2011Q3 Reports: NAACL

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Report from NAACL, June 2011

Rebecca Hwa - Chapter board chair

Owen Rambow - Past chapter board chair

Christopher Manning - Treasurer

Anoop Sarkar - Secretary

Executive Committee Meetings

The Board will meet on June 20th, at the ACL HLT 2011 conference in Portland, Oregon. Additionally, the Board converses regularly by e-mail.

Treasurer's Report

Prepared by: Christopher Manning, NAACL Treasurer; June 19, 2011, Palo Alto, CA.

The Chapterʼs bank account held $116,072.66 at the end of May 2011. This is about $20,000 less than at the same time last year ($136,803.38). Income for the year was about $23.5K, primarily from booking surpluses from past NAACL conferences: $14K from NAACL HLT 2007 (in Rochester, which did produce a surplus, somewhat against the expectations of many!) and $9K from NAACL HLT 2009 (in Boulder). Expenses were considerably up from usual at $44K, though partly because of expenses that should have been booked to different years clumping: $17.5K for JHU summer workshop support (for extra students attending the first two weeks of lectures, including fees to JHU covering 2009 and 2010), $10K support to NACLO covering both NACLO 2010 and 2011, $10K support for the LSA Linguistic Institute 2011, $4K for NAACL 2010 student travel support, and $2.5K for regional workshops (in the NW USA and Argentina).

However, the big – and disastrous – financial news is in the pending category. The NAACL HLT 2010 conference in Los Angeles made a loss of at least $59K (this could actually still even grow a bit if some promised but as yet unpaid sponsorship fails to materialize). This is major bad news since it wipes out half of the surplus that NAACL has accumulated in its 10+ years of existence, and which it uses to fund other activities such as those listed above. As the chart shows, this is the first NAACL conference to yield a deficit. But boy did it yield a deficit! What went wrong? It seems like it was a combination of things: (i) bad, unrealistically rosy budget projections of attendance and costs, (ii) unexpectedly high catering costs and extra charges from the hotel, (iii) unexpectedly low attendance (which is kind of surprising, since the competing ACL event wasnʼt in a maximally easy to get to location), and (iv) poor tracking of data as it came in, which should have been able to alert us much earlier that things were not working out as expected. It shouldnʼt have taken till a year after the event. We need to fix at least (i) and (iv). (ii) and (iii) are harder to control, but also to be worked on. We either need cheaper venues or else NAACL conference fees just need to increase a bit.

While this bad news will probably make us more cautious in funding other activities, in the short term, there is no reason why we cannot still continue to fund the activities that we traditionally have, and so I imagine we should and will. But the action items are improved financial stewardship and revenue-generation thinking to guarantee future conference surpluses so that these activities can continue for the longer term future.

North American conference in 2011

This year's NAACL conference is to be held jointly with ACL in Portland, Oregon (ACL HLT 2011). Dekang Lin (Google) is the General Chair, and Brian Roark and Richard Sproat (both OGI) are leading the local arrangements efforts.

North American conference in 2012

NAACL-HLT 2012 will be held in Montreal, Canada. It is scheduled to take place June 3 -- June 8 2012, at the Montreal Sheraton. Sabine Bergler (Concordia University) and Guy Lapalme (University of Montreal) have agreed to serve on the local arrangements advisory committee. Jennifer Chu-Carroll (IBM) is the general chair.

North American conference in 2013

No bid for hosting NAACL HLT 2013 has been received as of this writing. The exec board will follow the procedure established for NAACL 2012 and select a suitable site. This is a major agenda item for the 2011 NAACL board meeting.

Support for Summer Schools and Other Educational Outreach

NAACL continues to support educational programs such as NACLO (the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad) and the Johns Hopkins summer school. This year, we have also provided financial sponsorship to the Linguistic Institute of the LSA in 2011, to be held in July at Boulder, Colorado.

Support for Outreach to Emerging CL Communities

In 2010, a small fund was established to support Latin American activities and a small fund to support regional student conferences. We formalized the reviewing process as follows: there would be two submission deadlines, one in September, and one in March; each proposal would be evaluated based on its potential impact to stimulate collaborations between researchers from emerging geographical regions. For the March 2011 deadline, we have received five proposals; out of which, three were chosen. They are: Symposium in Information and Human Language Technology (STIL 2011), Escuela de Linguistica Computacional (ELiC 2011), and NLP&Web-based Technologies Workshop 2011.