Ed Finegan, DSNA Delegate to ACLS

The American Council of Learned Societies is doubtless familiar to DSNA members chiefly through its fellowship programs. ACLS is an organization of societies whose members are humanistic and humanities-oriented social science groups. DSNA has been a member since 1994. Each constituent society is represented by a delegate, and the delegates gather each spring for an intellectually and socially stimulating 48 hours. Meeting with scores of colleagues representing other groups, including DSNA members representing other societies, is a privilege.

The 2017 meeting (May 11-13) took place in Baltimore, opening on the first evening with a compelling panel discussion called “Who Speaks, Who Listens: The Academy and the Community, Memory and Justice.” Typically, the full Friday begins with the president’s report, and in 2017 Pauline Yu (who has led ACLU since 2003) led off and was followed by “micro reports” from five of the Council’s member societies. There followed the official “Meeting of the Council” at which a formal roll call is taken and ballots and voice votes cast. Among the actions approved was the election of the Austrian Studies Association to the Council. The report on ACLS fellowships revealed that more than a dozen programs would award about $20 million to 300 fellows and grantees in 2017. At the time of the meeting, the ACLS endowment fund exceeded $125 million, and the delegates approved a 2018 fiscal year budget of nearly $29 million. There were also presentations by four fellowship winners, always a highlight. At lunch, the inspirational Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, spoke about his experience educating urban Baltimore youth. Among the afternoon highlights was a delightful and informative public conversation between Pauline Yu and Earl Lewis, president of the Mellon Foundation, followed by breakout sessions, including one on public scholarship and another on “The Annual Conference and the Community.” The evening activities have two main events—the Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture and a banquet. Harry G. Frankfurt, distinguished philosopher and author most famously of the 1986 essay “On Bullshit” was a big hit in this political year. His lecture can be viewed at ( or read at ( The banquet has no speeches: just colleagueship and a wonderful buffet meal. Breakfast on Saturday morning is informal and delegates bid goodbye to one another.

The 2018 meeting (April 26-28) took place in Philadelphia, opening on Thursday evening with a provocative panel discussion on “The Contested Campus: Speech and the Scholarly Values.” As usual, the full-day Friday began with President Pauline Yu’s report, which was followed by “micro reports,” one each from five member societies. There followed the official “Meeting of the Council” at which a roll call is taken and ballots and voice votes are cast. The report on ACLS fellowships indicated that more than a dozen programs would award about $24 million to 350 fellows and grantees. The 2019 fiscal year budget was approved at over $35 million. At the time of the meeting, the ACLS endowment fund approaches $142 million. There were also presentations by four fellowship winners and the inspirational luncheon speaker was Jon Parrish Peede, chairman-nominee of the NEA. The afternoon highlights included a panel discussion on “Democracy and the Contemporary Mediascape” and breakout sessions. The Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture and a banquet followed. Sally Falk Moore, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Anthropology Emerita at Harvard University (and a former colleague of mine at USC) gave one of the more personal and touching Haskins lectures I’ve heard. A video can be accessed at (  or read at ( All the Haskins lectures can be viewed at ( As always, a splendid banquet followed, with colleagueship including DSNA president Luanne von Schneidemesser and executive officer Rebecca Shapiro.

Each year, following the regular ACLS meeting, the Conference of Executive Officers (CEO) has one of its two annual meetings. ACLS sponsors training for Council member CEOs and new presidents.


The following PDFs are now accessible through the Resources Page of the DSNA Website:

1. List of past officers of the Society.

2. List of past conferences of the Society

3. List of Fellows of the Society

4. List of headings from all past Newsletters. This cannot substitute for an index but it is a way to find articles from the past Newsletters, which are also all online.

Obituary for Iseabail Macleod

It is a sobering duty this evening to write you with the news that Iseabail Macleod, longtime member of DSNA and Director of the Scottish National Dictionary Association from 1986 to 2001, has died.  In the latter year she was awarded an MBE for her many contributions to Scottish lexicography.  Among the greatest of these were her service as a member of the editorial team for the Concise Scots Dictionary (1985) and much more recently her co-author/editor role (with Derrick McClure) in Scotland in Definition published in  2012. Trained under Jack Aitken, she was a tireless practitioner and advocate for the highest of standards in lexicography. Her death (at the age of 81) occurred some months ago. 

(Taken and edited from a message from Michael Montgomery.)