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The Executive Officer’s Column

Thanks . . . and . . . Giving

This is the time of year when letters and phone appeals are in abundance from charitable organizations, causes, and other nonprofit groups seeking our individual support. An annual time of giving can almost be overwhelming given the magnitude of need relative to our capacities to give. Yet, for all of us, it is also a time of reflection and rededication about what is important to us and what gives meaning to our lives.

From the perspective of the American Sociological Association (ASA), the holiday season is a time of thanks and giving. First and foremost, we want to give thanks to you—our members. The quality of what sociology achieves each year would be far diminished were it not for the time and effort that you devote as volunteers to ASA and our specialty sections, to regional and state associations, and to aligned sociological organizations and groups. Annual Meeting programs, local arrangements, newsletters, listservs, peer reviews, task force reports, committee work, and much more could not be achieved without the considerable effort of sociologists—from students to senior colleagues.

A national association like ASA depends upon a spirit of caring and commitment. While national scholarly societies have paid professional staffs, we rely on volunteers at all levels (e.g., officers, editors, committee and task force members, representatives to other associations and groups, volunteer mentors, presenters at Congressional briefings) to contribute sound judgment, policy insights, and plain hard work. Those who serve ASA each year, as well as year after year, are far too numerous to name. But you know who you are, and, on behalf of the Association, we extend our everlasting thanks!

Beyond being a time of thanks, as you may have anticipated, it is also a time of giving in order to permit the Association to do what it does. Volunteer help is significant but our programmatic efforts—for example, the Minority Fellowship Program, the Congressional Fellowship Program, the Teaching Enhancement Program, the Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline—depend on revenue to operate. All of you have by now received your 2001 dues renewal notice in the mail. If you have not already done so, we ask that you renew. As you know, the ASA Council is keeping the dues at the 1999 level for a second year in a row without taking the COLA increase provided for in the ASA By-Laws as an automatic adjustment. We endeavor to hold dues constant as a signal of our appreciation and thanks. We also hope that you are in a position to show your appreciation of the discipline through a contribution to one of ASA’s funds.

Those of you who have not yet made a contribution to the Association or are in a position to give additionally as part of your annual giving are encouraged to do so. I hope that each of you will reflect on what sound sociological knowledge, sound teaching, and sound practice mean for a sound society. I also urge you to reflect on ASA’s leadership role in working toward this end. Please take a few moments to write a check made payable to the American Sociological Association Annual Giving, c/o American Sociological Association, 1307 New York Avenue NW, Washington, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005-4701. You can designate one of the funds specified above or just write “ASA Annual Giving.” That designation is sufficient to restrict your gift to a fund limited to programmatic initiatives on behalf of sociology. By responding to this Footnotes appeal, we can ask for your help while containing costs associated with major mailings.

As I indicated earlier, I recognize that this is a time when many charitable organization and academic institutions are seeking donations to continue their good works and support activities of merit. When I completed the letter for the 2001 dues renewal in early October, I thought about the past years, the future, and what a fine cause sociology is! The ASA is vital to addressing the important opportunities and challenges ahead. For example, the ASA’s Minority Fellowship Program provides essential fellowships, training, mentoring, and professional development to underrepresented minorities (accounting for almost 20 percent of the minority PhDs in sociology). The Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline is essential to launching innovative work that otherwise would not get a “jump start” were it not for ASA funds. And, now the Association is intensively engaged in launching a new and unique magazine dedicated to reaching wide audiences with sociological knowledge that addresses broad issues of substantive concern and social policy. We hope that you share the view that, in these and many other domains, ASA is exerting valuable leadership on behalf of the discipline. We hope too that as a sociologist you make this your cause as well as your profession of choice.

Please take a few moments and make a donation. The Association is a charitable organization and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable under the law. This special appeal comes with my thanks and that of the other officers of the Association. May this holiday season be a time of health and wellbeing for you and yours and of renewed commitment to what sociology is and does!

Felice J. Levine