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RSA 2020 Membership Dues Increase

Dear Fellow Members of RSA,

After careful consideration and deliberation, the Board of Directors of the Rhetoric Society of America has approved a dues increase for the Society’s 2020 membership renewals. This is the first across-the-board dues increase since January of 2011, almost nine years ago. It is part of a process that began in 2017 to set the Society on solid financial ground as we seek to bring RSA’s administrative and budgetary structures into alignment with our size, complexity, and services.

In 2017, President Greg Clark informed the membership of the Board’s decision to:

  1. redefine regular membership as two-years in coordination with our biennial conference
  2. move from a rolling, membership anniversary, renewal cycle to a single, common renewal cycle each January
  3. structure membership levels and corresponding dues to reflect membership income

RSA’s members have responded well to the changes that were implemented in 2017. Despite the complexities of pro-rated memberships and the uncertainty of moving to a different renewal schedule, today over 88% of our membership are two-year members who renew every other January. This change is essential, because it allows the Society to predict its income more accurately and plan expenses with greater confidence. Although the changes implemented in 2017 were substantial, they did not include a dues increase except for those individuals who chose a single year membership or whose income exceeded $100,000.

The changes approved by the Board of Directors in October 2019 include modest dues increases across the board and a further refinement of the income-based levels of membership to lessen the financial burden on early career and contingent faculty.


1 year

2 year

Student membership



Retired Faculty Membership



Regular Level I Membership
Annual income less than 40,000



Regular Level II Membership
Annual income between $40,000 - $64,900



Regular Level III Membership
Annual income between $65,000 - $94,900



Regular Level IV Membership
Annual income between $95,000 - $114,900



Regular Level V Membership
Annual income more than $115,000



Institutional Membership


Lifetime Membership

This option, which includes RSA membership and RSQ subscription for life, is payable in full, $2,000.00, at time of renewal or in five annual installments of $400.00.


Enhanced Lifetime Membership

This option, which includes RSA conference registration, RSA membership, and RSQ subscription for life, is payable in full, $3,000.00, at time of renewal or in five annual installments of $600.00.


In addition, the Directors decided that the new membership rates, indicated above, should be implemented with a progressive structure whereby the increase for those with a lower salary or stipend is less than the increase for those with a higher salary.

  • Graduate Student increase is $10 each year.
  • Level I membership increase is $10 each year
  • Level II membership increase is $20 each year
  • Level III membership increase is $30 each year
  • Level IV membership increase is $35 each year
  • Level V membership increase is $35 each year

Since its last dues increase in 2011, the Society’s membership has stabilized at approximately 1,300 members, but its activities, events, and services have expanded. The Executive Director position is no longer volunteer but a part-time, paid RSA employee. The  Society continues to host a biennial conference and partners with academic institutions to create the summer institute, but we also have added the summer research project. As our events expand in size and complexity, the Society must contract with vendors who provide services beyond the reach of a volunteer organization.

RSA’s strategic priorities involve several concrete efforts to make the Society a model of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility, to provide opportunities for both leadership and mentorship, and to create outlets for public scholarship. Within this strategic frame, we are examining our awards structure to better recognize the breadth of activities and contributions where our members excel. We are growing our endowments to provide increased support to members, especially our student members. We continue to invest in student chapters, the research network, and pre-conference workshops. Members receive free access to the online version of Rhetoric Society Quarterly and 30% off of the book list at Penn State University Press. In short, the leadership of RSA is working to create value to the Society so that any increase in dues is accompanied by visible benefits.

I want to thank the members of RSA, the Board of Directors, and our many volunteers for the investments you have made in our Society. The Rhetoric Society of America is a remarkable organization with an enormously bright future. I look forward to continuing with you as your president until June 2020 and then, as a member, for many years to come.


Kirt H. Wilson

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