Minutes of the ESA Governing Board
-November 4-5, 2015 Washington, DC
Monica Turner, President; David Lodge, President-Elect; David Inouye, Past-President; Evan DeLucia, VP for Finance; Frank Davis, VP for Public Affairs; Valerie Eviner, VP for Science; Nalini Nadkarni, VP for Education and Human Resources (via phone); Charles Canham, Secretary; Kathryn Cottingham, Member at Large; Ana-Elisa Perez Quintero, Member at Large; Leah Gerber, Member at Large.
Present, Katherine McCarter; Executive Director, Elizabeth Biggs, Directory of Finance; Cliff Duke, Director Science Programs; Michelle Horton, Director Administration and Meetings; Teresa Mourad, Director -Education and Diversity; Sue Silver, Editor-in-Chief -Frontiers; Alison Mize, Director -Public Affairs.
Sarah Supp Chair, Early Career Section
9:00 am, November 5, 2015, meeting called to order:
I. Roll Call and Agenda
President Monica Turner called the meeting to order. David Inouye moved and Charles Canham seconded a motion to approve the agenda. All aye. David Inouye moved and Evan DeLucia seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the August 2015 meeting. -All aye
- Report of the President
Monica Turner began her report with a thank you to ESA staff and board members for all of the work during the past year on the publication transition. She also reported on efforts to reduce the backlog of accepted manuscripts at Ecosphere. She and Katherine McCarter and David Inouye met with the editor-in-chief of the new journal Ecosystem Health and Sustainability. They discussed a proposal to have ESA appoint an associate editor to help with the successful launch of the journal. She discussed issues that have come up with respect to public statements on policy issues by ESA, and whether there is a need for a formal process for revising policy statements over time in the face of new science or disagreements over policy. The current procedures appear to be working well and were considered sufficiently flexible to handle changing conditions.
She also noted that copies of a strategic plan from the British Ecological Society have been distributed with the meeting materials, along with a report of the Ecology for a New Generation committee. She noted that the last strategic planning process by the Society was done in 2009. She is considering appointing a committee to explore how to ensure better continuity in board initiatives.
- Report of the Executive Director and Staff
Executive Director Katherine McCarter noted the detailed reports in the board book from Washington office programs. She reported that she is in the process of recruiting a Senior Publications Manager to oversee all of the journals (excluding Frontiers). Sue Silver noted that the Centennial Special Issue has been published. A number of new special issues are in the works. Cliff Duke highlighted work in several areas, including the Sustaining Biological Infrastructure program and a new publication in the Issues in Ecology series on citizen science. Elizabeth Biggs noted that membership for the past year reached 8,951. There is an expectation that the new automated renewal option will help with retention of existing members. The membership database will be upgraded in January 2016. Michelle Horton reported on the Centennial Meeting in Baltimore. Attendance reached 4,671. Alison Mize reviewed efforts in the Public Affairs program, particularly policy issues.
Teresa Mourad reviewed work with SEEDS and education programs, including discussion of how to direct efforts dedicated to K-12 education for maximum effect.
- Financial Update
— First Quarter Financials
Katherine McCarter and Elizabeth Biggs summarized first quarter 2016 FY finances. First quarter finances are typically strongly positive because of revenue from the annual meeting. Expenses are on track with the budget adopted by the Council at the annual meeting in Baltimore.
III. Discussion/Action Items
- Enhancing Membership
Monica Turner initiated discussions at the May 2015 Governing Board meeting on ways to enhance the benefits of membership and to better serve the needs of a broad range of careers in ecology. She reviewed a survey of members conducted in 2011. “Supporting the field of ecology” was the top factor influencing the decision of respondents to be a member of ESA, but “Access to info that helps me do my job” was the second most common factor. She also summarized ideas that came out of discussion of this topic at the Council Meeting in Baltimore in August 2015. Sarah Supp, Chair of the Early Career Section reviewed responses to a survey of members of that section. Alison Mize highlighted the challenges of maintaining communication with members. There was discussion of where within ESA staff these efforts are housed, since virtually all ESA programs involve interaction with members.
- Centennial Survey
VP for Science Valerie Eviner presented key findings from the Centennial Survey of priority research/synthesis needs, focusing on developing more rapid synthesis and policy recommendations in response to emerging issues in ecology. She presented a proposed framework consisting of a set of committees charged with “horizon scanning” and “rapid synthesis”, as well as a committee to aid in “data-poor decision making”. She concluded by presenting ideas for funding and implementing these ideas.
- Authorization for ESA Line of Credit
Capital One Bank requires an updated authorization for Katherine McCarter to obtain a line of credit on behalf of ESA. Charles Canham moved and David Inouye seconded a motion that “Katherine McCarter, Executive Director, Ecological Society of America is authorized to sign the required documentation with Capital One for the line of credit”. All aye.
- Financial Program Review
Major programs within the Washington office are reviewed by the Governing Board on a 3-year cycle. Elizabeth Biggs began by reviewing revenue (without investment revenue) and expenses over the past 10 years. Revenues exceeded expenses in each of the 10 years, with a net cumulative gain of over $2.5 million. Unrestricted net assets now exceed $3.2 million. The Governing Board has set a target of $5 million in unrestricted net assets. Subscription income from Society journals has historically been the largest single source of unrestricted income. Beginning in 2016 these revenues will be replaced by guaranteed minimum royalties from Wiley, and long-term projections Society finances under the Wiley contract are for surpluses over current expenses in each of the next 5 years. Dues revenue represents approximately 10% of total revenue. In 2007 the Council voted to institute 2% per annum increases in dues for regular members (and every other year for student and developing country members).
Three items should be considered for the agenda for the May 2016 Governing Board meeting: (1) Evan DeLucia and Elizabeth Biggs should present a proposal for new asset allocations for the unrestricted and temporarily restricted assets; (2) there should be a discussion of how to allocate the $10,000 annual contribution from Wiley towards ESA Awards; and (3) there should be a review of the performance of our investments.
- NEON Outreach
Monica Turner updated the Board on interactions between the Society and NEON. A letter signed by ESA past presidents, which expressed both support for NEON’s scientific potential and the need for more outreach and involvement by the scientific community, was widely distributed. ESA has expressed its willingness to work with NSF and NEON to develop outreach to the scientific community.
- Publications Update
Katherine McCarter presented a proposal from Wiley for ESA to adopt a standard fee for authors to participate in Wiley’s OnlineOpen access. Wiley is proposing that ESA offer this option for Ecology, Ecological Applications, and Ecological Monographs. They have suggested a fee of $3000 with a discounted rate of $2250 for members. Wiley has a hybrid journal pricing policy which offsets subscription prices for library customers based on the growth of open access articles in any particular title. This ensures that libraries are not paying for content that has already been funded.
Monica Turner moved that we accept the proposal from Wiley, but with further discussion about whether this would also apply to Frontiers. David Lodge seconded the motion. All aye.
- Whittaker Award
Jessica Gurevitch, chair of the Whittaker Awards subcommittee is requesting a change in the two Whittaker awards. The subcommittee would like to make the Whittaker Distinguished Ecologist Award purely honorary, with no travel and no monetary amount associated with it. All the money currently allocated for that award ($2000) would then be added to the $1200 currently allocated for the Whittaker Award to fund a scientist from a developing country to travel to the US. Gurevitch notes that the amount given for the Whittaker Award is currently too small to enable a person from a developing country to have sufficient money to get to the US. Distinguished scientists are more likely to have access to travel funds, and they can be from any country, including those that have substantial support for science.
Kathryn Cottingham moved and Valerie Eviner seconded a motion to make the Whittaker Distinguished Ecologist Award honorary with no cash award, with the funds previously allocated to that award added to the Whittaker Award. All aye.
- Inclusive Ecology Section Petition
Society bylaws allow any group of 50 or more members of the Society to petition for the establishment of a Section. The petition must specify the proposed general scope of the Section and its proposed plan of organization. Article 10 of the Constitution indicates that each Section must be approved by a vote of the Council and that proposed Section bylaws must be approved by the Governing Board. Elita Baldridge submitted a petition for a new Inclusive Ecology Section. The petition was signed by 50 ESA members and contains the mission, the general scope and the proposed bylaws.
Staff review of the proposed bylaws indicates that they are in accordance with the requirements of the ESA Constitution and Bylaws and also confirm that 50 members have signed the petition.
Leah Gerber moved and Kathryn Cottingham seconded a motion to approve the proposed bylaws for the new section, and to recommend that the Council approve the formation of the new section at the 2016 Annual Meeting in Florida. All aye.
- INNGE Virtual Ecology Festival
David Inouye gave an update on efforts by the International Network of Next Generation Ecologists to hold a Virtual Ecology Festival. This is intended to be a global online conference. The first topic for the conference is expected to focus on the first summary report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
— Adjourned at 5:00 pm
The Board met in executive session from 8:00-9:00 am, Nov. 6, 2015
Full meeting called to order at 9:00 am Nov. 6, 2015
- Editor-in-Chief Reviews
The Editors-in-Chief of Ecology, Ecological Monographs, Ecological Applications, Ecosphere, Issues in Ecology and the ESA Bulletin are appointed by the Governing Board to three year terms. At the end of those terms, the Publications Committee is asked to review the EiC and make a recommendation to the Governing Board about reappointment. There are no term limits.
1. Don Strong, Ecology
The Publications Committee submitted an evaluation, noting that Don Strong continues with the excellent job he has been doing over many previous years. They also noted the many challenges of managing the transition to Wiley as a publisher, and broader challenges faced by the journal. David Lodge moved and Monica Turner seconded accepting the recommendation of the Publications Committee and appointing Don Strong to a new 3-year term as Editor-in-Chief of Ecology beginning January 1, 2016.
2. Serita Frey, Issues in Ecology
The Publications Committee did not complete its review in time for the regular Board meeting.
- Certification Phase 1 – Core Concepts (George Middendorf joined the meeting by phone)
At its August meeting, the Governing Board received a report from the Ad Hoc Committee on Certification. That report contained a number of recommendations, among the Phase 1 recommendations was the need to determine the core concepts that underlie the science of ecology.
The Fundamental Ecology Concepts Task Force was created by the Committee on Education and Diversity (CDE) to initiate discussion among ESA members and the wider committee and develop a set of core concepts that will be useful for a number of goals and audiences. This effort will contribute to the Governing Board’s interest in identifying performance standards that will strengthen ESA’s Certification program.
The task force organized a Special Session at the ESA annual meeting and a workshop of ecology professionals and educators. A set of fundamental concepts was presented to the CDE at its Fall annual retreat, October 23-25 for review and revision.
The revised draft was presented to the Governing Board by Dr. George Middendorf (Howard University) (joining the meeting via Skype). The committee anticipates much additional effort to flesh out alternative frameworks for organizing the concepts. The Board suggested that the Task Force focus first on the aspects related to professional certification.
- Annual Meeting Issues
1. Salt Lake City 2020
Meetings Co-chair Kiyoko Miyanishi joined the meeting by phone, and reviewed the report on the suitability of Salt Lake City as the annual meeting site for 2020. Mindful of the Governing Board’s directive to rotate among sites that can provide the maximum revenue for ESA, she recommends Salt Lake City as a western site that will attract ESA members much like Portland has done in the past.
A recent site visit conducted by Kiyoko Miyanishi, Katherine McCarter and Michelle Horton included a meeting with ESA members from the area. They were enthusiastic about the location and noted the success of three previous annual meetings held in Snowbird, Utah.
Val Eviner moved and David Inouye seconded selecting Salt Lake City as the site of the 2020 ESA Annual Meeting. All aye.
2. Program Chair 2018
Kiyoko Miyanishi, co-chair of the Meetings Committee is recommending that Tim Showalter serve as the Program Chair for the 2018 annual meeting in New Orleans. Dr. Showalter is Professor of Entomology at Louisiana State University (2003-present) and served as Department Head 2003-2015. Showalter was elected in the past as the ESA Vice President for Public Affairs and has agreed to serve as Program Chair.
Charles Canham moved and David Inouye seconded appointing Tim Showalter as Program Chair for the 2018 annual meeting in New Orleans. All aye.
3. Local Host 2018
Kiyoko Miyanishi, co-chair of the Meetings Committee is recommending that Caroline “Caz” Taylor serve as the Local Host for the 2018 annual meeting in New Orleans. Dr. Taylor is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane University, New Orleans. Dr. Taylor has agreed to serve in this post.
Val Eviner moved and David Inouye seconded appointing Caroline Taylor as the Local Host for the 2018 annual meeting in New Orleans. All aye.
During the May 2015 Governing Board meeting, the board expressed interest in exploring ways that ESA could engage with the business community. Staff were asked to think about this engagement and prepare a document for the August meeting. That document was reviewed at the August board meeting. After an initial discussion, the board asked Leah Gerber to continue the discussion with staff. Gerber updated the board during the November meeting. The report focused on the potential value of such interactions to both ESA and the business community. Gerber planned to attend the COP21 meeting in Paris and expected to meet with representatives of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and others while there. She is also planning to organize an editorial for Frontiers.
— Meeting adjourned at 11:30