SEATTLE: A RETROSPECTIVE
After the Seattle RSA Convention, participants were invited to fill out evaluation forms. Well over two hundred of you generously filled out the electronic questionnaires--thanks!--and now I want to share the results with you.
Here are the highlights:
- Participants were generally very satisfied with the conference program. They felt the size of the conference was "about right"; they were satisfied with the quality of the program ("an embarrassment of riches"); they appreciated the special plenary events and "supersessions," the research network, the sessions designed for professional development, and the seminar led by Professor van der Poel. While some commended the several sessions that included five or even six shorter presentations, more seemed not so satisfied with those. People who attended the Charles Johnson event at the Seattle Public Library generally found it to be outstanding; but others wished that all events could be scheduled at the conference hotel.
- An overwhelming majority indicated that they are looking forward to attending our next conference.
- Participants generally applauded the decision to go to Seattle. They found the city interesting and accommodating, and the hotel conveniently located. (A few confirmed the suspicion that the outstanding location and magnificent weather contributed to some lower-than-expected attendance at some sessions.) The Westin Hotel also received high praise for the quality of rooms, service, food, and amenities. Several participants commented that they found the hotel too expensive, and they encouraged the Board to seek more favorable rates in the future. (Everyone will be pleased to hear, therefore, that for the 2010 conference RSA has secured a hotel in Minneapolis whose room rates are nearly 20% lower than those at the Westin.)
- Participants were satisfied with the arrangements for the conference, as organized by the conference director, his assistant, and the local arrangements team of Leah Ceccarelli and Jim Jasinski. The online proposal and notification system worked well, it seems, and communications were satisfactory.
- Participants had a host of intriguing specific suggestions that will be useful to conference directors in the future. Nearly every evaluator, it seemed, included a suggestion or two worth consideration, everything from "Make sure everyone can be accommodated at the conference luncheon" to "It is unfortunate when meeting rooms don't have wireless connections--especially in Seattle!" to "The roommate finding service worked great--is there a way to publicize it better it the next time?" While there were far too many bits of constructive advice to include here, you should know that the RSA Board members will be examining your comments and evaluations as well, and the Board will no doubt be offering suggestions (during our September board "retreat" in Chicago) for how to make RSA 2010 in Minneapolis just as successful--or even better.
Thanks once again for taking the time to complete the evaluations, and for reading through this message. Let's have a great rest-of-the-summer and a fine beginning to the new academic year.