2011–2012 Annual Report
2011-2012 was a very good year for the University Seminars. 84 Seminars were active, including three of the first five Seminars, which began to meet in 1945. 5 of the 84 were newly organized, and the rest met, as they had done for years, to continue focused discussions on topics important to their members and not properly studied in any one academic department or school.
This year was the first full year with Robert Pollack as Director. Bob, Alice Newton, Pamela Guardia, and Gesenia Alvarez have reorganized the Seminars Office on the second floor of Faculty House to create a congenial and quite functional space, making room for and welcoming Summer Hart to the new position of Seminars Archive & Web Administrator. There are new initiatives, including launching a new, highly interactive website for Members and the public, and working with the Rare Books and Manuscripts office to formalize the complicated process of making our archives of Seminar minutes and Office correspondence available for scholars through the University’s libraries.
Our office’s work and the quality of the seminars have again benefitted from the continued attention, kindness and creative competence of our colleagues in Faculty House and UEM. We are particularly grateful to David Martin, Leslie Robinson, Emerald Currie, Marlon Alvarez, Kimberly Kadel and, of course, Scott Wright and Joe Ricciutti. As Director, Bob Pollack has found himself happily surrounded by a network of Chairs, rapporteurs and Seminar Members, all of whom may require answers to small or large questions at a moment’s notice. Together with his office colleagues and the Seminars Advisory Board, Bob has worked with Chairs to clarify the boundary conditions within which it is the Chair and not the Office that determines the actual operation of any given Seminar.
Even as the office has worked to maintain a high level of transparency and continuity among seminars, we have also seen another year of transitions. Two seminars that had been dormant for a couple of years are planning to reconvene. One is Educating Scientists (725); another, Ecology and Culture (471), which is being resurrected with the help of the former chair, Miguel A Pinedo-Vasquez , and with the great energy of the new chair, Paige West. The five new seminars that held meetings for the first time in 2011-12 are Interdisciplinary Curricula; Complexity Science, Modeling and Sustainability; Catholicism, Culture and Modernity; Dance; and Religion and Writing. For next year, three new seminars have already begun to plan their first meetings: Work/Family in the 21st Century, Global Mental Health, and Big Data and Digital Scholarship.
In addition to the Seminars themselves, our office is responsible for the Schoff Lectures, the Annual Dinner and Tannenbaum Lecture, and the subvention of scholarly books and articles emerging from Seminars. In all these matters we are assisted by our Advisory Board, chaired by Robert Remez and made up of academicians who are knowledgeable about the University Seminars and who agree to serve for a term of three years. This year Jack Hawley, Peter Juviler, Peter Norden and Robert Belknap have taken leave from their years of service; Lisa Keller and Susan Boynton have joined the Board. Breaking with tradition, this year the Board approved the speakers for not only the upcoming Schoff Lectures, but also for the Lectures to be given in the three subsequent years as well.
We are very proud to present here the illustrious roster of our upcoming Schoff Lecturers:
Fall 2012 Herb Terrace, Psychology, Columbia
Fall 2013 Paige West, Anthropology, Barnard
Fall 2014 Bob O’Meally, Jazz Center and English Dept, Columbia
Fall 2015 Robert Remez, Psychology, Barnard