Changes in our Annual Meeting: Fees, Structure and an Unfortunate Oversight
In this brief letter, I describe some changes to our registration fees and meeting structure. I would also like to address the unfortunate overlap of our spring meeting with Passover and Good Friday.
Fees: Many members have complained to me and others about registration fees for the annual meeting. Setting registration costs is always a contentious issue, and we have to consider all of the constraints. You may hear that our AAG meeting fees are no higher than most other academic meetings. While this may be true, we should always try to do better and to increase the value to our members, particularly those with less ability to pay.
Rest assured that we are looking at changing and hopefully improving our registration costs. This is tricky because it must be done in such a way as to not overly diminish the AAG’s revenue. But we will keep trying. One step, which we introduced at our Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, was to lower the cost for people presenting posters or simply attending rather than presenting. A next step, which we are introducing at the AAG meeting in Denver, is to sharply reduce the cost of a one-day pass for people who attend the conference for a single day. This can bring in more people from the local community so they can see what geography is all about. This option is reflected in our new registration fee schedule. Later next spring, I hope to announce a further set of adjustments to make the annual meeting even more affordable.
Session Length: A second big change lies in the structure of the paper sessions. We are adjusting our paper length from 20 minutes to 15 minutes. This is in part related to necessity. As you are no doubt aware, the program committee, Oscar Larson, and other staff struggle to fit in all of the papers and other sessions. It is also difficult to find rooms for other ad hoc meetings that attendees try to schedule during the Annual Meeting week, as typically no extra rooms are available.
Shorter sessions increase our flexibility. They decrease the length of session blocks. They also allow for some longer lunch periods and more time in the evening without sessions. The new structure will allow session organizers to reserve some of their time for discussion. We understand that there may be problems in adapting to the shorter session times and so Council decided to hold this as an experiment for the Denver Meeting. If our members hate it, we can return back to the way it has been.
Holiday Oversight: Finally, I want to address a big problem about our upcoming meeting—one that members have brought to my attention in the last few months. When we scheduled Denver several years ago, it coincided with Passover and Good Friday. We really laid an egg on this one and I am deeply sorry for this unforgiveable misstep! As a small gesture, we have assembled a group to find alternatives for our members who would like to both participate in the meeting and celebrate Passover. We will be flexible with scheduling and we are also making arrangements with a local synagogue to host a Seder on Wednesday evening. Since the Annual Meeting ends on Friday, this should not be as large a problem for those observing Good Friday, but please let me know if it is.
I realize that these steps cannot make up for this blunder, but hope that it will mitigate at least some of the damage. And we will make sure that this does not happen again.
Putting together an annual meeting of the scope of the AAG spring meeting is a Herculean task. AAG staffers and member volunteers spend countless days creating a meeting we can all be proud of. But it is all so worthwhile. For many of us, the annual meeting is a highlight of our year. I look forward to seeing you in Denver.
— Dave Kaplan