August is here! The summer is quickly ending as the start of school approaches, and it was time for the Annual Mid-Year Meeting of the AAFS Executive Committee (EC). Last week, members of the EC met in Denver, Colorado, to discuss 2024 annual conference plans, the FY 2024 budget, revisions to the Policy and Procedure Manual, and various matters of business. The decisions made by the EC will be sent to the full AAFS Board as recommendations. Upon review and discussion, if needed, the Board will vote on the recommendations, and notice of the actions will be posted in the account portals of voting members.
Two important topics of discussion were applications and membership dues. The new application system is scheduled to launch in September. The Academy Staff has worked diligently on the transition to the new on-line system, which should make the process easier for the submission of both membership and promotional applications. With the transition to the new system, we would like to add another application approval cycle. If approved and successfully implemented, we will begin accepting new members twice annually.
The previously announced dues increase will take effect with the next dues cycle. Annual dues for Trainee Affiliates, Professional Affiliates, Associate Members, Members, and Fellows will increase to $195 and Student Affiliate dues will increase to $75. Retired Members and Retired Fellows will continue to be excused from the payment of annual dues, as per the AAFS Bylaws. You should receive invoices for your 2024 dues within the next few weeks.
Convening in the host city provided an opportunity to preview the city, hotel, and meeting spaces. The hotel accommodations at the Hyatt Regency meet the expectations of a host hotel, which is why the Hyatt brand is an Academy favorite. The guestrooms, equipped with coffee makers and refrigerators, are spacious, and the hotel has two bar/lounge areas that are perfect for "networking." The view from the 27th floor Peaks Lounge is spectacular.
The host hotel is conveniently located across the street from the convention center.
There is a short outside (highlighted here since we will be in Colorado in February) walk to the main door of the convention center but be prepared for a lot of walking once inside the spacious facility. The convention center will have dining options available and coffee shops and kiosks to meet your caffeine needs.
If you prefer something a little more substantial, Ruth's Chris Steak House and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. are within a short walk of the host hotel and convention center.
The convention center will have a gender-neutral restroom and a nursing room. For our attendees traveling with younger children, we are pursuing childcare options. We will make the details available if the arrangements are finalized to allow attendees to take advantage of this attendee survey requested service.
When selecting host cities, the safety of our conference attendees is certainly a concern. We want to ensure both a safe and enjoyable meeting experience. During a walkthrough of the Denver Convention Center, we asked our tour guides about visitor safety in the area. We were given the expected (and paraphrased) response, "There is little to worry about if you're careful." The response seemed reasonable, but I thought it would be helpful to obtain a second opinion and perspective from a Denver resident and fellow AAFS officer.
"The city and county of Denver and particularly the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner are excited that the AAFS has chosen Denver for the 2024 Annual Scientific Conference. The Mile High City has much to offer and, of course, in February there is always an option to tack on some terrific winter sports experiences within a reasonable distance from the city. Denver is my jurisdiction and like any major city, it has its challenges. Personally, I am comfortable on foot anywhere in Denver and specifically in the area of the convention center where we will be meeting. Situational awareness at all times is recommended, and I would advise that approach for any large city. We have a new mayor who has made the problem of people experiencing homelessness a number one priority. But it will not be completely solved by our February meeting. Like other major cities, Denver also has a significant illicit drug problem, particularly fentanyl and methamphetamine. While it has created workload challenges for my office, none of these issues poses a danger to visitors. The meeting hotels and the convention center are near an abundance of restaurants and shopping choices. Please take advantage of everything the city has to offer. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in February!"
--Jim Caruso, MD, AAFS Treasurer
During the walkthrough, we were also informed of efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of the convention center events. Bins are placed throughout the convention center to encourage recycling by visitors.
Energy conservation occurs through the monitoring of unoccupied rooms to ensure lights are turned off if rooms are not in use. Sustainability is important to many of our members and to the next generation. We should do our part to promote justice for all at the annual conference while saving the planet.
Like Treasurer Caruso, I look forward to having you join us for the 76th Annual Scientific Conference of the AAFS in Denver next February. Registration is expected to open in September, and I hope many of you will take advantage of the reduced early-bird registration prices. Plans are well underway for what I hope will be a wonderful conference in the Mile High City.
The views and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Academy News are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Academy.