March 23, 2020
I hope you are all healthy and successfully adapting to these new and changing circumstances. I know many of you are learning new technologies for teaching, others are juggling child or elder care with research and writing, and many are already envisioning new ways to appreciate the landscape while still maintaining distances.
After more than a week of research and deliberation, we can now report some of our plans associated with postponing our 2020 Conference.
We plan to go forward with one component of our usual meeting, the paper and poster sessions scheduled for Saturday, 9 May. We have been in touch with the presenters and session chairs, most of whom have agreed to participate. We will be in touch soon with details about registering for the virtual conference.
We will move the rest of the San Antonio conference activities, the planned tours and plenary as well as new paper and poster sessions, to May of 2021. The Plymouth conference, originally planned for May of 2021 will be postponed to 2022. We will be in touch soon with the dates.
We will also move forward with refunding the San Antonio conference registration fees. Registrants will be contacted by treasurer Claudia Brown to explain the refund process.
I want to thank some of the folks who have been working especially hard as we moved through our decision making: First to Brent Fortenberry and the San Antonio team for being so patient and generous about rethinking their conference; we all look forward to seeing it next year. To Ritchie Garrison and the Plymouth team we owe similar gratitude. The Executive Committee, Christine O’Malley, Kim Hoagland, Bill Littman, and Claudia Brown, have all been thoughtful and good humored, as their other duties became more challenging in a rapidly changing situation. The chair of the Papers Committee, Andrew Dolkart, has taken on an array of new tasks, as have many Board members. Michelle Jones, our conference coordinator, stayed in touch even while delayed in Morocco. I have been moved by everyone’s willingness to help.
Claire W Dempsey
March 13th, 2020
The VAF Executive Committee and the Conference Planning Committee have decided to postpone our San Antonio Conference, originally scheduled for May 6th through 9th, 2020.
We are of course very sad to have to do this and want to be sure that Brent Fortenberry, Ken Hafertepe, Clifton Ellis, and all those who have worked so hard on this conference, know how appreciative we are.
We are at work investigating our options for rescheduling the event for a future year and for rethinking our paper and poster sessions. We will also arrange for mail-in and/or electronic voting for our annual meeting.
We will of course be refunding all conference registration payments, with no administration fee. We encourage you to cancel your hotel reservations. Paper and poster presenters, ambassador advisors, and award winners will be contacted individually to work out the details of their outlay and reimbursement. We will keep you informed as our plans unfold.
We are confident that the VAF will pull together during this difficult time and look forward to seeing you at our next gathering.
Claire W Dempsey
March 11th 2020
I am sure you have all been thinking about how our 2020 San Antonio meeting may be affected by COVID-19. So too have our conference organizers and executive committee, conferring and weighing our options about how best to proceed. As program cancellations increase nationally and as more states declare emergencies, requests for information are increasing and concerns are rising. We are closely monitoring the still fluid situation, but it seemed wise to provide our members with information and such reassurance as we can.
Of paramount importance is the health and safety of those who attend and assist our meeting. With that in mind, we are carefully reviewing the advice available to us. Though San Antonio does not appear to be facing the same threat as some other cities, we will continue to watch carefully over the next few days. Some may already suspect that they will not be able to attend because of health concerns or travel restrictions they face, which we understand may mean a smaller conference. Property owners as well may have concerns about visitors. We are therefore reviewing the many practical matters of our commitments and costs, assembling all the information we can to make informed decisions for the short and long term.
We can take some comfort in knowing that VAF is financially sound and will come through this one way or another. In the meantime, we will keep you posted.
Claire W Dempsey