2020 Conference Planning in light of COVID-19
Friday, May 1, 2020
Posted by: Shaun Franklin-Sewell
The following announcement from Jimmy Noriega, Vice President for Conferences, was emailed to the ASTR email database yesterday:
As we all experience changes in our daily lives because of COVID-19 and as we look ahead to an uncertain fall semester at our institutions, I want to ensure you that ASTR leadership is closely monitoring health and safety developments as they relate to the conference planning process. We understand the concerns of our members and want to provide the best path forward given the many challenges that individuals will face in the coming year, especially as they relate to health, professional development, personal finances, and institutional and research support.
Because our annual gathering is still more than six months away, it is imperative that we proceed cautiously and with patience as the organization continues to weigh the many options surrounding this year’s conference, including contingency plans should we be unable to meet in person in the fall. Our first and most important priority is the health and safety of our members and I want to ensure you that all decisions will be made with this tenet as our guiding principle.
We also understand that the yearly meeting is an important part of our membership’s professional and scholarly development. In particular, we recognize the value of the conference to our graduate students, contingent faculty, and junior faculty. Whether or not there is a meeting this fall, we are committed to creating a conference program that reflects the scholarly work of our members. This will allow individuals to demonstrate a continued research trajectory and will provide a written record of acceptance that will be vital to their professional needs. We find encouragement from the many institutions that have promised to acknowledge conference acceptances as signs of progress and merit during these precarious times. For these reasons, I encourage everyone to apply to a working session by the June 1 deadline. Details on the working sessions and instructions for submissions can be found on our website.
At our recent spring meeting, the Executive Committee voted to set June 15 as the date by which we will inform the membership of a decision to hold or postpone the 2020 conference. I understand that many would prefer a more concrete answer at this time, but I hope that we can all proceed with generosity and goodwill as the leadership and staff work out the many logistical details associated with such an undertaking (this includes negotiations with the hotel, which is currently understaffed, as well as considerations of the financial impact on our organization).
On a personal note, I want to thank the ASTR staff, the Officers and Executive Committee, and the Conference Program Co-chairs who are hard at work to ensure the continuity of our mission and to navigate the many challenges that we currently face as a society. Please feel free to reach out to me or our Executive Director, Aimee Zygmonski if you have any further questions.
Thank you and please stay safe and healthy!