The View from the Program Chair, Irv Levy, Fall 2013

We’re entering the final laps of summertime as I compose this note and last minute details for the fall meeting in Indianapolis are speeding into view. Many thanks are due to Julie Smist and Tyson Miller who have assembled an impressive array of symposia for this meeting. Laura Slocum has worked for over a year assembling the high school program for Sunday during the meeting. The program she has organized has some unique features designed to enhance interaction between attendees; especially the mini-poster session that will occur during the High School/College Interface Luncheon, in place of the “traditional” keynote presentation. I hope that you’ll be able to join us in Indy and, please, take the time to personally thank Julie, Tyson, and Laura for their work on your behalf.

Also, many thanks in advance go to Pratibha Varma-Nelson and The Center for Teaching and Learning at IUPUI. They have generously organized a “pre-meeting” Welcome Reception on Saturday night in Indy. The Welcome Reception will take place from 6:00-8:00PM at IUPUI’s Center of Teaching & Learning, Room UL1125, 755 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis. Please register at if you can join us for this social event. Please note that this reception is in addition to the normal Division Reception that will be held on Sunday night in advance of the General Poster session.

The spring meeting in New Orleans was a great success, thanks to the efforts of the co-chairs Carmen Gauthier and Nicole Snyder, and their organizers. We were especially pleased with the outcome of the undergraduate research oral presentations and hope to make this a new regular session at spring meetings. Kate Anderson, worked on this meeting as our High School Program organizer. Kate has done this before and the experience of working with her really solidified the notion that the high school chair does not need to be bound to the local venue (Kate comes to us from Beyond Benign in Wilmington, MA). Moving forward, we will endeavor to solicit high school organizers who will be able to commit to both the spring and fall meeting in a given year. This should make the overall experience better for the organizers who often are only involved in one meeting and can’t re-use the experience gained from the process.

As always, there are a number of people behind the scenes who provide direct and indirect support for the programming at a national meeting. Many thanks to the ACS staff who are the ones who bring it all together: Robin Green, John Michael Sophos, Beverly Johnson, Vernar Beatty and Nancy Bakowski are a great team and I very much enjoy working with them. And, speaking of behind the scenes, there are countless details that are handled by Heather Johnson. Many thanks are due to all the folks in the Division and ACS who work with our committee to produce a quality meeting.

Organizing a national meeting actually takes 12-18 months. Consequently, our co-chairs for the Spring 2014 meeting in Dallas, Christine Jaworek and Beatriz Rios, are already hard at work with the organizers and authors who are presenting at that meeting. The deadline for authors is October 21 – please pass the word to your colleagues; we’re looking forward to a great meeting in Dallas! And, believe it or not, Cathy Middlecamp and Amy Cannon have already begun their work, organizing the Fall 2014 meeting in San Francisco. Please send them your ideas for symposia at this meeting.

As I’ve mentioned in past newsletters, beyond meeting planning there are several items high on my agenda as chair of the Program Committee. They are, in a nutshell, a) venue selection for the national meeting, b) Internet connectivity in meeting rooms, and c) the overall volunteer experience in programming.

I’m pleased that we were able to make a strong case for locating the DivCHED program in the convention center in New Orleans (just as we did previously in Philadelphia).  The posters for Indianapolis will be in the convention center and the remainder of the technical program will be in the Marriott hotel directly adjacent to the convention center. We will continue to work with ACS and others in the division to make the case that our program should be located in the convention center or in an adjacent hotel. It seems that Internet connectivity is clearly aligned with venue selection. In recent years we have struggled with a lack of WiFi connectivity in our meeting rooms while other divisions have had the resource. The bottom line is that many hotels and convention centers still see this expected resource as a cost center for income generation and they charge exorbitant fees to provide the service. I will continue to be determined in my pursuit of a solution to this problem.

Our organizers and I have tried to address a persistent issue for those who present in our General Papers. For this meeting we have split the General Papers from their traditional Thursday slot into sessions on both Thursday and Sunday. Further, we have received permission to offer only one session of General Papers on Thursday. We hope that the robust group of papers will attract a sizeable crowd beyond the group of presenters. We have heard many outstanding papers in these sessions in the past and have wished that more were able to share in the experience. It’s my hope that many of our members will still be in town on Thursday to be inspired by these authors.

PACS continued to offer up its own small reminders of why it is being replaced as many folks received email messages with incorrect information about their papers in Indianapolis. It’s like the system that won’t stop giving. (If headaches are what you’re after!) The replacement project for PACS continues to move forward. Teams have been assembled to test prototype systems from two different vendors. Both Julie Smist and I participated in that process earlier this summer. The results will help ACS to select the vendor and will continue to hone the needed functionality of the system.

Remember that my goal as the chair of your program committee is to make it easy for you to so “Yes, I’ll volunteer” by providing any support you might need. I look forward to working with you in the future whether it be as a symposium organizer, a meeting co-chair, or a member of the program committee. We are here to produce national meetings that serve your needs.  Please do let us know what those needs are and do consider what role you might be able to play as a volunteer. Drop me a note ( with your ideas or say hello in Indy!

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