For the first fifty-two years of its existence, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies has relied on a university-affiliated Executive Director, who combined teaching, research, and publishing with management of the operations of the Society. The growth of the Society, the significant expansion of the duties of Executive Director, and the diminishing reliability of institutional affiliations, prompted the ASECS Executive Board to consider a wholesale renovation of the nature and terms of position. On April 23, 2020, the Board voted unanimously to authorize a search for a full-time Executive Director of the Society to take office on June 30, 2021, at the end of term of the current Executive Director. A search committee was formed consisting of three current Board Members, Joseph Bartolomeo, Rebecca Messbarger, and William Warner, and two ASECS members with prior Board experience, Misty Anderson and Lisa Freeman. Per their charge, the committee conducted an extensive search, which included the screening of more than forty candidates, two rounds of interviews, and consultation with the ASECS Ombuds Nyree Gray to ensure that best practices with respect to fairness, equity, and inclusion were followed at every step in the process. A committee report on the search was submitted to the Board for its consideration in making a final decision and conducting contract negotiations for the Society.
Following this extensive search, the ASECS Board is happy to introduce Dr. Mark Boonshoft as the first full-time Executive Director for the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, effective July 1, 2021. Boonshoft comes to ASECS with a strong scholarly and academic background, coupled with significant experience in the public humanities. Dr. Boonshoft comes to ASECS most recently from a position as Assistant Professor of History at Duquesne University, where due to pandemic austerity measures, his tenure-line position was unfortunately eliminated. Prior to his arrival at Duquesne, Boonshoft had held a position for three years as Assistant Professor of History at Norwich University. Boonshoft received his PhD in Early American History from Ohio State University in 2015, and in 2020 his book, Aristocratic Education and the Making of the American Public, was published by University of North Carolina Press. He is also a co-editor of American Revolutions in the Digital Age, which is under contract with Cornell University Press and will soon add to his publications with an article forthcoming in the Journal of the Early Republic titled, "From Property to Education: Public Schooling, Race, and the Transformation of Suffrage in the Early National North." Boonshoft's work on the history of education in the United States has positioned him to reach beyond the academy to the broader sphere of public humanities, with appearances on a variety of podcast series and panel discussions, and short pieces published in venues including The Washington Post and the New York Daily News. During his time at the New York Public Library as a historian for the Early American Manuscript Project from 2015-2017, Boonshoft led a variety of digital and public humanities initiatives which extended from the creation of important, new digital archives to outreach efforts designed to broaden public engagement with collections through blogs, classes and workshops for K-12 educators, exhibitions, and public events. Boonshoft will bring all of these experiences, along with his interests as a scholar in eighteenth-century studies, to his new position as Executive Director for ASECS, where it is expected he will both manage the work of the business office and play an important role in envisioning and growing the mission of ASECS as an inclusive and welcoming scholarly organization in the twenty-first century.
The ASECS Executive Board