August 2011

ESA Governing Board, 
August 6, 2011
Austin, TX

Members Present
Terry Chapin               President
Steward Pickett          President-Elect
Mary Power                Past President
Laura Huenneke          VP for Public Affairs
Rob Jackson                VP for Science
Bill Parton                   VP for Finance
Margaret Lowman      VP for Education and Human Resources
Charles Canham          Secretary
Josh Schimel               Member-at-Large
Sonia Ortega               Member-at-Large

Staff Present:
Katherine McCarter    Executive Director 
Cliff Duke                   Director, Science 
Elizabeth Biggs           Director, Finance
Sue Silver                    Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers
Nadine Lymn              Director, Public Affairs
David Baldwin           Managing Editor
Teresa Mourad            Director, Education and Diversity

Members Absent:  Andrea Lloyd

Guests Present:  Scott Collins, Les Real, Naupaka Zimmerman, Margaret Palmer (via speakerphone)

Saturday, August 6, 2011, 9:00 am.  Meeting called to order by President Terry Chapin.

I. Roll Call and Agenda (President Terry Chapin, Presiding)
 
A.  Ratification of Votes taken since May meeting
1. Minutes, May Meeting
Charles Canham moved and Mary Power seconded ratification of the vote taken by e-mail to approve the minutes of the May, 2011 meeting. All aye.

II.        Reports

A.  Report of the President 
President Terry Chapin summarized activities related to the Earth Stewardship Initiative, particularly with reference to events that will take place during the meetings in Austin.  He also reported on interactions with AGU on issues related to challenges in communicating about climate change.  Meetings earlier this year with religious groups led to a session to form a speakers bureau that could provide information to the religious community on environmental issues. An email was sent to all ESA members to solicit input on these initiatives.  Terry noted that in order to make the initiative successful it will be necessary to engage members outside of the Governing Board, particularly through the Sections.  He has written to all Section and Chapter chairs to ask about their willingness to get engaged on the initiative. 

B.  Report of the Executive Director and Staff 
Katherine McCarter encouraged all GB members to attend a meeting Tuesday morning from 7-8 am of grad students and ESA Leadership.  She noted that it was just 1 year ago that Ecosphere was launched, and that the first year has been very successful, with the publication meeting all expectations for quality, rapid publication, member acceptance and finances.  ESA journal impact factors have all improved in the past year.  ESA journals are all in the top 10% of all ISI journals, according to a recent analysis. 

Cliff Duke reported on activities of the Science Program, with updates on activities taking place during the meetings this week.  He summarized the status of the Emerging Issues conferences, and of the Issues in Ecology publication series. 

Nadine Lymn distributed the newly published “Ecologist’s Guidebook to Policy Engagement”.  VP for Public Affairs Laura Huenneke discussed the genesis of the publication.  It was motivated in part by requests from the Student Section for more guidance on how to engage effectively on policy issues, and the recognition that there is interest in policy engagement in many different arenas.   Nadine recognized Zoe Cardon’s efforts to get local Austin media interested in the meetings.

Elizabeth Biggs gave highlights on the financial status of the Society.  We ended the year in the black, and membership is up this year.  Details will be presented in the Financial Update later in the meeting.  Attendance at the Austin meeting is expected to be ~ 3500 – 3600.   

Sue Silver reported on a survey sent to ESA members about Frontiers.  There were lots of suggestions, but she feels there is a mandate to continue the general direction of the journal.  She is currently working on a Citizen Science special issue, highlighting ~ 10 citizen science projects to illustrate lessons learned.  She noted that she is now receiving unsolicited submissions for the Trails and Tribulations series, and feels that it is becoming a popular venue for describing insights into the life of field scientists.

Teresa Mourad summarized initiatives from the Education and Diversity Program, and activities planned during the meeting in Austin.  The SEEDS program continues to do well.   She reported on efforts to establish the EcoEd digital library of teaching materials.  

David Baldwin previewed details of the report of the publications program.  The publication backlog has been eliminated in all journals.  There are a number of special features planned.  The staff continues to make improvements and changes to the online tools for Ecosphere, including means of creating virtual “special features” based on keywords.  They are now sending out issue alerts for Ecosphere.  There is some concern that the number of submissions in the first half of 2011 may be slightly lower after an initial pulse at the end of 2010.  Efforts will be made to encourage additional submissions. David attended an initial meeting of Dryad in July in Vancouver.  Ecological Monographs requires that new manuscripts participate in the archive, and details have now been finalized to automate reminders sent to authors to deposit data.  He expects that we will want to revisit the issue of whether other ESA journals should participate.

C.  Financial Update

  1. Fourth Quarter Financials

Liz Biggs distributed an unaudited fourth quarter financial report, and Katherine McCarter gave an overview of the report.  Revenue has been above budget, and expenses were below budget, leading to a positive balance that will be allocated to reserves.  She noted that subscription revenue is down by ~ 2.5% for the year, a trend that has been noted in previous meetings.  This has been buffered to some degree by overseas subscriptions, particularly in Brazil and China.

  1. Investments

Bill Parton summarized the status of ESA investments.  The current investment strategy for the unrestricted net assets was adopted at a previous Governing Board meeting, and uses a conservative balance of bonds and equities.  The reserve funds use an even more conservative mix.  

D.  Earth Stewardship 
Terry Chapin led a discussion of the Earth Stewardship Initiative.  Mary Power focused during 2009-2010 on connections with other natural science organizations.  Terry Chapin has focused this past year on interactions with faith-based groups and social sciences, and Steward Pickett will concentrate on linkages to practitioners in the coming year.  He noted that we still have not identified a mechanism that can advance this initiative within the Society over time.  He suggested that Sections could be particularly important.  He noted a workshop at Duke University last year to define Earth Stewardship.  The new NSF synthesis center at the University of Maryland may provide a venue for future activities of the initiative.  Steward Pickett emphasized the benefits of continuity in the focus on the initiative among past, current, and future society leaders.  There were two meetings related to the initiative in May 2011 at ESA offices with officials from federal agencies and with representatives from design, architectural, and engineering disciplines.  A proposal was submitted recently to NSF to hold a small, 2-3 day workshop in DC, sometime in late winter 2012.  This would lead up to a series of events at the 2012 Annual Meeting in Portland focused on Earth Stewardship in practice.  There was extensive discussion of the utility of the concepts of sustainability and stewardship, and ways to best advance the goals of the initiative.    

III.        Discussion/Action Items

A. Member Survey Follow-up  

  1. Staff Reports 

Katherine McCarter led a discussion of ideas generated by staff in response to the member survey conducted in February 2011.  The board packet contains a summary of their ideas.  One general conclusion is that many members are unaware of many of the opportunities to be involved in society activities, and the opportunities for networking.  There is also interest in training in peer-review for early-career scientists.

  1. Ecology for a New Generation Committee

Steward Pickett reported on activities of the ad hoc committee to provide recommendations on messaging to early career ecologists.  This issue emerged as a priority from the recent member survey.  The charge to the committee is to address the question:  “What kinds of activities and strategies for messaging might the Society employ to best attract and serve a membership that reflects the world of the 21st century?”

  Sonia Ortega has agreed to chair the committee.  She and Steward Pickett are working to finalize the membership of the committee.  The committee will have access to the result of the member survey, and will prepare recommendations to be presented at the 2012 meeting in Portland.    

B. FY 2011-2012 ESA Budget

  1. Approve Budget 

The board reviewed the budget approved at the May meeting.  It will be presented to the Council on Aug. 7, 2011 for adoption.  A summary of the budget outlining assumptions was distributed. No changes were proposed.

  1. Long Range Planning Grants  

Members at Large are traditionally asked to review proposals for Long Range Planning Grants.  Josh Schimel suggested that proposals for LRPGs be asked to provide a summary of results of prior grants.  

  1. Board Strategic Initiatives 

Steward Pickett moved and Laura Huenneke seconded a motion to allocate $5,600 of the Strategic Initiatives funds to support activities of the Ecology for a New Generation Committee.  All aye.

Mary Power suggested designating funds to support outside speakers for the Portland meeting, designated by the President and Program Chair.  Mary moved to give the President and Program Chair authority to use the balance of the Strategic Initiatives funds ($4,400) to support travel and meeting expenses by outside (non-member) speakers at the Annual Meeting in Portland, 2012.  Seconded by Rob Jackson.  All aye. 

  1. Discussion of Council Presentation  

The board reviewed issues to be presented to the Council at the meeting on Aug. 7, 2011

C. Board of Professional Certification Requests   
The Board of Professional Certification renewed its request from August 2010, for reconsideration of the proposed requirement that all individuals certified by ESA be members of the Society.  This was discussed at the 2010 meeting, at which time the Governing Board decided not to approve the request.  There was extensive discussion of the request again, but many of the same concerns were expressed about the appropriateness of requiring membership.  The board tabled the request and will ask the Chair of the Board of Professional Certification to join a discussion of this issue at the November board meeting.

The BPC also asked the Governing Board to consider a minimum grade requirement of B- for all courses listed on the application for certification.  There were concerns about consistency in application of this requirement.  The Governing Board tabled the request, and will ask the Chair of the Board of Professional Certification to join a discussion of this issue at the November board meeting.

D. Video Conferencing
Staff investigated hardware and software solutions for videoconferencing.  Dedicated systems are relatively expensive, and there appear to be web-based options like Skype that can be used effectively at much less cost.  There is clearly benefit to both the Board and the Board members to have face-to-face meetings, but there are also times when teleconferencing facilities would be beneficial.  There is a related need to explore ways to improve telecommunications bandwidth at the ESA offices in Washington, DC.  

E. Yearly Policy Priorities 
Nadine Lymn and VP Laura Huenneke reviewed public policy priorities for the coming year.  Priorities were presented in the areas of (1) Energy and Climate, (2) Water Quality and Quantity, (3) Infrastructure Impacts on Ecosystems, (4) Disasters Affecting Ecosystems, (5) Science Education, and (6) Endangered Species.  
Rob Jackson moved and Steward Pickett seconded a motion to approve the policy priorities.  All aye.

F. Program Chair 2015
Josh Schimel moved and Mary Power seconded a motion to approve appointment of Carol Brewer as Program Chair for the 2015 Annual Meeting in Baltimore. All aye.

G. Local Hosts 2012 
Rob Jackson moved and Laura Huenneke seconded a motion to approve appointment of Mitch Cruzan and Todd Rosenstiel to be Local Hosts for the 2012 Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon.  All aye.

H.  Environmental Offsets  
            Mary Power moved and Laura Huenneke seconded a motion to split the environmental offset funds between the City of Austin Carbon Offset Challenge Grants and Bat Conservation International.  All aye.

I.  New Business (Margaret Palmer, SESYNC – Guest)
            Margaret Palmer, the director of the new National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), joined the meeting by conference call to lead a discussion of the new synthesis center.  She began the discussion by providing an overview of the Center’s goals and structure.  They have partnered with Resources for the Future to foster linkages between the academic community and policy.  There is a strong focus on developing new computational tools.  The center will be based in Annapolis, MD.    They envision 2-3 themes active at any one time, with a portfolio of projects under any given theme.  There will be a parallel funding program for individual projects that don’t fit within active themes, but it is expected that this would be limited to high-risk but potentially high-yield projects. 

Margaret mentioned a number of potential ways that the Center could contribute to ESA meetings and activities, including accepting proposals for workshops related to ESA initiatives.

J. Report from the Student Section.  
Naupaka Zimmerman gave updates on two activities coming out of the Student Section.  The Mycological Society is interested in co-sponsoring a symposium or sessions on fungi and ecosystem function, as part of a Research Coordination Network.  INNGE – International Network of a New Generation of Ecologists – has been exploring ways to interact with ecological societies worldwide to cooperate on efforts to facilitate networking and career development.

Executive Session
            The Governing Board went into Executive Session at 4:15 pm

Meeting adjourned at 5:00 pm

 

 

ESA Governing Board, 
August 7, 2011
Austin, TX

Members Present
Terry Chapin               President
Steward Pickett          President-Elect
Mary Power                Past President
Laura Huenneke          VP for Public Affairs
Rob Jackson                VP for Science
Bill Parton                   VP for Finance
Margaret Lowman      VP for Education and Human Resources
Charles Canham          Secretary
Josh Schimel               Member-at-Large
Sonia Ortega               Member-at-Large

Staff Present:
Katherine McCarter    Executive Director 
Cliff Duke                   Director, Science 
Elizabeth Biggs           Director, Finance
Sue Silver                    Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers
Nadine Lymn              Director, Public Affairs
David Baldwin           Managing Editor
Teresa Mourad            Director, Education and Diversity

Members Absent:  Andrea Lloyd

Guests Present:  Scott Collins, Les Real, Deborah Goldberg, Naupaka Zimmerman, Ed Johnson, Don Strong, Aaron Ellison, Dave Schimel

Sunday, August 7, 2011, 9:00 am.  Meeting called to order by President Terry Chapin.

III. Discussion/Action Items (continued)    

 K. Publications Meetings  

1. Publications Committee (Scott Collins, Chair)
Scott Collins reported that the year has been relatively uneventful for the Publications Committee, after major activities in the past year (including the launching of Ecosphere).  Josh Schimel will become chair of the committee at the end of the Austin meetings.  Scott has structured the committee membership to staggered 3-year memberships to allow more predictable turnover on the committee.

2. ESA Bulletin (Ed Johnson, EiC)
There is a limit of 100 pages per issue, and there is now a backlog of material.  David Gooding and another staff member in Ithaca provide all of the layout and production support as part of their other duties.  There was discussion of whether there are ways to lessen this limitation.  Josh Schimel agreed to have the Publications Committee examine this issue.

3. Ecology (Don Strong, EiC)
Don Strong reported on activities at Ecology over the past year.  One year ago the journal faced a significant backlog. Analysis of the genesis of the backlog suggests that pre-review and reject without review is a highly subjective process.  In particular, acceptance rates of pre-reviewed papers were no different in the past year than previous acceptance rates of manuscripts not subjected to reject without review screening. After very high rejection rates in the past 2 years and the successful elimination of the backlog over the past year, acceptance rates are expected to rise. 
Don expressed his admiration for the success of Ecosphere over the past year. 

4. Ecological Monographs (Aaron Ellison, EiC)
Aaron Ellison gave an update on Ecological Monographs.  Submission rates increased in calendar year 2010 by 16%.  Roughly half of manuscripts are rejected without review.  Overall acceptance rate for the 2010 year was ~ 18%.  Median time for decisions was 5 days for manuscripts rejected without review and 69 days for manuscripts sent out for external review. The journal’s impact factor increased significantly over the past year (to 5.9 from 4.8).

5. Ecological Application (Dave Schimel, EiC)
Dave Schimel reviewed operations at Ecological Applications. There was a significant increase in impact for the journal over the past year.  The main criterion for reviewing papers has been whether there is a general advance in management of ecosystems, rather than simply local application of general knowledge.  Submission rates have been very high, so this criterion has been the most common justification for rejection without review.  Papers that simply present new metrics of ecosystem state are also often rejected without review.  Reject without review rates have been ~ 45% in recent years. 
They have implemented a new policy for invited features.  Many proposals are received, but most are problematic because they take so long.  They typically have lower citation rates than standard articles.  They are going to implement a virtual special feature format that will invite submissions on a theme, with the papers linked by common keywords.

6. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (Sue Silver, EiC)
Sue Silver summarized activities with Frontiers over the past year.  The rejection rate hovers around 83%, of which three quarters are rejected without review, usually because the format of the paper does not fit within the journal.  There has been a trend for numbers of Research Communication submissions to increase, but the number of Reviews has been declining.  The backlog of several years ago is now gone.  There is an ongoing challenge with funding for the journal.  The business plan for the journal expects two externally-funded special issues per year, but finding these is a constant challenge.

 

7. Issues in Ecology (Jill Baron, EiC)
Jill Baron reported on Issues in Ecology.  The recent report on forest carbon represented the first new issue in 5 years, but is the first of many in the pipeline.  There is a lot of recent interest in new issues, including as an outgrowth of organized sessions at the annual meetings.  Issues typically cost $20,000.  She suggested planning for evaluation of who uses the publications.  Nadine Lymn commented that her sense is that they are most useful in an educational context, but that the format is not optimal for use in policy debates.  Jill suggested closer coordination with ESA policy and communications staff to increase the effectiveness of the series.

8. Term Limits for EiCs – Discussion 
The Governing Board asked the Editors-in-Chief present for their views on the proposed changes in the by-laws.  Don Strong encouraged the Governing Board, particularly the President Elect, President, and Past President, to be more closely involved in the 3-year reviews.  Dave Schimel, Don Strong, and Aaron Ellison all expressed agreement with the principle of term limits.  Aaron Ellison suggested thinking about mechanisms for mentoring and cultivation of future Editors-in-Chief.

L.  Enhancing Diversity within ESA
Sonia Ortega reviewed challenges in increasing diversity within ESA, and suggested a goal of raising funds to cover costs for attendance at annual meetings by minority students.  Aaron Ellison encouraged Sonia to attend the Centennial Committee meeting to present these ideas there.  There was extensive discussion of ideas to enhance diversity within the field.  Naupaka Zimmerman made the point that it is important to bring in not just the students, but also their role models.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:15 pm.

 

ESA Governing Board, 
August 12, 2011
Austin, TX

Members Present
Steward Pickett          President
Scott Collins               President-Elect
Terry Chapin               Past President
Deborah Goldberg      VP for Science
Charles Canham          Secretary
Mimi Lam                   Member-at-Large

Staff Present:
Katherine McCarter    Executive Director 
Cliff Duke                   Director, Science 
Elizabeth Biggs           Director, Finance
Sue Silver                    Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers
David Baldwin           Managing Editor
Teresa Mourad            Director, Education and Diversity

Members Absent:  Sonia Ortega, Andrea Lloyd, Sharon Collinge, Les Real, Margaret Lowman

Guests Present:  Jorge Ramos, Mary Power

 

Friday, August 12, 2011, 9:00 am. 

Meeting called to order by President Steward Pickett

I.  Information
A. Governing Board Organization for 2011-2012 
The November 2012 Governing Board meeting will be held at the Society offices in Washington, DC on Thursday – Friday, Nov. 17-18, with a half-day new board member orientation on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2012.

There have been a number of discussions during the week about diversity within the Society.  Steward Pickett recommended that he meet with a subset of the Board to come up with plans to better advance efforts to foster greater diversity in the field.   Mimi Lam mentioned the difficulties that members of tribal communities face in attending and participating in ESA annual meetings.  Terry Chapin recommended reaching out to groups like AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society).  Deborah Goldberg noted that there is a lot of activity at many different levels (individuals, departments, universities), and a lot of expertise in best practices that could be tapped.

 

II. Earth Stewardship Initiative
Steward Pickett gave an update on activities related to the Earth Stewardship Initiative during the Austin meetings.  A large fraction of the sessions at the meeting had at least some connection to the Initiative.  There was some healthy controversy about concepts of stewardship, and Steward noted that there appeared to have been progress in communicating issues related to the Initiative.  He is personally interested in how best to advance the Initiative within the Society.  He hopes to see events related to the Initiative on the program at next year’s meeting in Portland.   He has a particular interest in the notion of earth stewardship through practice (i.e. urban design, civil engineering).  Next year is the 20th anniversary of the Sustainable Biosphere Initiative, and events could be planned in connection with that event.

            Steward Pickett also reminded board members of the EcoSummit scheduled for 2012, and suggested that we explore submitting a symposium proposal related to the Stewardship Initiative.

III. Discussion/Action

A. Audit Committee
Deborah Goldberg and Mimi Lam were appointed to two-year terms on the Audit Committee.

B.  Feedback from Committee Meetings and Council Meeting
The Council meeting highlighted the benefits of greater communication between the Board and the Council.  The discussion of a proposed change in the by-laws to institute term limits on non-staff Editors-in-Chief was spirited and detailed.  The proposal was not adopted, and was sent back to the Publication Committee for further consideration.

Teresa Mourad mentioned that she had received questions from members about procedures for nominating Governing Board members.  Subsequent discussion focused on ways to increase input of names to the nomination process.

Liz Biggs reported on discussions of the Meetings Committee about whether there was sufficient distinction between symposia and organized oral sessions.  Some symposia had so many speakers that the time for talks was no greater than in standard oral sessions.

Mimi Lam mentioned a concern that the meetings are so large that there are few times for attendees to meet together (in plenary sessions).  Program committees are typically faced with the challenge of balancing the time for plenary sessions with sufficient time for oral sessions.

Steward Pickett thanked and congratulated staff on running a seamless and exciting annual meeting.  Jorge Ramos seconded Steward’s comments and noted the enthusiasm of the student section for the meetings.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:00 am.

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