2009Q1 Reports: Office
10 March 2009
ACL Business Office Report – Follow-up on “to do” items from the January Conference Call
1. “Fire Sale” of Proceedings: It was agreed we would offer all proceedings (ACL, EACL, NAACL, Coling main conferences, and workshops) 3 years or older for sale at $5.00 each to try to clear out some of our older stock before the end of March 2010 when our lease runs out on the current location. I have thought about how to do this and think that first I will ask Chris Pennington to update the current Publications Order form to be sure all proceedings are included and reduce the costs directly on the order form to $5.00 for most of the proceedings. Then, I can send an announcement of the “fire sale” to our membership and to the few book resellers and Ebsco who order directly from us. I can also send the announcement to Linguist, Corpora and any other lists people might suggest to me. Beyond these ideas, I am unsure how to tap into a resource of libraries and/or other institutions who might be interested (and able to pay for the shipping).
2. Selling the steel shelving: I believe I will be able to do this fairly easily but, of course, this cannot happen until close to March 2010 when we will move.
3. New Office locations for 2010: Since I had to call our current landlord (a real estate office, privately owned) to make the agreement that our lease would be extended for one more year, through March 31, 2010, I spoke with one of the owners about other rental possibilities and pricing. She said that the “going rate” for rentals is $12-$14 per square foot. It turns out we got a good deal when signing the lease for $850 for somewhere between 750-775 sq. ft. of current space. I measured what I think we would need as new office space and think about 400 sq. ft. would be good. She has been happy with our tenancy so offered possible smaller space within her 2-story real estate office building (still in the same town, Stroudsburg) or in her small 1-story satellite office the next town over (which is closer to my home). Of course, this far out, she could not make a commitment of space in either building. I plan to have a meeting with her in the next couple of months to further discuss our options through her agency and, if this does not work out, I will have a lot of time to “shop around”, although small spaces such as what we need seem harder to find.
4. Sponsorship: I have spoken to Bill Dolan (Microsoft) who will try to figure out what he can afford to give this year. He said he is feeling the pinch of the times and would not be in a position to give as much as in the past. I have not gotten the final word from him yet. I also spoke to Patrick Pantel (Yahoo!) who has gone back to his funding people and will let me know what he can do for us. I left multiple messages with Fernando Pereira (Google) both in email and by phone but have failed so far to make a connection…Still trying. I was a bit more successful with IBM, getting their usual $1,000 commitment for IBM Best Student Paper awards at both NAACL and ACL/IJCNLP. I also sent email inquiries to Mike Morgan (Morgan Claypool Publishers) and Olga Chiarcos (Springer). Mike has agreed to be at NAACL as a “manned” exhibit table and is considering Singapore. I have not heard back from Olga yet but will ping her again. And, lastly, I got the contacts from Bonnie of all the Publishers who are offering discounts to our members. My thinking is that they are showing interest in the ACL by offering discounts so they may well be interested in some sort of book exhibits, too. In all cases, as an ACL “Inc.” representative, I am pushing the 3-pack idea as much as I can but, of course, accepting whatever they are comfortable in giving.
5. Wachovia and safeguarding our funds: Wachovia Bank now has appointed a Small Business Representative with whom I have scheduled two meetings so far and both meetings have been cancelled. I hope to reschedule but it will not be in time for the conference call on March 12th. I will report to Graeme and the exec. Once I have met with her.
Priscilla Rasmussen 12 January 2009
ACL Business Office Report
First, all the best to everyone throughout 2009 and, my sincere thanks for my contract renewal and raise…much appreciated!
Graeme Hirst and I continue working on setting up a good system for transferring financial information back and forth and getting our accounting scheme in place.
John Kirby, my assistant, continues to be invaluable to me in many aspects of keeping the office, memberships and publications in order. Mainly, though, as many of you have seen when he accompanies me to our conferences, I am finding bringing him along when possible allows me greater freedom to attend meetings, put out logistical fires, and do all those things I need to do but am torn in half when trying to also manage the registration desk full time. So far, I have only brought John to meetings I was able to drive to and had negotiated his stay as part of the hotel contract (or got agreement to use some of our earned credit nights) so his involvement would not cost anything to ACL other than his working hours. Of course, I'd really benefit from having him come to both Boulder and Singapore but hadn't wanted to introduce more costs to the conferences. If possible, though, bringing John along (if he can come) would be excellent!
Our Office three-year lease comes to an end as of April 1st. Within the lease is an option of two one-year extensions “at no more than 5% increase per year”. I intend to work with the realtor to lock in the first year (2009/10) option at the best (lowest) possible rate. It occurs to me that, beginning April 1, 2010, I might make three rooms in my home available as the office (Graeme and Kathy McCoy have both seen my space at home). This would reduce the ACL Office rent as well as making it more convenient for me. I mention this just as a possible option for the future for you to mull over since my expectation is that less space will be required to house fewer hardcopies of both the journals and conference publications.
Regarding moving the office to my home, first some background: ACL has always paid 75% of the office rental; AMTA pays 10%; ARCS (my company) pays 15%. These percentages were derived based upon the amount of time I spend on ACL and AMTA activities and the remainder covers whatever other events I might pick up through ARCS (Digital Government Society, WISE, ISI, etc). So, currently:
$850 Rent = $630 ACL/$85 AMTA/$135 ARCS (expected increase April 1st to $900 = $675 ACL/ $90 AMTA/$135 ARCS) Plus security system (around $400/year) and electric utilities (around $1,000/year) Yearly ACL office rental cost = $630 X 12 = $7,560 + $400 + $1,000 = $8,960 ACL currently pays separate phone/fax/internet regardless of where the office is located
If we were to use my loft and its closets as the "main office", one bedroom as storage/mailing/etc. that must always be accessible, and half my barn for historical and publication storage, this equals about 600 sq ft of my 2000 sq ft. So, with the same 75% ACL, 10% AMTA, and 15% ARCS of the 30% of total sq. ft. space:
30% of $1,763/month I pay for my house = $528.90/month 75% ACL = $396.67 Plus 25% of electric monthly average of $185 = $52 X 75% = $39 So, ACL's monthly portion would be $396.67 + $39 = $435.67 = $435.00 Presumes house security and water are part of my household expenses and not chargable; ACL continues to pay phone/fax/internet
So, ACL would stand to save about $311.66/month = $3,739.92/year or $11,000+ over the next 3 years.
Publications: Publications orders seem to have leveled off to only a small amount per year now. We have a few “standard” book resalers who faithfully order small quantities of the newest publications but have very few orders from the membership these days. And, we have almost no requests for workshops or older copies of main conference proceedings (I think there were only 1-2 older main proceedings ordered in all of 2008). So, I believe we need to further reduce our hardcopy ordering for future conferences. And, by the end of the month, the online Publications Order Form will be updated to reflect our newest publications, including Coling 2008.
Membership: I will summarize here the important points of the two spreadsheets I have sent to this group as excel files: Total membership at the end of 2008 was 1602, comprised of 1137 Regular, 463 Student, and 2 Unknown type members. Three took advantage of the ISCA discount to first-time members and eight were from hard-currency problem countries. The worldwide composition is 214 Asia/Pacific Rim, 59 Canada/Mexico, 439 Europe, 10 South America and 880 USA. Conferences generated memberships as well as through direct membership applications: 426 through ACL 2008 and 110 through EMNLP 2008.
We had a record-breaking total of 2,123 members in 2006. For 2007, after taking out fraudulent and conference no-shows who did not pay at all, we ended the year with 2,104 total members. Sadly, my optimism of coming close to the 2,000 mark did not materialize by the end of 2008. Our final membership count is 1,602. My best guesses of why we see this slippage in members are that NAACL hosted ACL this year and did not hold its own event and EACL did not hold a European conference in 2008 either. Conferences seem to generate quite a lot of one-time members who must become members to attend our meetings. For example, ACL 2007 in Prague totaled 1082 registrants, of which 533 were one-timers who did not renew for 2008. Another approximately 250 registrants from 2006 Coling/ACL renewed only for 2007 but not again for 2008. It seems many of these were Europeans who do go to Colings and EACLs moreso that to US-held meetings. We had 425 brand new memberships in 2008, most of whom attended either ACL 2008 or EMNLP 2008 and will hopefully renew for 2009. I would expect in 2009, with three conferences, one in each geographic area of the world we represent, our membership should increase over the 2008 numbers.
We begin 2009 with the multi-year members who carry over into 2009 plus some anxious renewals that have come in even before our online membership form has been updated. The total membership for 2009 now stands at 254. The membership form should be updated online within the next week or so. And, lastly, with our changes to memberships and benefits and the decision to eliminate the Joint membership option, I want to let you know there were only 22 such memberships to be effected.
Walker Fund: Thanks to the Executive for their approval of increasing Student Travel Awards funding beyond the previously typical 1-3 Walker Fund awards (basically never exceeding 10% of the roughly $30,000 in the Walker Fund account). I received a total of 34 applications for Student Travel Awards and was able to extend the $10,000 to make meaningful awards to 14 students. Unfortunately, two students were from China and, in the end, could not get visas to attend the conference.
ACL 2008 in Columbus ended with a final count of 804 total registrants. The last of the invoices was recently paid so we can begin to finalize the bookkeeping. I believe there should be a reasonably healthy surplus.
EMNLP 2008 in Hawaii was also a success with a final registration count of 227. Holding EMNLP immediately following AMTA 2008, in the same hotel, resulted in a good amount of “cross-pollination” which helped the attendance at both meetings.
The planning for ACL/IJCNLP 2009 in Singapore continues; I expect my involvement to intensify in the coming months.
EACL 2009, to be held in Athens, Greece, promises to also be a wonderful meeting. The Office continues to provide advice and support as requested. Registration opened mid-December.
And, NAACL 2009, in Boulder, Colorado, will be an exciting meeting, with the beautiful mountains surrounding our venue. The planning and budgeting is shaping up quite nicely and most everything is now in place.
The Office has also been heavily involved in negotiating the final NAACL 2010 contract for Los Angeles and this contract is now in place. My next steps are to finalize the Banquet contract with the Library which is nearby the hotel. Also, in April 2009, Jan Hajic and I will conduct the ACL 2010 site visit to Uppsala, Sweden. Joakim Nivre is pulling together a site visit agenda for us now. And, Ido Dagan has just issued the ACL 2011 Call for Bids so, hopefully soon, we will have those proposed bids for review.
I am very pleased to report that, for ACL 2008, we received commitments totaling $33,000 which is a very healthy amount of support, indeed! Additionally, two workshops (BioNLP and SIGdial) found their own support of their 2008 workshops, totaling $5,250. EMNLP 2008 received support from Google in the amount of $4,000 and $500 from Microsoft. Many thanks to all sponsors who helped to make our conferences and workshops successful!
Unfortunately, so far for the three 2009 conferences, non-local support has been very slow to materialize, although I have just received a Gold Level ($5,500) sponsorship check from the Rosetta Stone for NAACL 2009 (through Martha Palmer and the local team) and have invoiced CNGL for a 3-pack sponsorship.