I was surprised to see the nominations for Vice President that were put forth by the AAR’s Nominating Committee this year. Both candidates are Christian ethicists/theologians. While colleagues tell me that at least one of them is a “progressive evangelical,” I remain uncomfortable with the choices put before us. According to the bylaws the charge of the Nominations Committee is as follows:
The Nominations Committee presents to the Board at least two candidates to run for each AAR Director position elected by vote of the membership. The criteria for nomination include distinction in scholarship, teaching, and service to the Academy. The Committee selects candidates so as to bring the rich diversity of the AAR membership to the Board of Directors. The Committee may also recommend to the Board policies and procedures concerning elections to leadership positions.
The key phrase for me here is “rich diversity.” I do not see any diversity whatsoever in these two candidates or in their visions for what the AAR should be. I think that the Nominations Committee has, thus, failed in its mission of providing members with a real choice of intellectual vision.
I would urge the AAR leadership to enact some sort of procedural requirement that ensures the nominations to be more reflective of the diversity in the organization. One way to do this might be to have the committee itself be comprised of such diversity.
As far as I am aware, the AAR does not permit write-in candidates. This strikes me as problematic. To this end, I would urge the AAR leadership to allow petitions to place additional candidates on the ballot when those forwarded by the nominating committee do not appear representative.
I will be boycotting this vote. I encourage other members of the AAR who share these concerns to do the same. Perhaps a low turnout can support a call to change the bylaws to actually reflect the AAR’s diversity.
Aaron W. Hughes
Philip S. Bernstein Chair of Jewish Studies
Dept. of Religion and Classics
University of Rochester