MEOC Business Meeting Minutes

Saturday, November 21, 2015, 5:30-7:00 PM EST

Participants: Christopher Rose (University of Texas at Austin, President), Barbara Petzen (Middle East Connections & CSIS, Past President), Greta Scharnweber (New York University, President-Elect), Lisa Adeli (University of Arizona, Board Member), Vaughn Shannon (Wright State University, Board Member), Shyla Doğan (Board Member), Jean Campbell (Book Awards Chair), Emma Harver (University of North Carolina), Megan Geissler (Middle East Policy Council), Evelyn Early, Michael Toler (MIT Aga Khan Documentation Center), Çiğdem Balım (Indiana University), Larry Michalak, Shpresa Halimi (Portland State University), Margaret Marcotte (Yale), Beth Dutridge-Corp (University of Michigan), Robert Hardmond (Brooklyn Technical High School)


President Chris Rose brought the meeting to order at 5:37 PM and welcomed those in attendance.

Minutes of 2014 Business Meeting

Chris distributed copies of the minutes of the business meeting from November 22, 2014. There was a motion to approve. The motion was seconded, and the minutes were approved.

Treasurer’s Report

Chris did not have a current treasurer’s report, so instead presented information on the last treasurer’s report submitted by Treasurer John Parcels for the MEOC Board Conference Call on March 12, 2015. In that report, MEOC had $19,514.19 in checking and $5,271.16 in savings, for a total of $24,784.35. There was a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report, which was seconded, and the report was approved.

Election Results

Past President Barbara Petzen thanked all those who participated in the MEOC election by running for the board and/or voting. She thanked Khodi Kaviani and Taylor Johnson for their service to MEOC and the Board, and presented the results of the 2015 election. Sharon Smith (MIT) and Terence Gilheany (St. Andrew’s School) were reelected to the Board, and Shyla Doğan, Vaughn Shannon (Wright State University), and Diana Shin (NYU) were elected to the Board for the first time.

Travel Award

Since Travel Awards chair Taylor Johnson was unable to attend, Chris announced that two travel awards were given this year, to Lisa Iverson and to Robert Hardmond. Lisa Iverson was unable to attend MESA so she returned the award. Robert Hardmond was in attendance and thanked MEOC for the award, and said that he had found the teacher workshop earlier to be an extremely valuable experience and that he was looking forward to working more closely with MEOC. He also noted that he is on the program committee of the AHA and that the AHA is looking for panels with Middle East content.


Chris did not have the most up-to-date numbers as Terence Gilheany was unable to attend. However, as of last notice, there are over 500 access members, plus over 150 new access members signed up at NCSS this year; 32 paid individual members, 13 institutional members, and 5 lifetime members.

Teacher’s Workshop

Board Member Betsey Coleman organized a great teacher’s workshop on Dimensions of Diversity in the Middle East at the University of Denver today. Dr. Carole Woodall (University of Colorado) spoke on Diversity in Middle Eastern Cities, Dr. Andrea Stanton (University of Denver) spoke on “Religious Issues in the Middle East,” and Dr. Jonathan Sciarcon (University of Denver) spoke on the “Destruction of Middle Eastern Minority Communities, 1948-present.” Barbara Petzen also led several hands-on activities on “Demystifying Diversity: Strategies for Teaching.”


The 2015 National Council for the Social Studies Annual Meeting was held in New Orleans last week on November 13-15. MEOC was well represented at the Middle East Outreach Booth, and signed up many people for access membership as well as showcasing the Book Award and other resources.


Chris remarked that the communications strategy of MEOC is undergoing some major changes, with a long list of agenda items up for discussion at our board meeting tomorrow. There will be many improvements to website. Also the software currently being used for the listserv will be discontinued, so he asked for any suggestions for an alternative, especially one that will automatically populate our membership database (or vice versa).

MEOC Book Awards

Chris recognized Jean Campbell, Book Awards committee chair and picture book sub-committee chair, and thanked her for taking over the Book Awards after Regina Higgins left. Jean recognized the other sub-committee chairs, Megan Geisler, who chaired the youth literature sub-committee, and Lisa Adeli, who chaired the non-fiction sub-committee. Jean noted that this year the committee sizes were increased to six people, and asked those present to please get involved by nominating books they think should be considered.

Jean then announced the winners in the Picture Book category:

Winner: When the Animals Saved Earth: An Eco-Fable by Alexis York Lumbard, illustrated by Demi.

Honorable Mentions (3):

New Month, New Moon by Allison Ofananasky

The Story of Hurry by Emma Williams and Ibrahim Quraishi

The Olive Tree by Elsa Marston, illustrated by Claire Ewart

        Jean noted that Elsa Marston has now won the Middle East Book Award in every category.

Jean also noted that we should make note of and congratulate publishers who are really making the effort: Wisdom Tales, for example, has several recent winners (When the Animals Saved Earth, The Olive Tree, Never Say a Mean Word Again, The Compassionate Warrior).

Megan Geissler announced the winners in the youth literature category:

Winner: The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

Honorable Mentions:

Rebels by Accident by Patricia Dunn

Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath

Lisa Adeli announced the winners in the non-fiction category:

Winner: Children Growing Up with War by Jenny Matthews

Honorable Mentions:

Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land by Sandy Tolan

Opposing Viewpoints: Egypt

Jean Campbell, Megan Geissler, and Lisa Adeli recognized the other members of each of the committees:

Picture Book: Kay Hones, Emma Harver, Kathleen Herndon, and Shirley Gazsi

Youth Literature: Betsey Coleman, Barbara Petzen, Michelle Reidel, and Jeremy Reinhold

Non-fiction: Geoff Agnor, Ariana Hussein, Kristy Brugar, Michael-Ann Cerniglia

Jean also noted that we are starting something new: a permanent collection of all the MEOC Middle East Book Award winners. Lisa Adeli has arranged a home for the collection at the University of Arizona.

Chris asked everyone in attendance to publicize the award. Chris and Jean will send an announcement to the listserv. Please send it on to your local school of education, local public libraries, teachers, state departments of education, etc.

Lisa Adeli suggested that we also feature the awards at festivals of books, including the National Book Festival in D.C. Jean suggested asking Aramco if they would be willing to support that effort.

Chris mentioned that authors are often invited to NCSS, and that we might do this. Barbara also mentioned that we might look into supporting an author talk and an outreach table at NCTE (November 17-20, 2016, in Atlanta, which unfortunately overlaps with MESA’s 50th anniversary meeting in Boston)—it’s been a great success when we’ve exhibited there before.

It was suggested that we have a booth at the MESA book exhibit, which is often less about people buying books than people recommending them. We could also see if we could have a display at the Combined Book Exhibit. Chris also suggested producing bookmarks showcasing book award winners.

Barbara suggested that another way to publicize the awards would be to do interviews with the authors on the MEOC website, maybe podcasts.

Nuts and Bolts Outreach Coordinators workshop 

Barbara reminded everyone that the outreach coordinators’ workshop will be held next door at 11 AM tomorrow (Sunday, November 22). Speakers will include Greta Scharnweber, Emma Harver, Craig Cangemi, and Barbara Petzen. It will be a great opportunity for folks to share their activities and concerns in more detail.

Other Business

No new business was brought to the floor.

Outreach Activities Reports:

Attendees reported on their interesting and diverse outreach activities.

Chris adjourned the meeting at 7:03 PM.


Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Petzen

MEOC Past President