The Program Chair is the point person for organizing NEPCA’s annual conference. Among the chair’s duties are:
1. Issuing periodic general calls for papers though outlets such as H-Net, listservs, and other media sources devoted to the study of popular/American culture. The chair should also make flyers to distribute at appropriate conferences he or she attends in advance of NEPCA.
2. Accumulating all paper proposal submissions. (Some will come directly to the chair and some via the appropriate area chairs.)
3. Working closely with area chairs, the president, the executive council, and the executive secretary to solicit proposals.
4. Collating all proposals and fashioning them into tentative panels, which will be refined at a summer planning meeting for the fall conference.
5. Working with area chairs to issue needed follow-up calls for papers to round out incomplete panels.
6. Working with the host institution to secure meeting space for the conference. The program chair is the liaison between NEPCA and the host institution. The chair coordinates all logistical details for the conference, including those delegated to the Local Arrangements Chair. There are usually 6-8 simultaneous panels, and chair (and designee) needs to secure appropriate space for these, plus a space for the luncheon, and an end-of-conference meeting space for the executive council meeting.)
7. Helping NEPCA defray costs of the conference. In most cases, the chair lobbies to have meeting space donated. The more services that are donated or discounted, the better as NEPCA must earn all its operating costs from the conference and membership fees. (See document—Conference Costs).
8. Assembling the final program and arranging to have it printed and available at the registration table for all conference attendees.
9. Recruiting volunteers and/or students to assist with conference registration. The chair works with the executive secretary on these matters. The chair should also make certain that the Local Arrangements Chair has signposted clearly all buildings and parking areas used during the conference.
10. Coordinating with campus security and tech specialists in advance of the conference, and securing things such as approved parking for attendees and login codes needed to use classroom technology. It is generally a good idea to secure a tech specialist for the conference, or some other individual with the expertise to resolve any technological problems.
11. Arriving early before the start of each conference day to make certain rooms have been unlocked, that catering has arrived on time, that volunteers are in place, and that classroom technology is online. There should also be several tables set up for book displays and other materials. At least two (preferably three long tables) are needed for registration.
12. Acting as receiver for any books sent by publishers who want their wares displayed at the conference, but who will not attend in person. (Said publishers will have been told that NEPCA does not return these items and that will be considered donations.) The chair will also provide logistical support for vendors that are attending in the way of display tables. (They are responsible for their set up and removal.) Chairs often find it useful to invite local publishers or vendors to display at the conference.
13. Working with the executive secretary to make certain that all vendors and contracted workers are paid in a timely fashion. The chair should keep careful account of all incidental expenses (pens, badges, signs, etc.) so that these can be reimbursed.
14. Reporting all conference no-shows to the executive secretary.
15. By custom, the program chair becomes the new president of NEPCA upon the rise of the conference. The chair can decline, though the NEPCA presidency is generally viewed as an honorific award for the labor of having served as program chair.