Minutes 01222008

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Minutes of the 1/22/08 meeting of the Digital Humanities Initiative, 12:-1:30
drafted by Cris Miller

Present: Peter Hudson, Peter Biehl, Jeff Good, Carolyn O’Meara, Kristin Stapleton, David Fertig, Mike Behun, Loss Glazier, Maureen Jameson, Nancy Nuzzo, Austin Booth, MaryBeth Betzold, Cris Miller, Tom Slomka, Susan Cole, Ronan Crowley, Erika Lederman

Maureen announced that The Dean of CAS, Bruce McCombe, has now given what is currently called the DHI funding for the next 3 ½ years--$25k for the remainder of this academic year, and $50,000 for the following three years. She has been appointed “Director” and Cris has been appointed “Associate Director.” Additionally, she reported that the Dean seemed open to making an additional hire in CASet in web programming, and that Steve Roberts has expressed his intention to “invest in the Humanities,” with a suggestion that this may mean in Digital Humanities.

Maureen also expressed her hope (later reiterated by others) that the DHI can draw on, perhaps subcontract with, other units at UB where there are faculty or staff with clear expertise that would be of use to people involved in Digital Humanities projects — particularly as a way of providing some form of technical assistance to people in the DHI. The funding we’ve received cannot pay a full salary for anyone, but various kind of agreements should be explored. The Dean has expressed his willingness to broker such arrangements.

Conversation was then open to the group. Mostly people talked about either a sense of the general potential mission of the DHI or about particular plans it might make.

Name: this can at some point be changed but nobody at the meeting had a good idea about what the name should be. Consequently, I’ll continue to use DHI.

Mission: general agreement that it should be broad, include a think-tank element, support specific projects already underway, and announce its intention to support the development of new projects and of support for faculty and graduate students at UB. There was some conversation about teaching/learning as a part of the DHI, but also agreement that the primary focus should be that graduate students will learn while working on faculty-led projects rather than the DHI getting into the business of teaching or even necessarily regular sponsoring of particular workshops. Several people also mentioned how helpful it would be if the DHI served as a platform for sharing information — for example, about grants or funding opportunities. Information about workshops, technical access, and intellectual property laws might also be shared through the wiki or in meetings.

Other functions people would like to see served include: residencies for people to come to UB and work with its resources (for example, its library collections, or perhaps on projects already underway here); technical assistance for current faculty; & stipends for graduate student to work (during the summer? Both summer and school year?) on faculty projects. Hiring a grant writer was suggested but most felt that such assistance could be found already on campus or was not necessary, or that members of the DHI could help each other in grant-writing.

It was suggested that the DHI might want some kind of kick-off event, or to do something to call the public eye to its existence, once it has more of a structure and plan. This might be a conference, or a single lecture (or couple of lectures) followed by a reception.

There was some optimism that the DHI at UB could both initiate and continue faculty-based projects in the way other centers have, but also that it might have a distinctive character. This could be based in its think-tank structure, on its unique manuscript and other library collections as they offer the opportunity for external scholars to begin electronic critical editing projects that would remain on the UB server, and its clustering of truly interdisciplinary (including text- and non-text based?) projects.

In our mission, we should say something about “output” or goals.

We should identify someone in the Law School who works on intellectual property law.

Meeting adjourned at 1:30, with Maureen’s plea that people answer her queries about willingness to serve on a steering committee, interest in presenting work to the group, and that people post information about their projects on the wiki.

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