Learning Through Research

CUR National Meetings Procedures

CUR National Meetings Procedures: Relationships between the National Office, Volunteers, and Host Site

September 3, 2003
K. E. Hoagland

Preamble: CUR national meetings are central to the collegial spirit of the organization, both in their planning and execution. The best way to ensure collegial relations in what is in reality a business relationship is to have clear policies and procedures. This document ensures that CUR members will have the quality meetings that they deserve --- meetings that match in professionalism and social ambiance those that they experience in the professional societies --- while maintaining the link with college campuses that is important to CUR’s mission.

  1. As soon as the host site is chosen for CUR national meetings taking place on a college campus, the host site and the CUR National Office will begin to work out a contract, which is a legally binding document codifying the services to be rendered and pricing structure that were described in the bid. Any deviations from the original bid on the part of either party should be explained in writing and signed off on by both parties. The NEO and the site representative should sign the contract within 4 months of the business meeting at which the bid was accepted. The contract will provide the basis for billing at the conclusion of the meeting. Charges that are not in accord with the contract (e.g., increases in transportation, food or dorm costs) will not be paid unless they are agreed upon by both parties prior to the time the charges are incurred, and made part of an addendum to the contract.
  2. Some bids contain statements such as "the host institution will endeavor to find funding for a reception….." Such indefinite statements will not be a part of the formal contract unless the institution is committed to providing the resources for the event.
  3. The NEO may delegate the early contract negotiations to the CUR Meetings Manager (a paid staff position). However, final negotiation of the bid is in the hands of the NEO, who is the signatory on behalf of CUR. The CUR meetings committee chair will be asked to review the contract to ensure that it is complete and that it is in line with the expectations of the committee when they accepted the bid.
  4. Copies of the signed contract will be distributed to the Meeting Committee Chair, the lead faculty member of the Local Site Committee, and the Program Committee chair(s).
  5. Substantive changes in meeting plans or in facilities would require that the contract be renegotiated and should be avoided. Flexibility will exist, however, in such details as the number of participants expected, the exact number and timing of receptions (as long as the price for receptions is stated), and final food choices (again, the pricing should be included in the contract).
  6. The signed contract is the basis for calculation of meeting fees for participants. Once the contract is set, the NEO will develop a budget for the meeting and will establish the fee structure for attendees. The Finance Committee reviews the budget as part of its regular duties. The CUR President and President-elect (who will be president when the meeting occurs) will be given an opportunity to review the contract and budget as well. The members of the program committee and the Local Site Committee should be advised of the content of the signed contract and should not, on their own, renegotiate the contract or make further commitments for events in ways that have financial implications.
  7. CUR cannot accept an open-ended contract in which the host site can require re-negotiation of charges or can enforce additional charges if certain conditions (such as the number of attendees) are not met. If pricing is contingent upon numbers of attendees, a sliding scale of charges should be included in the original bid.
  8. The Local Site Committee should be in place as soon as possible after the selection of the site, but no later than three months afterwards. Bids that identify the committee at the time of bid submission will have an advantage over bids with less specific information. A local chair who is a faculty member or administrator should be identified in the original bid. A lead campus support staff member should also be chosen and included on the committee. This may be the campus’s meetings planner if such a position exists. The National Office will coordinate communications with the Site Committee and CUR’s Meetings Committee and Program Committee. The NO will endeavor to see that all key players are incorporated into the meeting planning process and receive key materials. The Site Committee Chair is responsible for keeping the NO informed as to the active members of the Site Committee. Most correspondence will occur electronically, but communications by phone may be necessary to maintain the rapport of the group.
  9. The campus’s paid meeting staff should be made aware of the grassroots nature of CUR, and the involvement of the CUR national office as well as the volunteer members of the organization in meeting planning. The CUR meeting is a CUR event, programmatically and financially under CUR’s direct control. CUR contracts with the campus to provide facilities to conduct the meeting. CUR understands that this is a business relationship and in addition, benefits will accrue to the host campus in terms of public relations and good will. The best way to further good will is to have a firm understanding of the business relationship and the services that are expected to be delivered on both sides of the relationship.
  10. The National Office meetings staff and those appointed to serve on the program committee will meet with the Local Site Committee face-to-face on the college campus for a walk-through of the space and to review meeting responsibilities as soon as is practical after the site has been chosen, but no later than 18 months before the meeting. It is essential that the three teams work seamlessly and that they develop a good personal working relationship at the outset of the planning activity. The Meetings Committee Chair may also wish to participate.
  11. The National Office will prepare, and the local site committee and program committee will review and suggest revisions for, a timeline for the meeting and a document detailing the responsibilities of each of the three groups. The Meetings Committee Chair will also be given an opportunity to review the documents. These documents will be agreed upon and initialed by the NO’s Meetings Manager, a representative of the Program Committee, and the Chair of the Site Committee at the time of the on-site meeting described in (10) above.
  12. The NEO will monitor progress on meeting timeline goals. (S)he will be informed of any slippage in the timeline and slippage in personal relations among the team.
  13. The NO will provide background and institutional memory to the Program Committee and Local Site Committee, and will research their questions. The CUR Meetings Coordinator will work with the campus meeting planner on logistical support for the program committee.
  14. It is essential that the National Office be kept in the loop of communications regarding all meeting functions, including development of the program. Teleconferences and other major communications between the Program Committee and Local Site Committee should be announced to the NO and a NO staff person included. Conferences among the members of the Program Committee should be known to the CUR meeting planner and NEO, and a summary of the discussions provided to the CUR National Office as soon after the meeting as is practical but within 48 hours, so that recollections do not fade and all essential information is transmitted. 
  15. Commercial ventures at the meeting directly associated with CUR or the host site, such as the selling of T-shirts, should be thoroughly discussed among all parties and a budget developed at the time they are initiated. Use of a not-for-profit organization’s logo on promotional materials implies to the purchaser that profits of the sale go to that organization, and there are legal requirements that non-profits (including colleges) must meet when they use logos. All costs of producing promotional merchandise must be known to both parties, and net profits divided by the two parties according to prior arrangement if both logos are used. The arrangement should be an addendum to the main contract or a sub-clause within it.
  16. CUR meeting sites should be vendor-friendly. This means that there should be a highly trafficked area available to vendors who share our mission, provide products valuable to our attendees, and are willing to support CUR and our meetings.
  17. All parties involved in planning CUR national meetings must realize that these events are core CUR activities and as such are imbedded in the CUR infrastructure. CUR takes legal and financial responsibility for them. It is not acceptable practice for CUR to run these meetings "off the books". That practice results in serious gaps in financial accountability.