March 2000

ESA Governing Board
March 3-5, 2000
Washington, DC

The March 2000 meeting of the Governing Board was attended by Diana Wall (President), Steve Carpenter (President-Elect); Katherine Gross (Past-President), Lisa Graumlich (Secretary), James Clark (Vice President for Science), Timothy Schowalter (Vice President for Public Affairs), William Schlesinger (Vice President for Finance), Alan Berkowitz (Vice President for Education and Human Resources), Ariel Lugo (Member-at-Large), Rodolfo Dirzo (Member-at-Large), Robin Chazdon (Member-at-Large), and Executive Director Katherine McCarter. Managing Editor David Baldwin, SBI Director Mary Barber, Director for Public Affairs Nadine Lymn, Education Coordinator Susan Musante, and Financial Manager Elizabeth Biggs were present for parts of the meeting. The meeting was called to order by President Wall at 7:30 pm, Friday, March 3 and adjourned at 11 am, Sunday, March 05, 2000.

I. Roll Call

  1. The Governing Board unanimously adopted the Agenda and approved the minutes from the November 1999 meeting.
  2. Ratification of votes taken since November 1999: The Governing Board ratified two votes conducted via email in the period after the November 1999 meeting. A majority vote approved the August 1999 Governing Board minutes. Similarly, a majority vote approved the award description for a new ESA award to be called the Eugene P. Odum Award for Excellence in Ecology Education.

II. Report of the Vice President for Finance

  1. Investment update: Vice President for Finance Schlesinger reported that the rate of return on ESA’s Reserve (Restricted) Funds improved during the last quarter of 1999. At the Governing Board’s request, Schlesinger moved about half of the funds from Towneley Investments to Riggs Bank in order to pursue a more growth-oriented investment strategy. Schlesinger moved that the Governing Board approve a variance to the ESA Investment Policy to allow investments in more growth-oriented instruments. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved. Gross moved that the Governing Board ask the Vice President for Finance to work with the Investment Committee to revise the investment policy to allow more flexibility in investment strategies for consideration at the May 2000 Governing Board meeting.
  2. Executive Director McCarter reported on the 1999 budget. The budget is balanced with only minor internal variances. McCarter also reported that the registration numbers for the April 2000 joint meeting with British Ecological Society are low. She will work with the BES and ESA staff to reduce the expected financial losses from the meeting.

III. Discussion/Action Items

  1. Theme for Annual Meeting, Madison, 2001. Schlesinger moved to accept the meeting theme suggested by Paul Zedler, Program Chair for the Madison Meeting. The theme is “Keeping all the parts: Preserving, restoring, and sustaining complex ecosystems”, which is an allusion to a well-known quote by Aldo Leopold. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved. Schlesinger moved that the Governing Board appoint Stan Temple as the Local Host. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved.
  2. Odum Award: Dr. Eugene P. Odum has given ESA a monetary gift to establish the Eugene P. Odum Award for Excellence in Education. In accepting the gift, the ESA pledges to raise an additional $25,000 for the award in five years. President Wall is working with the Vice President for Finance to develop a plan to raise these funds. Berkowitz moved that the recipient of the Odum Award be given the option to write an article to be submitted to Ecology. The motion was seconded and passed by a majority vote.
  3. ESA Office Staff Retreat/Long Range Plan. Executive Director McCarter reported on the ESA Office Staff Retreat, which took place on February 2, 2000. The staff explored three trends that will affect ESA in the future: 1) diversity, especially changes in age, race/ethnicity, and language of the US population and changes in the employment patterns of ecologists; 2) technology, especially issues of how ESA can optimize its use of communication technologies; and 3) revenue, especially how ESA might best expand its revenue base. The staff tied these trends to goals and objectives as stated in ESA’s Long Range Plan. The staff expressed strong interest in making better use of technological tools to pursue ESA goals, in continuing to improve how we provide information to the public, and in addressing the need to sustain ESA financially. In sum, the staff expressed a strong dedication to improving member services, increasing ESA’s financial security, and to applying ecological knowledge to national and international issues.
  4. Ecological Forecasting Proposal. Vice President Clark reported that the National Science Foundation has funded the Ecological Forecasting Proposal. The funding provides for a workshop in October 2000 to develop a science agenda at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.
  5. Recommendations from the Membership Task Force. Member-at-Large Chazdon presented the preliminary findings from the Membership Task Force. The goal of the Task Force is to develop a strategy for determining the needs and membership status of professional ecologists in North America (US, Canada, and Mexico) and to propose future member services targeted at maintaining a diverse and solid membership base for the society. The Governing Board enthusiastically received the preliminary report, noting that the Task Force has made substantial progress is framing this issue, assembling relevant data, and defining recommendations. Chazdon moved that the Governing Board establish an Ad Hoc Committee on Membership. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved. President Wall requested that the Ad Hoc Committee on Membership continue to develop strategies and to bring forward specific action items for consideration at the May 2000 Governing Board meeting.
  6. Editor-in-Chief’s Roles. The Governing Board anticipated that it may need to name some new Editors in Chief (EiC) for its journals after the terms of the current EiC’s expire. EiC for Ecology, Robert Peet, has expressed his desire to step down at the end of December 2000. President Elect Carpenter led a discussion about the roles of the EiCs and particularly the issue of the amount of time involved in fulfilling the various functions of the position. President Wall charged the Publications Committee to develop a prioritized list of candidates for the Editor-in-Chief of Ecology position. On a separate matter, the Governing Board addressed the question of real and perceived conflicts of interest when editors are authors on ESA publications. This discussion was prompted by the reactions of several ESA members to the most recent Issues in Ecology on Biodiversity. Schlesinger moved that the Governing Board recommend a knowledgeable and trusted senior ecologist be asked to take the lead in organizing a forum for Ecological Applications on biodiversity and ecosystem function that will include divergent viewpoints. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved.
  7. Publications: Schlesinger presented further information about the projected costs of launching a new journal with a magazine-like format, which would contain shorter and longer scientific papers of wide and conceptual interest, reviews, and commentaries on recent publications, and items of news and special interest to ecologists. Schlesinger moved that the Governing Board charge the ESA office staff to develop a business plan for the proposed magazine. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved.
  8. Future of ESA. President Wall led a several hour session in which the Governing Board and ESA staff members were charged to consider the future of ESA programs and activities. The group was charged to explore new and continuing programs and activities and assess their effectiveness and importance in moving ESA towards its long term goals. Three groups deliberated on the future of: 1) programs, 2) meetings, and 3) education and outreach activities. Plenary discussion of the group findings emphasized the intense interest in developing more comprehensive services that speak to critical needs of members. This includes continued programs (e.g., the annual meeting; efforts to recruit underrepresented students into ecology) as well as new programs (e.g., invigorate regional sections by organizing regional meetings). A common theme was that the initiatives will require better technologies and more strategic use of the internet as well as new sources of funding. President Wall and President-Elect Carpenter will investigate options for funding such initiatives.
  9. Update Long Range Plan. The Governing Board discussed the Long Range Plan and agreed upon a set of modifications, clarifications, and reordered priorities. The revised Long Range Plan is appended below.

IV. New Business

  1. Support for Biocomplexity briefing. ESA is planning to organize a joint congressional briefing by ESA and the American Mathematical Society on the scientific background underlying NSF’s Biocomplexity initiative. Schlesinger moved that the President be authorized to spend up to $1000 from the Millennium Fund to promote funding of the NSF Biocomplexity Initiative. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lisa J. Graumlich, Secretary