General (conference) chair duties

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General Chair Duties

Conference Handbook - General Chair Duties

The General Chair is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the whole conference.

It is the General Chair's prerogative to appoint chairs, subject to confirmation by the ACL Executive Board, and assign tasks to them. (This does not include the Program Chairs or Local Arrangements Chair, who are appointed by the Executive Board.) The chairs that must be appointed include: Tutorial Chairs, Workshop Chairs, Student Workshop Chairs (and Faculty Advisors to the Student Workshop), Demo Chairs, Publications Chairs, Publicity Chair, Handbook Chair, and Sponsorship Chair.

The General Chair has the following responsibilities:

  • Identify conference tasks and people responsible for them. This includes selecting chairs for workshops, tutorials, demos, student research workshop, publications, publicity, and the handbook. Ideally, the workshop, tutorial, and demo chair teams are teams of two persons, where experience, gender, seniority may be mixed. The Student Research Workshop and Publications Chair teams should ideally contain three or more people. The Publicity and Handbook Chair could be individuals, who work closely with the Local and Publication Chairs. Candidates should be gathered in consultation with the ACL Exec before they are formally contacted.
  • Build a specific timetable for each chair (team), based on the timetable, for the dates of the current conference.
  • Make a site visit to the conference site to approve and finalize local arrangements, preferably together with the ACL Treasurer and Priscilla Rasmussen.
  • Work with the Local Arrangements Chair to establish registration fees.
  • Work with the Program Chairs to create the main conference structure (i.e., parallel tracks, workshop and tutorial scheduling, etc.) Later, work with the Program Chairs to construct a conference program (balancing oral and poster presentations, invited talks, business meeting, etc.).
  • Oversee the conference budget; see budgets. This includes coordinating with the ACL Secretary, Treasurer, and Priscilla Rasmussen on financial and organizational issues.
  • Coordinate and oversee the work of the Program Chairs, the Local Arrangements Chair, and the other chairs. Importantly, this means ensuring that deadlines established in the timetable are met. This also includes helping to select tutorials, accept workshop proposals, identify promising sponsors, seek publicity for the conference, etc.
  • In coordination with the Publication Chair and Local Chairs, oversee and review all publicity (social media, webpages, fliers, notices, announcements, posters, etc.) and make sure no discrepancies appear.
  • Resolve issues in chair teams due to unforeseen unavailability (e.g. due to illness). Critical tasks such as those of the Publication Chairs should be well-monitored especially in this respect. The Handbook Chair is recommended to be an extra person working with the Publication Chairs in the very last stages of publication before the conference.
  • Should there be any co-located meetings and/or conferences, the General Chair is responsible for ensuring coordination of events, programs, speakers, registration fees, etc. Co-location of meetings should be discussed with the ACL Exec in detail before being agreed to. With a number of larger events (e.g. EMNLP), ACL has a standing agreement implying that co-location is handled separately from, andare allocated to the ACL conference before the workshops are.
  • It is the prerogative of the General Conference Chair to have a conference newsletter.  Although such newsletters have been very informative in the past, it is not required.  Examples of past newsletters can be found at newsletters from previous conferences
  • Information about ACL Conference Organization

The conference is supposed to be self-financing (at least); it is one of the two major revenue sources for the ACL, and all profits belong to the ACL. Thus costs (to support invited speakers, conference giveaways/freebies, proceedings printing, etc.) must be weighed carefully against potential income from grants and registrations.

Certain steps require approval by the ACL Exec or its members; see the ACL policy on Exec involvement. The General Chair must work with the Exec to provide the required information in a timely manner.  

Revised: Joakim Nivre, based on input from Antal van den Bosch, 2016