March 27, 2020
This is not the sort of presidential "address" I had imagined I would be delivering today, but in the midst of a dire global emergency, at least I have the pleasure of reporting some good news and positive developments.
When it became clear that the 2020 CAMWS Annual Meeting could not be held in Birmingham this week, we looked into the possibility of postponing the meeting until next October, but we soon realized that the quick spread and increasing severity of the pandemic were making life too unpredictable, and the world too dangerous, for that.
After speaking with representatives from the other classical associations in the U.S., the CAMWS officers came up with a Plan Beta, approved on Wednesday by the Executive Committee. We have decided to reschedule CAMWS 2020 as Virtual CAMWS 2020, with all of the sessions to be conducted via Zoom, on Tuesday-Saturday, May 26-30, just after Memorial Day weekend.
I already hear some of you exclaiming, "Virtual CAMWS? The very idea is preposterous! We have never does this before. It will spell the death of CAMWS. No one will ever be willing to meet in person again for a conference. And what's to prevent someone from posting the whole virtual meeting on Facebook or Twitter? Eheu!"
Before you jump to a hasty conclusion, please keep reading. You will find a tentative schedule for Virtual CAMWS 2020 posted here: https://camws.org/node/1742. All of the accepted papers, panels, workshops, and round-table discussions have been divided up among the five days; I have kept them roughly in their original order. On each day there will be four two-hour sessions with up to six concurrent sections in each session. This will actually allow more time for discussion than we would have had in Birmingham. The meeting will begin each day at 11 a.m. EDT and end at 7:45 p.m. EDT.
Registrants will be able to access whichever presentations they wish. A recording of the entire virtual meeting will remain accessible on the CAMWS website for an additional week (through June 6), but only to registrants. This is intended to give those registered for the meeting a chance to go back and listen to presentations they had to miss the week before.
Individuals who were on the original CAMWS 2020 program now have three options: (1) to be taken off the program; (2) to stay on the program and present their paper live via Zoom; or (3) to stay on the program but prerecord their paper so that the recording can be played at the designated time in the program. Presiders who do not feel comfortable with Zoom can request a substitute or a tech-savvy co-presider.
The registration fee for the virtual meeting will be $25 for regular CAMWS members, $15 for contingent members, and $10 for students. Anyone who opts to be taken off the program can receive a full refund of registration costs but is also invited to donate all or part of those costs to CAMWS. Anyone who opts to remain on the program can receive a refund of the difference between the original registration fee and the fee for the virtual meeting, or donate all or part of that difference to CAMWS. Anyone who cannot afford the registration fee may request that the fee be waived.
If this all sounds very complicated, fear not: Tom Sienkewicz has worked heroically over the past two days to set up simple online forms that will make the transition relatively easy. Just go to https://camws.org/node/1743 and follow the directions. Individuals who were not registered for CAMWS 2020 but would now like to register for Virtual CAMWS 2020 should go to https://camws.org/node/1751.
At this point we have no idea how many presenters will opt to remain on the program. I plan to adjust the tentative schedule as we receive feedback from the online forms. We are asking members of organized panels and workshops to confer with their organizers to determine whether or not their panels and workshops will move to the virtual format. If you are a presenter in a panel that opts not to make the move, but you are still interested in presenting your paper individually, please write to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While a liberal reading of the CAMWS Constitution might justify our holding a virtual Business Meeting during Virtual CAMWS 2020, we have decided that there are too many con's and not enough pro's to make that a wise choice. The constitutional amendments that were to be voted on at the 2020 Business Meeting will therefore not be voted on until next spring, when, dis volentibus, we will be able to meet in person in post-pandemic Cleveland.
In the meantime I hope you will be open-minded and embrace Virtual CAMWS 2020 as a grand experiment in how to "deliver" a CAMWS meeting in an alternative way, when it is impossible for us to meet physically together in the same hotel. Zoom technology has been thrust upon many of us by the switch to remote teaching, so why not make the best of it? The virtual format will give us an opportunity for such novelties as a virtual exhibit hall, virtual ads by sponsors, and even a virtual silent book auction! I leave the virtual happy hours up to you.
Two last pieces of good news.
On behalf of Classical Journal Editor Antony Augoustakis, I am delighted to announce the publication of CJ 115.3/4, completing the volume for 2019-2020.This special double issue includes articles in honor of CAMWS consularis and former CJ Editor John F. Miller (congratulations, John!), as well as regular content (2 Forum articles and Book Reviews). It will be mailed next week and be available on JSTOR in the days following.
I would also like to offer a warm welcome to Drew Alvarez, recently hired by Secretary-Treasurer Elect Davina McClain as the new CAMWS Administrative Assistant. He has already begun working this week and will help with the transition of the CAMWS Secretary-Treasurer's Office from Monmouth to Natchitoches this summer.
Finally, a word of thanks to our would-be hosts at Samford University, especially Randy Todd and the rest of his intrepid local committee, who invested so much time and effort in planning a wonderful meeting that was just not meant to be. We look forward to holding a CAMWS meeting in Birmingham in some future year.
And if we had been able to meet in Birmingham, this would have been the day on which we thanked Tom Sienkewicz and Jevanie Gillen, in person, for their eight years of exemplary, level-headed, and devoted service to CAMWS, even under the most stressful of circumstances. Please join me in giving them a virtual standing ovation.
Until we meet again, friends, Curate ut valeatis!
Anne H. Groton