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From the President

A Message from 2009 MLA President Catherine Porter

Dear Colleague,

As president of the Modern Language Association in 2009, I am pleased to welcome visitors and members alike to the MLA Web site.

To many people, the MLA is synonymous with the annual convention, a crucial event for job candidates and hiring departments and a productive venue for discussing scholarly work and professional matters with colleagues. But the association's services to its members extend well beyond the convention. Members receive the refereed scholarly journal PMLA, informative newsletters, and Profession, an annual compendium of articles on key issues facing us as teachers and scholars. The members-only section of the Web site offers access to many services, including a variety of online discussion forums to give members a way to stay in touch with others in their areas of expertise.

A strong membership base allows the MLA to pursue activities that benefit the profession at large. Many of us are already grateful users of MLA publications such as the MLA Handbook and MLA Style Manual, the MLA International Bibliography, the Approaches volumes on teaching specific texts, and the Texts and Translations series. As a former member and chair of a modern language department at the State University of New York College at Cortland, I can attest that the MLA's policy statements—immediately accessible from the resources section of the home page—are valuable tools for educating administrators and the public about the standards and practices considered optimal in our disciplines. The association's recent surveys and research reports on scholarly publishing, tenure and promotion, and the structure of foreign language departments (also accessible on this site) have generated discussion well beyond our disciplinary boundaries and stand to have a significant impact on the shape of American higher education in the coming years. All these undertakings are sustained not only by members' dues but also by active participation, for example, in the work of committees, task forces, and the Delegate Assembly.

In these uncertain economic times, we are all aware of the stresses on institutions of higher education and the particular vulnerability of our own departments and disciplines. The MLA has often played a leading role in defending our interests and articulating our concerns to government agencies and the public at large. Membership gives each of us a chance to help define those interests and concerns while strengthening the association in its work on our behalf. I look forward to working with you during the coming year, and I hope you won't hesitate to contact me about any issue that concerns the organization. There will be a comment section following each of the presidential Newsletter columns on the Web site; you can also reach me at cporter@mla.org or by mail at the Modern Language Association, 26 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10004-1789. On behalf of the association's officers and staff, I thank you for your interest and invite your active participation in the MLA.

Sincerely,
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President, Modern Language Association, 2009
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Catherine Porter
2009 MLA President Catherine Porter
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