May 2004

ESA Governing Board
May 24-25, 2004
Washington, D.C.

Members Present: Bill Schlesinger (President), Ann Bartuska (Past- President), Jerry Melillo (President-elect), Jim Clark (Vice President for Science), Norm Christensen (Vice President for Finance), Alison Power (Vice President for Public Affairs), Carol Brewer (Vice President for Education and Human Resources), Osvaldo Sala (Member at Large), Margaret Palmer (Member at Large), Edward Johnson (Member at Large).

Members of the 2004-2005 Board Present:
Nancy Grimm (Incoming President-elect)May 25, 2004 only, David Inouye (Incoming Secretary), Gus Shaver (Incoming Vice President for Science), Dee Boersma (incoming Member at Large)

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

Monday, 24 May 2004

I. Roll Call

  1. The GB unanimously adopted the proposed agenda.

II. Dinner Meeting

Guest speaker: Jim Turner (Minority Counsel, House Science Committee) discussed the dynamics of science policy and funding in Congress. The current stalemate in appropriation bills is unprecedented in his (almost 30 years) experience. In response to questions he also discussed the politicization of science, how to move science into policy making, climate change, the demise of the OTA.

III Ratification of votes taken since the November, 2003 meeting

  1. Minutes of the November, 2003 meeting: moved, seconded, adopted unanimously.
  2. Awards nominations: moved, seconded, adopted unanimously.
    The nominees were:
    Eminent Ecologist Award: Dr. Sam McNaughton
    Distinguished Service Citation: Dr. Jim Reichman
    Corporate Award: Taylor Guitars
    Mercer Award: Dr. John Stachowicz, H. Fried, R.W. Osman, and R.B. Whitlach
    Cooper Award: Dr. Jack Williams, B.N. Shuman, and T. Webb III
    Odum Award for Excellence in Ecology Education: Dr. Richard Root
    (See also item XIII. Sustainability Science Award)
  3. Genetically Engineered Organisms position paper: moved, seconded, adopted unanimously. It was suggested that this paper be sent to the European Union, the International Biosafety meeting, and NAFTA.

IV. Report of the President

President Schlesinger reported that this has been a busy period, including activities such as testimony before Congress. Schlesinger signed a letter coordinated by the UCS on global warming. ESA weighed in on the peer review issue through comments to OMB. ESA was not invited to sign the letter about visa difficulties for international scientists initiated by the National Academy of Sciences. However the Society is aware of this issue. Information about this issue is available at and there is a link to this site on the ESA Portland meeting web site.

He wrote to Mary Clutter at NSF to support renewal of NCEAS.

V. Report of the Executive Director and staff (only three issues are discussed here; the full report was distributed in writing before the meeting).


Director of Finance Elizabeth Biggs noted that ESA needs to make Frontiers self-sufficient over the next 8-10 years. ESA has initiated a number of marketing efforts to promote sales and attract advertising revenue. This spring a consultant was hired to help with this. About 70 libraries subscribe to Frontiers (vs. about 2,000 for other ESA journals). To help increase that percentage, there is a form in each issue of Frontiers for subscribers to send to their libraries. Also ESA is trying some direct-mail initiatives, and working with subscription agents.

One goal of Frontiers is to increase ESA membership and indeed, membership is still growing (will probably be up about 300 this year, and was up about 300 last year). The Society is doing advertising at other professional meetings, and contacting authors who are not members.


Schlesinger reported on a February meeting at NSF that McCarter, Duke and, Schlesinger attended to express ESA’s interest in a partnership between ESA and NEON coordinators. Two groups have responded to a RFP for a NEON Coordinating Consortium. Schlesinger and staff met with a team developing a NEON proposal in connection with AIBS and conveyed ESA’s interest in being involved. AIBS subsequently indicated that they did not see a role for ESA at this time in the process. National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) is the other group that put in a proposal, and they were enthusiastic about involving ESA; Cliff Duke worked with them to develop the community engagement aspect of the proposal. There was some discussion about the history of ESA’s involvement in NEON. The Governing Board includes representatives of both groups submitting proposals to NSF, so discussion was limited in scope because of conflicts of interest.

Millennium Fund

Although Board members had committed to help increase the number of donors, it appears that there has been no success yet, so McCarter reminded Board members about their commitment. The fund currently contains $52,000. The fund generally receives contributions from the same group of traditional donors. She will send Board members a list of current donors and some cards to use to help solicit new ones.

Tuesday, 25 May 2004

VI. Financial updates

McCarter presented the third-quarter financial report that shows a positive bottom line with some excess revenue over expense.

ESA Long-term investments

Vice President for Finance Christensen reported that the endowment is currently about $855,000; part is restricted, set up by individuals for particular purposes (e.g., awards), part is Board-restricted (quasi-endowment, principal could be spent by decision of the Governing Board), and part is unrestricted. About is $573,000 invested in a value fund through Townley, in a relatively conservative way. About three years ago the Board voted to move about $500,000 to a growth fund with Riggs and Company; what’s left of this fund is now valued at about $270,000. Christensen noted that it may be appropriate to move this money to Townley at some point.

Vice President for Finance Christensen wants guidance on spending policy. A conservative policy might be to spend about 5% of the endowment/year (about $40,000/yr). He suggests that a rolling 3-year average of 5% would be better policy, allowing some adjustments for annual variation in income. Another option suggested is that on 31 December we calculate a moving three-year 5% average of the endowment principal, which can be considered available for the following year. The Board asked that a recommendation be brought back in August. Christensen believes that it is probably not appropriate to try and grow the endowment through investments.

Christensen raised the issue of the role of the Finance and Investments Committee. The Board agreed that this group needed to continue its oversight of investment policy.

Additional discussion raised the need for a development committee to work on increasing the endowment. It was suggested that the dormant Fund Raising committee could be reactivated, perhaps with new members, to function as a development committee.

We currently have a $163,000 rainy day fund (unrestricted reserves); target is $250,000.

VII. Presentation of proposed FY 2004-05 budget

McCarter reviewed the budgeting process that begins in April with staff reviewing the income and expenses, consulting with the VP for Finance. A draft budget is presented to the Board in May. Any additions or changes are reviewed by the Board in August and then presentation to the Council for approval. McCarter provided an overview of assumptions, calculations of revenues and expenses, adjustments to the previous year’s budget, program adjustments, and activities not funded. There was considerable discussion about the costs of library subscriptions since the office must provide price changes to libraries in June.

Motion: That the print subscription rates for libraries be increased by 7%, with a similar consideration for online subscriptions. Seconded and approved unanimously.

  1. A. Discussion of proposed program budget adjustments.

    While all ESA members in developed countries receive hard copies of Frontiers, it is now provided only electronically to developing countries because of the significant delivery problems (e.g., recently, none of 30 copies of Ecology sent to Brazil arrived at their destination recently). It will cost about $7-8,000 for printing and shipping to mail printed copies.

    Motion: That we spend up to $10,000 to provide printed copies of Frontiers to members in developing countries. Seconded and approved unanimously. 

    The Board of Professional Certification has requested $3,050 in addition to the funds provided each year for a meeting. This would make it possible, for example, to recruit at meetings of other societies.

    Motion: that the request from the Board of Professional Certification for a $3,050 increase in their annual budget be approved for two years, during which we would like some evaluation of the effectiveness of the Certification program. Seconded and approved unanimously.

    Carol Brewer brought a recommendation from the Women and Minorities in Ecology committee that the Society conduct a membership survey to update the 1992 survey (Holland, M. M., D. M. Lawrence, D. J. Morin, C. Hunsaker, D. Inouye, A. Janetos, H. R. Pulliam, W. Robertson, and J. Wilson. 1992. Profiles of Ecologists: Results of a survey of the membership of the Ecological Society of America.).

    Motion: that up to $10,000 be provided to plan and conduct a survey of our membership. McCarter was asked to find the most appropriate place to find this funding, including using the Millennium Fund. Motion seconded and approved unanimously.

IX. Discussion of further implementation of the Ecological Visions Report

  1. Development of the draft plan for a Rapid Response Team.

    A plan to develop teams of ESA members who would be available to respond quickly to topical issues was reviewed. A suggested list of topics was presented. The Board proposed an additional area: ecological implications of international conflicts and military activities (Duke has a long-standing interest in this area). It was also suggested that ESA institutionalize meetings of the rapid response teams during the annual meeting. Staff will proceed with implementation for the Rapid Response teams.

  2. Fostering international collaborations among societies.

    President Elect Melillo just returned from China, where he spoke with the current and upcoming presidents of the Chinese Ecological Society. They were enthusiastic about the idea of exchanging representatives to annual meetings, and about translating of selected ESA publications into Chinese. They have about 6,000 members, and the society is quite active (e.g., 16 committees). There is also a newly formed East Asian Federation of Ecological Societies (China, South Korea, Japan), that will have its first meeting in Korea in November. There is potential for ESA to link with this new organization.

    It was suggested that ESA seek funds to support the travel of international students from the developing world to the Montreal meeting. This might be easier to do for a Canadian meeting that for one in the US given the current problems with obtaining visas for foreign visitors.

  3. Translations of ESA publications

    David Baldwin suggested the idea of partnering with some international journals, as is already done by some medical journals. ESA would provide advance notice of the table of contents to the partners, who could then decide which (if any) papers they might want to republish in their own journals. The international journal would decide if they wished to translate the articles or publish them in English.

  4. Federation of the Americas

    Member at Large Sala was asked to continue his role in spearheading the Federation of the Americas even after he leaves the Board in August.

  5. Major public information campaign

    This would be a major undertaking since ESA would need to raise millions of dollars to do it adequately.

    Motion: ESA should formalize implementation of a business plan for the public information campaign and this should be spearheaded by subcommittee of ESA Vice Presidents and others. Motion approved unanimously.

    It was noted that this would be a good activity in which to involve a development committee. Discussion also involved suggesting other organizations that might like to partner with ESA. It was noted that several other societies expressed interest in collaborating with ESA after a February briefing about the Visions Report. It is anticipated that the Business Plan will be developed by next May and that an update on progress will be provided at the November Board meeting.

  6. Emerging Issues in Ecological Science

    Duke presented a plan to support implementation of visions priorities. He proposes to develop a set of toolkits organized around particular themes. The goal would be to produce for each issue a comprehensive, linked set of products for a diverse set of audiences. The resulting toolkits would provide an “off the shelf” science resource for the proposed rapid response and public education capabilities, and also would make ecological science information available to a wide array of users. No Governing Board action taken at this time.

X. Lunch Speaker

Guest speakers were Dr. Kathie Olsen (Associate Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Dr .Clifford Gabriel, Deputy to Dr. Olsen). Olsen and Gabriel described the organization and activities of OSTP and answered questions from the Governing Board.

XI. Policy issues

  1. A. Proposed Policy Activity
    Vice President for Science Clark and Vice President Public Affairs Power have been discussing a project involving “ground truthing” the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. This project could potentially be sponsored and funded by the Public Affairs Committee. Since this project would involve the collection of primary data, both Vice Presidents agree that the concept needed careful Governing Board discussion before proceeding. The Board requested additional information at the August meeting before making a decision.
  2. Measuring effectiveness in public affairs
    Director of Public Affairs Lymn presented results of a survey conducted last fall about how other societies deal with measuring the effectiveness of public affairs activities. The survey shows that ESA’s program is consistent with that of other similar societies and is well regarded in the policy community. It’s difficult to quantify impact, but a process will be developed and implemented to clarify ESA’s policy objectives and outcomes each year.

XII. Publications Issues

  1. A. Review of Editor in Chief for Ecology and Ecological Monographs
    The Publications Committee is asked to provide a review of the volunteer Editor in Chiefs of ESA publications just prior to the end of the editor’s three year term. Editor in Chief Don Strong was reviewed and a report presented to the Governing Board. The Board noted its agreement with the very positive report. Motion: to approve reappointment of the Editor in Chief for Ecology and Ecological Monographs to a three year term beginning retroactively on January 1, 2004 and extending to December 31, 2006. Seconded and approved unanimously. The Board noted that it agreed with the review committee that there is a need to increase representation of women and members of other underrepresented groups on the Editorial Board and is ready to work with Strong to identify appropriate new members. The report raised several issues for additional discussion that will be considered in August. 
  2. Website policy.
    Request the Publications Committee to set up a website subcommittee to review website content and to report in August.
  3. Blackwell Science Textbook Proposal
    The Board reviewed a proposal from Blackwell Science for a joint project to develop a series of textbooks. The Board voted not to pursue this project.
  4. Editor in Chief- The ESA Bulletin
    The current Editor in Chief of the ESA Bulletin, Allen Solomon will retire from that position in December, 2004. The Publications Committee was asked to nominate a successor. The Committee recommended and the Board strongly endorsed the recommendation that Edward Johnson be appointed to this role.

    Motion to appoint Ed Johnson as Editor in Chief of the ESA Bulletin for a three-year term (January 1, 2007-December 31, 2007). Seconded and approved unanimously. 

  5. ESA Journal Impact Factors
    The Board received a report on the rankings of ESA journals based on the ISI impact factors. Managing Editor Baldwin presented data on three years of rankings. ESA journals continue to be among the top group of cited journals.

XII. Nominations for ESA Offices

The Nominations Committee chaired by Past President Bartuska, has a preliminary list which is still being refined. The Board can expect a slate to vote on in mid-June, and the final list of nominees will be advertised in the next issue of the Bulletin.

XIII. Nomination for Sustainability Science award

Motion: to approve the nomination of Marten Scheffer, Steve Carpenter, Jonathan Foley, Carl Folke, and Brian Walker as the 2004 Sustainability Science Award winners. Seconded and approved unanimously.

XIV. Amicus brief – Faulkner v. National Geographic Society

ESA has been asked by JSTOR to sign on to an amicus curiae brief they intend to submit on behalf of the NGS. This issue may have bearing on copyright law issues affecting JSTOR and other projects involving the retrospective digitization of print versions of scholarly materials.

Motion: to sign on to the amicus curiae brief after seeking advice from ESA corporate counsel. Seconded and approved unanimously.

XV. Meeting issues

  1. Program Chairs for 2007 and 2008 ESA Annual Meetings
    The Board reviewed a list of recommendations for persons to serve as program chair for the 2007 (San Jose) and 2008 (Minneapolis) annual meetings. The list was narrowed down and President Schlesinger will begin to contact the potential chairs. 
  2. Local Host for 2007 Annual Meeting
    Motion: to appoint Rachel O’Malley as local host for the 2007 annual meeting. Seconded and approved unanimously.

XVI. New Business

  1. San Jose-ESA and SER Partnership
    Motion: to accept the request by the Society for Restoration Ecology to hold a joint annual meeting in San Jose in 2007. Seconded and approved unanimously.

XVI. Adjournment

Respectfully submitted,
David Inouye