President's Message

Dear Academy Fellows

I am honoured to have been elected President of the Academy and I wish to express my thanks to the fellows for the great support that they have given me, and the confidence placed in me to progress our esteemed organisation. I wish foremost to thank Pauline for her substantial achievements as President. Under her leadership the Academy has made huge progress in respect of its inclusiveness, its visibility, its links with other organisations and its prestige within our discipline. She has brought an energy and passion and innovative thinking to Academy leadership that sets the benchmark of excellence for those of us who follow. Pauline now assumes the role of Board Chair of the Academy and fortunately will still participate in our meetings of the Academy executive. I will, of course continue to seek her wise counsel on issues as they arise.

I have a great team to work with. Haiyan Song is 1st Vice President and will play a major role in developing the 2013 conference and negotiating that for 2015. Tom Baum is 2nd Vice President and will pay a major role in the nominations process. And with a Scotsman as Treasurer, Brian King, a continued healthy bank balance is assured. I very much look forward to working with these fellows on your behalf.

In my position statement for President, I highlighted three themes to drive my leadership: continuity, relevance and transparency. Ongoing committee work includes developing the ‘platform of knowledge’ supported by the previous executive and various initiatives under consideration by the Standing Committees (Nominations Process and Membership) as well as those of our ad hoc Committees (Innovations, Affiliations, Education, Outreach).  Many of the ideas recently proposed by these Committees are excellent ones. I will be in touch with the heads of each of these committees to determine where we are at with each and what additional discussions/explorations need to be done. I would be asking for a summary report from each committee that we can post on the Academy website for the information of all fellows.

The Academy has been making good progress in engaging better with the various stakeholders in our discipline at government, institutional, societal and individual level but more can be done. The work to develop alliances (formal and informal) with various stakeholders including major industry institutions continues but now we need to deliver some outcomes. This is another area where there is important unfinished business. The new executive will continue to explore ways of inclusiveness to fulfill the Academy’s potential to become better integrated into the ongoing scholarship, research and policy making that characterizes our discipline.

The executive has had its first meeting in mid January (ah, the wonders of Skype!!). Some issues addressed were:

1. 2013 Conference.

The executive decided that Haiyan should invite at least two fellows to serve with him on a ‘conference committee’. This group will develop a conference theme in consultation with local organizing committee in Portugal (Joao de Silva). I have been in contact with Joao de Silva at the University of the Algarve. Kaye Chon and David Airey have agreed to serve on this ‘conference committee’ with Haiyan, to liaise with our Portuguese hosts. Theme development is currently underway and I will ensure this is posted on the Academy website. Visits are planned this year by Jafar, Pauline and I to discuss progress on site with our local hosts.

2. New Membership.

Many fellows, including myself, are concerned that acceptance of new fellows into the Academy is inappropriately low. Tom Baum is exploring the issue and preparing a report for the executive to be delivered around mid 2012.

3. Change of Timing of Elections.

It is very rare in politics for an incoming party to agree to limit their term of office. But this is what we have decided. As the system now stands, the newly elected Executive committee takes office Jan 1 but does not meet with the Fellows until about 18 months later at the conference.

The new executive has unanimously agreed that elections for new executive committee in the future should be held prior to the biennial meeting of the Academy.

Reasons for change

  1. The present timing is not ideal since the Fellows at the Conference do not have a chance to debate and therefore buy-in to the new Executives ideas and strategic plans, thereby leaving the Executive to work 18 months without face to face contact with the membership. This wastes opportunities for creative input to move the Academy forward.
  2. It also leads to Business meetings that are backward-looking rather than forward-looking. A business meeting at which the new Executive proposes strategies and actions for debate would be much livelier than the current format.
  3. It would also give the new Executive a whole year after the conference to bring their plans to fruition before leaving office.

Accordingly, the new executive has decided to hold the Executive elections in the April prior to the Biennial Conference meeting with the election results delivered in May. The new officers take over at the end of the Conference. The first business meeting of each conference would be led by the Old Executive and the second meeting at the end of the conference would be substantially led by the new Executive discussing their ideas and plans for the years ahead with input from Fellows.

We believe that this re-timing of elections is warranted and beneficial for the Academy even if the change serves to make this executive have the shortest tenure on record. Kaye Chon has indicated that this change poses no administrative problems for the Secretariat.

4. Online Publishing

Future Academy 'books' will be published on the Academy website. This will give more visibility to our website and to the work of the Fellows. Dan and Gianna have explored the options and argue that our website would be a perfect place to begin the 'revolution' in academic publishing where we (the authors) actually have some 'control' over the world, rather than giving this up to publishers only to have them benefit financially. The idea is to build a 'liquid' publication platform where the academy and our conference provide the primary source (but not the only source) for articles. This would include papers presented at the 2011 conference in Taiwan. I will be in touch soon with Dan and Gianna to determine how we will proceed. There are moves afoot for the Academy to be a world leader in this area with substantial kudos and outreach. So, watch this space for further announcements.

5. BLOG.

The new executive realises the importance of fellows being informed of issues and proposals on an ongoing basis so that they can provide timely feedback. We are exploring the possibility of adding a BLOG site to the Academy website so that fellows can exchange views and debate positions on proposed activities of the Academy. The outcome should be more informed discussion of issues on an ongoing basis and not just at our Biennial business meetings.

6. 2015 Conference.

The executive is having discussions with the University of the Aegean (Andreas Papatheodorou) but its early days yet. Suggestions for other possible locations are most welcome. Please contact myself and Haiyan will follow up.

I would like to thank Kaye Chon and his team at Hong Kong Polytechnic University for the support that they offer and I look forward to continuing this excellent relationship during my Presidency.

Best wishes,