APS News

Focus on Committees

Committee Helps Keep Meetings Healthy

David Tanner
David Tanner
The annual March and April Meetings of the APS are important to the physics community and one of the most important services provided to APS members. To assure that the meetings are as productive and enjoyable as possible for members, the Society has a Committee on Meetings. It consists of eight individuals—six APS members and two APS officers—and serves to monitor the status of the meetings and provide guidance to the APS staff on issues relating to the general meetings.

"The committee acts as advisor to the Meetings Department, which handles all of the logistics for the meetings, and works with the program committees to plan the programs," said Donna Baudrau, the Staff Advisor to the Committee and director of the Meetings Department.

The committee's function, she says, is to review the health and efficacy of the meetings, including finances, attendance levels and demographics, and provide advice on matters such as registration fees, audiovisual policy, abstract submission, existing programs and new program proposals. The committee also reviews the status of ancillary programs at the meetings, such as the Student Lunch with Experts, and the child care service provided at the March Meeting.

"The committee considers aspects of the meetings related to the mechanics and process of how the meeting runs, but not issues like content or location," said committee chair David Tanner, a physics professor from the University of Florida at Gainesville. "We cover most of the meetings that APS runs, but really focus on the March and April Meetings."

Review of registration fees is undertaken by the committee every year or two. At this year's meeting, the committee weighed the propriety of a registration fee increase for the March Meeting to cover additional costs. After consulting with APS treasurer Thomas McIlrath, the committee approved an increase of $25 for members, $50 for nonmembers, and $10 for students and retirees. The increase will offset the cost of expanding the audio-visual package that will include LCD projectors in every room for the first time. These will be in addition to the overhead projectors that have been traditionally provided.

Another concern for the committee right now is the 2004 March Meeting, which will take place in Montreal. The committee is concerned that physicists in the United States on visas, and physicists from other countries who will need visas to enter Canada, may have difficulty in arranging for travel to and from the meeting, because of the tightened security measures now in place and new restrictions governing travel.

"Physics is such an international discipline that we have to be concerned with how this will affect foreign students and postdocs who are studying and working in this country," said Tanner. "The committee is being responsible by thinking about this early, especially by considering the foreign citizens in the U.S. It could be a nasty situation if it is not handled right."

While it is too early to take specific action yet, the committee members said they will follow travel guidelines closely and, with the help of APS director of inter-national affairs Irving Lerch, issue recommendations in the months before the meeting. At its most recent meeting, the committee emphasized that all members of the physics community should keep abreast of international travel laws, as they are changing rapidly and could affect some physicists' ability to travel to the meeting.

Committee member Kate Kirby says the committee does an important job. "Meetings are an extremely important aspect of service to the APS membership," Kirby said. "It is critical that the Meetings Department of APS carry out planning and discuss policy issues with a committee of APS members."

—Desirée Scorcia

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