Blog Post

Welcome to #HASTAC16--and THANK YOU ASU!

Good evening everybody and Welcome to HASTAC 2016, our ninth international conference and our first ever in Arizona.  We are absolutely thrilled with this year’s event and are sure that as “IMPACT, VARIATION, INNOVATION, ACTION” unfolds, the conference will prove to be as exciting as its host institution. US News and World Report recently named Arizona State University #1 in “innovation”--ahead of Stanford and MIT.  


Even more impressive, ASU has geared its goal of innovation to the twin and parallel goals of equity and access, insisting that these must all be considered together. Since its inception, HASTAC, too, has shared this commitment to innovation that supports social justice, access, and equity. We could not be happier to be meeting here this week, and we are especially honored that ASU’s legendary President Michael Crow will be opening our conference tomorrow morning. 


Of course, none of this would be possible without a lot of effort and planning and I would like to take a few moments to thank the conference planners for a year of very hard work:


Michael Simeone, Director, Humanities Research Nexus Laboratory for Digital Humanities and Transdisciplinary Informatics
Allegra Smith, HASTAC Scholar and Graduate Student, Rhetoric and Writing
Bruce Matsunaga: conference steering committee
Dawn Opel: conference steering committee
Jacque Wernimont: conference steering committee
Shannon Lujan: connected academics liaison
Jessica Wochner: IHR liaison and conference steering committee
Anastasia Cossette: IHR liaison
Breezy Taggart: IHR liaison and facilities
Susie Anderson: IHR liaison and publicity

First tier
·         Git Hub Education
·         College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
·         Institute for Humanities Research
Second tier
·         Lightworks
·         English department
·         College of Science and Imagination
·         Connected Academics
·         Arizona Science Foundation



From HASTAC, I would also like to thank Kaysi Holman, Program Coordinator of HASTAC at Duke University and Katina Rogers, Deputy Director of the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.  They met biweekly with the conference planning team to make all of this a reality.


Thank you.  And I hope you will also all join me in thanking Kaysi for her incredible service to HASTAC. 


If you haven’t met her yet, please take the time to stop by the HASTAC booth or to snag her at one of the sessions to thank her for making HASTAC run so seamlessly. Notably, this past year Kaysi oversaw the transition to our new website--against all the odds of a very limited budget-- and therefore a lot of design, coding work, and responsibility that we had to take on ourselves as an organization, under her leadership and that of HASTAC’s Director of Administration Mandy Daily and Demos Orphanides, our webmaster and designer.  Kaysi has her law degree from ASU so it’s particularly fitting that this is where we pay tribute to all she has given HASTAC. 


After this conference, Kaysi will be moving on to a new position, joining us in New York City as Deputy Director of the Mellon-funded CUNY Humanities Alliance, a fabulous program designed to train doctoral students to teach in community colleges. We’re very lucky she will be joining us to run this ambitious and model new program, but her presence at HASTAC will be greatly missed. Most of you don’t see all she does to make HASTAC seem as if it runs by itself. But believe me, it does not! Her absence will leave a very large gap at Duke and, this summer, HASTAC’s network and website will be operating at a much more humble and modest level as we search for a part-time replacement. Please join me one more time in a warm round of applause to thank Kaysi for all her work--including her assistance in making this year’s conference possible.



As some of you know, we are also currently seeking a new administrative home and partnership for HASTAC. At least at first, this will be a shared partnership with the Graduate Center CUNY.  IF you are interested, by all means contact me or pick up a flyer to find out more and then use the contact box address to start a conversation about what it would mean to direct “the world’s first and oldest academic social network.”  HASTAC is an incredible resources and that is not only because of the expertise of our administrative team but also because of the loyalty and expertise and activity and dedication of our incredible HASTAC network. You are incredibly inspiring, all of you! I very much look forward to meeting more of you during this conference.


We have one final announcement.  It’s less of a good bye than a transition too. In 2009, Fiona Barnett took over the very new HASTAC Scholars program and developed it into one of the most exciting student-run networks in any field. We have now had over 1000 HASTAC Scholars--about 80% graduate students, 20% undergraduates--from nearly 200 institutions.  Joined by Kalle Westerling in 2014, Fiona has been tireless at the helm--a mentor, a friend, an advisor, an inspiration, witty and generous, helpful and provocative.  For those who don't know, Fiona Barnett is also a Ph.D. candidate herself (in the Literature Program and Women's Studies at Duke University). During her tenure at HASTAC, she was awarded the Association of American Colleges and University (AAC&U) Future Leaders Award for her demonstrated commitment to developing academic and civic responsibility and strong emphasis on teaching and learning. She's also known within HASTAC staff for her witty wordsmithing. She even coined one of HASTAC's mottos, "Difference is not our Deficit. It’s Our Operating System".

Fiona will no longer be directing the HASTAC Scholars after this year but we are not about to let her go.  On the contrary, she will now be a member of the HASTAC Steering Committee and will help to guide HASTAC to its new administrative home in the future. 


We thought about the exact right gift to give you that would embody YOUR spirit as HASTAC Scholars director. We knew it couldn’t be a plaque or a etched glass bauble but had to be something as interactive and engaged and engaging as you are.  For many people at the conference today, you have been their key entry point to HASTAC. So right now, conference attendees—your friends, HASTAC Scholars, and alumni—are honoring your work by sharing this year’s custom-made HASTAC Fiona Stickies and throughout the conference will be expressing their appreciation on Twitter and HASTAC.prg.


I would like to have the honor of being the very first #ThanksFionaB Selfie. We invite you all to wear your Fiona Stickies and to take Selfies with Fiona throughout the conference and to tweet them out with the hashtag #ThanksFionaB. We’ll Storify them all at the end and preserve them on


We have also made a Wiki of tributes and invite others to contribute to it throughout the conference.


Fiona, you have given so much and your legacy is the amazing careers you have inspired in so many HASTAC Scholars. Thank you for all of this! 


And now, everyone, there’s a reception waiting outside. 


Have a WONDERFUL conference everyone!





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