As announced previously, due to the evolving situation with a novel (new) Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the on-site portion of the CIES 2020 Annual Conference has been cancelled. The Program Committee is working to further extend the virtual participation of the conference beyond what was already planned and will make an announcement as soon as possible.
As there has been no announcement of a travel ban for Florida, the Society is unable to invoke the force majeure clause with hotels and other vendors. This means that the Society is obligated to meet contractual minimums for hotel bookings as well as cover the costs for all work incurred to date, currently estimated at more than $350,000. This represents more than half of the unrestricted funds the Society currently holds. As can be seen from past Treasurer’s reports, our conferences are not intended to make money for the Society, but rather to break even.
If CIES were to refund all of the $441,000 in registration fees collected to date, this would mean withdrawing funds from the Society’s operational account to cover the costs. Our expenses for the conference are currently more than half of our account balance–such a withdrawal would require the termination of the Society and its operations as we would no longer be able to meet our financial obligations. This is the financial reality of this unprecedented situation.
In order to avoid this scenario, the Board of Directors developed the following revised terms for the refund/cancellation process for the CIES 2020 Annual Conference:
- All registrants will automatically have their paid fees apply to joining the virtual conference. No action on the part of the registrant is needed for this to happen–this is the default option.
- For students and low income country participants whose circumstances require financial relief, please submit a request for a refund for conference registration fees no later than March 31 at this link. Refunds will be processed by April 30 in the same manner in which the original payment was made and will only be issued to those who have no other source of reimbursement. Please include a brief note of justification in the comment field.
- In addition, if your financial circumstances permit, we welcome donations via this link to help offset the costs of organizing and other liabilities related to the 2020 Conference.
Again, CIES is not in a financial position to be able to reimburse any other registrants, including Board or Committee members. We are seeking to provide some relief to those who are most in need: students and low income country participants. Be sure to cancel your lodging and air tickets as soon as possible to avoid additional penalties. If you still plan to travel to Miami, the conference hotels have agreed to honor the conference rate.
Thank you for your understanding as we work to respond to these extraordinary circumstances.
On behalf of the Board of Directors,
David Post, President
Iveta Silova, President-Elect and Program Chair
Amber Gove, Treasurer
Najeeb Shafiq, Executive Director