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Briefings

Ralph Johnson


Meeting News--By the time you receive this issue of SAA Bulletin, you're likely to have registered already for SAA's 61st Annual Meeting in New Orleans (April 10-14). You've probably prepared your schedule based on a review of all the workshops, fora, scientific sessions, excursions, and special events. Indeed, the program is an embarrassment of riches--thanks to the nearly 1,600 members who will be presenting (a 33 percent increase over last year's record!) and the incredibly energetic and synchronized efforts of the program committee, the local advisory chair, and SAA staff members. But in case you have a free minute, check out these additions:

Internet Access Center--This new feature of the annual meeting will enable you to check your email or cruise a few Web sites. Several computers will be available at the center, which will be located near the exhibit hall entrance. SAA thanks the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, Getty Conservation Institute, and the National Park Service (Archaeology and Ethnography Program) for sponsoring the center.

Interest Group Reception--Since the preliminary schedule was published, two additional interest groups--archaeological field technicians and rock art--have been added to the cash bar reception. From 5 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, individuals who wish to discuss the role of interest groups (IGs) within SAA and explore the formation of specific IGs will be gathering. Eight potential IGs will be represented--archaeobiology, archaeological field technicians, curation, Europeanists, fiber perishable research, geoarchaeology, rock art, and technology in archaeology. The list of local beers to choose from will be as diverse as the topics, so do stop by.

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SAAweb--SAA's ability to deliver information to members and the public has been wonderfully expanded and enriched with the inauguration of SAAweb. This site on the Internet's World Wide Web can be reached by pointing your browser to http://www.saa.org. We will continue to add content so the site will remain a lively and informative place to visit. Your thoughts and comments are invited, and will ensure that SAAweb contains material that is valuable to you.

The site was made possible by a commitment from SAA's leadership, insight from the Task Force on Information Technology (chaired by Mark Aldenderfer), and the sustained efforts of Jonathan Lizee. Jon, along with Tom Plunkett, is the creator of ArchNet--which is hosted by the University of Connecticut library and provides original content data from UConn and links to all known archaeological resources on the Internet. Without Jon, SAAweb would not be a reality. His technical competence, design sense, diligence, patience, and good humor have been critical in developing and delivering SAAweb. On behalf of SAA, I extend hearty thanks and deep appreciation to Jonathan Lizee.

Pilot Project--As noted in my November 1995 Briefings, SAA has launched an exciting new initiative in archaeology public education. A request for proposals was released in October to identify a state interested in receiving a grant to support an Archaeology Education Coordinator who would focus on precollegiate archaeology public education. The grant is for a one-year pilot project to assess the potential activities and cost for a nationwide network of coordinators. In response to the request, 19 proposals were received from states across the country (only U.S. states and territories were eligible since funding has been provided by federal agencies). The applicants reflected the range of situations in which American archaeology is undertaken today. The variety of organizations sponsoring the proposals also reflects American archaeology's institutional diversity--state historic preservation officers were represented, as were private, not-for-profit archaeology centers, public and private museums, and both university related and independent research institutes.

Based on evaluations conducted by a six-member review panel, $20,000 has been committed to the Pennsylvania State Historical and Museum Commission to support archaeology education activities across the state. The grant will allow archaeologist Beverly Mitchum to devote 15 percent of her time to coordinating archaeology education initiatives in Pennsylvania. Working with a consortium of archaeologists and the state's teacher-training universities she will facilitate the introduction of the Bureau of Land Management's model curriculum, Project Archaeology, into the state, and expand the network of Pennsylvania's teachers and archaeologists involved in such projects as the annual student archaeology essay contest and the development of locally specific archaeology education materials and exhibits. The grant also enables the team to adapt the archaeological curriculum to the state museum's interactive video project for outreach to isolated and remote communities.

Congratulations to the Pennsylvania team, thanks to the review panel (whose difficult task was to choose only one of 19 excellent proposals), and thanks to the partners who have provided guidance and funding for the project. If you would like details on the project and the lessons learned from the first proposal process, contact me for a copy of the report.

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Membership Record--I am delighted to announce that SAA membership reached an all-time high in 1995, with 5,730 members on record as of December 31. This represents a 9 percent growth rate for the year, which is excellent. With nearly 600 new members for 1996 already processed but not included in the December total, another record may well be established in 1996. These are encouraging trends that serve as a challenge to SAA to continue developing programs, services, resources, networks, and educational offerings that serve archaeologists and the many publics of archaeology. Thank you for your continued support to the preeminent international organization dedicated to the research, interpretation, and protection of the archaeological heritage of the Americas.

The Final Word--As you may have noticed in your ballot mailing, I have resigned my position at SAA effective April 30. My decision was precipitated by an unexpected and unsolicited offer to become president of a 43-employee publishing enterprise headquartered in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The allure of returning to New Mexico and having easier access to my family, combined with economic factors, was too strong to resist. While I look forward eagerly to these changes, I depart not with sadness, but with an immense satisfaction with the accomplishments we have made together.

I extend deep appreciation for the opportunities you've made available to me, for your receptiveness to ideas and suggestions offered, for your support while a team of staff associates was assembled, and for entrusting me with responsibilities that fully engaged and challenged me. SAA is a wonderful organization, filled with members who are passionate about the archaeological record and the practice of archaeology. The society benefits from sensational elected and volunteer leadership, and I immensely appreciate their dedicated efforts, tireless energy, and unbounded enthusiasm. Thanks for the opportunity to contribute and for an extremely satisfying three years. Saludos.

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Ralph Johnson is executive director of SAA.


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