Presidential Letter - Annual Meeting Location (Pt. 1)

In my first presidential letter, right after the annual meeting last January, I wrote about the need to consider not only where we meet, but at what time of year. This letter addresses the first question; I will write separately about the other one.

When I wrote my previous letter, we had already signed contracts for meetings through 2024, and since then we have signed another for 2025; the details are here. So, no immediate change is possible, but we still must move quickly since we have to make decisions that far in advance in order to get the venues we want, when we want them, and at an affordable price. It will soon be time to sign a contract for 2026, no matter where, or on what specific days we want to meet.

With that in mind, I wish I could say there are no other constraints, but in reality there are some powerful ones. Apologies to those who already know all of this, but from talking to quite a few members over recent months, I’ve got the impression that explaining the basic issues might be beneficial.

The first point is very simple, but very important:

SCS members and AIA members agree that they want SCS and AIA to continue holding a Joint Annual Meeting.

I know this seems so obvious that I shouldn’t have to mention it, or spell out the equally obvious corollary that an SCS-only meeting would be just half the size of what we’re used to. Size is crucially important because a meeting of 2,000 is just too big for most cities, but not quite big enough for some others. By and large, the fourteen cities we have visited over the past twenty-three years define the universe of possibilities. Some we’ve visited more than once (Chicago 1997, 2008, 2014; Philadelphia 2002, 2009, 2012; San Diego 1995, 2001, 2007; Boston 2005, 2018; New Orleans 2003, 2015; San Francisco 2004, 2016), others not (Anaheim 2010; Dallas 1999; Montreal  2006; New York 1996; Seattle 2013; San Antonio 2011; Toronto 2017; Washington 1998). What they all have in common are facilities adequate to handle a meeting our size, plus good service by air and rail carriers. Most also offer meeting venues close to a vibrant downtown area affording excellent dining, cultural, and other off-hours attractions.

People often ask about other cities that seem like good prospects, but that do not compare well to those on this list. Atlanta and Orlando are warm-weather cities that have the facilities we require; one is a major air travel hub, and the other is not hard to get to. The main reason we haven’t gone to either place is that members, when polled about annual meeting venues, have not ranked them very high. Maybe in light of recent experiences that will change; and in any case, what we say we want to do and what we actually do are sometimes very different things (see further below). People also ask about cities they especially like, but that could never accommodate a meeting the size of ours. Take Santa Barbara, a city where I once lived and now visit as often as I can; but getting 2,000 of us into town within 24 to 36 hours, and then out again within 12 to 18, would be physically impossible; and even if we did get in, I can’t imagine where we would sleep, or meet, or eat, and what it would all cost.

Another complication is that some states have passed laws that discriminate against some of our members. The main category of such laws targets the LGBT community. There are eight states that have passed such laws, but Texas is the only one  which has cities capable of hosting our annual meeting. For ethical reasons, we will not be going back there while these laws are on the books. In practical terms, it is also the case that employees of the state of California — including those affiliated with public universities — cannot get reimbursed for their travel to those states. In these cases, ethics and practical considerations align, but it is worth remembering that factors outside our control can play a role in where we can hold the meeting.

I’m always glad when people ask me about such things, because I’m grateful for the opportunity to explain — even though I wish this weren’t the case — that there really are only a few places that can accommodate our meeting. In fact, it was the experience of fielding such questions that gave me the idea of writing this letter.

What else goes into selecting a site? By custom, we try to mix it up by moving from East to Midwest to West from year to year, including Canada in the rotation about once every ten years. Apart from that, it’s basically a matter of getting the best deal on rooms and meeting space for our attendees. (Here it’s worth remembering that we could certainly get better rates if we were smaller and could go to different cities. But we are in a bracket that puts us in competition with the corporate sector for the facilities that we need. That is another factor that will come up in my next letter about where we meet, because we can do better if we meet when the corporate world is less interested in doing so. But I’ll save that for later.)

Finally, there is the matter of actual attendance. Here are the paid registration figures, from best to worst, for 1998–2018:

2012 Philadelphia 2,833
2008 Chicago 2,566
2014 Chicago 2,477
2016 San Francisco 2,476
2005 Boston 2,471
2009 Philadelphia 2,464
2015 New Orleans 2,408
2007 San Diego 2,271
1998 Washington 2,264
2017 Toronto 2,188
2013 Seattle 2,159
2018 Boston 2,094
2004 San Francisco 2,094
2006 Montreal 2,049
2002 Philadelphia 2,031
2011 San Antonio 1,974
2003 New Orleans 1,945
2010 Anaheim 1,905
2001 San Diego 1,882
1999 Dallas 1,407
Twenty Year Average 2,198

Now, SCS is in the business of breaking even, not making money. So, too, with the annual meeting our goal is not to lose money. The break-even point is a total paid registration somewhere between about 2,000 and 2,200. (The actual break-even point fluctuates because some cities are just more expensive than others.) As the chart shows, we have usually been within or very near that range. When we’ve been over it, that has meant a good year for the Society in financial terms; but when we’re below it, it has meant a very difficult year. So, we do have to hold the meeting in places that will attract members.

A complication: It turns out, as I mentioned above, that there is some tension between where we say we want to go and where we actually show up. San Diego, where we will be meeting next January, always polls well, but our last two meetings there drew an average of just over 2,000 — on target for breaking even, but offering no cushion in case of an off year. Chicago, on the other hand, a name that sets people to grumbling — understandably after 2014 — has averaged over 2,300 attendees, a number that gives us some flexibility regarding sites we choose in other years. But also, quite apart from financial viability, my (admittedly subjective) experience has always been that a well-attended meeting is a more successful one from every point of view: there are more people going to paper sessions and participating in discussions, meeting old friends, making new ones, and so forth. So, to state the obvious once again, it’s going to continue to be important to meet in cities that will attract attendees, and there just aren’t that many of those.

I’ll close on that note and give you some time to digest this before I write about the related, and more difficult problem of whether we should meet at a different time of year.

- Joe Farrell

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Title: Papyrus in Greek regarding tax issues (3rd ca. BC.)  Currently in the Metropolitan Mueum of Art. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/251788 Source: Wikipedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Papyrus_in_Greek_regarding_tax

(publishing on behalf of Thea Sommerschield, a Marie Curie fellow at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and Fellow at Harvard’s CHS)

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 03/10/2022 - 11:48am by .

Res Difficiles: A Conference on Challenges and Pathways for Addressing Inequity in Classics 

When: May 20, 2022 , 9:00am - 4:00pm 

Where: Live-streamed via Zoom [Registration now open]

Classical Studies at Boston University and Classics, BU Center for the Humanities, Philosophy, & Religious Studies at the University of Mary Washington present Res Difficiles: A Conference On Challenges and Pathways for Addressing Inequity In Classics. [Res Difficiles 3: Difficult Conversations in Classics].

Dr. Kelly Nguyen (Stanford University) will deliver the keynote address.

The event will be live-streamed via Zoom, and will be live-captioned. Participants/viewers may live-tweet the event on the hashtag #ResDiff3.

You can find more information about the speakers and sessions here: https://resdifficiles.com/

You can register here

Any questions can be directed to the co-organizers: Hannah Čulík-Baird and Joseph Romero.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 03/08/2022 - 12:35pm by .

Dura-Europos: Past, Present, Future - Celebrating the Centennial of Excavations at Dura-Europos

Sponsored by: Yale University’s interdisciplinary ARCHAIA Program for the Study of Ancient and Premodern Cultures and Societies

Dates : March 31, 2022 - April 2, 2022

Where: Hybrid/Virtual [livestream]

Yale University’s interdisciplinary ARCHAIA program is pleased to share news of its upcoming hybrid conference: Dura-Europos: Past, Present, Future. This three-day event (March 31-April 2, 2022) is arranged to celebrate the centennial of excavations on-site at Dura-Europos (Syria). Papers and discussion will explore the town’s regional and long-distance ties in antiquity, 21st-century geopolitical entanglements, and avenues for future research. Registration is free, and online attendance is open to all. 

For information about the papers and presenters, and to register, please see: 

https://campuspress.yale.edu/duraeuropos2022/

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Tue, 03/08/2022 - 11:55am by .

CAAS ARC Workshop: Diversity Policies are for Everyone

When: Saturday, March 19, 2022 - 11:00AM EDT

Where: Virtual (via Zoom)

The Antiracism Committee (ARC) of The Classical Association of the Atlantic States (CAAS) is organizing another workshop on diversity policies. Through a series of case studies, this workshop will explore ways to create and improve on diversity policies so that they can be more helpful to BIPOC students and scholars. We’ll be meeting on Saturday, March 19, 2022 at 11am EDT via Zoom. This workshop is free and open to anyone who registers.

If you’d like to register, you can fill out this form:  https://forms.gle/C5KMYK7nB3FQRVXr8

If you have any questions about the workshop, please email David Wright: djwrig85@gmail.com. See also attached flyer and share widely! Hope to see you there!

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Mon, 03/07/2022 - 3:04pm by .

Call for Proposals: CAAS 2022 Annual Meeting

The Classical Association of the Atlantic States

Dates: October 6-8, 2022

Venue: HOTEL DU PONT, Wilmington, DE

Deadline for all proposals (individual papers, panels, workshops): (extended) Monday, March 28, 2022

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 03/07/2022 - 12:34pm by .

The Classics Program at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY), advertises its graduate programs in Latin education. These programs combine courses and mentoring in the vibrant environs of New York City. They aim to foster the ability to make Latin compelling to a diverse population of middle and high school students. Both programs lead to certification in New York State. Applications are accepted in both the Fall and the Spring. The deadline for applications to start in Fall 2022 is March 15th, 2022, but consideration may be made for later applications. 

  1. MA in Adolescent Education, Grades 7-12 – Latin

A 49 to 50-credit course sequence in Latin, Classics, and Education that prepares students to teach Latin in grades 7-12. This program is run jointly by the Classics Program in the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education.

View full article. | Posted in Degree and Certificate Programs on Fri, 03/04/2022 - 4:49pm by .

When you are standing at the edge of the Pontic steppe, where the Bug-Dnieper estuary melts into the Black Sea, there are three islands on the horizon. It can be difficult to see in the haze of late summer, which is when I was there last with two friends, Sam Holzman and Phil Katz.

Foremost is Berezan, once connected to the adjacent mainland. Long and flat-topped like a container ship, the largest of the handful of islands to rise from the Black Sea. It was settled by Ionians in the sixth century BCE, and has been all-but-continuously excavated since 1894.

A second island is artificial: across from the mainland town of Ochakiv lies the fortress isle of Pervomaisky. The Ottomans used the citadel at Ochakiv to control access to the river until it fell to John Paul Jones in service of the Empress Catherine in 1788. Pervomaisky was built up from a sandbar and fortified by Russia in the late nineteenth century. Both permanently blocked off the Dnieper as an invasion or slaving route to the forest steppe.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 03/03/2022 - 12:00pm by .

International Conferences of Novelty in Classics

1st ICoNiC: Audience Response in Ancient Greek and Latin Literature: Concepts, Contexts, Conflicts - Multiple Approaches to Author-Audience Relationship

02-03 September 2022 (virtual via MS Teams)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 02/22/2022 - 8:30am by .

Between 6pm GMT on 31 May 2022 and the following evening, 1 June 2022, the Herodotus Helpline will be hosting the Herodotus Marathon. This is a non-stop, multilingual reading of Herodotus’ Histories. We are calling it the Marathon because we anticipate that it will take a little over 26 hours. Non-stop. Different readers will read their sections of the Histories via zoom, but it will be broadcast live (and recorded for posterity) on youtube. Readers will read in their native languages (or in ancient Greek, if they prefer).

To reflect Herodotus’ huge reach, we are looking for readers from the widest possible range of backgrounds (and the widest possible range of native tongues). Readers will include: scholars and students of Herodotus, celebrities with an interest or background in antiquity, or members of the general public with an interest in the ancient world - all are welcome!

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 02/22/2022 - 8:04am by .

Interdisciplinary Humanities 

Fall/Winter 2022 issue: Myth and Art

Deadline for Submissions: March 31, 2022

Guest Editors: Edmund Cueva and Anna Tahinci

[Journal published by parent organization - HERA (Humanities Education and Research Association) at UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso)]

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 02/22/2022 - 7:41am by .

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