What We're Doing
About the Change
From Face-to-face to Virtual Conference

Our vendor is still working out the details of how the virtual conference will work.  Once we have those details, WSSA will send them to everyone who has expressed interest in the virtual conference.

For people who had already registered for the face-to-face conference, and want their fees to be applied to the virtual conference - refunds of the amount remaining after the $50 charge for the virtual conference, will begin being processed after March 20.  This refund will show that the person is registered for the virtual conference.

Codes for already-registered persons who wish to push their fees to next year's conference, instead of asking for a refund, will begin being sent out March 30.  The codes will allow registration for the 2021 conference at no charge.  The link for people who have those codes, to register for next year's conference, will appear below. 

Refunds, for already registered persons who requested the 90% refund, will begin being processed after March 16.  Those refunds should appear on the next credit card statement following processing.

For people who had been accepted to the conference and had not yet registered for the face-to-face conference, but do intend to participate in the virtual conference - the link to the registration for the virtual conference will appear below AFTER March 16.  It should appear no later than the evening of March 18.

Link to register for virtual conference
Do NOT use if you already pre-registered
 for the face-to-face conference in Portland
IF you wish to apply part of your already-paid registration fees to the virtual conference, send an email to

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.

  1. First, WSSA cannot provide refunds for airline tickets or other travel costs already incurred; however, we urge that you use this letter to assist in your request for a refund.  We strongly urge that, in making the request, you invoke the clause in the purchase contract that refers to the “Impossibility” or “Act of God” exception.  Most airlines have and respect this policy; we have included, below,  a copy of the clause found in our contract with the hotel, as an example of the kind of language that should be found in your airline ticket purchase.  If the airline will not give you a refund, we suggest that  you request that the airline give you credit toward future travel.
  2. Second, please go ahead with the cancellation of your guest room reservations at the conference hotel or other hotels. The conference hotel has been notified of the cancellation of the face-to-face conference.

Now to your choices concerning conference participation.  Your choices are:

  1. You can request that we completely cancel your participation, with a written request to Kate Herke at, no earlier than Friday, March 20, 2020, and no later than April 17, 2020, at midnight.  In that case, we will refund 90 percent of the conference registration fee.  The remaining 10 percent is necessary to cover the cost of the fees charged by the credit card companies for both the original registration transaction and the cancellation transaction.  .
  2. OR, If you wish to participate in the published proceedings and the virtual conference, WSSA will refund a smaller amount, retaining only $50.00 to cover the cost of labor by the WSSA staff and the cost of the vendor to create and run the necessary virtual conference platform. The same timeline as the request for a refund applies    As soon as our virtual conference provider has created the space, we will place a weblink on the WSSA webpage creating a portal for your submission.
  3. As you know, WSSA is a non-profit institution; registration fees are applied not only to the expenses for the conference itself but also to our significant annual fixed costs, including but not limited to scholarships, grants and awards.  Instead of requesting a refund, if you wish to, we would welcome you to donate your registration fee to the WSSA. Such a donation would help to help cover the non-refundable expenses already paid out for the conference, and the fixed expenses that arise even if the conference doesn’t happen. We are fully aware that many of our members may not be able to afford this option. We respect anyone’s decision to not donate, but we would deeply appreciate your generosity, if you choose to donate.  If you do decide to donate, WSSA will issue letter of thanks, noting your donation for your records. An email to Kate Herke at at any time prior to April 17, 2020 will suffice.

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.

With respect,

Larry A. Gould


Larry A. Gould, PhD
Executive Director
Western Social Science Association


The following has been copied from the letter sent to the conference hotel:


“The performance of this Agreement is subject to termination without liability upon the occurrence of any circumstances beyond the control of either party – such as acts of God, war, acts of terrorism, government regulations, disaster, strikes, civil disorder, or curtailment of transportation facilities. – to the extent that such circumstances make it illegal or impossible for the Hotel to provide, or for the groups in general to use, the Hotel facilities.  The ability to terminate this Agreement without liability pursuant to this paragraph is conditioned upon delivery of written notice to the other party setting for the basis for such termination as soon as reasonably practical – but in no event longer than ten (10) days – after learning of such basis.”

Based upon the following information, we are invoking this clause for the following specific reasons:

  • Governmental regulations
    • Travel ban for scholars from China, South Korea and Italy as a result of the Novel coronavirus, or COVID-19;
    • Travel ban as a part of political unrest in Nigeria;
    • The as-yet-unknown extent of the negative impact of the Novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, on attendees while traveling to the conference or while at the conference;
    • Information that universities  in the United States are currently starting to restrict international travel and, in some cases, domestic travel;
    • The long incubation period of COVID-19, including the inability of government organizations to effectively test for the Virus;
    • Denial of entry to the United States for Canadians who have traveled outside of Canada in the last three months;
    • The projected denial of entry to travelers from other countries, Europeans in particular, who have traveled to an impacted country or outside of Europe in the last three months;
    • We are also aware that travel funding from many Universities is being restricted to essential travel only.  Travel to a conferences is not considered to be essential travel:
    • It is entirely possible that should an outbreak of the COVID-19 occur at our conference or in the Portland area, the attendees would be quarantined for a long period of time.
    • Acts of God
      • Novel coronavirus, or COVID-19;
      • Curtailment of transportation facilities – cancellation of flights from China, South Korea and Italy as a result of COVID-19;
      • Pandemic Hysteria leading to an abnormally high rate of cancellations due to a fear of contracting COVID-19;
      • The long incubation period of COVID-19; and
      • The increase in community contraction of COVID-19 through as yet undetermined vectors
      • Illegal or Impossible
        • Neither WSSA nor the Hotel can guarantee that attendees to the Conference will not be exposed to or contract coronavirus, or COVID-19, either while attending a large group conference or while traveling to or from the conference.
        • Time Limit

This is a very fluid issue, one in which our own government is not able to provide concrete details or answers to issues related to the impact of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.  WSSA was able to confirm the increasing trend in both cancellations and travel restrictions on Monday, March 2, 2020.  At this time, we contacted our attorney for advice and copied his response to you.





The 62nd Annual Conference will take place 
April 1-4, 2020, in Portland, OR

 Conference Hotel :
Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront 
Last day to reserve a room at the conference rate is March 7. 
After March 7, the regular rate will be charged.

For further hotel information, and a link to reserve a room at the conference rate, click here.

The deadline for submission of abstracts and contact information for proposed papers/panels/roundtables to be submitted, to the Section Coordinator of the appropriate section, was December 7.

Refunds of registration fees are available to persons who pre-registered for the conference, then learned that their papers were not accepted.  Refunds for this reason must be requested within two weeks of notification that the paper was not accepted.    Send request, with copy of notification, to  See "Refund Policy", below, for information on other refunds.

About the Conference Program

For the convenience of the participants, the conference program, as it will be printed, will be available here for download by late February, 2020.  Iterations of the program will be updated daily on the conference's mobile app during the conference.  The final, complete, official program will be available online, with all deletions, additions, and changes included, sometime in late April, 2020.

While at the conference, attendees are encouraged to take advantage of our mobile program app.  There will be a limited number of printed programs available at the conference registration desk, but they will not include changes made after the program is sent to the publisher at the end of January.   The mobile app will be completely up-to-date as the conference begins, and will be updated daily during the conference, with changes in rooms, times, and panel participants.

2020 Program Chair

Mary Jo Tippeconnic Fox, Ph.D. (Comanche/Cherokee) 
Research Professor, American Indian Studies
Affiliate Faculty, Gender and Women’s Studies
The University of Arizona
PO Box 210076
Richard P. Harvill Bldg. (#76), Rm. # 224
Tucson AZ  85721




It is the policy of the Western Social Science Association that video recording and/or voice recording are not allowed during any breakout session, without the explicit consent of the presenter(s).  The Western Social Science Association considers all presentations made during the conference to be copyright protected and only the presenter of the paper can give consent for the presentation to be digitally recorded.

Any person found to be recording a presenter, without explicit consent, will be asked to stop the process of recording.  If that individual refuses to stop the recording, they will be asked to leave the session.  If the individual refuses to leave the session, hotel security will be contacted.

Additionally, all space leased from the host hotel for events listed in the program of events is considered to be private space.  The space is open for all registered attendees of the conference.  No individuals, other than hotel staff, may enter or remain in space leased by the Western Social Science Association without an officially issued Western Social Science Association identification.

The Western Social Science Association has the authority to issue complimentary name badges to accredited journalists, invited plenary speakers, and/or other people who have not been required to pay for a conference registration.

From the Scholar's Choice  

To : Annual Meeting Presenters and Authors: The Western Social Science Association has again arranged with The Scholar’s Choice to manage the combined book exhibit for our annual conference taking place April 1-4 in Portland, OR. It may be possible for your recently-published books to be included in their display. Please refer to the guidelines below: “Any members interested in having their book displayed at the upcoming WSSA meeting should contact their publisher as soon as possible to see if they would be willing to send the book for the exhibit. Requests from the presses will be accepted until March 10th or until the table space has filled. The Scholar’s Choice displays on behalf of the publishers and all requests must come from them, not the individual authors. If they don’t already have it, the press may request the appropriate paperwork by emailing Mary Lynn Howe at

New & Renewing Members: Please Note

Conference registration confers membership, making all conference registrants members of the Association. As always, membership will continue to include subscriptions to the Social Science Journal and the WSSA News.

Membership Only

If you are not able to attend the conference, but wish to retain your subscriptions to the Social Science Journal and the WSSA Newsletter, and your rights to vote in elections for Board Officers and Members, to participate in the annual Business Meeting, and to vote on matters set before the membership for decision, there is a membership-only option.  To choose that option, fill out the Membership-only online form, or click here to download the paper Subscription Membership-only form to mail, with a check or money order.

Disability Accessibility Services

WSSA will make every reasonable effort to arrange for motorized scooters, sign-language interpreters, sighted guides, and other communication avenues for conference registrants who need them. WSSA cannot support any ADA requests for support which are not directly related to the activities of the conference.  
This includes, but is not limited to, guided tours, activities and other events which may be provided by a third party affiliated with but not primarily a part of the WSSA conference (e.g., tours and trips provided by affiliates and sections, local universities, etc.).  Please email the Meeting Services staff ( by no later than March 1 of the conference year to identify the accommodation that you need. The Meeting Services staff will contact you to discuss needs and possible arrangements. 

Related Announcements

If your organization would like to post an announcement about an upcoming event or conference that will be of interest to WSSA members, please contact the Communications Director, Kate Herke.  Appropriate announcements will be posted under the "Other Organizations' Upcoming Conferences" link, below the "Conferences" tab.

Refund Policy
Requests for refunds of conference registration must be made in writing, to the Conference Manager, at

  • Requests made by February 29 will receive approximately 90% of the amount originally paid (amount paid, minus the amount that the credit card companies will charge us to make the refund). 
  • Requests made by March 7 will receive approximately 80% of the amount originally paid (amount paid, minus both the amount that the credit card companies charged us for the original transaction, and the amount they will charge us to make the refund).
  • Requests made by March 14 will receive approximately 75% of the amount originally paid.
  • Requests made by March 22 will receive approximately 50% of the amount originally paid.
  • No refunds will be made after March 22.