18 February, 2006
Post-Meeting Additions: 21 June, 2006 in BOLD
So You Want to
Run a NE GSA Meeting?—What to Expect
Noel Potter, NE GSA 2006, General Chair
This is an evolving document. It will eventually become: 1) when
shortened, a meeting report, and 2) I hope a guide for future Local
Committees. Meanwhile this version's intent is to help the
NE GSA 2007 Local Committee think ahead. I'm aware that in 2007
some arrangements will be different at UNH, but have tried to compose
this for future chairs beyond 2007 as well who are likely to have
to deal with hotels and convention centers. Wally—Feel free
to pass all or parts of this on to your committee as a heads-up
on what to expect and think about.
At the end of this document is a Timeline.
I felt the need to get this together well over a year ago, but had
trouble getting dates from GSA. Finally, about a month after the Saratoga
meeting I got a proposed schedule from GSA with deadlines for Preliminary
Announcement copy, Final Announcement copy, Abstract Deadline, Program
Copy due, etc. GSA works backward from the time of the meeting to
establish these dates, so my timeline, adjusted to when your meeting
occurs should give a good idea when to expect that things will be
due. You will have a little room to negotiate with GSA, but not a
lot. For example, this year the SE Section meets right after the NE
Section. Our Abstract Deadline was Dec 13, theirs just after New Years.
Following are what I found to be the busy times:
Schedule--There are 3-4 crunch
1) Late June--when Preliminary Announcement
is due at GSA. This will appear in September GSA
Today and go live on GSA's web site in early September. You
need most Theme Sessions, Symposia, and ideally Field Trips, if any,
planned on by now with conveners/leaders for this first announcement.
Remember that this Announcement is all that the general public will
have to read until just a couple of weeks before the Abstract Deadline
in mid-December. A lot of the copy for this and Final Announcement
are boiler plate. I simply used last year's with revised dates and
places. I'll furnish a MS Word version of these.
2) Late September--when Final Announcement
is due at GSA. This will appear in the December GSA
Today and go live on GSA's web site in early December. By the
time this is submitted, you will have to have your budget together,
because you need to do it to set fees. The Registration part of the
Final Announcement will go live in mid-December. Appearance of the
Final Announcement in early December and approach of the Abstract
Deadline will provoke a flurry of e-mails with questions either about
things folks have read, or that they should have and haven't read.
Also as GSA gears up for registration on-line, the registration staff
will have questions about fees, and max and min numbers for field
trips, meals, and other special events.
3) Mid-December to early January after
abstracts are in and until Program copy is due at GSA (for
us this was Dec 13 to Jan 12) all of the Program has to be put together
for printing of the Program part of Abstracts with Programs. Nancy
Carlson (now Wright) instructs you in use of their quite nice software
for handling abstracts. By now you need to know what rooms to assign
sessions to. Remember that this occurs over the Holidays. Make sure
all involved are on the same page about when they will work on this
and when they will "retreat" to spend time with family.
4) Mid-January through run-up to the meeting.
Expect lots of contact with hotel/convention center regarding room
use, meals, AV, and other logistics. Early to mid-February centers
around the Preregistration Deadline. GSA will furnish you with weekly
reports with numbers signed up. Don't panic the last two days before
the deadline—many wait until the last day. You will barely have
a day when you don't have to deal with e-mails about all sorts of
things. Some involve logical logistics you can plan for, but lots
will come out of the blue with special requests, requirements, and
We started looking for a place for our meeting almost 2 years before
in Summer, 2004. We met with representatives of the prime facility
in our area that is very nice—the Hershey Hotel and Convention
Center. We liked it, but it eventually became clear that it was
so large that they would want to book other events in some of the
meeting rooms at the same time. Their ballroom, which could be divided
into 3 "smaller" ones was so large that their brochure
had a photo of a full-sized trailer truck parked in it dwarfed by
the size of the room. Our biggest stumbling block became their demand
for a room block of 300 sleeping rooms per night for the 3 major
nights of our meeting. We concluded that we could not be assured
of meeting this requirement and moved on. In addition, in retrospect,
if we had decided to go there, we would have dealt with one person
for "sales" (up to signing the contract), another for
all of our arrangements, and then other people yet during the meeting.
This has the potential to lose continuity and promises along the
Some explanation about how the hotel/convention center business
works is in order here. Typically the facility gives you the use
of the meeting rooms free, and they make their money on sleeping
rooms, food, AV, and beverages. They ask you to commit to a "room
block" of so many sleeping rooms per night for the conference.
Ours at the Radisson was 150 rooms per night (450 total), with some
percent (I think 20 leeway). If you meet less than your room block,
you pay a certain amount (say $1000 or whatever), and progressively
more as you meet less of your room block. We asked about sleeping
room rate, and pointed out that we typically have lots of students,
and many like to share rooms. We eventually got a rate of $102/room/night
with the same rate applying to up to 4 people in a room. They will
probably also offer you so many complimentary rooms for each so-many
that are booked. In our case we will get one free room night for
every 50 rooms booked. For the record, 2 days after the preregistration
deadline our “room pickup” (number of room nights reserved)
is: Sat, Mar 18—25, Sun, Mar 19—157, Mon, Mar 20—183,
Tues, Mar 21—133, with some more expected in the next month.
Our final room pickup as reported by
the Radisson was: Fri, Mar 17—3, Sat, Mar 18—27, Sun,
Mar 19—197, Mon, Mar 20—208, Tues, Mar 21—139,
and Wed, Mar 22—6. At least 20 or so rooms were used in a
nearby hotel arranged for overflow.
When you tell what
meeting rooms you will need, be sure you've figured out all that
you will need. We arranged rooms for 5 oral sessions at a time for
the full 2 ½ days, even though Saratoga had only 4 oral sessions
per half day. As it turns out, we will have 5 sessions for one day
and 4 for the other 1.5 days. The sticky part comes in making sure
you have rooms for workshops (often a day or 2 before or after the
meeting itself), banquet, meetings, luncheons, etc. We didn't know
in January 2005 what workshops we would have over a year later.
We reserved 2 rooms on Sunday for these, but didn't think about
Saturday. Then late last Summer we arranged 2 workshops for Saturday.
We asked for the rooms and they had them, but we were asked to pay
$195 for each because we didn't book them when we did the contract.
As of this writing, the workshops all got 2 or less people signed
up, and we have cancelled them. I also added 2 Noon meetings in
small rooms during the meeting recently. These are going to cost
us $75 each for adding them later.
Be careful with charges for
food, AV, and exhibit setups. We were given nice folders with menus
for everything from banquets to coffee for breaks, and a brochure
with AV equipment prices from an outside contractor that works with
the hotel. Prices seemed reasonable for hotel prices. However buried
in the fine print at the bottom of each page it said that a service
charge of 18% is added to "all of the above" for service
and gratuity. This was also buried in the fine print in the contract
and the AV brochure. So, for every $1000 of charges we run up, we
will actually pay $1,180. Fortunately we caught on to all this before
we built our budget. I did not catch on early when my Exhibit chairs
wanted prices to send out to prospective exhibitors, and I set prices
for these barely above the basic booth prices. In addition, state
and (maybe) local sales taxes will be added on top of everything.
We eventually built a spreadsheet with columns that added each extra
and worked from the right hand column. You might investigate whether
you can get tax exemption for GSA. We tried but it was complex and
didn't get done in time.
There are horror stories in the GSA
Meeting Manual that tell of real misadventures in dealing with hotels/convention
centers. We tried to be prepared for these. We have been lucky.
We have had two very fine hotel people to work with from first discussion
right through to the meeting. It is very convenient to say "do
you remember when we discussed (or you promised) so and so"
and they do remember and stick to their promises. If we had gone
with the first hotel we looked at, we would have had different people
to work with at various stages, and lots of things could have fallen
through the cracks.
After basic negotiations with the hotel, you will need a contract.
Jack Hess, Executive Director of GSA, must sign this. We were sent
a "boiler plate" contract, which was long, complex, and
very "lawyerly." Before we could fill in the blanks, the
hotel furnished us a draft of what they thought the contract should
cover. Theirs was less complex, but seemed to cover the basics.
We faxed this to Melissa Cummiskey, who is now Director of Meetings
at GSA, and within 2-3 days we talked on the phone and she suggested
changes, loopholes, etc. We then went to the hotel armed with these
and negotiated. It was very nice to be able to refer to the absent
Melissa, who suggested we change such and such, or that we must
add so and so. Things went well—we gave a little and they
gave a little—and the revised contract was signed by Jack
and delivered to the hotel. I will furnish a copy of our contract.
Early in our discussions with the hotel I prepared a series of
events on spreadsheets for each day of the meeting, patterning them
after similar ones prepared by Kurt Hollocher for Saratoga. These
became our template from which we could see the relation of one
event to another, and from which we could plan room use. At first
the events didn't have specific room names, but these we added as
negotiations proceeded. Eventually these were color coded, and presented
to the hotel staff for their planning.
(See separate file: NEGSAHotelEventSched.xls)
They told us
that these were very helpful, and that future committees could help
their hotel staffs a lot by presenting similar schedules. This gained
us a lot of points and good will in relations with the hotel. I
will furnish a copy.
Each facility will have its good and not
so good sides. Probably our largest plus, other than a good staff
to work with, is that they are just the right size for our meeting.
We are using all of their facilities for the 3 actual meeting days,
so they can't book anyone else in competition with us. Our downside
is that whereas at Saratoga one could walk a few blocks to a variety
of good eateries from fast food places to pubs to good restaurants,
other than the modest restaurant in the hotel, we have a Perkins
in the parking lot, and a Taco Bell and a Macdonalds just across
it. People will have to drive 1-3 miles to good restaurants other
than the one in hotel. We plan to make a restaurant guide to nearby
Get people whose abilities you know and who will stay in touch with
you but will also take some initiative and get the job done. I've
generally had a good committee, but in a couple of cases I've had
to do some hand-holding and help folks figure out what to do. Once
these folks got on track, they did well. Academics know where their
bread is buttered, and especially for young untenured faculty, they
know that publishing in good journals is going to count for lots
more at evaluation time than service on a committee for a professional
meeting. Many of the Local Committee positions require a tremendous
amount of time, and in some cases that time has to be put in during
busy times in the academic year. Opportunities to travel come just
at the time someone is needed to put the program, or field trips,
or whatever together. Make sure your people know when the crunch
times will occur.
I think there is no doubt that it is primarily the diversity and
quality of the Technical Program that makes people want to come
to the meeting. Getting a good program together requires a good
bit of conversation with our diverse clientele and deserves careful
attention. Go for diversity. Watch out for the seemingly good topic
that falls into your lap but may be deadly. We had one proposal
for a session on economic resources, and the proposer promised to
get people together from each state where this resource occurs.
However, on further investigation it became clear that most of the
papers would have been a recitation of production statistics rather
than any substantial discussion of the interesting geologic problems
of how this resource accumulated and is produced.
We thought we had some good topics that didn't fly. Saratoga had
a nice, well-attended session on the History of Geology in the northeast.
One of the people who would have been an advocate for this session
was out of the country in the Fall when abstracts would have been
solicited, and the other advocate tried, but simply didn't know
how to contact people they knew and say "You're working on
so and so—wouldn't you do a paper on that at our meeting?"
This session got only 2-3 papers. Another was proposed on "From
Pleistocene to Present: Landscape Dynamics of the Susquehanna River
Basin and Chesapeake Bay." In this case it probably lost papers
to other sessions on geomorphology and Quaternary geology. And the
Time Slices session on the Alleghanian didn't fly. In contrast,
we expected a session on problems of Acid Mine Drainage to get a
minimal number of papers, and it got enough for an oral session
plus a few poster papers.
The Program Chairs and I started brainstorming topics for possible
Theme and Symposium sessions a month or two before the Saratoga
meeting. Ask lots of people beyond your own sub-disciplines what
the hot topics are in their research areas. Are there any good topics
specific to your region? For example, there must be some good topics
related to the igneous and metamorphic rocks of northern New England.
New England and New York Quaternary folks seem to be doing a lot
with climate history that can be deciphered from lakes and their
Then put your troops to work at the meeting prior to yours (Camp
Hill for you). Ask contacts for ideas. Only in the most important
cases should you make commitments until you have all possible topics
in hand. But do ask people who suggest a topic if they would be
a convener and be willing to help smoke out papers if you ask them.
Get your troops to write down these ideas and contacts. Probably
75% of our topics evolved from or were refined through conversations
We knew that the loosely-organized Northeast Tectonics Group, who
seems to be mostly igneous and metamorphic petrologists had some
of the largest and liveliest sessions at recent NE GSA meetings.
Noel had been given the impression that they gathered over beer
after their sessions and conjured up what to do next year. But they
apparently don't do this right away. Instead, we proposed a general
topic, and they took off with it.
It was only a chance encounter that led to this year's nice series
of sessions on Time Slices Across the Appalachians. Weecha Crawford,
from Bryn Mawr College, suggested the idea, but didn't want to be
an organizer. The original idea was to have one or more sessions
in which authors would discuss what was happening in a given time
interval from the igneous and metamorphic provinces of New England
to sedimentary deposition in New York. The same could have been
done from SE to NW Pennsylvania. Noel then talked with Craig Dietsch,
a former student, and he said that he does field trips on just that
theme from SW New England to New York. We urged him to talk with
friends, and it all took off from there. As an example of what can
happen when an advocate aggressively pursues papers, Craig got 24
papers for his Cambro-Ordovician Time Slices theme session, and
the Siluro-Devonian folks did nearly as well.
After Saratoga we met and put together the topics we had gathered.
We looked for "holes" among the topics using the disciplines
under which one can submit papers to GSA. For example, we didn't
have any proposed session on the Quaternary, which usually attracts
a substantial following. So we invented a generic session on "New
Developments in Late Quaternary History and Climate in the Northeast,"
and got a friend from the NE Friends of the Pleistocene to help
us find a convener. Similarly we invented a session on hydrology
and "dirty" water, which usually attracts a number of
papers. A session on geological education always attracts more than
a few papers.
When you choose titles, choose the words carefully. A word added
or left out can exclude or include more than a few potential papers.
For example, our “Metamorphic Rocks and Shear Zones: Stitching
Together Appalachian Terranes” might have attracted more papers
had we left out the word “Appalachian.”
Several sessions are traditionally sponsored by other organizations
or by Divisions of GSA. We had been under the impression that these
groups came up with the proposals for the sessions. Indeed, our
Forensic Geology session was proposed by Sue Halsey on behalf of
the Geology and Society Division of GSA, and it looks like a good
one. On the other hand, for years the Society for Sedimentary Geology
(SEPM) has sponsored 2 or 3 sessions at NE GSA. We contacted the
officers (Bosiljka Glumac, President, and Al Curran, Secretary,
both at Smith College) and urged them to get their members to suggest
Theme topics. They e-mailed their membership. We got no suggestions,
and I stuck my foot in it by suggesting to Bosiljka and Al that
this might mean they'd have a party and no one would come. Al, with
long experience with the group, then told me that the tradition
was that the Program people came up with topics, and then SEPM chose
from among the sessions to be sponsors. Two of the sessions are
being convened by SEPM members, but they just didn't think of proposing
sponsorship until we pushed it. I suggested that it would be much
better for SEPM members to take the initiative, but we worked things
out so that they are sponsors of 2-3 sessions and one field trip.
We urge you to contact the SEPM folks early and try to get them
to suggest good topics—the experts should know best what would
be good topics.
The Pander Society (conodont folks) meets at a section meeting somewhere
around the country each year. They are not likely to meet back in
the NE for a few years. The Northeastern Section of the Paleontological
Society has traditionally sponsored a session at NE GSA. I had a
contact for this, but officers changed, and by the time we got in
touch with the new President, it was August or September—too
late to get a session into the GSA Today version of the Preliminary
Announcement. However, we did get their Theme session added to the
on-line version, which most people use when they submit abstracts,
and they got a modest number of papers..
Let me emphasize the timing needed for all this. Authors will submit
papers to Theme sessions that will be listed in the Preliminary
Announcement. This appears in early September on line and in GSA Today , but copy for the Preliminary Announcement is due at GSA at
the end of June. You need to have most of your Themes agreed upon
We had GSA send an e-mail blast to the NE Section members soliciting
them topics, and asked that they be sent to one of our Technical
Program co-chairs by May 6. We got a few suggestions this way, some
off the wall, but most evolved from conversations at Saratoga, or
were invented by us. By the time we sorted all possible topics and
settled on the ones we wanted, it was mid- to late May. Then a new
problem arose—many people whom we needed to contact to confirm
that they would act as advocates/conveners and get their contact
information (e-mail, phone) had finished their academic semester
and headed for the field or Timbuktu. I urge you to try to select
most of your Theme sessions and line up advocates by early May—you'll
save yourself a lot of headaches. The person (General Chair?) preparing
the copy for the Preliminary Announcement should set a deadline
for receiving all copy (in large part the Theme and Symposia information)
a few days before copy is due at GSA so that there's time
to make sure it is in order (you don't get to look at galleys
One session literally fell into our lap at the last minute. One
and a half weeks before the Abstracts deadline Pete got a call from
someone who noted that a new Geology and Health Division of GSA
had been formed in November. They wondered if they could have a
session? Pete acted quickly and told them that if they could get
enough papers submitted, we would add a Theme session. They did
and we did, with help from Nancy Carlson at GSA. They have 7 papers
in what appears to be a nice session.
Last April or May Steve Pollock came back from the “Secretary's
Summit” in Boulder and told me that the GSA Division Chairs
were ready to help with Theme topics for Section meetings. In theory
I thought this was wonderful, but finding those people, especially
with an interest in the NE Section, was too daunting for me. Indeed
in mid-Summer I chanced to meet one Division Chair who had received
a request for help from another Section, and didn't even know
that she was expected to do this. In August someone in the Baltimore
area associated with the Engineering Geology Division contacted
me and offered to help, but by then the Preliminary Program was
about to come out in GSA Today . IF you want help from Divisions,
find out who is in charge from the GSA web site and contact them
Perhaps right after national GSA it is a good time to remind advocate/conveners
that it is their job to “beat the bushes” for papers.
If they sit on their rears with their brains in neutral, the chances
are good that they won't get many papers for their sessions.
Tell them your rules and tell them to remind authors of the Abstract
Note that for Symposia, the papers are invited. This presumes
a strong advocate who knows what they are doing and can get a group
together to do it. Theme Sessions, on the other hand, consist of
submitted papers. We sweetened the pot by telling advocates that
they could have up to 2 invited papers, and that for other papers
they must say “I urge you to submit.” Some find “being
invited” useful on their vita. A few conveners chose to invite
someone of stature to give a special keynote talk in a double slot
(40 minutes) to open their session. (Note
added 12/06: I recently heard from Wally asking about GSA's rule
that says something like “other than symposium presenters,
an author may be speaker on no more than one paper.” An invited
theme session presenter wanted to also present a paper in another
session. A convener argued that this rule had been violated in the
past. For our meeting, someone may have slipped through, but not
intentionally. As I understand it, Wally's committee decided to
stick with the rule.) Whatever you decide about these issues,
make sure you get it straight early and tell all of your advocate/conveners.
Otherwise headaches will ensue.
Putting the Technical Program Together.
Nancy Carlson, who manages putting the Program together and getting
it printed for GSA is tremendously helpful and a can-do lady. She
introduced us to the Confex computer program that receives and allows
sorting of abstracts. Once she gives you access to the system, you
will be able to see on-line how many abstracts have come in and
which ones have been submitted for which theme sessions, symposia,
and disciplinary topics. In our case, I chose to have access along
with my Program Chairs, but I decided not to manipulate the program.
Conveners/advocates are given access to their sessions, and are
told by e-mail to arrange their papers, and move ones they don't
want into a general pool. Some conveners will be laggards, and you
will have to make some phone calls. People may be difficult to reach
over the Holidays.
It helps to be ready to say what a half-day schedule of oral papers
will look like. You will need start times, how many, coffee break,
whether there will be time for a short introduction, and bottom
line—how many papers you can put in a half day session. These
times are all eventually entered into the system. For oral papers,
attention needs to be paid to whether there are too many (need another
session, or move some to posters) or too few (2-4 papers may cause
you to cancel the session and move the papers elsewhere, OR you
may end up with two short back-to-back sessions in a half day. Similarly,
some attention needs to be given to spreading like topics out so
that the hardrockers, for example don't have to choose from 3 similar
sessions in one half day. Posters need to be arranged to not overflow
the number of poster panels you have planned and have room for—be
careful, for overflow is easy to do as the last papers get shuffled
around. It is also as you finish the Program that you will need
the names of rooms that various sessions will be assigned to, taking
account of what sessions you think will require larger or smaller
oral sessions based on attendance expected. For oral general discipline
sessions you will need to find and contact session chairs.
Meanwhile you should have the Program copy other than the Technical
Sessions ready to submit to Nancy. From there on, you will only
have some adjustments to make. Nancy arranges the e-mails of acceptance
to be sent out. A couple of weeks later you will receive galleys
of the whole Program as a pdf file, and have 2-3 days to check it.
Ours was in excellent shape, but somehow the paper titles in the
Technical Program, which are in upper and lower case, had some glitches
being translated from the Abstract titles with all caps as submitted.
We had Ny instead of NY, and Morb instead of MORB, etc. These are
being fixed and should be fine.
You will be asked as you return the galleys to place an order
for Programs (the ones given out at Registration), and Abstracts
with Programs (which are sold). Unfortunately this occurs a week
or two before the Pre-registration deadline, so you will be guessing
at how many you need based on past years' statistics and your guess
as to how your meeting will differ from previous ones. Our programs
are costing about $1.05 apiece, and Abstracts with Programs are
sold to us at $12 apiece, and we are told to sell them for $15 or
more. You will be stuck with the leftovers and their cost.
On the other hand, near the end of our meeting we ran out of Programs,
and had to photocopy another 50.
Get an AV chair that is reasonably adept at computer technology.
This will be one of the biggest items in your budget (ours on the
order of $16,000). Duane Braun created a ftp site at Bloomsburg
University for folks to upload their PowerPoint files. This will
be open until Friday before the meeting. Then he will have a site
at our convention center. In addition folks will be able to bring
their files on disks or memory sticks. Make sure you know who's
going to oversee making sure the right computers and projectors
are there with the right software, and oversee the Speaker Ready
Room. They must also be willing to oversee student help and run
session chair orientations.
Generally our AV went well, but a few people
ran their presentations successfully in the Speaker Ready Room,
and then had trouble running them in their sessions. This caused
great frustration. The culprit, despite great care by our AV folks,
was apparently that 2 different brands of laptops were furnished,
and some had slightly different versions of the software we used.
Duane Braun highly recommends that facilities be networked. He also
said that, despite rules saying that files should be in the Speaker
Ready Room hours before a session started, more than a few people
arrived as late as 15 minutes before their sessions started.
We decided to do some field trips, but we are toward the southern
end of the section, and are meeting well along in March. We are
aware we could get dinged by snow, but chances are small. We planned
7 trips, including a K-12 teacher trip to an aggregate quarry. Getting
these organized was a substantial undertaking. Andy DeWet at Franklin
and Marshall College has been the primary Field Trip Chair. Once
we had the trips planned, there were issues like transportation.
My committee discussed this, and somewhat against my better judgment
they decided that most trips should be run in coach buses. Major
argument was that buses have rest rooms. Those guys are expensive--$600-800
for a day. Fees had to take account of this. I figured fees assuming
we would have the buses roughly half full—about 20-25 people
to balance the budget. We inquired about lunches at the hotel. Their
box lunches were about $12.50, but by the time we added their 18%
gratuity and service charge this became $14.75 for a simple lunch.
We rebelled. Both Andy and I queried our college food services,
and got prices for what will probably be a better lunch at about
$7.50 per person. We are using F&M food service, and since all
but the loading for the field trips is away from the hotel there
are no issues of bringing in food.
At this writing, it appears that only the Don Wise Nappes in Lancaster
County, Carol DeWet's Cambrian Microbial Reefs, and Bill Kochanov's
Karst trips will have enough to make a bus cost effective. The other
trips now have 8-10 people signed up. We are going to have to switch
to vans for these. I urge you to consider alternative modes of transportation
(bus vs van), and work out the economics of each. Most of our trips
are a full day before the meeting. Carol's DeWet's trip is a half-day
trip, and though the subject is interesting, I wonder if the half-day
is also attractive to some.
We decided to do a single guidebook for all trips that would furnish
us copy. A couple of trips are going to run on "handouts,"
but we expect to print a guidebook for about $6-7 per copy, give
one to everyone who takes a trip, and sell extra ones at the meeting
for a bit of profit. Caution: If you do this, some of your author-leaders
will suggest that they want some (or lots of?) color. I didn't even
think of this. We are going to have printing done in Dickinson's
print shop at a good price. However, a black and white "impression"
costs 3 cents a page, whereas a color one costs 25 cents a page.
A lot of color can clearly run the price up fast. We compromised
and said we would do up to 3 pages of color together, and the editor
gets to set the size of the figures on those pages.
Eventually we printed our guidebook
for a little over $4/copy at Dickinson's print shop.
long-time friend, Bob Ganis, who is a consultant to the local aggregate
industry, to be our Treasurer. It turns out that nowadays with GSA
national handling all the funds for the meeting this is sort of
an anachronism. Formerly the treasurer kept all the meeting funds,
had a local bank account, received funds, and wrote checks. Now
GSA issues "the chair" a credit card with a $5000 limit,
and larger bills like hotel/convention center is taken care of by
direct billing to the meeting account at GSA. If you pay for small
items personally, you only need to keep receipts and upon submission
you will get paid promptly. We worked with Mary Kerns at GSA.
Bob has kept track of all expenditures and income, and even though
I spent or received funds, I always informed him so that he could
keep track of the details. Probably most important to me, Bob has
been a good sounding board for all the meeting business. Bob also
offered to try to find Sponsors, and through his contacts in the
aggregate industry, has obtained something like $3,500-4,000 in
subsidies for our meeting.
Designing a budget with realistic numbers will drive you batty until
you get the hang of it. There are dozens of items that you will
need a realistic estimate of costs for. Before you leap with joy
that you can run a meeting with low fees, be aware that GSA national
will get $25 per professional registrant and $12 per student, guest,
exhibitor, and comp registrant for their services.
Also decide early on your policies for "comps"
(complimentary fees, etc). An old section meeting manual I read
said that "comps can kill your budget." We (mainly I)
decided that only in special circumstances would we offer comps.
All, including the local committee and the General Chair, paid the
same fees as others. If you start offering comps, and have for example
a local committee of 12 people and give all comps for registration
of $120, your budget will be down $1440. You need to gently remind
people of your comp policy once in a while. We told field trip leaders
that they were expected to pay the same fee as participants. One
leader missed this, and expected (hoped ?) that his near dozen helpers
would also go free—yet they wanted lunches, guidebooks, and
needed transportation like the participants. They all paid.
Note that GSA expects comps for their staff,
and for GSA's president, though we do not get charged registration
fees for these people. We also are expected to pay for some hotel
room nights for some staff, but we covered most of these with our
comp rooms from our "room pickup."
Our only real "comps" were
registration for our two special guest speakers, Jim
Bell and Sarah Andrews, and we paid for the
room for Sarah Andrews. If you invite special guests, do not forget
to find out if they expect an honorarium, and if so, how much.
Budget—We found it
useful to distinguish two kinds of expenses and income:
1) Projected Expenses and Projected
Income related to Registration Fees—this is the part
that is needed to set the Registration Fees. More below.
2) Expenses and Income covered by individual
charges. Most of these are ticketed
items—banquet, luncheons, field trips, etc. For each
item it is simply a matter of getting costs, and then setting the
fees so that you will at least recover costs. Field trip and workshop
costs are slow coming in, but we can estimate bus or van and guidebook
costs early. We got the cost of food for banquet, etc. from the
hotel fairly easily. We priced these items at a dollar or two more
per person than the known cost. My Local Committee decided to use
coach buses for most of the day-long field trips, but after preregistration
numbers came in we switched to vans for about half the trips. We
priced the trips so that we could still pay for the bus/vans with
them half full. Don't forget to include lunch and guidebook costs
Setting Registration Fees—For
Projected Income Related to Registration
Fees, the great guessing game is how many will come, and
in what categories (e.g., Pre-registrants vs On-site, Professional
vs Student, GSA Member vs Non-Member, etc.). I used the Saratoga
registration data, calculating percent in each category, to build
my models, assuming Saratoga was typical (Tysons Corners was a joint
meeting with 2 Sections—NE/SE, and Halifax was atypical with
less from the U.S. and more from Canada). It is worth noting that
for Saratoga a whopping 48% of registrants were students. We worked
hard to keep student registration fees low, but with students as
almost half of the registrants, we couldn't go too low. As our pre-registration
deadline has passed now, I have compared the percentages of pre-registrants
in each category to those I used in our model based on Saratoga
numbers. It turns out that the Saratoga numbers were a good guide,
with little change for us. When all of our numbers are in I will
furnish ours to you, and you might build a model based on the two
I then built a basic spreadsheet model that calculated the number
of people expected in each registration category based on the percentages
expected in each category, and made separate columns that calculated
attendance for a total attendance of 650, 700. 750, 800, and 900.
From this, one can plug in various fees as trials to see what total
income will be. You will soon discover that you should focus primarily
on Professional Member and Non-Member rates, and on Student Member
and Non-Member rates. Categories such as Professional 70+ and Spouse/Guests
produce so little income that those fees should be set last. You
will also need to fiddle with fees for Early Registration vs On-Site
Registration. For Saratoga, about 30% paid the higher fee after
the Preregistration Deadline.
For Projected Expenses Related to Registration
Fees, a first major item to include is the fees that GSA
charges us per registrant—these fees are $25 per Professional
Registrant and $12 per Student or Guest. These fees are dependent
on the great game to guess the number of registrants you will have,
and I used the same models referred to above to guess how many Professionals
vs students we would have. Other major expenses include AV (for
us about $16,000), Welcome Reception (for us about $8,000), coffee
breaks (for us $3,500-$4,000), and boards for posters (we had 20
of these @ $33 each). If you decide to bring some special guests
and pay their expenses, don't forget to include an estimate of costs
Finally we set the spreadsheets so that for a given number of registrants
we could subtract expenses from income and get a "bottom line"
for varying total attendance and fees. We probably went through
5-8 models. Don't forget that Steve (NE Section Treasurer) expects
the meeting to return on the order of $7,000-9,000 to the Section
treasury. We finally settled on a minimal attendance of 700, and
tried to be quite conservative (that is, if there was doubt, we
set an expense higher rather than lower). At this writing (Feb.
18) I am guessing that we will have an attendance in the 800-850
range, and I am comfortable that we will return well over the $7,000-9,000
to the treasury. This has allowed us to add a few items (e.g., we
will probably raise the amount of coffee for coffee breaks, we are
printing signs for events, pay for the planning meeting for 2007,
etc.) without going wild.
We ended up with about 930 registrants and
will return just over $25,000 to the section treasury. Some might
say that we should have set our fees lower, but there is no way
to know when fees are set that we would come out so well on registration.
I take comfort that the income will go to endowment to support student
travel to meetings and research.
I will furnish copies of our budget and final figures on CD-ROM,
and at the Camp Hill meeting I will have examples of our budget
to explain how we built the models.
Registration will "go live" on GSA's web site in early
December. This is handled by GSA, and someone from the staff there
will be assigned to your meeting. In our case, we have had a very
good working relationship with Kevin Ricker. You will be e-mailing
or on the phone to your registration person frequently. Lots of
questions arise. For example, can someone go on a field trip without
registering for the meeting? In this case, we agreed on a $30 registration
fee for these folks to recover the costs of GSA's charge of $25
per Professional registrant. What about the student workers—we
offered students free registration for 2 half-days of work. We will
have about 30 students. GSA will charge you $12 per Student registrant,
but don't forget in your budget that you will have no "income"
from these registrants. Similarly, when I was asked by my Exhibits
folks early last summer what basic costs would be, I said that we
would offer one free registration for each exhibit. When I did budget,
I forgot that we would still pay GSA $25 per Professional registrant.
We have since had to deal with 2-3 exhibitors who wanted to have
two people for their booth and had near rebellion from one exhibitor
when I said that the second person would have to pay a full registration
fee. We finally settled on the second person being registered as
a guest ($30 for us) to recover the $25 we have to pay GSA.
A week or two before the Pre-registration Deadline you will anxiously
watch the figures sent to you by your registration contact at GSA
to see if you are going to have enough attendance to balance your
budget. The reality is that you will not know much until the morning
after the deadline—many register at the last minute. You will
then be able to use pre-reg/on-site registrant ratios from past
meetings (for Saratoga this was about 70/30) to guess at your final
attendance. We had a similar ratio for
Camp Hill—in other words, at least for our section, almost
a third register after the pre-registration deadline, and many of
these do so as walk-ins.
Your meeting budget will be expected to pay for rooms for several
GSA people. You will be expected to cover costs for 1) a GSA Bookstore
person, 2) a GSA Registration person, 3) Jack Hess, and 4) the GSA
President (in our case we have both Bill Thomas and Steve Wells
coming). Karlon Blythe, who runs the Shlemon and Mann Mentor Programs,
has her expenses, including room, covered by the GSA Foundation.
Your GSA Registration person will get these folks registered, but
you will be expected to make room reservations for them and furnish
GSA with confirmation numbers. For our special guests, Jim Bell
and Sarah Andrews, our GSA Registration person set up a special
VIP code for them to register free. We arranged with the hotel to
put these folks room charges on our bill. Be ready—you will
be asked "room only," OR "all hotel charges?"
K-12 Teachers Program
A friend from our local community college offered to run our K-12
teachers program, and he got a colleague who has taught secondary
school science to help him. We brainstormed a lot. One of these
folks had never attended a NE GSA and the other hadn't for years.
Neither had any connection to NAGT or NESTA. Neither had any sense
that workshops and field trips for teachers would have to run before
or after the formal meeting. They finally got some good workshops
together, and our Treasurer helped them make contact with a quarry
where they planned to take teachers. All this required lots of work.
A particularly sticky problem is how to get the word out to secondary
earth science teachers. My K-12 people seemed to be thinking very
provincially, talking of getting the word out to the teachers in
the adjacent few counties. I urged them to use a PA Dept of Education
database with e-mail addresses for all secondary earth science teachers
in the state. But beyond that, most of these teachers are not GSA
members. After a lot of trouble I did manage to get NAGT New England
and Eastern Sections to send out a notice about our K-12 events,
and I sent a similar notice to a contact who said they sent a note
to NESTA members in the NE, but I never saw it.
Now with the pre-registration deadline past by 3 days, we had from
zero to 2 people signed up for all the K-12 teachers events including
their nice field trip, and we have cancelled all of the K-12 events.
I understand that we are not alone in this, for I've had a report
that the SE Section has a similar problem. This is particularly
frustrating for a lot of time spent on this, and I feel bad for
the folks who did a lot of hard work.
I suggest that if you have a strong network of local earth science
teachers you bring them together later this Spring and ask them
what they would like for a K-12 program and give them a major role
in planning those events. Then ask them if they would use their
teacher networks to spread the word.
Someone from your Local Committee should come prepared to talk with
all of the exhibitors at Camp Hill. Last year at Saratoga I brought
two forms for exhibitors:
1) A simple sheet with large type for exhibitors to take home telling
when and where next year's meeting is, and giving contact information
for those handling exhibits.
2) A form that I asked exhibitors to fill out for me, telling organization,
contact person, address, e-mail, phone, and some check-boxes to
say whether they would exhibit next year (likely, probably, not
likely). These forms have been invaluable in making contact with
folks. Most are coming to our meeting too.
Be aware that the GSA Bookstore (Ann Crawford is contact at GSA
HQ) will want a double booth, and that the meeting pays for this
one. I had assumed that they would need just a basic booth, but
I recently heard that they would want electricity (another $60 for
the meeting) and high speed internet access (at $150/day for 4 days).
This wasn't in my budget. After some phone calls, I found that GSA
will pay for the internet connection and electricity. We also pay
for several nights of room for the bookstore person (and also for
the person who handles registration). GSA will ship their exhibit
stuff ahead--I'm told to expect 25-30 items (by FedEx). You will
need to arrange an address for it to be shipped to.
Kurt Hollocher had one or two exhibitors who didn't pay. We took
his advice and have said that all exhibits must be paid for a month
before the meeting. We designed a simple "contract" to
be submitted with the payment, which listed contact people and any
"extras" needed beyond the basic booth (electric, phone,
high-speed internet). A few exhibitors will want extra tables, mainly
those with books.
You need to think early about registration for exhibitors. Traditionally
exhibitors have been offered one free registration (some have told
us two). Be aware that GSA will charge you $12 per registrant for
these folks, so don't forget these costs in your Exhibit fee. We
worked out an arrangement with our GSA Registration coordinator
that we would collect all of the Registration forms (they printed
out the paper forms and sent our Exhibit chairs copies), and then
send them in together marked "EXHIBITOR." If any exhibitor
wanted anything beyond basic registration (e.g., banquet), they
had to furnish a credit card number to pay for that.
I never found a Workshop/Short Course Chair, so I tried to do it
myself. I wanted to have a modest number of these for the weekend
before our meeting in which there would be something for: 1) K-12
teachers, 2) College/University teachers, and 3) consultants. All
of these got set up quite late--well after the Preliminary Announcement
appeared--probably because I was distracted with the main program.
The K-12 teachers program that was a bust is described above. I
finally got Heather Macdonald at William and Mary to work with Barb
Tewksbury to offer two of their very good NSF-sponsored workshops
for College & University teachers. The two workshops attracted
either one or two people, and they are now cancelled.
I wanted to attract consultants, a group usually under-represented
at NE GSA, to our meeting. I thought that the best way to do this
would be to offer some workshops or short courses that would help
them get up-to-date on a subject of interest to them. I tried to
use every contact I had in the area to get ideas and find a good
short course or two. Several of these people had interesting ideas
or contacts, but when I tried to get them to give me the details
or make a contact for me, they were "too busy" or never
got back to me. I found this quite disappointing and indeed wondered
how some of these folks could call themselves professional geologists.
I made contact with the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists
(PCPG), the main organization here of consulting companies that
have registered geologists on their staffs and the primary group
that lobbies for PG's in PA. Once or twice a year they have offered
a two day review course to prepare geologists for the ASBOG licensing
exam given for registration in a number of states, including PA.
I suggested that they offer their course before our meeting. We
were prepared to make all hotel arrangements, but eventually they
decided to do the course on Saturday and Sunday before our meeting.
We agreed to make links on our Final Announcement and their PCPG
web site. I carried out my part of the bargain, and some weeks later
found no reference on their site to our meeting. I finally got that
straight with a good message about our meeting, but they have not
stayed in touch. I recently heard that they sent out a flyer to
consultants in PA advertising their review course with not a word
about our meeting. I have no idea whether their course will go or
I was saved, I thought, on the consultant front by the offer of
Doug Mose and a colleague at George Mason University to do a 2-day
course on Measuring Indoor Radon. We negotiated and added it to
the Final Announcement. It was attractive that they would run the
course for a minimum of 5 people. But Doug wanted to make a profit,
which he uses to support grad students, and the course was to cost
several hundred bucks. They had offered the same course at Salt
Lake City GSA, but it was cancelled. After our pre-registration
deadline no one had signed up, and I suggested to Doug that they
cancel. He was coming to our meeting anyway, and suggested we let
it play out and see if they get anyone. However, if we had done
this and only got one or two persons, I'd have lost money. My AV
costs were going to be $400+ and I had added the room on Saturday
late for another $195.
The conclusion to all this is that I would like to see workshops
continue to be offered at NE GSA, but think carefully about what
you offer, how much they will cost, and how you can promote them
so that the budget will balance. I've concluded that I can run meetings,
but don't know a darn thing about workshops, short courses, and
K-12 teacher programs. Fortunately all of these were set up so that
we will only lose a penalty for canceling the rooms we had reserved
late for Saturday.
It has long been a tradition to have student workers to help with
Registration and AV/lights in the Speaker Ready Room and oral sessions.
We asked our GSA Registration person and our AV Chair how many they
needed. For registration the number is higher at busy times (first
evening, first morning) and tapers off to the last morning. We will
have about 30 students helping during our meeting. Each is expected
to put in two half-days (e.g., Monday AM on Registration and Tuesday
PM in an oral session) in exchange for free registration for the
meeting. Our Student Help coordinators created a spreadsheet of
jobs and times by half days. They sent out a call to Department
Chairs of colleges/universities in our area in January as Spring
semester began to ask students if they wanted to help. Beyond these
sources, we had several inquiries from students elsewhere in the
Section who had heard that they could cut expenses this way. Students
coming to the meeting were asked to indicate half-days when they
would NOT be able to work. Through a number of e-mails students
were matched to jobs.
Students were asked NOT to register early for the meeting but, as
with exhibitors, rather to print out the paper registration form
and fill it in and send it to our Student Help chair. Students all
had to furnish credit card information and indicate anything they
wanted beyond basic registration (e.g., a field trip, banquet, AWG
breakfast, etc). These were then collected and sent to our GSA Registration
person for them to be registered as Student Volunteers. IF they
perform their duties, they will NOT be charged for registration.
If they aren't certified as having worked, they will be charged.
We decided early on that we should not tamper in major ways with
the basic format of NE GSA meetings that seems to have been successful
for many years. Only things I changed from the Saratoga format are:
1) they had the Paleontological Society Luncheon on Wednesday Noon
(last day), and not surprisingly got 4 people--we moved it to Monday
Noon, and at this writing they have 16 signed up.
2) we carved an hour out of the end of Monday afternoon's sessions
for the 4-5 PM special Mars Rover plenary session lecture.
Other Societies traditionally
associated with NE GSA meet with us:
The Eastern Section, Society for
Sedimentary Geology (SEPM) traditionally has a Social and
Business Meeting after one of the afternoon sessions that they sponsor.
Sometimes they also have a guest speaker. This is usually on the
afternoon of the first day of the meeting (Monday in our case).
This year ES-SEPM (Al Curran, Treasurer, Bosiljka Glumac, President,
both at Smith College) is contributing $150 for some veges and dip
and chips for the social, and we have arranged for a cash bar for
them. Be aware that in typical hotel arrangements, if the cash bar
doesn't make a certain minimum, you will have to pay the hotel something.
This is the only cash bar event for us in which I am not certain
whether we'll make the minimum.
Association for Women Geoscientists
(AWG) traditionally has a breakfast the second morning of
the meeting (Tuesday, 6:30-8 AM for us). They usually set fees for
Professionals somewhat higher than for Students so that the students
are subsidized somewhat. Contacts for this event are Helen Delano
firstname.lastname@example.org at the PA Geological Survey and Sue Halsey DrDuneNJ@aol.com
at Admiral Consulting in NJ.
Northeastern Section, Paleontological
Society (PS) has a luncheon at our meeting. This involves
minimal fuss, but making contact with the right person may be a
problem. We had a change of their officers to deal with and it was
not until early Fall until we had things set up. The PS also usually
sponsors a Symposium or Theme Session. Current Chair of the NE Section
is Lisa Amati at SUNY Potsdam.
Council on Undergraduate Research
(CUR) does not have an "event" per se, but have
for some years been a sponsor of the papers based on undergraduate
research. Through most years including Saratoga, there were 1-2
sessions titled "Undergraduate Research (Posters)." Saratoga
was urged by some to get rid of this format and merge the student
papers with others by subject. They chickened out at the last minute,
but urged us to do it. We agreed that this was a good idea, and
put together a position paper arguing the logic of the idea (attached
at the end of this document). We sent our arguments to the CUR person
(Dave Bailey, Hamilton College) who has dealt with this in recent
years, and got a tepid reply. We decided to go ahead and made clear
what we were doing in the Prelim and Final Announcements.
All went well until Salt Lake GSA when I was approached by John
Creasey from Bates College, who had been at the CUR Geology Councilors'
Meeting the day before. As best I can tell, we were the main topic
of the meeting. On behalf of the group John presented various reasons
why what we were doing was not a good idea. Among these--1) grad
schools representatives like the large student poster sessions to
look for potential grad students, 2) students can be brought to
the meeting for one day, and then scoot home when their session
is over, etc. From my point of view, and from conversations with
some colleagues at diverse schools, there are equally strong if
not stronger arguments against these. CUR also seemed worried about
how it would "sponsor" diverse papers rather than sessions.
It was too late to change our policy of merging student papers with
others on the same topic. Pete Sak worked out with CUR that we would
1) identify undergraduate authors of papers, and 2) furnish CUR
names and titles for these to be recognized with a special sign(s?)
at the meeting. This is being done. (CUR
furnished CUR logo stickers, which we placed on superstats in front
of each paper title presented by an undergraduate. There were 115
of these, of which18 were oral.) We don't think our change
in policy has affected the number of student papers. Just shy of
30% of the papers at our meeting are being presented by undergraduate
students, and there is even a nice scattering of oral papers by
largely takes care of itself except for ordering the food and cash
bars. After AV, it is probably the most expensive item in our budget,
on the order of something like $8,000. The philosophy is feed them
well, make them happy, and they'll have a good meeting. We chose
a mix of hot and cold hors d' oeuvres. Cash bar will have typical
hotel prices--a bottle of beer for $4!, etc? Since it is tradition
that the first drink is free (through a ticket paid for with registration--don't
forget to budget for this), we discussed this with hotel.
We decided to include soda, wine, or beer on the ticket, but not
more expensive mixed drinks. At first hotel wanted to keep all the
tickets together and count them all as the most expensive item (house
wine at $4.75/glass). We pointed out that some/many would drink
the less expensive beer or soda, but they didn't think they could
keep track of the different tickets. We finally convinced them to
have three buckets (I suggested I would furnish if they couldn't
get some), and throw tickets in each according to what people get.
Watch out for little things like this or they will eat your budget.
Our "free drink" counts were as follows: Wine—101,
Imported Beer—74, Domestic Beer—183, Soda—14.
are expensive. A single coffee break (really regular coffee, decaf,
and tea) is going to cost us $600-800. We started out planning for
all coffee/tea for afternoon breaks, but eventually decided to have
a mix of these and sodas. We will pay only for the sodas used ($2/can).
Bob Ganis made this a focus of his requests to local quarry companies
for sponsorships, and we will have signs by the coffee saying who
made generous contributions.
Map Blast–This one
largely takes care of itself. It has traditionally been on the evening
after the first full day of sessions (Monday for us). Many see it
as a relaxed social occasion, and we are going to have a cash bar
there as they had at Saratoga. Because we have poster boards (used
for Map Blast maps) in same area as Exhibits, we are asking exhibitors
to stay open. We will also have Sarah Andrews at the GSA Bookstore
for a book signing during this time. This was well-attended, very
1) Choosing the food. We started by telling the hotel folks that
if we have a meal priced too high, we will get very few people and
all efforts to promote it will be self defeating. We are doing a
buffet rather than a served meal, and it will cost a dollar or two
less than what we are charging. Tradition is to have a cash bar
open the hour before the dinner. Our hotel folks resisted having
a cash bar open during the meal, but we prevailed on this one--some
like a glass of wine during their meal.
2) Banquet Speaker--I solicited ideas and got what seemed to me
some deadly suggestions. I suggested we needed light (some spouses
do attend) but with some connection to geology. No one but my wife
seemed to either want to or be able to give good advice on this.
The chair may be on his/her own. Because we had tried to get Sarah
Andrews for the Forensic Geology Theme Session, I decided to ask
her to do the banquet talk too.
Shlemon and Mann Mentor Programs, "Yes,
there is such a thing as a free lunch"—These programs
for students are run by Karlon Blythe at GSA. There are usually
two noon-time Shlemon luncheons, and a late afternoon Mann Mentor
pizza "supper." These are all paid for by funds from the
GSA Foundation, including Karlon's travel expenses. She will set
a maximum cost per person with you (in our case about $15) and tell
you how many and the seating arrangements she'd like. All you have
to do is arrange the events and food for her. I started with the
previous year's wording for copy in Preliminary and Final Announcements,
and then let Karlon edit as she wished. Karlon takes care of all
the other arrangements, including lining up the "mentors"
and chopping off the line of students when the maximum number have
decided to try to do something special to create a little extra
"buzz" for the meeting. Most of this was provoked by Chris
Hepburn's report to GSA Council on Sections and Section Meetings
(you should have a copy and re-read it). What we did falls into
1) The NE GSA digital terrain poster.
Idea came from a year ago when the N-Central Section did one of
the Upper Midwest, prepared by Paul Morin at the University of Minnesota.
I contacted him and he agreed to produce an image for us for the
NE Section. All went well through various drafts--the digital terrain
got sorted quickly. There were glitches over the appearance of the
GSA and Dickinson College logos that seemed interminable to Paul
and me. All went well until roughly 10,000 of the posters were going
to press. Somehow near the end a button got pushed saying "black
and white" rather than "grayscale," and the printing
was all washed out. 3400 of these had already been mailed folded
with the September GSA Today ,
2000 had been sent to GSA for giveaways in Salt Lake City, and several
thousand arrived on a 300 lb pallet for me--all wrong. After 2-3
tense weeks, some of the publication folks at GSA graciously agreed
to pay for reprinting correctly of the 2000 for Salt Lake and some
for me (I have a couple of thousand of the good ones to give away
at the meeting). These posters cost on the order of $0.25 each for
printing, as long as a large number is made--the whole first printing
of about 10,000 was done for about $2,500.
A sidelight of this was the production of a stereo anaglyph of
the same poster to be viewed with red/cyan glasses. I was sent a
spectacular proof at the same size as the mono poster, but cost
for printing would have been about 3 times the mono version. We
never got the time or $ to print these. However, Paul did print
for me on his big drum printer a couple of 5 ft wide by 7 ft high
stereo versions which we displayed at Salt Lake City. They were
well received and I now am getting orders filled for about a dozen
of these at $100 apiece, most to be delivered in Camp Hill, for
use in Geology Department lobbies. We
sold 12 of these large stereo posters at a modest profit.
2) Special Guest Speakers—We
decided to have a plenary session with some "bigwig" speaker
on a topic of wide geologic interest. We budgeted a modest amount
to cover travel and travel expenses for 2 people. In August when
our Local Committee met, we gathered suggestions and winnowed the
list to a first, second, and third choice. First choice was to get
Steve Squyres at Cornell (main PI on the Mars Rover project), but
he was too busy. It was through a colleague of Duane Braun's who
does planetary geology that we connected with Jim Bell. It is going
to be interesting to see what kind of reaction folks at the meeting
have to this Mars talk. (The Mars talk
was attended by 400-500 people, and was well received.) Second,
we went after Sarah Andrews. It took lots of negotiation, and putting
up with her disappearance into Antarctica to get it together, but
we now have her for Forensic Geology, a book signing, and banquet
For the Plenary Session, other topics that we considered include
the Indonesian Earthquake a year or so ago and issues related to
coastal geology and river levees provoked by Hurricane Katrina.
Meeting Web Site on Your Department
Web Page—Following Kurt Hollocher at Saratoga, we created
a NE GSA 2006 web page on the Dickinson College Geology Department
web page. We used it mainly to post information and instructions.
Soon after we furnished copy for the Preliminary and then Final
Announcement to GSA, we posted our submitted copy as a pdf, essentially
giving people 2 months up on being able to read it. At times I got
so busy that it took me weeks to get new copy to our department
technician to put up on the page. I don't have any measure of how
many used this.
Other Files to be furnished on CD ROM in Camp
Exhibit Letter—What to expect
Letter to Potential Student Workers
Event Schedule (spreadsheets)
Last Revised 16-February-06
NE GSA, March, 2006
Camp Hill, PA
Jan We finally got a contract with hotel--this is late. Should
have been sooner.
Jan-Feb Local Committee selected--make plans for things we should
do at Saratoga
Gather suggestions for theme sessions, special events, exhibits,
field trips, etc.
March13-16 NE GSA Saratoga
Early April Nancy Carlson contacts us with proposed schedule for:
a) submission of copy for Preliminary and Final Announcements, b)
abstract deadline, c) submission of Final Program copy, etc. You
have some flexibility with this, but not a lot.
Apr 9, Sat Local Committee Meets—Primarily discuss possible
Theme sessions and Field Trips in light of Saratoga ideas, but also
to get our act together and on same page. Selinsgrove Brew Pub.
Apr 15 e-mail blast to NE Section about: 1) Where, when, contact
info for 06, 2) inviting suggested Symposia and Theme Sessions by
May 6 Suggestions for Symposia and Theme Sessions due to Pete (Program
June Decide on Theme Session and Symposia Topics and line up Convener/Advocates.
I think we did this too late. By the third week of May most academics
have headed to the field or elsewhere and more than a few are hard
to get hold of
May or June Exhibit Fees decided, Exhibit Info out to potential
Exhibitors. You don't need everything now, but keep these guys on
the hook—especially those who might come back from last year—most
of ours did.
June 22 All information for First Announcement to Noel (see current
year's announcement for content)
June 30 Text for First Announcement due to GSA Today to GSA (Appears
in September GSA Today . Also goes live on the web then.
Early Aug By now you should have contacted representatives of various
groups that traditionally meet with and have events at NE GSA. Among
Eastern Section, Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM)
NE Section, Paleontological Society
Association for Women Geoscientists
Aug 15 Have menus chosen and prices from hotel for luncheons, banquet,
Shlemon, Mann, and box lunches. Need these to do budget, set fees
for Final Announcement. Banquet speaker arranged--yes, should have
been, but it took a while for us.
Aug 22 Local Committee meets at Dickinson. Discussion of fees (Noel
and Bob had prepared models, settled near final fees). Discuss field
trip fees and logistics. Review other matters. This was our last
Local Committee meeting all together.
Sep 1 By now should have fees set for Registration, Ticketed Meals,
Field Trips, Workshops, Box Lunches. Take care of "free"
Regis. for student help and any others. Set budget and get it to
Steve for Management Board review
~Sep 5 First announcement published in GSA Today and on Web. Abstract
form goes “live.”
Sep 22 All information for FINAL Announcement to Noel (see current
announcement on-line for content).
Sep 30 FINAL Announcement copy for GSA Today and web site due to
Oct 16-19 GSA National Meeting (Salt Lake for us). Be prepared
to advertise your meeting at National. Also a good place to meet
with your conveners and pump them up. Good time to stir people you
know to urge them to submit abstracts. Might find some exhibitors
~Dec 5 FINAL Announcement published in GSA Today . Preregistration
form goes “live” on web.
~Dec 10 Nancy Carlson will introduce Program Chairs, and General
Chair (if they wish), to Confex—the computer program that
handles, sorts, and arranges abstracts and sessions. This can be
done with an ~45 minute conference phone call while you sit at your
Dec 13 Abstract Deadline. Don't expect most abstracts to arrive
until the last minute. Over 200 of our approximately 375 abstracts
arrived on the last day, and 40 arrived after 8 PM on the last day.
Technical Program folks need to immediately start review and organizing
sessions right away. Note that this occurs over Holidays. Need to
plan when you will work together on this. Much of the "Program"
copy )other than Technical Sessions) can be prepared ahead of time,
so that "crunch time" can be devoted to getting the sessions
in order and carefully checked.
Mid-Jan Student Help person should have their act together and
be ready to e-mail colleagues about how you will handle student
help for meeting. Time this to when students are about to start
Spring semester—a good time for faculty to pump up their students
about meeting anyway.
Jan 12 Technical Program finalized and sent to Nancy Carlson at
GSA. All technical sessions in order, conveners arranged. Nancy
will prepare text for Abstract Book.
Jan 18 Meet w/ Hotel folks by this date to finalize program, room
use and setups, menus, etc. Within a couple of weeks you will be
reviewing and signing BEO's (Banquet Event Orders) for every room
setup, event, AV requirement, and menu with approximate numbers
for these. For food, final numbers are due about a week before meeting.
This is also when you should make hotel arrangement for special
guests and GSA staff and officers coming to meeting. Should also
make sure that all of your billing and payment arrangements are
square with the Hotel folks.
~Jan 22 Acceptance notices e-mailed to authors by Nancy Carlson.
Include in this message how authors should deliver their PowerPoint
presentations (e.g., to an ftp site and/or on CD or memory stick
to Speaker Ready Room. Also include instructions about Posters.
Technical Program schedule is posted on the meeting web site.
Jan 30 Nancy Carlson furnishes "galleys" of the Program
(via e-mail as a pdf). You have 2-3 days to go over it. Most is
in good shape (you furnished the copy), but you need to check carefully.
Feb 2 Abstract book goes to printer. Technical program signage
printed--so-called superstats that go outside each room. You will
also have to furnish number of Programs (the ones given to every
registrant at meeting) you want, and how many Abstracts with Programs
(the slick-covered, more expensive books) you want. Fair warning—this
is 10 days before the Pre-Registration deadline, and most people
register at the last minute. You will have to guess how many.
Feb 8 E-mail blast to NE section reminding of Pre-Registration
deadline about a week before it—sent out by GSA staff. Also
reminds of hotel room block deadline.
Feb 13 Pre-Registration Deadline
Feb 15 Decisions need to be made about whether Field Trips and
Short Course/Workshops will "go" or not, based on preregistration
numbers. For cancelled events, those who signed up need to be notified
and refunds made (this is done by your GSA Registration contact).
Need to arrange for refunds through GSA Registration folks. For
field trips that are going to run, confirm, add, or cancel transportation
Feb 15 Need to know Student Help and tell Kevin Ricker who these
people are for "free" registrations.
Feb 15 Get number of people for meals, food from Preregistration
to Hotel folks to help them refine needs. Furnish exhibit requirements
and layout to Hotel.
Feb 20 Deadline for Exhibitors to get contracts and payment in
to Exhibits Chair. Also need any special requirements—electricity,
high speed internet, extra tables— beyond basic booth. Get
Exhibitor Registration forms to Kevin Ricker at GSA.
Feb 17 Guidebook copy to Field Trip Co-chairs ready for editing.
~Feb 25 Guidebook(s) to printer.
Late Feb Signs made and superstats and signs mounted.
Check computer/AV setups.
Check plans for Exhibit and Poster and Registration setup.
Feb 24 Abstract book gets mailed by GSA. Programs and Abstracts
with Programs that you ordered are sent to you for meeting.
Mar 8 ? e-mail blast to authors reminding of 1) Power Point download
procedures, Speaker Ready Room, type of projector (for oral), and
2) poster setup (for posters).
~Mar 9 Meet with Hotel staff for run-through of all events, setups,
etc. This will include Hotel people that do food, setups, AV, etc.
Mar 19-22 NE GSA Camp Hill/Harrisburg Meeting
~Apr 1 File final reports
We gave Saratoga Exhibitors these 2 pages, and collected the second
one. It was well worth the effort.
Geological Society of America
NEXT YEAR, 2006
Dates: Sunday, March 19 – Wednesday, March 22
We hope that you will exhibit with us again next year when we
meet at the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel
and Convention Center in Camp Hill, PA, just across the Susquehanna
River from downtown Harrisburg.
Noel Potter, Dickinson College 717-245-1340 email@example.com
Michelle Bell Curry, retired 717-221-9252 firstname.lastname@example.org
We expect to have information about cost of exhibit space available
within a month or so, and would like contact information from you
so that we can make sure our mailing gets to the right person.
Please give us your contact information on the attached sheet.
Noel Potter will come by and pick it up at your exhibit booth later
in the meeting.
Geological Society of America
NEXT YEAR, 2006
Dates: Sunday, March 19 – Wednesday, March 22
Please give us your contact information below for a mailing about
exhibits at next year's meeting.
Organization or Firm______________________________
Your phone number______________________________
Your e-mail address______________________________
How likely is it that you will exhibit at NE GSA next year?
_____surely _____likely _____maybe _____unlikely
13 May, 2005
TO: NE GSA Management Board
FROM: Noel Potter, Pete Sak, Jennifer Elick
RE: Student Poster Sessions at NE GSA
Ok folks, Chris Hepburn recently told you that the Management
Board should be involved in policy decisions about our meetings.
Here's your chance to give us some opinions.
For the 2006 NE GSA Meeting we are considering alternatives to
the recent format of traditional "Undergraduate Research (Posters)"
sessions. Please send us your comments on the alternatives we present
below within the next week or so.
In recent years the "Undergraduate Research (Posters)"
have been listed in the Program and presented as a group separate
from oral and poster papers presented by professionals. For a history
of undergraduate posters at NE GSA, see our note at the end of this
message. We want to continue to encourage strong student participation
in our section meeting, but we see two problems with the current
format, as did the organizers of the 2005 Saratoga meeting.
1) Disparate subject matter in 1-3 sessions--The diverse subject
matter of undergraduate research ends up jumbled in 1-3 large poster
sessions consisting of various subjects mixed together in a potpourri.
The end result is a) a lack of
coherence of subject matter within a single poster session that
is unlike almost every other session--poster or oral--offered at
the meeting, and b) an implied
"second class citizenship" of these budding professionals,
when as a matter of practice many students prepare as good, if not
always as sophisticated, papers as some of their full professional
2) Why not oral too?--Creating a Theme Session(s) of "Undergraduate
Research (POSTERS)" implies that this is "the place"
for undergraduates to present their papers. While we agree that
some subject matter clearly lends itself to poster rather than oral
mode, some undergraduate research projects could be effectively
or more effectively presented in the oral mode. We recognize that
poster presentation encourage extended dialog with visitors compared
to the brief question and answer time allotted in the typical oral
session. If there are multiple student authors on a paper, clearly
poster mode makes it easier to give "equal time" than
the oral mode. On the other hand, students should be encouraged
to practice their oral skills as well. The Saratoga organizers invited
a few students who had submitted to the poster session to present
in oral sessions appropriate to their research topic.
Posters have become very popular in the past 10-15 years among
geologists. The 2005 Saratoga meeting was the first time that the
number of contributed posters exceeded contributed talks. A few
years ago NE GSA changed from 5 to 4 concurrent oral sessions per
half day, presumably largely because of the growth in popularity
of the poster mode. Kurt Hollocher has told us that he could have
done all oral papers in two rather than 2.5 days.
We see several possibilities to blunt the effect of 1) and 2)
above. Instead of the current "Undergraduate Research (Posters)"
all in 1-3 large poster sessions,
1) Merge all undergraduate papers with others, with a note in
the "Call for Abstracts" making it clear that submissions
from undergraduate researchers are encouraged (this was actually
done in 1996 and 1997). The problem with this is that papers are
not identified as having undergraduate first authors, as is the
case now with oral mode papers based on undergraduate research.
A substantial question here is whether we should/could somehow
identify all papers based on undergraduate research with student
as first author/presenter with some symbol (UR, or the like?)? And
if the answer is yes, can we get this information when abstracts
are submitted to GSA?
2) Solicit undergraduate posters as now, but merge posters on
a given subject by students with those by professionals, and spread
the student posters through thematic poster sessions (as was done
at the 1994, 1995, and 1998 meetings--see History below).
3) To make sure that students know that the "oral option"
is open to them, and to perhaps get a few more oral papers, make
a statement in the "Call for Abstracts" to the effect
that "undergraduate students are encouraged to consider presenting
their research in an oral session appropriate to their research
A SHORT HISTORY OF UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH POSTER SESSIONS AT NE
It appears that the first time that undergraduate research was
singled out at NE GSA was at the 1992 Harrisburg meeting where Jeff
Niemitz was Technical Program Chair. The "Special Poster Session
on Undergraduate Research" was "Sponsored by the Northeastern
Section of GSA." There were 29 posters that year.
By 1993 (Burlington) the Special Poster session was co-sponsored
by NE GSA and the Geology Division of CUR, with Barb Tewksbury (Hamilton
College) as convener. Since then primary conveners have been Larry
Malinconico (Lafayette College) and Dave Bailey (Hamilton College)
with help from others a couple of years. Numbers of undergraduate
posters since 1994 have been in the 50's and 60's, with the exception
of the 1998 Portland meeting with 39 and the 2004 Tysons Corners
meeting with 87 (joint NE/SE Sections). Second highest number of
undergrad posters (69) was at Halifax.
A sampling of the last several years (2001, 03, 04) of meeting programs
for other section shows that all but the Cordilleran Section now
have an Undergraduate Research Poster session. Most are sponsored
by CUR. From 6 to 58 posters were presented at these meetings.
In most years there was simply one or more "Undergraduate Research
(Poster)" sessions with all subjects lumped together. In several
years (1994, 95, 98) posters were arranged by topic, with undergraduate
ones designated as such with a separate heading (e.g., Booths 1-8
"Petrology" and Booths 9-14 "Undergraduate Research
(Posters): Petrology," followed in like fashion for other topics
with the undergrad posters spread among other posters over the whole
2½ days of the meeting. In two years (1996, 97) a "Special
Poster Session" was described as "Undergraduate Research,"
but none of the poster sessions nor individual papers was specifically
identified as by undergraduates.