August 3-4, 2013

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board,
August 3-4, 2013
Minneapolis, MN

Members Present
Scott Collins               President
Steward Pickett          Past-President
Jill Baron                    President-Elect
Leslie Real                 VP for Finance
Sharon Collinge         VP for Public Affairs
Deborah Goldberg     VP for Science
Julie Reynolds            VP for Education and Human Resources
Charles Canham        Secretary
Mimi Lam                   Member-at-Large
Stephen Jackson       Member-at-Large
Michelle Mack            Member at Large 

Staff Present
Katherine McCarter    Executive Director
Elizabeth Biggs           Chief Financial Officer
Nadine Lymn              Director, Public Affairs
Cliff Duke                   Director, Science
Michelle Horton          Director, Administration and Meetings
Teresa Mourad           Director, Education and Diversity
David Baldwin           Managing Editor
Sue Silver                   Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers
David Gooding           Asst. Managing Editor

Guests – Saturday, August 3
Joey Bernhardt            Chair, Student Section                  
Valerie Eviner             VP-Elect for Science
Carmen Cid                 Member-at-Large Elect                                              

Guests – Sunday, August 4
Valerie Eviner             VP-Elect for Science
Carmen Cid                Member-at-Large Elect                                          
David Inouye              Incoming President-Elect
Don Strong                 Editor-in-Chief, Ecology
Aaron Ellison              Editor-in-Chief, Ecological Monographs
Brian Inouye               Associate Editor-in-Chief, Ecological Applications
Debra Peters              Meeting Program Chair, and Editor-in-Chief, Ecosphere
David Schimel             Editor-in-Chief, Ecological Applications
Edward Johnson         Editor –in –Chief, ESA Bulletin
Nancy Huntly             Centennial Committee

9:05 am, August 3, 2013:  meeting called to order by President Scott Collins 

I. Roll Call and Agenda

 A. Adopt Agenda

Deborah Goldberg moved and Stephen Jackson seconded adopting the agenda.  All aye.

B. Ratification of Votes taken since May Meeting 

1. Minutes, May

            Stephen Jackson moved and Sharon Collinge seconded ratification of the e-mail vote to approve the minutes of the May 2013 meeting.   All aye.

II. Reports

A. Report of the President

            President Collins summarized the fine-tuning of the functioning of the Society in the past year by staff and the Governing Board, including adopting recommendations from the Committee for a New Generation, and keeping the society responsive to members.  He also reviewed the status of a number of larger issues, including open access for journals and the structure of the annual meeting.  Centennial planning proceeds apace.  Other major activities in the past year include initiation of the ESA Fellows program, and expansion of the Professional Certification program.

B. Report of the Executive Director and Staff

            Executive Director Katherine McCarter summarized the report from the staff.  She provided an update on the status of the formation of the joint ESA/ESC journal, including the search for a managing editor. 

Nadine Lymn reported on press coverage of the annual meeting.  There will be a celebration Monday, Aug. 5, of 30 years of the Public Affairs program.  There will be an inaugural science café at this year’s annual meeting.  Teresa Mourad reminded members of the diversity program celebration Wednesday Aug. 7. 

Michelle Horton summarized the status of the meeting.  There were approximately 3000 registrants, and another 200-300 walk-in registrants are expected.  These numbers are in line with expectations and the budget for the meeting. 

Cliff Duke reviewed activities in the science program, including the ongoing and energetic efforts of the Vegetation Classification panel.   A number of volumes in the Issues in Ecology series will be released soon, including one on citizen science and one on threatened and endangered species management.  Both of these are supported by workshops funded by the U.S. Forest Service. 

David Baldwin summarized opportunities for future changes in production of the subscription journals.  Ecosphere is now 3 years old, but there is still no formal word from Thompson-Reuters on when it will be indexed.  The Bulletin is gearing up for the Centennial celebration (and its own centennial). 

Sue Silver highlighted activities at Frontiers, including the relatively unsuccessful launch of a digital edition.  This fall will see the first online-only special feature, on prescribed burning in fire-prone landscapes.  They will publicize the issue vigorously.  The August issue contains the first installment of the eco-literacy section. 

Liz Biggs gave a brief history of ESA finances since both she and Katherine arrived in 1997, when it had a negative net asset balance of ~ $800,000.  In the past 15 years, in part because of gradual increases in subscription rates, the Society has gone to a positive net asset balance of $2.6M.  She feels that era of asset growth is ending, in large part because of constraints on subscription revenue.  We should expect that budgets going forward will be much tighter.

C. Financial Update

1. Fourth Quarter Financials

Katherine McCarter and Liz Biggs summarized the fourth quarter financial report.  For the year, revenue exceeded expenses by $52,493 in a budget of $6.5M.  While this is positive, this is a smaller balance than in previous years, and is only this large because of a very successful annual meeting in Portland in 2012.  Membership dues were close to (but slightly under) budget, but again this was buoyed by Portland.  Subscription revenue came in $162,779 under budget, offset partly by a reduction in printing expenses of $98,959.  Individual subscriptions represent a very small faction of total subscription revenue, and continue to decline as expected.  Manuscript charges were also under budget, in part because of lower than expected revenue from Ecosphere.  There was extensive discussion of the challenges of maintaining revenue and minimizing expenses associated with the publications.  There was also discussion of the need to maintain excitement about the meetings, including the need to accommodate evolution in modes of communication.                  

2. Investments

VP for Finance Les Real commended Liz and Katherine for their management of the Society’s finances.  The Society’s two investment accounts are doing well at ~ 5-7% annual return in conservatively invested portfolios. 

III. Discussion/Action Items

A. FY 2013-2014 ESA Budget

1. Approve Budget for Council Meeting

            A draft budget was discussed and approved at the May 2013 Governing Board meeting.  Sharon Collinge moved and Mimi Lam seconded recommending the adoption of the budget by the Council at their annual meeting on Aug. 4, 2013.

2. New Membership Category

            New membership categories were discussed at the May 2013 Governing Board meeting.  In response to that discussion, staff were asked to propose new membership categories at the upper income levels.   Deborah Goldberg moved and Julie Reynolds seconded recommending that the Council adopt the new membership categories.  All aye.

3. Board Strategic Initiatives

            Board members discussed a number of suggestions for use of Board strategic initiative funds.  The main proposals were to add three additional Graduate Student Policy Awards ($1000 each) and to provide funding for the SEEDS leadership program.  There was discussion of whether either of these really met the definition of “strategic initiatives”.  Additional support for the Graduate Student Policy Awards is expected to be available from the previous monies raised for AAAS Congressional Fellows, so the proposal to use board strategic initiative funds for that purpose was withdrawn. 

            No decision to allocate funds was made.  Julie Reynolds would like to develop a proposal for future consideration in the area of the sustainability of SEEDS funding.

4. Long Range Planning Grant Subcommittee

            Members-at-Large have traditionally reviewed applications from sections, chapters, and committees for Long Range Planning Grants.   The board agreed that this practice should continue.

5. Discussion of Council Presentation

            The board discussed the importance of updating the Council on the long-term challenges in Society finances, particularly the issues of declining library subscriptions and new, more cost-effective models for publications.

B. Impacts of Open Access Mandates

            ESA’s subscription journals are already “green” open access (and have been for many years), and Ecosphere is “gold” open access.  There is still uncertainty about what sort of federal mandates might be coming, and what impact these would have on institutional subscriptions and society finances.  Even a 10% decline in subscriptions would have a dramatic impact on the Society’s budget.

C. Yearly Policy Priorities Recommendations

            Each year the Public Affairs office reviews public policy priorities for the coming year, and asks the Governing Board to formally adopt those priorities.  Priority areas for the coming year are (1) energy and climate, (2) water quality and quantity, (3) disasters affecting ecosystems, (4) STEM education, (5) endangered species, (6) urban ecosystems, and (7) federal investment in research agencies. 

D. Fundraising

There was lots of enthusiasm for the plan outlined by Charles Canham to involve the Governing Board in building the donor base for the Society through personal contact.   Further discussion included suggestions for matching funds specifically for student donations.  Teresa Mourad volunteered to be staff liason for SEEDS donations.

E. Earth Stewardship Application Ecological Action Plan: Designed Ecological Transect

            Jill Baron reviewed a proposal for a series of activities to incorporate ecological science into landscape and urban design, using earth stewardship as a framework, in concert with the 2014 ESA meetings in Sacramento and Baltimore.  Alex Felson at Yale University is the lead on the proposal with Jill Baron, assisted by an advisory committee of Steward Pickett, Sharon Collinge, Mary Cadenasso, Joe Brown, and Fritz Steiner. 

F. Awards – Distinguished Service Award

            The bylaws establishing the Distinguished Service Citation do not specify whether the recipient must be an ESA member, although the citation with the first award in 1975 mentions that the award is to honor “members”.  There was discussion of whether the award committee should be given explicit guidance on whether the recipient should be an ESA member.  The Governing Board recommends establishing a separate committee charged with making recommendations for this award (rather than combined with the Eminent Ecologist award), and that the committee should have a preference for nominations of ESA members.

G. Congressional Fellow/Policy Fellows

            In past years there has been an option for donations as a part of membership dues to support a AAAS Congressional Fellow.  The option raises relatively little money, and the costs of a AAAS Congressional Fellow are very high.  There is a proposal to change the donations to support Graduate Student Policy Fellowships (~ $1000, versus $100,000 per AAAS Fellow).  Deborah Goldberg moved and Sharon Collinge seconded changing the donation option to support Graduate Student Policy Fellowships.  All aye.  Prior donors will be notified of this change and will be able to request a refund if they desire.

H. Developing Country Awards and Shreve Award

            Jessica Gurevitch, chair of the Grants and Fellowships Committee, has recommended changes to the use of funds collected from the “Support for Developing Countries” option on the membership form.  Specifically, the committee recommends that the Grants for Membership include a free year of membership, a subscription to one journal, and travel funds.  The committee provided several alternate suggestions regarding the Grants for Libraries, and has requested feedback from the Governing Board. 

            Funds have been accumulating in these accounts for a number of years, with very low rates of annual contributions, and few if any applications for use of the funds.  The goals of this program overlap very closely with the Whittaker travel awards, and there was a proposal to merge the funds raised for “grants for membership” with the Whittaker travel awards, while ensuring that funds from the developing country membership pool used for awards under the Whittaker program go to an applicant from a developing country. The corpus of the funds for developing country libraries will remain intact, while interest from the corpus will be used to support Whittaker travel awards.  Deborah Goldberg suggested that the funds be viewed as an award rather than as research support, given the very small amount of funds involved. 

            Deborah Goldberg moved and Steve Jackson seconded a proposal to remove the developing country check-off donations from the membership form.  All aye. 

            Deborah Goldberg moved and Les Real seconded the recommendation from the committee to award the Shreve Award to Anny Chung from the University of New Mexico.  All aye.

I. Update on Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education

            Teresa Mourad provided an update on ESA activities related to the Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education Summit organized by NSF and AAAS in 2009.  Later this month she will be attending a conference organized to review progress toward the goals of the original summit.   There was discussion of the role of professional science societies in changes in undergraduate general biology education.

J. Long Range Planning Grant – review Guidelines

            At the May 2013 meeting, a request was made to review the guidelines used in awarding Long Range Planning Grants.  Katherine McCarter contacted former Members-at-Large for their opinions on these guidelines.  There was discussion of whether travel grants really fall within the purview of either “long range” or “planning” grants.  But these funds are the primary source of monies used by sections and chapters for building capacity.  The current cap of $2500 on proposals may be limiting the ambitiousness of the activities.  Julie Reynolds proposed that we revise the guidelines to emphasize strategic activities and raise the cap on the maximum amount of the proposal.  Steve Jackson will work with the other members-at-large to revise the current guidelines.

K. Ecology for a New Generation

            Teresa Mourad reminded the board that the final report of the Ecology for a New Generation Committee was presented at the May 2012 meeting.  The board encourages ESA staff, sections, and chairs to review the report and implement the recommendations as appropriate.

L. Earth Stewardship Business Communications

            Jill Baron gave an update on recent efforts to train ecologists in effective communication with business leaders on the topic of sustainability. She specifically noted a “trial” training that will take place in London (for selected ESA members attending INTECOL2013) and will be hosted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers London.

M. Bulletin Request

            Bulletin Editor-in-Chief Ed Johnson has requested input from the Governing Board on names of individuals who should be solicited for contributions on papers which have had particular influence on their ideas and approaches to ecology.  Members are asked to send names to Scott Collins who will collate the names and forward them to Ed Johnson

N. Executive Session (Governing Board Members only)

            The Governing Board met in Executive Session at 5:25, and adjourned at 6:00 pm.

Meeting called to order at 9:00, Sunday, August 04, 2013

III. Discussion/Action Items

N. 2013 Annual Meeting

            Debra Peters gave an update on the 2013 Annual Meeting.  New features include the Ignite sessions.  More Ignite sessions than expected were proposed.  There was extensive discussion of use of Internet access, social media and Twitter use during the meeting.

O. Centennial

            Nancy Huntly gave an update on efforts of the Centennial Implementation Committee.  They will be meeting this week, and are looking for input on the theme and logo for the meeting (in coordination with the meeting committee).  They are also interested in suggestions for symposia and special sessions.  2015 will be the year of the MacArthur Award plenary.  They think an additional science plenary should be planned.  The Committee hopes to have most of the Past Presidents attend the meeting, and there was a request that the Governing Board consider ways to encourage their attendance.  Les Real and Charlie Canham will explore fundraising opportunities to support their attendance, particularly for retired past presidents. 

P. Publications Meetings  

1. Ecology                                         

            Editor-in-Chief Don Strong summarized his report.  Current acceptance rate is running approximately 21%.   The editorial board is quite large (~125 members), with a relatively low turnover rate.   The work load varies enormously among the editorial board.

2. Ecological Monographs

            Editor-in-Chief Aaron Ellison gave an update on Ecological Monographs.  Submissions in the past year ran ~136, and published 26 articles.  Roughly half of submissions are not sent out for review, and overall acceptance rate is approximately 20%.

3. Ecological Applications

            Editor-in-Chief Dave Schimel reported on the year in Ecological Applications.  Submissions are up slightly this year.  There have been no major changes in procedures and processes in the past year.  A social scientist has been appointed as an assigning editor.  Many of the papers handled by that editor examine economic and ecological tradeoffs in conservation.  A number of papers have been commissioned as part of the Centennial celebration.  The editorial board also spent time discussing the issue of data availability and requirements for publicly posting data.  Data availability is seen as increasingly important for papers with policy and decision-making implications. 

4. Ecosphere

            Debra Peters, Editor-in-Chief of Ecosphere reported on the status of that journal.  The editorial board has reached 50, with a goal of 70-80.   There have been close to 400 submissions during the past year, with 144 papers published in the past year.  Time to first decision from initial submission is roughly 50 days.  Weekly content alerts are now being generated by Allen Press.  Two virtual special feature issues have been generated (published separately and linked by keywords).  They are pursuing a set of 6-10 papers as part of the Centennial celebration.

5. Frontiers

            Sue Silver, Editor-in-Chief summarized the year in Frontiers.  The submission rate continues to increase, although as many of 70% are returned without review because they do not fit the goals and format of the journal. 

6. Bulletin

            Ed Johnson, Editor-in-Chief of the Bulletin summarized activities at the Bulletin, which is the Society’s oldest journal.  There are a number of efforts related to the Cenntennial celebration, including collating all of the Society’s Resolution of Respect.

Meeting adjourned at 12:00 pm, August 4, 2013

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