Minutes of the ESA Governing Board
16-17 November 2006
Members Present: Alan Covich (President), Nancy Grimm (Past-President), Gus Shaver (Vice President for Science), Bill Parton (Vice President for Finance), David Inouye (Secretary), Meg Lowman (Vice President for Education and Human Resources), Jayne Belnap (Member at Large), Juan Armesto (Member at Large), Rich Pouyat (Vice President for Public Affairs), Dennis Ojima (Member at Large).
Katherine McCarter (Executive Director), Cliff Duke (Director of Science), Elizabeth Biggs (Director of Finance), Sue Silver (Editor), Nadine Lymn (Director of Public Affairs), Jason Taylor (Director of Education), David Baldwin (Publications), Fran Day, (Director of Development)
Jim Collins, Assistant Director, Directorate for Biological Sciences, NSF
I. Roll Call, Adoption of Agenda, and Vote Ratification, beginning at 8:56 AM
A. Adopt Agenda – adopted unanimously
B. Minutes from August Governing Board Meeting – approved unanimously
C. Reminder of the meeting dates for May (7 – 8 May) 2007
A. Report of the President (Covich)
Covich met with the SEEDS students during their visit to the Coweeta LTER site and continues to be very impressed with the impact this program is having around the country. He also appreciates the work of the Steering Committee for the Southeast Knowledge Partnership and their participation in a planning meeting (discussed below).
Upcoming international meetings at which ESA will be represented: 1) EcoSummit in China (22-27 May in Beijing). The theme will be Ecological Complexity and Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities for 21th Century’s Ecology; and 2) the 10th International Congress of Ecology ( INTECOL) meeting in Australia (Brisbane, 16-21 August 2009).
ESA members may also wish to attend the 29th International Union of Biological Sciences General Assembly and Scientific Symposium that will be held in Washington, D.C. (9-13 May). The theme will be Biological Sciences for the 21th Century: Meeting the Challenges of Sustainable Development in an Era of Global Change.
The Society for Ecological Economics would like to encourage a joint meeting at some time in the future; Board members with suggestions related to this meeting should convey them to Alan Covich. The Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry has also indicated an interest in joint activities.
A group of several biological societies is discussing pooling resources to sponsor jointly an AAAS Fellow. Discussions are ongoing.
The new Web site and Blog are up and running, and working well.
B. Report of the Executive Director and Staff
Executive Director (McCarter) – ESA is one of the founding members of the Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) collection of journals, which are being provided free to developing countries as of the beginning of October. JSTOR will add Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment to its collection of ESA journals. Jim Brown and Les Real, years ago, assigned royalties to ESA from a book they published. University of Chicago Press just sent a check for $14,000 (several years worth of royalties), which the student section will use as the basis for starting a new travel award. Only two sections submitted applications for long-range planning grants; the deadline has been extended. Individual Board members have been assigned as liaisons for the different major development projects.
Public Affairs (Lymn) – summarized the changed political landscape following last week’s elections, as it relates to environmental issues.
Ithaca publications office (Baldwin) – the new Ecological Applications schedule is in place to get 8 issues out each year (every month that there isn’t an Ecological Monographs). The publications Web site, hosted at the Allen Press, is being updated and will be available soon, with a variety of improvements.
Finance and Administration (Biggs) – the new Web site was initiated last month, although a few pages remain to be moved to the new format. Member comments have been positive. The Audit Committee should receive results of the annual audit soon.
Frontiers (Silver) – highlights for the year for Frontiers included the China issue and the launch of the series on Pathways to Effective Communication. The Mexico and Paleoecology issues are in progress. Sue will attend the EcoSummit meeting in China, to support the ESA booth with Katherine McCarter. She has been invited to China by the Chinese Academy of Science to give a two-day workshop for Chinese editorial staff.
Development (Day) – the preliminary proposal to NSF for SEEDS for teachers was submitted.
Education and Diversity (Taylor) – the recent Coweeta LTER field trip went well. The digital library project is moving forward with a new assistant. Jason attended a NEON conceptual design review meeting recently, representing the educational component.
Science (Duke) – the data sharing initiative is going well. There will be a meeting next month at NCEAS about data centers. National Resources Conservation Service has contacted the science office about a review of ecological services provided by wetlands. Devon Rothchild is working on the pollination web site project with NBII, which is proceeding well The sustainability science workshop group has been busy.
C. Financial Reports
1. Vice President for Finance (Parton) – investment update. We have now crossed the $1 million mark with our investments.
2. McCarter reported that the first quarter financials are looking positive and that ESA is currently meeting or exceeding our projections for the first (a report is presented).
III. Discussion Items / Actions
A. Financial / Fundraising Mid-Term Program Review (Biggs, Day)
In general the budget looks fine; we have a substantial rainy day fund, and are progressing toward the goal of $5 million set in August 2006. Subscriptions from libraries are the largest source of revenue, and there is still some uncertainty about how electronic journals and open access will affect this in the future.
Fundraising – Priorities have been set for seven projects, and work is progressing on all of them (pre-proposals, proposals, cultivation of potential major donors, etc.). Meg Lowman will be the featured speaker at a proposed event in D.C. for about 50 potential major donors.
B. Dues Increase proposal
Staff and VP for Finance recommend an annual 2% increase in dues for membership, with a similar increase every other year for student members and those from developing countries. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: THE BOARD WILL PROPOSE A DUES INCREASE OF approximately 2% per year for regular members, and 2% every other year for student members and those from developing countries. This proposal will be presented to the Council next August, and if approved, implemented for 2008.
C. Developing plans for additional ESA activities with NSF
The Board discussed several ways in which our members could actively participate in ongoing NSF projects, especially the National Ecological Obeservatory Network, prior to meeting with Jim Collins, Assistant Director for Biological Sciences at NSF.
D. Publications Issues
1. Ad Hoc Publications Review Committee – update (Belnap)
Some questions were answered, some issues were identified for further exploration at the spring Board meeting. Answered questions include:
The ESA portfolio of publications should be reviewed regularly.
ESA is still happy with its relationship with Allen Press, and we should not pursue turning printing and electronic services to someone else at this time.
Foreign translations would be too costly.
ESA should not publish proceedings of competitive conferences from other societies.
It would be too costly to publish comments and revisions of papers, as is typically done in math and physics journals.
Issues warranting further exploration include:
The current publications portfolio.
Changing format from paper to on-line.
How to spiff up the journal’s image, make Issues, the Bulletin, and small books from Frontiers more visible.
JSTOR and the moving wall for access (4 years is too long, 1 year too short).
Access to back issues for electronic subscribers.
Data access – should we require data associated with papers be made available?
Should we print long-term high-quality archival issues if we go completely electronic?
Open access and page charges.
Questions deferred to the Publications Committee:
Handling of electronic appendices, and the level of editorial attention they should receive.
Review of publication office staff by other than Managing Editors.
Should there be a review of Frontiers Editor-in-Chief different from editors of Ecology, Ecological Monographs, Ecological Applications, the Bulletin, and Issues in Ecology?
We need member input on several issues related to how well the journals represent ESA. How best to do this? The publication Ad Hoc review committee needs to meet more often.
Lunch guest: Jim Collins, Assistant Director for Biological Sciences, NSF
NEON: a conceptual design review meeting was held last month. NEON is on schedule, making good progress. The NEON budget is in the House and Senate markup for next fiscal year, but the government is on a continuing budget at present. The revised science plan is available on the NEON, Inc, web site. A strong continental focus, with moveable towers, potential for experimentation and freshwater studies are included. In April or May a project design review will occur. There’s a January 5th deadline for the Request for Information, and a review of the RFIs will occur in February. The NEON Board of Directors has been expanded. A Scientific Advisory Committee will be appointed soon. David Schimel has been named the new CEO of NEON, Inc.
The consensus is that we should include a time for NEON updates by NSF program officers (and NEON, Inc.) at the annual meeting.
ESA can help NSF by suggesting candidates for program directors, and encouraging colleagues to seek administrative approval to serve at NSF on a rotating basis.
Cyber infrastructure remains a major focus at NSF this year. How can more ecologists be involved?
D. Publications Issues (continued)
2. Review of the Editor-in-Chief of Ecology, Don Strong.
It was moved and seconded that Don Strong be reappointed as Editor-in-Chief of Ecology and Ecological Monographs. The Board discussed ideas for how to increase the proportion of women and underrepresented minorities on the editorial boards of ESA journals, and whether the current policy on Ecological Monographs concerning length of papers needs to be modified to encourage longer papers. The publications committee is asked to consider the possibility of emphasizing synthesis as a function of Ecological Monographs. The motion to reappoint Don Strong as Editor-in-chief of Ecology and Ecological Monographs to a three-year term (January 2007 – December 201) was approved unanimously and a letter thanking him for his past sevice will be sent.
3. Appointment of Editor for Issues in Ecology. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously to appoint Jill Baron as Editor for Issues in Ecology for a three-year term (January 2007 – December 2010).
E. Education and Diversity Program review (Lowman & Taylor)
They reviewed the history of the program, ongoing projects, and plans for the future.
F. Integrative Science for Society and Environment (Grimm)
The Board is asked to endorse the concept, and more specifically, a document describing a strategic research plan that would go to NSF and potentially help stimulate funding of a new budget initiative in this area. Several other societies are also being asked for endorsements. The board reviewed the current draft and suggested that additional sites with long-term studies be included to emphasize the wide range of research activities now being investigated but not yet fully integrated.
G. 100th Year Anniversary (Covich)
President Covich has convened a group to start planning for activities leading to 2015, including discussions of the Society’s history and future as well as groups that were initiated from within ESA (such as The Nature Conservancy, Animal Behavior Society, the Society for Conservation Biology and others). ESA will begin planning for the annual meeting well in advance to make certain that the theme is well suited and attendance is optimal. Suggestions for the venue and theme are needed. What special topics for journals could we consider? There is a lot of interest among ESA members in planning an appropriate set of events to celebrate the anniversary.
Meeting adjourned for the evening at 4:55 PM.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006
III. Discussion Items / Actions (continued)
H. Southeast Knowledge Partnership – update (Covich)
A planning meeting attended by 11 was held 8 November in Athens to generate suggestions for a theme and ways to engage stakeholders as well as evaluate the effectiveness of this pilot program aimed at regionalizaiton. Funding will be sought during the next several months to sponsor a workshop for about 50 people next fall. There was discussion of how to proceed with this regional initiative and how to develop the concept in other regions.
I. Annual Meeting Issues
How can we disperse the scientific information presented at annual meetings? More complete symposium reports in the Bulletin and Frontiers? In special issues of our journals?
1. Carbon-free annual meetings (proposal from the Meetings Committee)
The Board is concerned about the idea of a mandatory, or even default, increase to the annual meeting registration fee, but supports the idea of facilitating an optional contribution. The Board also recommends an article or editorial in Frontiers about the idea of carbon-free travel, and suggests including an announcement of this option in the e-mail message to the membership that announces the opening of the registration Web site.
A motion is made and seconded to make clear on the registration form that there is an option to offset carbon costs through a voluntary donation, and that the public affairs committee identify, if possible, a local carbon-offset effort to which those funds will be contributed. Passed with one abstention.
2. 2008 Annual Meeting Theme (Milwaukee)
“Ecological education for our future” is proposed as the theme. The education committee will help with developing the theme and text regarding integration of research and teaching.
3. Meeting Appointments
The VP for Science and the Co-chair of the Meetings Committee present recommendations for the appointments of 2009 Program Chair and Local Host, and Co-Chair of the Meetings Committee. A motion is made and seconded to appoint Scott Franklin as Program Chair and Will Pockman as Local Host for the 2009 annual meeting, and to appoint Kiyoko Miyanishi as the Co-Chair of the Meetings Committee (for future meetings). Passed unanimously. Board members will suggest names for the Local Arrangements Committee for the Pittsburg meeting, and the Meetings Committee will contact the Mid-Atlantic region chapter for more suggestions.
J. Competitive Conference Series (Grimm)
Grimm suggests that a prestigious ecology conference series, perhaps modeled on the Gordon Conferences, or the AGUs conference series, would be attractive. Cliff and Nancy will collect some additional information about this idea and bring it back to the Board in May.
K. CSSP Fellow (Grimm)
The Council of Scientific Society Presidents has invited presidents of ESA to participate. Grimm has been elected to the Executive Board and will serve until May. Norm Christensen will be asked to replace her, and remain the CSSP representative for three years (Nancy replaced Ann Bartuska). CSSP is proposing a Fellows program and is seeking $1,500 from ESA as a contribution. The Board suggested that putting this funding into a AAAS fellow or an ESA intern might be more productive. Nancy will take that idea to the CSSP Board.
L. ESA Website Review (Biggs)
Covich suggests a photo contest for pictures on the home page (which will be rotated monthly). Inouye suggests putting identifying text behind the pictures. Duke encourages reading and use of the blog by Board members.
M. New Business
Covich received a letter from AIBS President Doug Futuyma, who is undertaking a review of potential 21st Century Directions in Biology, especially the impact of modern molecular methods. Covich will seek two ESA researchers to contribute to this special issue of BioScience.
How to highlight the San Jose meeting to the potential international audience? San Jose may be attractive as a venue to Latin American ecologists. The December 1 deadline for special session proposals for the meeting will likely attract a large number of proposals.
Energy and environmental impacts of biofuel production might be a topic to involve multiple components of policy, education, and science, e.g., for the Southeast Knowledge Partnership.
Meeting was adjourned at 11:50 AM on Friday, November 17, 2006
David Inouye, Secretary