Program Committee

I. Purpose

The Program Committee selects, oversees, and reports on the education sessions for the Annual Meeting for which it is established. It maintains liaison with the SAA President, appropriate SAA staff, and the Host Committee.

II. Committee Selection, Size, and Length of Terms

  1. The chair is chosen by the Vice President/President-Elect for the Annual Meeting for which she/he will preside as president. The Vice President/President-Elect may choose to appoint co-chairs.
  2. The chair of the Program Committee serves for one annual program.
  3. The chair is chosen at least one year in advance of the program for which she/he is chair. The selection is announced via SAA's communication channels.
  4. The chair may recommend to the Vice President/President-Elect other members of the Program Committee, taking into consideration those individuals who have volunteered for the Committee in response to the Call for Volunteers. The Committee should be composed of ten to twelve members, excluding ex officio members. The selection should reflect a concern for balanced representation of the membership. Important factors include gender, race/ethnicity, geographic area, type of repository, and areas of membership activity. It is customary (but not required) for the Committee to include a member from the city in which the Annual Meeting will be held.
  5. The chair of the Program Committee for the previous year serve as an ex officio member of the current Program Committee to ensure continuity and experience. The SAA President, Executive Director, and appropriate staff liaisons also are ex officio members of the Committee.
  6. Because of the large amount of work that the Committee must accomplish within a short time, the chairperson, with the consent of the President, has the prerogative of removing (and replacing, as necessary) inactive members of the Committee.

III. Reporting Procedures

  1. The chair prepares articles for Archival Outlook (and other appropriate communication channels) as needed to describe the Program Committee's activities and the program itself. He or she also prepares an introduction for the published program.
  2. The chair submits two required reports to the SAA Council: 1) an interim report (at the Council's winter meeting) that provides an update on the status of the program, responds to the "Principles and Priorities for Continuously Improving the SAA Annual Meeting" (adopted by the Council in August 2013), and addresses suggestions embedded in the 2013 Annual Meeting Task Force Final Report, and 2) a final report (at the Council's August meeting) that addresses (at minimum) the extent to which the Committee incorporated appropriately diverse programming into the Annual Meeting experience. The second report concludes the Program Committee's "official" cycle of work. The Council also welcomes a formal or informal report after the Annual Meeting that may offer perspectives on the meeting that has just taken place. While not required, suggestions to enhance the deliberation process and the Annual Meeting experience are welcome in all reports. (Note: As of 2015, the reports have been submitted in May preceding the Annual Meeting and in November following the Annual Meeting to ensure that they are complete.)

IV. Duties and Responsibilities

  1. The chair ensures that each member of the Committee promptly receives a copy of the program guidelines and timetable of deadlines. Specific deadlines vary based on Annual Meeting dates but generally follow the timetable below, which assumes an August meeting. Program Committee work begins approximately 14 months before the Annual Meeting. (Note: As of 2015, this schedule has been altered to accommodate a mid- to late November proposal deadline and a January Program Committee meeting. Should this experimental schedule prove to be more effective going forward, the committee's description will be revised to reflect it.)
    • July: The Call for Proposals typically is available at least one month before the previous year's Annual Meeting (e.g., by July 1, 2013, for the 2014 Annual Meeting). The Call remains open for approximately three months.
    • August: The first in-person meeting occurs at the previous year's Annual Meeting.
    • October: Once the Call closes, individual Program Committee members review and rank each proposal received in preparation for discussion at the second in-person meeting.
    • November: Program Committee members meet in person to decide which proposals will be accepted (outright or pending revision).
    • November - January: Program Committee members and staff communicate with session proposers about the status of their sessions and possible revisions.
    • February: To aid in publicizing the conference schedule at least four months before the conference takes place, work on session descriptions begins six months before the Annual Meeting.
    • April: Publicizing of conference schedule begins four months before the Annual Meeting.
    • August: The third in-person meeting occurs at the beginning of the Annual Meeting, and Program Committee members shepherd their assigned sessions at the Annual Meeting.
  2. In consultation with the President and Executive Director, the Program Committee reaches decisions early in its term about such issues as:
    • Is there to be a program theme?
    • How many sessions and session tracks should be scheduled?
    • Should certain topics be emphasized?
    • What types of new or innovative session formats should be tried?

    In reaching its decisions on these questions, the Program Committee will follow the Council-adopted "Principles and Priorities for Continuously Improving the SAA Annual Meeting" (August 2013) and the recommendations of the 2011-2013 Annual Meeting Task Force in its final report to the Council (May 2013).

  3. To ensure the broadest possible participation in the meeting, individuals serving on the Program Committee may not participate on education sessions for that conference, and no individual may be included on more than one session proposal.
  4. The Program Committee solicits suggestions for sessions from the membership and appropriate internal and external groups (e.g., SAA component groups and regional and affiliate organizations) using the following methods:
    • Circulate copies of session proposal forms as widely as possible, including distribution at the preceding Annual Meeting and via SAA's various communication channels.
    • Contact all SAA component groups to encourage them to submit proposals.
    • Prepare articles for Archival Outlook and other appropriate communication channels.
    • Reach out to contacts in regional and other affiliated organizations to encourage submissions.
  5. The Program Committee reviews and evaluates session proposals submitted for consideration and determines what program sessions will be offered. To conduct this review, the Committee meets in the fall prior to the Annual Meeting for which it is responsible. Travel expenses for the meeting are funded by SAA. (Note: Beginning with the 2015 Annual Meeting, the Call for Proposals deadline has occurred in mid- to late November and the Committee has met in January.)
    • Before the fall Committee meeting, members receive all proposals and evaluate them based on an agreed-upon methodology established by the chair. Evaluations are submitted to the chair before the meeting so they can be summarized and analyzed. An assessment of session coverage based on program themes and subject areas is compiled for use at the in-person meeting.
    • At the in-person Committee meeting, proposed sessions are further evaluated for inclusion on the program. Committee members may refine the content of proposed sessions or combine proposals.
    • The Program Committee may develop additional sessions to supplement those submitted for its consideration.
  6. Program Committee members should be mindful of providing even coverage of subject areas that address diverse levels of professional experience, as well as appropriate representation among speakers in accordance with SAA's Statement on Diversity and Inclusion. The Committee should make an effort to enable newer members of the Society to participate fully on the program, thus avoiding an undue reliance on past speakers. Inclusion of nonmembers and non-archivists on Annual Meeting sessions is one way in which the Program Committee can assist attendees in gaining a fresh perspective from both the archives profession and affiliated professions. The Committee should make every effort to embrace a diversity of perspectives while ensuring that selected proposals are relevant to current and emerging trends in the profession.
  7. The Program Committee will consider only proposals directed to it.
  8. The Program Committee engages members in the proposal process by inviting SAA sections, committees, and working groups to provide endorsements of Annual Meeting program proposals. Endorsements by these groups are one factor among many that the Program Committee considers during the process of developing a balanced, diverse program. An endorsement by a group is not a guarantee that a proposal will be accepted. The following procedures (adopted by the Council in August 2005 and revised in August 2013) apply when component groups provide endorsements. (Note: Since 2013, and on a trial basis, endorsements by component groups have been suspended.)
    1. Proposers must submit proposals directly to the Program Committee to be considered. If a session proposer wishes to seek endorsement from one or more SAA component groups (section, committee, working group), the proposer should send additional copies of the proposal to the group. The “official copy” of the proposal is held by the Program Committee. Proposals that were not sent directly to the Program Committee by the proposer will not be considered.
    2. Groups may not endorse more than two program proposals. Endorsements should be sent directly to the Program Committee. Deadlines for endorsements occur slightly later than those for the proposal process. They are published on the SAA website.
    3. Group leaders must send their endorsements of a maximum of two proposals to the Program Committee chair by the published deadline. The Program Committee will not accept group endorsements from session proposers; endorsements must be sent by a representative of the endorsing SAA group (usually the chair). This communication may be as simple as a list of endorsed session proposals or may be a more detailed statement of why the group thinks that the session is of particular value to the broader Annual Meeting audience (because of the topics, speakers, or some other factor).
    4. The Program Committee will give appropriate weight to single and multiple groups’ endorsements when selecting proposals that support the meeting’s theme or the broader goal of providing a diverse program that meets the needs of members. Endorsement(s) of a session do(es) not, however, guarantee that the Committee will accept a proposal.
  9. The Program Committee chair ensures that all proposals are acknowledged and, with the assistance of staff, prepares written letters of communication to notify session proposers regarding the disposition of their proposals and requiring them to notify all other individuals listed on the proposal of the decision of the Program Committee.
  10. Each Program Committee member is assigned a group of sessions for which he/she serves as liaison throughout the Annual Meeting planning cycle. The Program Committee liaison assists session speakers and staff in communicating about plans and new developments and in successfully executing the session at the Annual Meeting.
  11. Program Committee members will direct to the SAA Executive Director any requests from session participants for complimentary registration.
  12. The Program Committee provides participants with guidelines for session formats.
  13. The Program Committee chair works with SAA staff to troubleshoot, make decisions about, and communicate any changes in the status of sessions or speaker rosters for all published versions of the Annual Meeting schedule.
  14. The Program Committee maintains communication with the Host Committee via the Program Committee electronic discussion list, SAA staff liaisons, and other appropriate methods.
  15. The chair appoints a member of the Program Committee to serve as chair of the Student Program Subcommittee, usually from among volunteering Program Committee members.
  16. The President may solicit ideas from the Program Committee for plenary speaker(s). Selection of the plenary speaker(s) is the President's responsibility.


Approved by the SAA Council: September 1988
Revised: August 2005, August 2013, November 2023,