The position of Honorary Secretary becomes vacant in July, and the Society is keen to attract a strong field of applicants for this important office. The Job Description below outlines the post’s responsibilities and the opportunities it presents.
The Honorary Secretary, together with the President, the Treasurer, two Literary Directors and the Honorary Director of Communications, all of whom are academics, constitute the Society’s Officers. The Society also employs a full-time Executive Secretary, a part-time Administrative Secretary and a part-time Research and Communications Officer. The Honorary Secretary works with the other Officers and Members of Council to determine the overall direction of the Society and also has the particular responsibility, in conjunction with the Executive and Administrative Secretaries, to conduct the day-to-day administration of its affairs.
S/he is ex-officio a Member of Council and of the eight Committees of Council, consisting at present of the Education Policy Committee, the General Purposes Committee, the Finance Committee, the Membership Committee, the Publications Committee, the Research Policy Committee, the Research Support Committee and the Digital Committee (established in 2017). Council meets in London five times a year (normally in February, May, July, September and November) and Committee meetings are held on the same day as a Council meeting. It is the present policy to hold Councils and Committees in the Society’s rooms in UCL on Fridays. One or two lectures or symposia are usually held outside London in any one year. The Honorary Secretary is very much encouraged to attend all the Society’s activities.
The Honorary Secretary, in conjunction with the Executive and Administrative Secretaries and the President, deals with the planning and administrative work connected with Council and with Committee meetings. This may include duties, such as the finalization of Council minutes and the preparation of the Council agenda, as well as oversight of the Society’s IT systems and chairing the General Purposes Committee (which selects the Society’s annual speakers). The Honorary Secretary facilitates the work of the Society in the broadest sense, providing advice and assistance on key policy initiatives in research and education and the other services the Society performs, such as publications, events and fund-raising. Finally, the Honorary Secretary serves as the line manager for the Society’s permanent staff (including duties such as, but not limited to, the assignment of tasks, annual staff review, and supportive discussions on workload and progress). As such, s/he would be expected to maintain a regular and active presence in the Society’s office at UCL and keep in close contact with the Executive and Administrative Secretaries.
The Honorary Secretary acts as a public advocate for the work of the Society and provides strategic support to the President. As such, the role offers an opportunity to contribute to the shaping of the discipline at a national level and to understand issues facing UK historians. This experience provides valuable insights into education and research matters that may in this context prove especially useful to mid-career academics considering undertaking substantial leadership roles in their own Departments.
Honorary Secretaries usually serve for four years, with the possibility of an extension. The post has been held, in recent years, by Peter Mandler (later President of the Society), Kenneth Fincham (now a Vice-President), Vanessa Harding, Adam Smith and Zoe Laidlaw.
The Society is looking for someone who is:
- willing and able to make a creative contribution to the full range of the Society’s activities, lectures, conferences, support for the interests of history and historians, publishing and subventions for research and to help the Society to develop future initiatives and to promote recognition of the Society.
- willing and able to devote time and close attention to the necessary administrative tasks on which the Society’s scholarly enterprises depend. This would involve being within commuting distance of London.
- Willing and able to help line-manage the Society’s administrative team
- Willing and able to keep a watching brief over the Society’s website
The Society is able to provide some modest financial support to relieve some duties at the Honorary Secretary’s Department or School. This support would be negotiated between the President, the Honorary Secretary, and the Head of Department or School concerned.
Expressions of interest will be welcome until a suitable candidate is identified, but the review of applicants will begin on 1st March, and continue until the post is filled, with the intention that the successful applicant will shadow the outgoing Secretary at May’s Council and then take over after the Council meeting in early July. Informal enquiries in the first instance to Kenneth Fincham (K.C.Fincham[AT]kent.ac.uk) and applicants should submit a one page cv with a covering letter, explaining their interest in the post, to Sue Carr, the Society’s Administrative Secretary (s.carr[AT]royalhistsoc.org).