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ISST Vice-President’s (VP) report 2016-2018

Tasks of the VP as set out on the ISST website

  • organizing the ISSTs biennial conference (The primary task for the VP);
  • Keeping the membership list up-to-date and help to process new membership applications, assign membership numbers, activate accounts on the website;
  • Participating in the monthly board meetings to help make decisions about the various issues related to the ISST.

Conference

The primary task for the Vice-President (VP) has been to organize the ISST’s biennial conference.  Due to political changes in the US it became necessary to choose a different hosting city then Washington, which was originally selected as the host city for Inspire 2018. The EB proposed Amsterdam as the host city for Inspire 2018 and members were asked to vote on this proposal. With 81% of the votes being in favor of Amsterdam the strenuous task started of organizing this enormous event within 15 months.

A local committee was formed and one of the members was a professional conference organizer who acted as a consultant. The VP was involved in intensive communications during the 15 months that were left before the start of the conference: 600+ separate email exchanges with the local committee and 1200+ separate email exchanges with to EBs organizing committee regarding every aspect of the conference, ranging from choosing a conference venue and the registration fee that would determine the budget for the conference to the menu for lunch and coffee-breaks, the logo on the water bottles and the room assignment for the 60+ presentations.

I am especially proud of the fact we were able to negotiate a price for a top location that was €100 000 less than the original quote. Because of that achievement we were able to welcome 1149 participants from 49 different countries in an exceptionally high quality conference venue, the Beurs van Berlage, in the heart of the historical city center of Amsterdam.

Another accomplishment worth mentioning is that extensive research has been done regarding the registration fee for comparable international conferences in the field of psychology. Discussing this information with the Treasurer and the Public Affairs Coordinator resulted in a more realistic, but slightly higher registration fee for the ISST conference, thereby offering a healthier budget for the organization. This registration fee can serve as a healthy starting point for the organization of future ISST events. For the first time in the history of the ISST, we were able to provide the biennial international conference that included food and beverages and even live music during the breaks.

Interfacing with members of the ISST board including the Treasurer, Public Affairs, Training & Certification and Scientific Representatives has resulted in a conference that was very well received by its more than 1100 participants. The dinner and party with silent disco was an enormous success with hundreds of ISST members dancing till midnight.

Things that could have been organized in a better way:

  • even though we explicitly requested for a good functioning air cooling system from the start, during the conference it became clear that the promise the air cooling system would work sufficiently was not accurate. Although some measurements were taken to improve the situation, a lot of the participants and presenters suffered from the heat. For future events, it is recommended that the organizing committee asks for explicit proof that the air cooling system of that particular venue is sufficient for different weather conditions, e.g. an evaluation from another party that organized a conference in that same venue.
  • even though its an honorable aim to organize a paperless conference, there have been many people not being able to download, open or handle the conference app. The app itself was great but since there were so many complaints, paper copies of the program were handed out on the 2nd conference day. For future events, it is recommended that paper copies are provided as an option right from the start of the conference.

Membership applications

This task was formerly handled by the Public Affairs Coordinator. After the elections, this task was assigned to the VP who was thoroughly informed about the procedures for membership applications during a 3-hour meeting with the ISST office assistant. The role of the VP was in practice limited to rare occasions in which the board assistant had a question about a membership application. These questions were handled in communication with the board assistant, the Public Affairs Coordinator and the VP.

With the growing efficiency of the ISST office, the role of handling the membership applications by the VP will probably remain limited in the future. It is recommended for the future VP to take a pro-active approach after the elections and set up a meeting with the office to discuss the points of actions for that EB’s term.

Participation in EB meetings

During the EB term 2016-2018 the VP has been absent at most 2-3 times during the boards meetings. During these meetings, I have taken the initiative to put the collaboration with the Dutch Society for ST back on the agenda, chaired a committee for the organization of future ISST events resulting in a protocol for the elections of future events. Looking back, I see a growth in my participation during the EB meetings over the last 2 years, becoming more and more active during the discussions and becoming less and less afraid to voice out opposite views on certain topics.


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