August 5, 2006

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board 
5-6 August, 2006
Memphis

 

Members Present: Nancy Grimm (President), Jerry Melillo (Past-President), Alan Covich (President-Elect), Gus Shaver (Vice President for Science), Carol Brewer (Vice President for Education and Human Resources), Richard Pouyat (VP for Public Affairs), Bill Parton (VP for Finance), David Inouye (Secretary), Shahid Naeem (Member at Large), Dee Boersma (Member at Large), Dennis Ojima (Member at Large), and Meg Lowman (incoming VP for Education and Human Resources). Norm Christensen (incoming President-Elect) arrived 2:30 PM. 

Staff Present:
Katherine McCarter (Executive Director), Cliff Duke (Director of Science), Elizabeth Biggs (Director of Finance), Sue Silver (Editor), Jason Taylor (Director of Education), Nadine Lymn (Director of Public Affairs), David Baldwin (Managing Editor), David Gooding (Associate Managing Editor), Fran Day (Development)

Guests Present (August 6, 2006):
Steve Chaplin, Co-Chair Meetings Committee, Edward Johnson, Editor in Chief, ESA Bulletin, Kiyoko Miyanishi, Co-Chair, Meetings Committee, and Don Strong, Editor in Chief, Ecology and Ecological Monographs.  Staff: Michelle Horton, Meetings Manager and Devon Rothschild, Program Assistant

I.  Roll Call, 9:02 AM

  1. The GB unanimously adopted the proposed agenda.
  2. Minutes from the May, 2006 Governing Board meeting were adopted with one editorial correction. 

II.  Reports

  1. Report of the President (Grimm)
    President Grimm highlighted 5 areas of activity:
  1. regional activities (Regional Knowledge Partnerships), and the pilot southeast project (update from Alan and Jerry later on)
  2. growth in membership – on track to reach 10,000, perhaps at this meeting
  3. education – there are many SEEDS activities for 40 student participants at this meeting.  A proposal has been submitted for a SEEDS For Teachers
    program.  Remaining funds from the Ford Foundation Mexico meeting grant are supporting five graduate students from South America to make presentations at this meeting.
  4. ESA representing the ecological science community – the goal is to be a voice to funding agencies, to foster initiatives that require an integrated and coherent community effort; e.g., meetings with federal agencies (USDA’s CREES program last May). Science office has been busy (more later).  A special session on Monday with representatives of USDA, NSF and NASA on a panel, and initiatives from the ecological community (LTER-based or initiated programs).
  5. Publications review – a charge has been developed for Board approval at this meeting, to form an Ad-Hoc “Publications Review Committee”. 
  1. B. Report of the Executive Director and staff
  1. Executive Director (McCarter)
    The annual meeting will probably be a little smaller than expected (possibly 2,800 to 3,000 vs. 3,200 expected), but is expected to achieve budget expectations.  The new team has worked well during the build-up to the meeting. Web site re-design is proceeding, with staff reviewing and rewriting text.
  2. Public Affairs (Lymn)
    Annie Drinkard has been working hard to get media coverage of the meeting: reporters from the Nature office in London, Mother Jones, a local TV station, Smithsonian Magazine, etc.  Board members are invited to the Rapid Response Team lunch.  The King County (WA) executive, Ron Simms, will be speaking at the Opening Plenary.  As an experiment this year, Anne Bartuska will give a talk on environmental justice at the Anointed Temple of Praise, a popular African- American church 15 miles from the Convention Center. A wetlands course on the Hill is being offered for congressional staffers for 2 days during the August recess, with a field trip on the third day to the Smithsonian’s Environmental Research Center.
  3. Publications (Baldwin)
    Submissions continue to increase about 10%/yr, average paper length and acceptance rates have gone down, so there has been no increase in the backlog of unpublished papers. First ever supplement for Ecology was published in conjunction with the July issue this year.  A small-scale experiment with open access (one article per issue) was started with the July issue of Ecology; this is not being advertised widely yet, but is a trial to see how this works. An attempt will be made to implement “mini-subscriptions”, allowing individuals to purchase numbers of on-line articles in quantities of 1, 5, 10, 20 over a year or two (using the Geological Society’s program as a model). 
  4. Frontiers (Silver)
    The new impact factor for the journal is 4.745, placing it 2nd among environmental science journals and 6th among ecological journals.  The September issue will be the one focused on China, and will be open access.  The whole issue may be translated (abstracts already are); 300 copies will be sent to authors to distribute, and it may be made available at the May 2007 meeting in China. Other special topic issues, including one from the ESA meeting in Merida, Mexico, are coming up. 
  5. Administration (Biggs)
    The fiscal year just ended with a positive balance.  For the coming fiscal year, $50,000 less is budgeted than last year as income from the annual meeting will be less than Montreal, and the bump in enrollment that typically accompanies the meeting may not quite get us to 10,000 members this year.
  6. Education (Taylor
    A fourth CD of Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecologywas published this year.  SEEDS (now in its 10th year) had a field trip to the Konza Prairie LTER site in June.  The largest number of applications ever received came in this year for attendance at the annual meeting, and about 40 ESA members are serving as mentors for these students. Board members are encouraged to attend the Diversity Luncheon.  The student coordinator will be leaving for a graduate program this fall and interviews are ongoing for a replacement.
  7. Science (Duke)
    About 350 people attended the workshop on agricultural air quality in June.  The sustainability science workshop funding has been approved, for next spring in the northeast.  The data registry workshop occurred last month. The NBII collaboration on a web site about pollination is proceeding. The cooperative agreement (a 3-year project) with them could lead to a variety of other collaborative efforts. In September a project will begin to produce a series of papers about ecological services provided by agricultural wetlands (NRCS collaboration); plan is to publish these as an open-access supplement to Applications. Involvement in 2007 nitrogen meeting in Brazil is proceeding (primarily publication support – maybe a special issue of Applications). Two Board members are working with Cliff on the issues of sustainability science (Shaver) and data sharing (Grimm).  Another potential issue is the ecological effects of warfare (Boersma).  ESA blog will be initiated with the new Web site.  There was discussion about how the blog will be monitored / controlled.
  8. Development (Day)
    Frontiers will become a focus for funding after this annual meeting. SEEDS is progressing well, with an upcoming focus on ecology clubs and an international component.  Collaboration with the Science office will include focusing on nitrogen and ecological effects of war.  An upcoming survey will help in development of both membership and Frontiers funding. In the coming year a series of “friend-raising” events will be held around the country to try and cultivate major donors (DC as a prototype, possibly Boston, Atlanta, Santa Fe).  Knowledge Partnerships for the southeast are also in progress. It was noted that almost all Board members contributed to the Millennium Fund. 
  1. Report of the Vice President for Finance (Parton)
    The unaudited year-end statement was presented.  Grant revenue was more than expected, and interest and dues income were greater than anticipated.  Bottom line is that we are able to add $281,000 to the unrestricted fund (reserve) category. As subscription numbers continue to erode, we may need to find a way to endow the journals to support their continued publication and to deal with publishing issues such as open access. 

    Investment update:  the past 3 months haven’t done so well (lost about 1%), but we are still up about 7% over the past year.  We have about 60% in equities (mostly in mutual funds), 40% in bonds. 

II. Discussion Items /Actions

  1. Fiscal Year 2006-07 ESA budget (McCarter)

    1. Approval of Proposed Budget.

    The only change since the draft was presented in May is a change from 4% to 5% (2% cost of living, 3% merit) for staff salary increases. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: The Board approves the proposed budget of $6,025,838. 

     

    2. Long-Range Planning Grants
    At-Large members of the Board helped to review the proposals from Chapters and Sections.  This system worked well, and will be continued with Dennis Ojima as Chair. Listing of previous awards on the Web site might be a good way to provide some guidance to future applicants. 

    3. Committee Funds
    These have typically been used for meetings of four committees each year: Science, Public Affairs, and Education, plus one other that changes from year to year.  $5,600/committee is allocated.  This year the Board agreed to fund a meeting of the Ad Hoc Publications Review Committee.

    4. Board Initiative Funds
    There is a list of 10 potential recipients for this $20,000 budget category (which comes from the Millennium Fund).  Budgets were estimated for each of the 10 ideas, and five (totaling $20,200) were discussed as possible candidates. 
    The Board moved, seconded, and approved: The Board approves the budget for Board strategic funds, including:
    $3,000 for dissemination of Profiles of Ecologists;
    $2,000 for an ESA intern to write the undergraduate survey report;
    $5,600 for a second meeting of the Special Ad-hoc Publications Review Committee;
    $5,600 for a planning meeting in Athens, GA for Knowledge Partnership workshops;
    $5,600 toward the documentation of ESA history
    President Grimm suggested we need a standardized time of year to make and discuss these kinds of ideas, and proposed presenting ideas in November, budgeting them in May, and then approving them in August.  

    5. Discussion of Council Presentation
    VP Parton will present the budget, discuss where the income came from, major expenditures, the goal of raising $2 million (or $5 million) for a Reserve Fund. 

    1. Reserve Funds (Parton/McCarter/Biggs)
      It would be prudent to have a full year’s funding available as a reserve, particularly in view of the small size of our endowment.  A fringe benefit of this would be the interest income from such a reserve once it is achieved.  A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: The Board approves the goal of establishing a reserve fund of $5,000,000. 
    2. Conflict of Interest Policy (Day)
      A motion is moved, seconded, and approved with one abstention: The Board approved the proposed conflict of interest policy. 
    3. Guidelines for Evaluating Corporate Funders / List of Corporations (Day)
      A motion is moved, seconded, and approved:  The Board amended the current “Corporate and Commercial Support or Donations Policy by changing  point #7 to read “When soliciting funds the ESA will consider evidence of commitment to environmental sustainability, biodiversity, and development of new applications of ecological science.  The Development Committee will screen prospects and periodically consult with the Governing Board on potential donors.”
    4. Knowledge Partnerships (Melillo/Covich/Staff)
      The southeast has been chosen as a pilot region for establishing these knowledge partnerships. To develop the concept, a set of two workshops is proposed, the first a meeting to plan the program for a larger workshop. The second meeting would bring a large number of stakeholders and scientists together. The first meeting will occur this November.  The proposed Center for Progressive Land Use, which may receive legacy funding with assistance of Governor Bush, may be associated with this effort as one of a small number of core subjects for the workshops.  
      How will success of the program be judged?  Indicators will help to attract financial support. We hope that the model from this pilot project (the southeast) will be a model for similar efforts in other parts of the country.
    5. Integrative Science for Society and the Environment (Grimm)
      A draft report, “Integrative Science for Society and Environment: A Strategic Research Plan”, prepared by the Research Initiatives Subcommittee of the LTER Planning Process Conference Committee, has been unofficially submitted to NSF and is presented to the Board. This is one of two outcomes from an award made to LTER to plan for initiatives within and beyond LTER. President Grimm requests feedback from Board members about potential involvement by ESA in this effort.  There is some feeling that although the general idea is good, and that this broad perspective is something that ESA should be concerned and involved with, this document may be too focused on LTER instead of the general ecological community.  President Grimm will take the comments presented back to the authors.  They will revise the document, and ask that ESA consider writing a letter in support of the effort; a draft letter will be presented for consideration at the November meeting.
    6. Yearly Public Policy Priorities (Pouyat/Lymn)
      The list of policy priorities has been vetted by the Public Affairs Committee. The consensus is that this list and the process for keeping it current are appropriate.
    7. Data Sharing Update (Duke/Baldwin/Grimm)
      The 2004 Society Summit of 12 organizations was an effort to identify common ground in interest/need for data sharing.  NSF funded three workshops, on data registries (held last month), data centers, and obstacles to data sharing.  There were 16 societies and 9 other organizations represented at the July 2006 workshop. Board members were encouraged to pass on recommendations to Cliff for potential participants in the two future workshops.
    8. ESA Top Ten List
      Is there something of this nature that ESA should do to draw attention to particular issues.  Maybe published annually in Frontiers? Other suggestions include: a top-ten list of facts and ecologically literate citizen should know, a list of the top 10 papers each year about ecological science, a list of the top 10 cited ecological papers each year, top 10 ecological concepts each year. VPs are requested to take these ideas into consideration.
    9. Feedback from Outgoing Board Members (Melillo/Brewer/Naeem/Boersma)
      The outgoing members all expressed positive feelings about their service on the Board and appreciation for the quality and hard work of the staff.
    10. Annual Meeting Schedule
      Board members reviewed their obligations during the Memphis meeting. 

Executive Session

  1. Memphis Meeting (Miyanishi, guest)
    The meeting is smaller, similar to what we had before Portland; meetings in the East tend to be smaller, and this is not a joint meeting. Review of proposals and abstracts went well.  Only 7 proposals for Organized Oral Sessions, but 7 Symposium proposals ended up as OOSs too; this is the third year we have had OOSs and Board members are encouraged to spread the word about this form of special session for future meetings. Registration might end up about 2,800.
  2. 2008 Meeting Theme 
    Program Chair for the 2008 meeting, Lou Gross, proposed a theme for the meeting.  Proposed theme is “Enhancing ecological thinking through research/education linkages”.  There is some sentiment that this could be improved to make it more enticing. Suggestions include “Ecology for Society”, and “Emerging Frontiers in Ecological Literacy.” Lou Gross will be asked to consider these ideas and report back to the Board in November.
  3. Future Meetings (Chaplin, guest)

    1. 2011 Annual Meeting Site

    Two contenders were Austin, TX and Charlotte, NC; looking for something in the SE, following San Jose, Milwaukee, Albuquerque, and Pittsburgh. Steve Chaplin, Katherine McCarter, Michele Horton, and Tricia Crocker visited both Austin and Charlotte, and found the former the most suitable for ESA (a casual, laid-back attitude, lots of music and restaurants within a few blocks of the meeting venue).  A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: The Board approves the proposal to hold the 2011 annual meeting in Austin.  

     

    2. Program Chair / Local Host Issues
    We still need a Local Host Committee Chair in Albuquerque, where we also met in 1997.  Pittsburgh-area ecologists will meet soon to help identify a Chair for that meeting.

  4. Publications Charge (Grimm)
    The Publications Committee was asked last year to report to the Board with questions and issues pertaining to the Society’s publications.  Their ideas have been used to create a charge for a Special Ad-hoc Publications Review Committee.  There is some sentiment that we should de-emphasize the issue of open electronic access, as there are not many commercial or private publications moving in this direction at present.  Ideas are suggested for the categories of participants who would be useful for a Review Committee (a graduate student, a librarian, Chair of Publications Committee, a Board member, etc.). Grimm and Covich will work on appointing a committee which will receive staff support from Liz Biggs, David Baldwin and Sue Silver.  The publications review committee charge was approved with the modification that consideration of open access issues be listed as a single item rather than three items.
  5. NEON update (Melillo)
    NEON is evolving, and some of the evolutionary steps are substantial, such as significant structural changes (new CEO¸ restructured Board), and changed emphasis on experimental work.  The ESA will continue to offer its assistance in communicating with the ecological community (ESA membership).
  6. Meetings with Editors in Chiefs

    1. Ecology/Ecological Monographs (Strong, guest)

    Major demands on his time included: looking at and assigning 1400 manuscripts to about 100 editors (some ad-hoc); recruiting and retaining editors; responding to protests by authors (about 100 last year; about 10% of decisions were reversed). The editorial process seems to be going well from his perspective and that of authors.

    2. ESA Bulletin (Johnson, guest)
    Johnson is still looking for ways to take advantage of the digital format (e.g., pictures, videos, models).  He’d like someone who could suggest Web sites of interest to ecologists, and hopes that more use will be made of the Emerging Technologies column.  

    3. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment (Silver)
    There was some discussion about how we might use Frontiers to make connections to the business community, building upon its success to date with policy makers and researchers. 

  7. Position Paper / Position Statement Updates

    1. Fire Management (Ojima)

    Reviews are in and back to authors.  The revision must still come to the Board, then to the membership, before being issued as an official statement of the Society. There is an existing Fact Sheet on Fire.  The paper in progress is essentially a review paper, and perhaps impenetrable to policy makers.  We may need a category of paper in between in size (e.g., 3 pages), accessible to policy makers. 

    2. Nuclear Energy (Pouyat)
    Currently in revision.

    3. Invasives Paper (Grimm)
    Barney Caton wrote a response to the paper that will be published in the Bulletin, and Ed Johnson has asked whether the Board would like to respond. Grimm requested that David Lodge (author of the position paper) develop a response with members of the original authors, and including Board member Dee Boersma.

  8. New Business
    Thanks to President Grimm and the departing Board members for their service.

Meeting is adjourned at 12:30 PM on August 6, 2006

David Inouye, Secretary

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