Humanist just announced this conference: even if we can't go, it might be good for grant writing if we submitted a short paper?
We missed VAST for this year, but I've gotten the digital proceedings from past years and there has been some cool stuff. SIGGraph might be one to look at, too. I haven't been in a few years, but all of the latest virtual reality and graphics technology is presented, as well as the latest in gaming engines, open source software, etc.
I know they have a significant 'graphics education' component, so maybe something for your group at large to check out.
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