San Antonio 2021 – a new plan
I am sure many of you have been speculating about what VAF will do about our upcoming conference, planned for San Antonio in May of 2021. And I am sure you know that the local planning committee, our 2nd vice president, our conference planner, and the rest of the executive committee have been deliberating about this and weighing the options available to us. Last week, the local committee recommended that we not meet face-to-face but rather plan a second virtual conference. The executive committee met recently to discuss this and its members concur with that recommendation.
Some of you may still be holding out hope that we might go forward, and we appreciate the loyalty and affection reflected in that wish. But it appears unlikely to us that circumstances would change enough to make possible the traditions that make our meetings so informative and memorable – day-long bus rides, visits to interiors, shared meals, let alone more familiar conference activities like welcoming gatherings, paper sessions, the banquet. It is simply not clear that these can be safely adapted to social distancing, and we of course do not want to endanger our members or our hosts.
We also felt that there was no reason to postpone the decision any longer, as so many of our programs are contingent on it. Our members and the broader scholarly community need to know how our offerings and opportunities will change. Our plans can now be clarified and settled – a value in these difficult times.
We believe that, with this decision in place, we can move on to focus on our virtual program, perhaps expanding and diversifying it, as we will have more time this year than last to make this shift. We will soon send out a new call for presentations (papers, posters, etc) for the virtual conference, with a new deadline for submitting proposals.
We have also begun planning for future VAF gatherings, and we will once again be postponing not cancelling. San Antonio will be delayed another year until 2022, and Plymouth will move to 2023. Dates will be announced soon.
I am sure all of us want to thank Brent, Ken, and Clifton for all their hard work, as well as their flexibility and patience. Thanks also go to Ritchie Garrison and his Plymouth team, who have also agreed to delay.