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Monday, January 09, 2017

AALS Annual Meeting Reform Proposals, Part IV: Visit the (Remainder of the) United States of America

This is the last of my posts on the AALS annual meeting, post-dating the meeting itself. Mercifully, it's also the shortest. My last, and probably most logistically difficult reform suggestion, is to rethink locations.

I know there is a history here, and also that the AALS needs to lock in its commitments years in advance. But I suspect I'm not the only one who is tired of shuttling between New York (great city, expensive, tiny overpriced rooms), DC (good city, lots of friends in town, expensive, unattractive hotel, exhaustion occasioned by too many trips to the Lebanese Taverna), and San Francisco (wicked expensive). It's a big country and, even keeping in mind all the needs that have to be balanced, surely there are other possibilities. I think it's time for other cities: Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Philly, Tampa, Birmingham, Charlotte, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Nashville, Pittsburgh....Some are expensive but many on this list are both accessible and much cheaper than the Big Three that the AALS has relied on for several years. (The last non-big three locale I remember was New Orleans; I'm not sure when that was, but a few years at least.) The AALS annual meeting is already something of a bubble, but there's something to be said for moving that bubble outside the usual bubbles of NY, SF, and DC. It is possible that some attendees might prefer to visit, say New York, than Pittsburgh, or San Francisco to Salt Lake City. But since the programs (or lobby, if you prefer) would be the same, I can't imagine why.

I'll round things out with a further comment about the "take attendance" post, and a post about AALS as learned society vs. trade association, although both will have to wait a bit. 

Posted by Paul Horwitz on January 9, 2017 at 06:57 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


"All we are saying, is give Phoenix a chance." :)

The AALS has, over the past many years,rotated among three cities: Washington DC, San Francisco, and New Orleans. (N Orleans has been on the dance card two times in the relatively recent past. Would have been one time more, but for Hurricane Katrina. New York City has emerged as a more regular locale this, as I understand it, because attendance has been very robust when it is there. I have had zero role in decisions about location ever, but I do know that attendance planning is driven by informed judgments about attendance and costs.

Posted by: dan rodriguez | Jan 10, 2017 3:49:20 PM

Thanks for your posts. Another reason to vary the location is for costs. Holding the conference on either coast can significantly increase costs of what is already a very expensive conference. The AALS administration has generally seemed remarkably insensitive to costs and I think it would be in everyone's interest to find a location that not only is different but less costly. Awhile back the conference was held in Atlanta, which has a very accessible and generally inexpensive airport, and some time before that San Antonio was in the mix, not so accessible but an interesting city. Dallas would work weatherwise. San Diego, although great weather, is not a very accessible location, quite expensive too.

Posted by: MLS | Jan 10, 2017 2:06:31 PM

Actually, there are relatively few cities that satisfy all the requirements. The primary ones are a hotel with enough meeting space (or two hotels across the street from each other) -- attendees who've been asked strongly prefer a single hotel (this probably rules out Pittsburgh, Birmingham, Charlotte, and a bunch of others); and a low risk of problems getting in or out in the first week of January (which rules out Chicago and counsels in favor of places with a lot of direct flights from other major cities [e.g., to minimize transfers in Chicago]). Quite a while ago the meeting was in Orlando, which was an attendance disaster -- lots of people came with their families, and then spent time at Disneyland, etc. Next year's meeting will be in San Diego, the year after in New Orleans.

Posted by: Mark Tushnet | Jan 9, 2017 7:40:46 PM

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