AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers

Spring 2004 Treasurer's Report

Charles E. Robertson
Announcer, Vol. 34, Iss. 1

How Much Did That Pitcher of Water Cost?

My first Tidbits article examined some of the costs of our two annual meetings. I thought this might be a good time to examine some of the details of that topic. While this issue of the Announcer focuses on the winter meeting in Miami Beach, I want to go back to last summer when our meeting was held in Madison and give you some of the costs and incomes of that meeting. I am indebted to Carol Heimpel of the AAPT office for supplying me with the data.

There were 1,273 people registered for the meeting and they had the choice of 54 workshops and 94 sessions. If you attended last summer’s meeting, you will remember the fine facilities we had at the Monona Terrace (rent was $43,700) and the large exhibit hall (rent was $36,300) in which we held the opening reception (at a cost of $5,400). Many of you had your breakfast in that exhibit hall downing a glass of juice ($25/gallon) and a cup of coffee ($23/gallon). (Let’s see, using the unit conversions I have been teaching my students that amounts to nearly $1.50/cup.) I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed the afternoon break with ice cream sundaes ($2,750). Those are some of the more obvious large expenses.

Carol also dug out some of the little known (or less thought about expenses) like that ice water at the speaker’s table. To keep those pitchers filled cost $400/day. Some participants took a shuttle bus between their hotel and the conference center; another $1,100. For the arranged tours we paid $1,250 for the buses and $1,550 for rental costs at the tour sites.

Of course we didn’t just spend money, we did have some income. The largest source of this was registration which brought in $157,400 from registrants. Each of the exhibitors rented their space and that brought in $48,000. The workshops added another $48,400, and special events such as the picnic added $10,700.

If you add these incomes and costs, you may think that we made lots of money on the meeting. But there are costs that are hidden deeper in the accounting books. (You must remember the results of our annual financial audit because you read it so carefully in a previous issue of the Announcer. Those results gave us a very clean bill of health in our accounting practices. We are doing everything by the book.) At the meeting, you may have noticed many staff members from College Park in attendance. During the year, all of these staff members work on a variety of projects in the office, not just the meetings. They keep records as to what percent of their time is spent on each of these tasks and that portion of their salary is charged to the income of that task. This indirect cost added about $63,000 to our meeting expenses.

I think there are two bottom lines. One is the one we commonly think about. In this case our income and expenses were nearly the same, well within what was expected. But the other bottom line is the quality of the meeting. Each of us judges that by our own expectations and experiences. Some of us rely heavily on the staff that is there, while others have no interaction with them. Some of you drink coffee, some of us don’t. I didn’t go on any of the special tours but heard some positive comments about them. Some do workshops and some only attend the sessions. What did you get out of the meeting? I thought it was great!

Call for suggestions: If you have a financial question you would like discussed in a future issue of the Announcer, please email me at chuckr@u.washington.edu.