ACL-02 General Chair's Report
I was officially appointed as General Chair of ACL-02 on 2 October
2001, that is, about 9 months ahead. The Handbook timetable suggests
GC's should be appointed about 16 months in advance; as we will see,
my experience supports the idea of an earlier appointment.
A- Appointing Chairs
- Local Chair: Martha Palmer had already been appointed. She set up
a local committee comprised of Trisha Yannuzzi, Laurel Sweeney,
Gilbert Kowie, Craig Martell, Yuan Ding, Paul Howard.
- Program Co-Chairs: Dekang Lin and Eugene Charniak had already been
appointed. Worked on setting up a committee made up of 9 area
chairs; discussions with exec took more than a month. Committee
members: Daniel Marcu, Stephan Busemann, Keh-Yih Su, Bonnie Dorr,
Steve Abney, Jan Hajic, Mark Steedman, John Carroll, and Ellen
- Workshops Chair: I appointed Walter Daelemans, Oct. 23. Walter
did not feel the need to set up a reviewing committee for workshop
- Tutorials Chair: Appointed Hwee Tou Ng, Oct. 22. Hwee Tou then
enrolled Pamela Jordan and Jakub Zavrel as proposal reviewers.
- Student Workshop: Appointed Susan McRoy as Faculty Advisor,
Oct. 25. In consultation with her, I appointed Gideon Mann and
Alexander Koller as Co-Chairs (Dec. 3). Susan and I advised them
on how to set up a "balanced" PC. The PC was formed Jan. 30
- Webmaster: Appointed Aur.Aélien Max, Nov. 21
- Demo Chair: Appointed Ronnie Smith, Nov. 29
- Sponsorships/Exhibits Chair: Appointed Debbie Dahl, Dec. 5.
- Publications Chair: Appointed Dragomir Radev, Feb. 20.
B- Help other Chairs work out basic calendars, prepare and send out
- main conference, preliminary CFP sent out Oct 13
- call for workshop proposals: Nov. 6
- call for tutorial proposals: Nov. 6
- call for student papers: Dec. 13
- call for demos: Jan. 24
- call for sponsorships: Feb. 1
- call for exhibits: Feb. 1
C- Electronic Submissions
Early on, I insisted that we needed to accept electronic
submissions. We cannot assume that Program Chairs will be prepared to
handle that chore, so I spent some time searching for someone to do
it. But I was lucky: soon enough Dekang Lin decided to volunteer for
the job; he set up and managed a very convenient Web-based interface
that was used not only for submissions but also for final versions
Dekang took up my suggestion of hiring a student to help him at
Given the extremely tight schedule, publishing all conference papers
(main conference, student workshop, conference workshops) in both
hardcopy and CD-ROM is a formidable challenge. We were lucky to have
such a resourceful and dedicated Chair as Drago organize and
coordinate the work.
Drago took up my suggestion of hiring a student to help him at
submission time, and the quantity of work to be done by the student,
especially for producing CD-ROM, exceeded our estimates.
A large number of issues arose during the critical weeks between
reception of final submissions and shipping to Omnipress, generating
several hundreds of e-mails.
E- Budget Issues
The ACL Secretary-Treasurer did most of the work, but I was involved
in many discussions with her and other actors, especially in the
period where we had to set registration fees. Given Kathy's
experience, I found that aspect of the GC's role very easy.
F- Consult ACL/NAACL execs
For many important decisions (selecting Chairs, selecting PC's,
selecting tutorials and workshop, I managed the process of consulting
the execs and to interpret and implement their advice.
II- Problems and recommendations
A- Schedule. Starting as late as we did made our life unnecessarily
difficult. The GC/LC/PC really need to be appointed at least 12 months in
advance. See if the exec can implement processes that will help
garantee that this is done.
B- Electronic submissions. In my opinion the ACL should have a policy
of accepting electronic submissions for conferences (and maybe for the
journal as well). And policy or not, a section on how to handle that
should be added to the Handbook, along with pointers to useful pieces
of software. Since electronic submissions processes now tend to be
based on Web forms, it would make sense to place Websubmissions under
the responsibility of the conference Webmaster.
C- Electronic payment. We had some difficulty identifying a good way
to handle secure electronic payments. Fortunately, Kathy McCoy
managed to get the help of Greg Silber at Univ. of Delaware, who was
able to arrange for secure payments. The ACL office should should have
a permanent facility for doing this.
D- Publications Chair. The task of the Publications Chair is extremely
demanding, especially in view of the fact that most of the work is of
necessity done under a very tight schedule. Some precious time was
wasted in pondering who should be doing what. The duties of the
Publications Chair should be described in detail in the Handbook,
including recommendations on exactly how to share the work with the
Program Chairs, the Student Chairs, the Workshops Chair and the
III- Conclusions and acknowledgements
Serving as GC really gives one the feeling of being involved in
everything. It can be a lot of fun, but if one does not have the right
team for the job, I am sure it can quickly turn into a nightmare.
In my case, it was a great experience! I was truly privileged to be
working with such an incredibly competent, resourceful and dedicated
project team! Thanks to the ACL exec for giving me their trust, as
well as their constant support and encouragement. Thanks to all those
who contributed to ACL-02.