President's report

Johanna Moore

Now in its 42nd year, the Association is growing and prospering, and
this success brings both new opportunities and new challenges.

Over the past year, we undertook initiatives intended to enable the
Association to better serve our members, and to streamline many of the
business and administration processes of the organization, to ensure
its long term health.  As the Association grows, it is becoming
increasingly more important that we employ appropriate systems to
simplify the jobs of the many volunteers that manage the Association
and the many conferences and workshops that ACL, its chapters and its
SIGS put on each year.

   This year ACL purchased a license to use the START conference
management software for ACL-04 and for NAACL/HLT-04.  Reports from the
program chairs of these conferences indicate that the system worked
well, and they have recommended that ACL continue to use this software
in future years.  Having a standard software package that is routinely
used for ACL conferences will free up program chairs to focus on the
scientific aspects of the program, and should simplify the processes
of submission and review for all involved.

   In an effort to reduce workload on the ACL general office and
improve the correctness of our membership databases, ACL has engaged a
software company to develop an online membership form.  This should,
for example, reduce the amount of effort required to ensure that all
valid members get the opportunity to vote in ACL elections.  This
currently requires a great deal of effort each year due to problems
caused by illegible email addresses and manual entry errors.

   The ACL Anthology, which was introduced in 2002, has become an
incredibly valuable resource to anyone interested in Computational
Linguistics, thanks to the hard work of Steven Bird and the others
involved.  This year ACL and ACM have signed an agreement whereby the
ACM will be permitted to host the anthology content for free, open
access, and provide enriched bibliographic metadata and full citation.
However, there are some remaining problems that must be solved in
order to guarantee that all future conferences and workshop
proceedings are easily included in the Anthology.  The ACL is
committed to the Anthology project and will discuss solutions to this
problem at the summer meeting.

   Robert Dale is settling in well as editor of the Association's
journal Computational Linguistics.  The submission rate is increasing,
and Robert has several new ideas for the journal, both in terms of
content and administration, some of which will be discussed at the
meeting in Barcelona.

   The ACL chapters, the European ACL (EACL) and the North American
ACL (NAACL) are also doing well.  This year's NAACL conference was
again held in conjunction with HLT, and was a very big success.  See
the chapter reports for further details.

  The special liaison with the Asian Federation is continuing to work
well, following a very successful ACL conference in Japan last summer,
where attendance was significantly higher than expected.  ACL was a
sponsor of IJCNLP 04, which took place on Hainan Island, China, in
March.  ACL and the Asian Federation have agreed that in future years
IJCNLP will be held in the fall of odd years, starting in the fall of
2005.  Efforts will be made to coordinate ACL and IJCNLP in years when
they will both be held in Asia, in order to best serve the memberships
of both organizations.

  The Special Interest Groups (SIGs) continue to play a very important
role in our Association.  See the report on SIGs by Martha Palmer for
further details.

  The Association's finances are in good order.  This year we brought
in a part-time bookkeeper to work with the Association's Treasurer,
and this has greatly improved our ability to keep the financial
records accurate and up to date.  In addition, this has freed up the
treasurer to concentrate on important policy issues, such as devising
a method for assessing the real cost of SIG workshops held in
conjunction with the main conference, so that conference expenses are
appropriately accounted for, and SIGs can do sound financial planning.
See the treasurer's report for further details.

  Web site?

The are several issues facing our organization, and these may become
major challenges, if we do not take action:

   The organization of ACL'05 is behind schedule because we had great
difficulty finding a North American venue.  (The ACL conference
rotates between Asia, Europe and the Americas on a 3-year cycle).  I
also understood that this problem arose with NAACL'04.  Fortunately in
both cases, members came forward who were willing to host the
conference.  We are very grateful to Drago Radev and Rich Thomason and
their team at the University of Michigan for taking on the role of
local organizers for ACL05, and conference preparation is going along
smoothly now.  I think this is all part of our success problem: we're
getting bigger, we have more conferences and they attract more
participants, and have more satellite events associated with them.
All of this is fantastic for the Association and the participants in
these meetings, but is a huge organizational task for the academics
who volunteer their time.  The Exec will discuss this at the summer
meeting, where we will be considering a range of different models for
conference organization.

   Site selection for ACL 06 in Asia is going well, and there will be
announcement at the Barcelona meeting.

   Finally, the Exec is continually looking for ways to better serve the
membership, and welcomes suggestions from all of its members.

Overall, the ACL is extremely healthy, and we are working not only to
keep it that way, but to improve it.  Many of the improvements we have
made over the past two years are not directly visible to all of our
members, but these changes are allowing a small number of dedicated
people to run a growing international organization in an efficient
manner.  We are extremely grateful to the Association's Secretary
Sandra Carberry. Office Manager Priscilla Rasmussen, and Treasurer
Kathy McCoy.

 Johanna Moore
 2004 ACL President
 June, 2004