Announcing the retirement of Dr. Gerard A. Hauser from the position of Executive Director
This afternoon, we express our gratitude to Dr. Gerard Hauser, Executive Director of the Rhetoric Society of America. Jerry has dedicated several decades of his life to the well-being and growth of our association. During his tenure as Executive Director, Dr. Hauser has helped to professionalize the Society, drafting many of the policies that now govern Board decision-making. He has strengthened the Society’s fiscal position and was instrumental in the negotiations that allowed RSA to withdraw from the 2020 conference without severe financial penalty. In addition to his work as Executive Director, Jerry is a former Board Member and past President of the Society. He organized the 2002 biennial conference. He was the founding chair of the Alliance of Rhetoric Societies and a leading organizer for the 2003 Alliance of Rhetoric Societies Conference held in Evanston, IL. Even before his tenure as Executive Director, his service to the Society was so remarkable that, in 2004, the RSA Board of Directors created an award in his honor.
Today we announce that after six years, Jerry will retire from the position of Executive Director effective upon the selection of his successor. This is not a recent decision. Jerry announced his intent to retire from the Executive Director position last October, and RSA's Steering Committee and Board have anticipated this transition for months. We had planned to honor Dr. Hauser at the 2020 Conference this past weekend, but unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic altered those plans. In lieu of inviting Dr. Hauser to the conference podium, we have asked him to share a few words with the RSA membership here.
It has been a distinct honor to serve RSA in a variety of ways over the past 20 years. During that time, I have seen it emerge as the umbrella organization for rhetorical studies in the United States. It has been distinctive in embracing the many traditions of rhetoric represented in our research and teaching, and scholars worldwide, including those from other disciplines, who have brought rhetoric into their research and classrooms. While the history of RSA is mostly a success story that points to individuals who had this or that impact on its trajectory, being part of that trajectory has impressed on me that RSA is a corporate enterprise and a corporate accomplishment. When the Society met in plenary sessions at the 2000 and 2002 conferences, it was the members who spoke as a collective body to what they wished RSA to become. Their aspiration was not just to be a strong scholarly society but a model scholarly society. What that means has evolved over time, and continues to evolve as we – the officers, directors, and members – seek avenues that are inclusive of all modes of inquiry into rhetoric, all persons who study and teach rhetoric, facilitative of participation by all who wish to be part of the Society, and committed to dialogue across borders of subject matter, methods, and identities. The term “society” in our name is not casual. It suggests the communal spirit that pervades what RSA has been and hopes to become. We have not always gotten things right. However, we have been steadfast in attempting to learn, to adapt, to accommodate, and to grow, to be more representative and to better serve all who are part of the whole that is RSA.
The past six years are but a moment in what I hope will be a long history for the Society. However, it has been a moment to savor for the challenges I witnessed the officers and board meet and usually conquer, for the opportunity to work closely with all of the Society’s officers and directors, to participate on committees doing RSA’s work, for new friendships formed and old friendships sustained. To all who have worked with me, I express my sincerest gratitude for your contributions and affirming spirit. You have made my life richer. I wish you, the Society, and its members continued joy that comes from pursuing an uncommon passion for rhetoric within the bond of affiliation that a scholarly society makes possible.
~ Jerry Hauser
Within the next 24 hours, RSA’s members will receive a second email that invites candidates to apply for the Executive Director position. Even if you are not interested in the role, we encourage you to share the call widely. The search committee—Michelle Ballif, David Kaufer, Ersula Ore, Kendall Phillips, and I—look forward to reviewing all applications.
Please join us and the Board of Directors in thanking Dr. Jerry Hauser for his labor as Executive Director and his exemplary service to the Rhetoric Society of America.
Kirt H, Wilson (President)
Michelle Ballif (President-elect)