March 8, 2020
To: All Persons Who Are Registered for or Who Planned to Attend the WSSA Conference in Portland, in April of 2020,
I, and the rest of the leadership of WSSA, are sure that each of you is aware that the Novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is creating much uncertainty in both the travel and hospitality industries. We also know that the rate of infection is increasing very rapidly, now through community contact, with unknown vectors. Additionally, the virus is creating significant problems not only for WSSA, but for conferences nationwide. Every day we see more and more conferences canceling their events. This remains a very fluid situation; however, according to public health experts, the expected apex of community transfer of the virus will be in late March through May. The Western Social Science Association is international in both perspective and attendance; many international travelers are already being denied entry visas to the United States, and many U.S. colleges and universities are cancelling funded travel.
Out of an abundance of concern for your safety, and to avoid any risk of infection related to the COVID-19 virus, the Western Social Science Association is cancelling the face-to-face portion of its scheduled conference and moving to a published proceeding within a virtual environment.
We know that you are concerned by how this will impact you, relative to the hard work each of you put into planning your travel, the costs related to that travel, and most importantly, the work you have put into your scholarly presentations.
The details of the change to the conference are being worked out at this time. The first result of this change is that the WSSA is proceeding with a virtual conference during the first or second week of May. This should give our scholars sufficient time to prepare their presentations, whether they are papers, PowerPoint presentations, or other documents, for the published proceedings. Details on this will be forthcoming.
This leaves you, our members, with a variety of choices and decisions.
Now to your choices concerning conference participation. Your choices are:
Finally, we are moving forward as quickly as possible to create the published proceedings and virtual environment for the conference. This will take some time, probably about a week, working with the vendor. We are also preparing for the onslaught of requests concerning your choice of options noted above. We are going to hire additional staff to speed up this process, but we need a little time to get this in place.
Again, we are very saddened at having to make this decision; however, each day brings additional news of quarantines, travel restrictions, and new hot spots of infection, particularly those with unknown vectors of community transmission
Please know that the leadership of the WSSA is committed to our mission and to serving our members. We thank you, in advance, for your patience and understanding as we work through these troubled times.
Larry A. Gould
Larry A. Gould, PhD
Western Social Science Association
The Western Social Science Association advances scholarship, teaching, service, and professional exchange across the social science disciplines. The Association’s mission is to foster professional study, to advance research, and to promote the teaching of the social sciences, as well as to promote social justice, equitable treatment, and the application of due process for all peoples. Founded in 1958 as the Rocky Mountain Social Science Association, WSSA now draws on scholars and others in over 30 disciplines, or "sections," from all over the world. WSSA convenes an annual conference, publishes the Social Science Journal, a juried quarterly research journal, and the WSSA News, the association’s newsletters.