2020 CLA Convention: Response to COVID-19 (Update) Print

Transparent cla logo


March 12, 2020

Dear CLA Colleagues:

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, many colleagues have contacted us to indicate that their colleges and universities have suspended travel funds for the time being. Like many of our colleges and universities, our host institution, The University of Memphis, has moved to remote instruction. Thus, we recognize that many participants will no longer be able to attend the CLA 2020 Convention. Consequently, your CLA Executive Committee has decided to take the extraordinary action of postponing our April 2020 convention–a decision that CLA fortunately has not had to make since WWII, when three national meetings were cancelled. Further details will be provided once we have had an opportunity to finalize negotiations with the convention hotel.

Here are a few facts to take into consideration as we move forward:
  1. Your CLA Executive Committee will work with the Memphis Hilton to avoid taxing our small budget with the tens of thousands of dollars we are contracted to spend there. Please continue to monitor your emails, our social media pages, and our website to see what future plans will entail.
  2. For the adjusted convention, the program will remain the same. Therefore, participants will not need to resubmit their abstracts or panels.
  3. Per CLA policy and because of our contractual obligation with the hotel, we are unable to offer refunds for membership and registration. Registration fees will carry over to the adjusted convention dates. We strongly encourage you to keep records of your registration purchase so that you can submit those documents at a later date if seeking travel funds from your respective institutions.
  4. Be sure to officially cancel your hotel reservation as soon as possible. Because of how far out we are from the originally scheduled convention date, you will not incur the hotel costs. In addition, many airlines are offering credit for flights booked earlier. Check with your airline.

Ultimately, the declaration of this virus as a global pandemic mandates that all of us take the necessary precautions. Your CLA Executive Committee will continue to preserve our financial resources while not hesitating to do what seems “good” or “best” to preserve everyone’s health and wellbeing while preserving the work and interests of our organization. Leading and planning this convention is a labor of love undertaken by committed, uncompensated scholars volunteering their efforts to bring you the best experience possible. Thank you for working with us toward these goals.

You are a vital part of our CLA family, and we care about your health and safety. We urge you to take this virus seriously. Stay well, stay informed, and stay in touch.

With best wishes for you,
Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper
Fuller E. Callaway Professor of English, Spelman College
President, College Language Association
[email protected]