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ATHE President Appoints Committee to Craft Conference Site Selection Policy

Monday, March 3, 2014  
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President Henry Bial delivered a letter to ATHE members announcing the appointment of a special Committee on Conferences, charged with "developing a policy to better align ATHE’s conference site selection process with our mission, vision, and values." The Operations Committee "listened to and discussed" members' concerns in the wake of the passage of Arizona's House Bill 2135/Senate Bill 1062 (as well as the prior immigration-related bills, SB1070 and HB2281. The letter is excerpted below, and you can read the full letter at this link.

Dear ATHE Members:

On behalf of the Governing Council, I would like to thank all of you who shared your thoughts and feelings with us regarding Arizona’s House Bill 2153/Senate Bill 1062 (as well as SB 1070 and SB 2281) and how both existing and proposed legislation might affect ATHE’s planning for Conference 2014. The Association’s Operations Committee members (President, President-Elect, Past President, Treasurer, Secretary, VP for Membership and Marketing, VP for Conference 2014, and Member-at-Large for Operations) have listened to and discussed your concerns extensively as we have monitored the evolving situation. Though Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has now vetoed SB 1062, I want to assure you that, for ATHE, this is the beginning of a conversation, not the end of one.

Many of you are aware that, while we have dealt with a handful of comparable situations in the past on an ad hoc basis, ATHE has never adopted a formal policy that determines how we select the conference cities or hotels, nor have we adopted guidelines on what conditions would necessitate cancelling or rescheduling an already-booked conference. We have instead been reactive to member concerns as expressed through annual surveys and other measures. In recent years, for example, in response to worries about the high cost of attendance, the Governing Council has sought to maximize access to the conference by seeking the best value opportunity for the Association and its members while adhering to a loose geographical rotation between the northeast, the south, the midwest, and the west. For a long time, that seemed to work well enough.


Toward that end, I have appointed a special Committee on Conferences, to be chaired by Chase Bringardner (VP for Conference 2013) and consisting of several past conference chairs as well as representatives from a broad sampling of focus groups. This Committee has been charged with developing a policy to better align ATHE’s conference site selection process with our mission, vision, and values. The Committee will develop a draft policy this Spring, leaving time for a public comment period and further revision before making a recommendation that the Governing Council can consider at its July meeting. You can expect a formal call for input from that Committee later this spring, but in the meantime, if you have thoughts or suggestions you’d like to share on this subject, you may send them via email to

I thank you in advance for your contributions to this important conversation. In the meantime, the Governing Council looks forward to delivering the best possible experience to our members at the upcoming conferences that have already been scheduled: Scottsdale (this year), Montreal (2015), and Chicago (2016).

Henry Bial, President

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