By Merrill Eisenberg
University of Arizona
Thanks to the 318 members who responded to the Denver Meeting Evaluation! We had about a 22% response rate. Most of the responders were faculty (41%) or students (44%); independent contractors accounted for about 5% of the responders, NGO employees accounted for about 4% and 3% were government employees. The rest were university staff (2%) or for-profit employees (1%).
Overall, the responders rated their Denver meeting experience very favorably (4.2 on a scale of 1-5 where 1= not valuable at all and 5=very valuable).
Among those responding, 39% were first time SfAA conference attenders. Their evaluation of the overall value of the conference did not differ from those who have attended in the past. However, first time attenders were less likely to report that they would definitely or probably attend again in the future (62%) compared with repeat-attenders (89%).
Many informative and helpful comments were made, which will assist us as we begin planning for next year’s meetings in Albuquerque. These lie in the realm of logistics (e.g. hotel options, wi-fi availability, availability of water and other amenities, changes to the program book, audiovisual issues, child care), while others lie in the real of program content (e.g. specific topics, session formats, presentation styles) and social and cultural programming (e.g. structured and unstructured networking opportunities, tours, community activities).
There were many suggestions about locations for future meetings. The location of our meetings is determined by the Board of Directors 2-3 years in advance. It is imperative that we have a good turnout because the annual meeting accounts for about 40% of our annual revenues. Therefore, the Board strives to select locations that are likely to produce maximum participation. Specifically, we seek locations that have relatively inexpensive and numerous air connections, that have reasonable hotel rates, and that will be attractive destinations. We see this attention to access and affordability as an important social justice consideration that makes it possible for people on a limited budget to attend. This generally rules out many “first tier” cities, such as New York, Boston, or San Francisco.
The Board has also recently tasked the Committee on Human Rights and Social Justice to research potential cities in terms of social justice issues, including the labor union situation, local ownership and owner efforts to support the community, and “green” considerations. Ultimately, these and the considerations listed above are balanced in determining where our next meetings will take place.
Although we will likely not be able to address every issue raised to everyone’s satisfaction, the Board, the staff, and the Program Committee take your comments very seriously. We appreciate the effort made by the folks who replied to the evaluation survey and hope to see you all in Albuquerque next year.