  We can now report that they have left and that a smooth transition has taken place.  We are indebted to William Stoneman of the Finance Committee, who oversaw their departure.

In the press, Eileen Gardiner and Ron Musto are reported to have said they were fearful that excessive oversight would bring their agenda to a halt.  Their considerable progress over the fifteen months they were in office, however, suggested to the Executive Committee of the Council that all parties could work together to effect further positive change.  Unfortunately, the Executive Director/s did not share this opinion.  Hence, the resignation.  We will regret not having the benefit of their energy in the future, and we are sorry that any differences or misunderstandings about future directions could not be resolved, despite our offering to continue the dialog.

In any case, we are now concerned that the momentum recently created under their leadership not be lost.  In consultation with all members of the Council, we are searching for new staff to take up an acting role or roles in the office so that the normal business of the Academy may continue.  Finding the right people, given the time constraints we face, will not be easy, but we are making progress and hope to have an announcement for you in the next two or three weeks.  Until new members are added to the staff, Sheryl Mullane-Corvi, the Assistant to the Executive Director, and Christopher Cole, the Communications and Membership Coordinator, will endeavor to carry out the work of the Academy.  They have been doing an excellent job for all of us.  We would only ask that, given the sharply increased workload they face, you will be patient in the coming weeks with any requests or enquiries you make of the office.

Once acting staff is in place, the Council will turn its attention to the structure of the office in Cambridge.  This topic was already on the agenda of the Action Planning Committee, a group formed by the Council at the meeting in Knoxville, and has been under consideration ever since Rick Emmerson pointed out, on his departure in May 2005, that the job of Executive Director and Editor of Speculum had become more than a full-time post.  The Council will consider options to guarantee that the expanding range of services of the Academy are effectively handled, as well as creating circumstances for more fruitful cooperation between paid staff and the elected officers.  In the meantime, all Council members will welcome comments and suggestions from members   Once a structure is in place, a proper search will be undertaken to find the right permanent staff for the Academy.

Some of you have written to us directly in recent days.  We will share your comments with the Council and reply to you when possible.  Despite this sudden change in staffing, we are sure the Academy will continue its well-established pattern of contributing to the scholarly work of members and to the good of our field.

Richard Unger
William Jordan
Barbara Newman

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