May 2007

DRAFT Minutes of the ESA Governing Board

May 7-8, 2007
Washington, D.C.


Members Present: Alan Covich (President), Nancy Grimm (Past-President), Norm Christensen (President-Elect), Sunny Power (incoming President-Elect), Gus Shaver (Vice President for Science), Meg Lowman (Vice President for Education and Human Resources), Richard Pouyat (VP for Public Affairs), Bill Parton (VP for Finance), David Inouye (Secretary), Dennis Ojima (Member at Large), Juan Armesto (Member at Large), Jayne Belnap (Member at Large) Rob Jackson (incoming VP for Science).

Staff Present:

Katherine McCarter (Executive Director), Cliff Duke (Director of Science), Elizabeth Biggs (Director of Finance), Sue Silver (Editor), Jason Taylor (Director of Education), Nadine Lymn (Director of Public Affairs), Ramona Crawford (Development), David Baldwin (Publications).

Guest: Scott Collins (see section II. I.).

I. Roll Call, 9:00 AM

  1. The Governing Board unanimously adopted the proposed agenda.
  2. Minutes from the November, 2006 Governing Board meeting were ratified.
  3. No Child Left Indoors vote (conducted earlier by e-mail) was ratified.

II. Reports

  1. Report of the President (Covich) 
    President Covich reported that the Society is in great shape, and plans for the annual meeting are going very well. He has represented the Society at a variety of venues this year. The ESA’s role is increasingly recognized both nationally and internationally. Other societies ask for our help and use our web site as an important source of information. The web site and blog are working well. ESA has been busy preparing for the EcoSummit in Beijing later this month where a meeting of presidents from different national ecological societies will meet to discuss coordination of future meetings and other plans. Covich will give a plenary talk and ESA will be well represented by Katherine McCarter and Sue Silver both giving presentations and having a booth to introduce our journals to this international audience. The British Ecological Society has invited ESA to be involved in their centenary celebration, which will occur two years before the ESA’s. The International Union of Biological Sciences meets in DC later this week, and Covich will represent ESA there. It’s been exciting to watch NEON progressing, and ESA is involved in several activities ranging from a workshop at the EROS Data Center in South Dakota to the panel review last week. ESA has been asked to send a member to the INTECOL Board to represent our members on the Scientific Planning Committee for the 2009 meeting in Brisbane, Australia. ESA was also invited to nominate appointees to the National Science Board. The Southeast initiative is proceeding well. Excitement is building about the 100 th anniversary with several members expressing interest in writing a series of papers on the history of ecology and the role of ESA. There is also some initial discussions regarding organization of a documentary film or some way to include selected environmental films in the annual meeting in 2015. 

    Norm Christensen represented ESA at the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, which is working on a draft position statement on climate change. ESA has been approached about helping to resolve the water management issue in the Owens Valley. He and others will investigate this request and report to the Board in August as another way to begin our regional involvement of ESA members in ecological issues.

  2. Report of the Executive Director (McCarter) and staff 
    This is Jason’s last meeting, before he moves to Salt Lake City, but a new Director of Education and Diversity has been hired. Katherine and Sue Silver will both be going to the EcoSummit this month, to host ESA’s booth. McCarter is also making a presentation at the meeting. 

    Please watch for any e-mail message forthcoming requesting Board members to vote electronically, as 100% participation is required for these votes to be valid. 

    Director of Development Ramona Crawford has completed one week on the job and has talked on the phone with Fran Day. She and is reviewing development priorities and plans already in place and will travel to New York with Norm Christensen to meet potential donors. 

    Cliff Duke – the workshop on sustainability science was a success, and there will be a symposium on this topic chaired by Jane Lubchenco at the annual meeting. The data sharing initiative is moving forward, with a third workshop occurring later this month; there may be enough funding left for a fourth workshop. Workshop on southeast forest health will happen next month in Atlanta, at the request of the U.S. Army (is there a problem with forest health, what disease problems are apparent, what management or research issues are of concern, etc.). 

    Sue Silver – is busy getting ready for the EcoSummit. The Asian Chapter has been very involved, including helping arrange for volunteers to help translate at the booth. While in China she will lead workshops both in Beijing and Cheng Du on how to get research published in western journals. 

    Jason Taylor – is helping to prepare for the transition to his replacement. The NEON webcast and survey went well. He’s serving on the NEON “tiger team” of experts for education. The February joint SEEDS and advisory committee meeting went well. 

    Nadine Lymn – distributed the new 110 th Congress Directory to Board members. 

    Elizabeth Biggs – annual meeting plans are well under way, with about the same number of abstracts submitted as Montreal (suggesting registration of 4,000 to 4,500). New web site has been working well; more members are contributing photographs. 

    David Baldwin – The logjam in production at the beginning of this year is now past, and May issues were out before end of April. Auk and ESA journals will be doing an ad trade (2 ads in Auk for one in Ecology). Links to data registry entries are going live and use of this feature has begun. Opening up for bids for printing of ESA journals will happen in 2008. The experiment on making one article open access in each journal is going well. 

  3. Financial Updates (Parton/McCarter) 
    Actual expenses are running well below projected, so there is likely to be a good surplus by the end of the fiscal year. Reserves are now $1.2 million, with the goal of $5 million. There has been a one-year gain of 9% on investments. Consensus is that we should stick with the philosophy of investing in mutual funds, and using social/environmental screens to ensure we’re investing in companies whose actions we approve. 

    Katherine presented an overview of the FY 2007-08 budget proposal, including assumptions, calculations of revenues and expenses, and adjustments from the previous budget (increases in subscriptions and dues). 

    Editor-in-Chief Don Strong has requested additional funding that would help increase the stipends provided to Associate Editors. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: The Board supports the idea of increasing by 25% the budgets of editors of Ecology and Ecological Applications. 

    A motion is moved, seconded: The Board supports the idea of increasing the annual payment to the Unrestricted Fund from $50,000 to $100,000. The motion is tabled. 

    The Board is asked for ideas for using the Board’s discretionary funding for the year. Suggestions include: 

    A survey by the Ad Hoc Publications Subcommittee about publications issues ($2,000); 
    A third meeting of the Ad Hoc Publications Subcommittee; 
    An extra funded meeting for EHRC on site at the annual meeting 2008; 
    Funds for an EHRC speaker; 
    Hire an intern for a 2010 summit on environmental education; 
    Support a sabbatical position for an ESA member to work on policy by paying for the AAAS orientation ($2,500-3,000); 
    Tie the 100 year anniversary with 25 year anniversary of SBI; 
    Fund a meeting of the Publications Committee. 
    We need to decide on a meeting site for the 100 year anniversary; it would have to be a large city. New York was site of the first meeting. 

  4. Nominations for Board Elections (Grimm) 
    A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: 
    Report of the nominating committee for Board members (from Nancy Grimm). Candidates for President are Jim Clark and Mary Power. VP for Finance candidates are Bill Parton (re-nominated) and Mike Pace, VP for Public Affairs are Richard Pouyat (re-nominated) and Laura Hueneke, Member at Large (four candidates for two positions) Ottar Bjørnstad, Carlos de la Rosa, Josh Schimel, Emily Stanley), and Board of Professional Certification (four candidates for two positions) Margaret DeVall, Garth Redfield, Robert Jones, Harold Ornes). 
  5. Publications Issues 
    How can we get good feedback from members about the use of electronic publications? E.g., are people reading the Bulletin now that it’s only available on-line? 

    A mid-term review was conducted, following the full review in Montreal. Recent innovations and accomplishments include: 

    Graphics work brought in-house (significant savings) 
    Totally digital copy-editing and transmission of manuscripts to printer 
    Continued promotion and growth of Ecological Archives (~ half of papers now) 
    Help for authors whose native language is not English (about 70 volunteers now) 
    ESA Data Registry promotion and publication of Registry information (not much use yet)
    Continued improvement in time to publication 
    Increased issue frequency of Ecological Applications to eight per year 
    One open-access article per issue

    Issues on the horizon include: 
    Open access – threat or promise? 
    The future of print 
    Publication of “issues and volumes” or individual articles? 
    Archiving: responsibility of libraries or ESA? 

    Some journal statistics and trends: 

    Number of submissions is increasing, acceptance rates about 28% (rose a little last year), article length decreasing slowly, number of pages increasing a little (over 6,000 for the past four years), number of submissions/country data are being collected ( China is #8 and rising), impact factors are good (including meteoric rise of Frontiers).

    The new journals website, with additional features such as downloads for bibliographic software, is expected to be online by the end of May. 

    Frontiers “Mid-Term” Program Update (Silver) 

    Articles accepted now won’t appear until at least February; the idea of pre-print publication is being considered. Many of the early articles were reviews, which tend to have higher rates of citation, and more recent issues have fewer reviews (which could influence the impact factor). Special issues on paleo-ecology and ecosystem services are in the works. Two sets of articles, on ethics and on Pathways to Scientific Teaching are being published as small books. A new student-written column is about to start. A search is going on for a new marketing representative. 

    Frontiers Publication Budget:

    A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: The budget will be modified to raise the Society contribution to publication costs of Frontiers from $50,000 to $100,000. 

    Publications Ad hoc Committee update: The committee will be meeting tomorrow afternoon. Issues that are being considered include pre-publication, open publication, bundling of journals. The publishing world is changing rapidly, and annual meetings of a committee are not sufficient to keep up with it. We need a mechanism to get feedback from members about publication issues. 

  6. Public Affairs Issues (Lymn) 

    1. “mid-term” program update (Lymn) 

    Federal support for ecology – continuing to monitor overall funding (which has been stagnant or declining, depending on agency). Together with other members of BESC and Coalition for Agricultural Research Missions, Nadine has been making visits to elected representatives with ESA members. 

    Environmental and science policy – continuing to send bi-weekly Policy News, sending out a variety of position statements and letters, and conducting briefings. The Rapid Response Teams have been important in all of these efforts. Not much turnover in the Teams so far. 

    Media outreach has been going well, with EurekAlert! and Newswise serving as distribution points for press releases. 

    2. Public Affairs Committee update (Pouyat) 
    VP Pouyat reports: Public Affairs Committee met in April. Three committee members will turn over in August, and Board members are asked to help with suggesting replacements. The successful MAMAS contest will be continued at the next annual meeting. The Society should develop a statement on global climate change. 

    3. The Fire Management position paper (Ojima/Pouyat) 
    The committee suggests that this paper be submitted for publication as a peer-reviewed publication and develop a short policy statement derived from it. The Board discussed the differences among fact sheets, policy statements, policy papers, white papers, and Issues in Ecology. Ecological literacy and biofuels are ideas for future topics. 

  7. Awards Nominations 
    The proposed slate of awardees from the ESA Awards Committee, chaired by Cathy Pringle, was presented. The Board asks the committee to pick one of the two nominees for the Corporate Award, and word is still awaited on the Sustainability Science nominee Some additional information is needed for the Distinguished Service Citation (concerning service to the Society). A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: The Board approves the list of nominees provided by the Committee, with the caveat that only one of the two Corporate Award nominees can be chosen [one is being recommended as the Corporate Special Recognition Award]. 
  8. ESA Panel on Vegetation Classification 
    The panel was last renewed in 2001 for five years, and asks to have its charter renewed for two more years. The panel was first formed in 1994, and suggests it may be appropriate to approve it as a standing committee at some point. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: The Board approves a two-year extension of the Panel on Vegetation Classification. 
  9. Integrative Science for Society and the Environment (Collins) 
    There was a 2001 review by NSF of LTER program after 20 years, which concluded that there was a lack of synthesis and a need to generate a new research agenda that would have increased breadth, improve science in the network, and have increased outreach and educational components. NSF has come up with money for this new initiative. Historically, the Bio Directorate hasn’t reached out to the scientific community for ideas, so this is a cultural shift that they are doing so now. The current document is no longer LTER-centric, attempts to bring in a large component of the research community. ESA is now being asked for a letter of endorsement for the letter that has been sent to NSF. VP Shaver will draft a letter of endorsement to circulate to the Board for comment. 
  10. NEON Update/Membership (Covich) 
    Results of the survey conducted by the Society about ecologists’ perceptions of NEON were presented. The process of site designation is proceeding. Covich gave information about a recent review meeting at the EROS data center. The Society has been invited to become either a founding member or an institutional member (or both) of NEON, Inc. Belnap will draft a letter to send to federal agencies as part of an education process about what NEON is and how they can be involved (especially those that have already signed an MOU concerning NEON). A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: The Ecological Society of America will apply for membership in NEON, Inc., as a founding member. 
  11. ESA President’s Series (Grimm/Duke) 
    At the November Board meeting Grimm presented a preliminary proposal for a high-profile, competitive, invitation-only conference series. The intent is that this would be a self-supporting operation, with about 100 participants each year. We could seek co-sponsors (other societies, institutions, etc.). A conference organizing committee would develop the agenda, identify speakers, review abstracts, and oversee production of publications resulting from the conference. There may be sufficient Millennium funding to proceed with planning an initial conference in about 1.5 – 2 years. The Board suggested calling the series the “Millennium Conference Series.” A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: The Governing Board supports the idea of a high-profile conference series to begin in two years, with up to $50,000 from the Millennium Fund to support the initial conference. The Board will issue a call by August for proposals for conference topics and will pick the initial topic. 
  12. Annual Meeting Issues 

    1. Carbon Program (Pouyat) 

    Pouyat and Lymn met with the local organizing committee to brainstorm about this issue. Suggestions included: the money could be used to support graduate research for measuring carbon offsets in a local wetland restoration project; put a carbon calculator on the web site. A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: The issue of how to reduce the carbon footprint of annual meetings will be given to the Council in order to get a broad spectrum of input from the membership. Funds collected by ESA from members this year will be donated to the two organizations identified last year for contributions. 

    2. Meeting Enhancements/Changes 

    The Meetings Committee has made some significant changes. There will be no reception after the opening plenary, but will be a cash bar. There will be a reception (with food) when the exhibits open on Monday. Registration will open in the next week. The opening scientific session will be Monday morning instead of the afternoon. The awards reception will still happen late afternoon. 

    The Millennium reception will be broadened to a Donor reception, with all those who donated $100 or more invited. 

  13. Southeast Knowledge Partnership Update (Covich) 
    Five proposals were sent out for funding the meeting. One was turned down, four more are pending. Ramona will be picking up the development activities for the project and will be preparing additional proposals. 
  14. Ecological Research at Undergraduate Institutions Section Proposal 
    A motion is moved, seconded, and approved: The Board approves asking the Council to consider a proposal to create a new section for Researchers at Undergraduate Institutions. 
  15. New Business 
    Pouyat distributes a summary of information about the ESA-SCME (Sociedad Mexicana de Ecología) symposium in Mexico last November. We’ve been invited to send a representative to the INTECOL meeting in 2009, and the Society for Ecological Restoration International. American Society of Geographers would like to have us work with them on a sustainability initiative.

Meeting adjourned at 12:00.
David Inouye, Secretary