November 2007

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board 
November 6-7, 2007 
Washington, DC


Members Present: Norm Christensen (President), Alan Covich (Past- President), Rob Jackson (VP for Science), Rich Pouyat (VP for Public Affairs), Meg Lowman (VP for Education and Human Resources), Bill Parton (VP for Finance), David Inouye (Secretary), Jayne Belnap (Member-at-Large), Ann Kinzig (Member at Large)

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

Liz Blood (Program Director, NSF)

Tuesday 6 November 2007

I. Roll Call & Agenda

  1. The GB unanimously adopted the proposed agenda.
  2. The minutes from 4, 5, and 10 August 2007 were unanimously adopted with one minor change.

II. Reports

  1. Report of President Christensen
    • Was in DC last month to meet with the ESA staff, learned a lot about the office and their commitment to the organization. 
    • Millennium Symposium proposal deadline was 31 October, and the review committee chaired by Nancy Grimm will select from seven proposals, announcing a decision by 21 December.
    • Much attention has been focused recently (e.g., Wall Street Journal article) on carbon offsets, and ESA is in a position to play an important role.
    • We will make November the meeting when conflict-of-interest statements will be collected (auditor says that once/year is sufficient).
  2. Report of Executive Director McCarter and the Office Staff
    • Katherine was in Rio recently speaking at a conference and while there, met with the company that distributes scientific journals in Brazil.  We hope to make an arrangement to enable 210 universities to have access to ESA’s journals on-line.
    • She will attend the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives meeting in Detroit tomorrow.
    • Sue Silver – Frontiers e-view preprint backlog is now cleared, with 24 papers available there now. 
    • Ramona Crawford – has been working with the SEEDS education program on grant possibilities, and has worked on regional initiative proposals with Alan Covich. Members are being encouraged to donate to the Millennium Fund (whose 10th year anniversary is coming up soon).  She’s working on corporate donations too. 
    • Cliff Duke – the seven Millennium Symposium proposals have been sent to the review committee.  Full funding for the Biofuels Conference and workshop has been committed by various donors. Forest Health Initiative is proceeding, with preparation of reports for publication. Data sharing workshop is progressing. Vegetation classification panel has submitted their report for publication.
    • Nadine Lymn – the focus on environmental education is continuing on the Hill. A statement on climate change is being prepared, with help from Rapid Response Team members.  A statement on economic growth is being planned, with some committee members chosen.  The Biofuels statement is ready for Board review at this meeting.
    • Elizabeth Biggs – membership is up to 10,228.  Institutional subscriptions are remaining steady, and increases in international consortia have helped to offset any decreases in domestic subscriptions..  Individual subscriptions are dropping, as expected (see data in table in staff reports). 
    • David Baldwin – Visitors to the publications office have included Katherine and Elizabeth, and Scott Collins.  He has been appointed to the advisory board for the National Science Library of Canada.  Canadian journals have been made open access to all Canadian e-mail addresses. 
    • Teresa Mourad – her office is now fully staffed.  SEEDS field trip to Santa Barbara was a success.  There may be a project in Mexico soon.  She has set up and gone to a lot of meetings, drawing in part on her previous connections with the environmental education community.  She has an upcoming visit to NOAA education program, and had a recent one to the Forest Service. Working with Project Learning Tree (K-12 curriculum development), which is interested in developing an MOU with us.  Also working with SACNAS; president and 30 students were in town recently (a group going to Antarctica soon as part of the International Polar Year).  TIEE volume 5 CD is now available, and a call for volume 6 submissions has gone out.  A call for images for EcoEdNet is out. The Mellon Foundation funding for Phase 3 of the SEEDS program has been received. She and Katherine met last week with about 15 NSF staffers about education programs, and she plans to pursue with Liz Blood a proposal for an education program related to NEON.  There will be a SEEDS Leadership Meeting at Duke in February about SEEDS.
  3. Report of Vice President for Finance Parton
    1. First Quarter Financials (McCarter)
      The budget is in good shape at present—revenue and expense projections are on target for the year            . 
    2. Investment Update (Parton)
      Last month’s return was good (about 12% in past year, good for our 40% bond, 60% equities mixture. 

III. Discussion / Action Items

  1. ESA office move – a potential new office has been identified and negotiations are nearly complete with the landlord of the current space to assist financially in the move (that they are requesting). This move to 1990 M Street will provide 7,118 square feet and allow the consolidation of ESA’s Silver Spring (Frontiers and Education) and downtown (headquarters) operations.
  2. Frontiers financials – Katherine reviewed the history of the creation of the journal and the initial business plan.  The impact factor for the journal was high in its first year of rating (2004) and has continued to increase.  Membership has increased steadily each year since the journal was launched.  Submissions and rejection rate are increasing each year.  Authorship is becoming more international (now 41%).  New sections have been added each year (ethical issues, pathways to scientific teaching, concepts and questions, pathways to effective communication, fresh perspectives).  There have now been four special topic issues.  
    Liz Biggs described a phone call from a high-school teacher whose school has purchased 25 memberships in order to get copies of Frontiers for use in a class.  The Society’s annual contribution to publication costs has increased from an original $30,000 to $50,000 to (this year) $75,000/year, and will be $100,000 next year.  Institutional subscription income has increased regularly ($72,851 for 2007; 321 subscriptions), as has income from ads and reprints ($130,603 in 2007), and agency contributions ($110,000 projected for 2007). Interest income on the publication fund was $42,000 in 2007. The shortfall between income and expenses has ranged from $181,026 (in 2002) to $475,123 (2003), and is $186,081 this year. A sales person is working on increasing advertising revenue (although there is a limit to how much advertising can be included in each issue).  The publication fund has a balance of $680,649; if revenues and expenses remain constant, we have funding for another 3.8 years in the fund. We expect, however, to continue to build revenue in future years.
  3. 2008 annual meeting education plans (Mourad).  198 teachers have already indicated an interest in attending the annual meeting to participate in K-12 education activities on 6 August. A committee has been formed to plan activities such as field trips, workshops, etc.  We need to find a good way to tap into the local educator community at future annual meeting venues, and figure out the best schedule for them (e.g., an evening social before a day of activities). 
    Lunch with Liz Blood, Program Officer, NSF
    A NEON office in Boulder, which will be the primary office, will open soon. NSF is signing MOUs with other agencies that are funding NEON (NASA, USGS).  Workshops are ongoing as building blocks for developing the program (e.g., a recent one on modeling. R&D on observations of animal (where remote sensors don’t work) is ongoing. The NEON office is working closely with cyber infrastructure development.  Research Coordination Networks (e.g., one through the US – National Phenology Network) have been funded as examples of large multi-investigator projects that can interface with NEON.  NEON is also participating in the US global earth observation initiative, an inter-agency project to provide 24/7/365 geographic coverage of the country.  Think about how you (and other ecologists) could take advantage of the large-scale programs that NEON will be putting into place.  ESA could play a strategic role in preparing the research, education and policy communities to take advantage of NEON through its publications (e.g., Frontiers), meetings, educational programs and special workshops.
  4. Long-range planning grants. It’s been suggested that we need a better way to make decisions about these awards to Chapters and Sections.  Norm will ask some Board members to help with thinking about how to accomplish this. 
  5. Editor in Chief review.  Motion:  A motion is made and seconded to reappoint Dave Schimel as Editor-In-Chief of Ecological Applications for a three-year term (January 2008-December 2010) , to send him the recommendations made in the review document, and to ask for him to report in a year on how they were addressed. Passed unanimously.  The Governing Board expressed its gratitude to the members of the review committee for their thorough and thoughtful review.
  6. Data archiving policy (Baldwin).  There has been an underwhelming response to the suggestion that authors in Society journals provide metadata for their papers.  And there is concern that data are being permanently lost because they are not being archived. Following the lead of a group of evolution journals led by Michael Whitlock, ecology journals are being asked to adopt a policy for data archiving.  How to strike a balance between the large demands of following the NCEAS metadata/data archiving procedure and something more manageable (and more likely to be accepted by authors)?  Should there be a different policy for graduate students (who may be more dependent on a particular data set for a longer period of time)?  The Board consensus is that this is an important issue that we should continue to consider, in part through a workshop, for which we will seek funding; we encourage this idea of a policy on data archiving, but don’t have a good understanding yet of constraints on some authors (e.g., federal employees can’t release data until after they are peer reviewed (i.e., after acceptance for publication)).  We will have a lunch meeting about this topic at the next Annual Meeting, and will encourage Michael Whitlock to attend.
  7. Carbon/Environmental offsets (Christensen).  Numbers of people volunteering to offset CO2 production for attendance at the annual meeting are increasing ($4,529 in voluntary contributions this past year).  The issue of sustainable behavior is particularly relevant to this Society, and is being addressed by the Meetings Committee.  Other societies may look to us for guidance on this issue. Should we be focusing exclusively on carbon, or on other impacts also associated with travel and with holding a large annual meeting (other pollutants, habitat destruction, wasting food, etc.)?  ESA could be a leader by thinking more holistically about impacts of Society activities; an environmental footprint and not just carbon footprint. Can the Governing Board make one of its meetings a virtual meeting each year?  Do we need a Rapid Response Team to focus on this topic, and could they be asked to help develop the Society’s position/plan? We need to have some decisions made before registration for the Annual Meeting opens next May.  

    The Governing Board agreed that some amount (yet to be determined) of revenue from the ESA annual meeting should be set aside to offset the variety of environmental impacts associated with the meeting.  This would include some allocation to offset carbon emissions, but also include contributions to other programs (e.g., environmental education, conservation and/or restoration efforts) in recognition of the variety of impacts associated with our meeting. The Board agreed that priority should be given to projects near annual meeting venues.  Christensen and Parton will work with staff on a financial formula to be presented at the Board’s May meeting.  An Ad Hoc Committee should be asked to advise the Board on the appropriate allocation of this fund. The Science Committee is encouraged to look at the science related to carbon offsets.

  8. Publication changes (McCarter and Baldwin)
    1) the moving wall with JSTOR has been changed from four to two years
    2) the preprints for Frontiers are now in place
    3) The Bulletin is now being hosted at Allen Press; JSTOR will include the Bulletin in its archive; a request has been made to Thomson Scientific to include it in Web of Science, etc.
    4) Annual Meeting abstracts may be posted on the Allen Press web site (cost quote has been requested)
    5) there is a plan to include forthcoming annual meeting abstracts as a digital supplement to the Bulletin.
    6) Ecological Applications will be included in the JCR Environmental Science category (in addition to the Ecology category)
    7) Request has been made to Allen Press to post articles online more quickly after sign-off on final proofs
    8) New look for online and print Reports (Ecology) and Communications (Ecological Applications), effective January 2008
    9) Open access for Reports and Communications as of January 2008
    10) No charge for color figures in Reports and Communications as of January 2008
    11) Planned “splash pages” to announce these changes in Reports and Communications in the January 2008 issues
    12) Planned Editorials for January 2008 issues to highlight changes and publication statistics (faster publication times)
    13) Further refinement of journals “landing pages” to include statistics on acceptance rates, times to publication, impact factors, etc.
    14) Continuation of new issue frequency for Ecological Applications and adjustments in page budgets
    15) Continue to make one article per issue open access (in addition to Reports/Communications)
    16) Ongoing refinement of “new look” for online journals and associated features (pay per view, Blocks of Docs, reference downloads, etc.)
    17) Continued publication of open-access Special Issues (supplements; 2 in 2008)
    18) Allen Press has decided to partner with Atypon (hosts JSTOR; principal competitor for Highwire).
    [The Board is impressed with how much has gone on!]
  9. Ad Hoc Publications Subcommittee (Belnap)
    An editorial in the next issue of Frontiers will summarize results from the Subcommittee.  It’s recommended that the Publications Committee meet more often than in the past. 
  10. Student travel support.  Recognized as an issue of great need, probably greater than we can meet fully.  47 awards totaling $15,600 were made this year, and about 100 students had registration fees refunded in exchange for volunteering 14 hours each at the meeting (all of the students who ask were accepted).  Ideas are suggested for how to increase endowment funding for student travel, including using the Millennium Fund and targeting donors (e.g., authors of ecology books who could donate royalties as Brown/Real have). Remember that profits from the next Portland meeting will go toward an endowment for student travel (Board action from last August).  The Board also suggested that there be an option to contribute to student travel on the annual meeting registration form.
  11. Southeast Knowledge Partnership (Covich).  Plans are progressing.  A recent focus has become water availability/use issues due to the ongoing drought in that area.  Ramona is working on corporate and foundation funding possibilities.  There are already quite a few activities going on as a consequence of the ESA initiative; e.g., ESA is in contact with the Georgia Conservancy which represents 150 groups that focus on water issues. 
    5:07 PM, Adjourn for the day
    9:00 AM, 7 November, resume meeting
    Members Present: Norm Christensen (President), Alan Covich (Past- President), Rich Pouyat (VP for Public Affairs, Bill Parton (VP for Finance), David Inouye (Secretary), Jayne Belnap (Member-at-Large). Ann Kinzig (Member at Large)
    Staff Present:
    Katherine McCarter (Executive Director), Cliff Duke (Director of Science), Elizabeth Biggs (Director of Finance), Sue Silver (Editor), Teresa Mourad (Director of Education), Nadine Lymn (Director of Public Affairs), Ramona Crawford (Development), David Baldwin (Publications).
  12. Executive Session
  13. Policy Award (Pouyat/Lymn 
    Politicians and other policy makers like to be recognized for their efforts, and we could also use this as a way to help educate them about the Society.  Awards would focus on the state/regional level and give the PAC, the local meeting committee, the Student Section, and regional Chapters, an opportunity to nominate an awardee to be recognized in the opening plenary. A motion is proposed and seconded that the PAC Committee bring to the Board in May a proposal for local/regional and national awards for policy makers. Passed unanimously. 
  14. Biofuels Conference update (Parton/Pouyat/Duke) 
    All but one of the conference speakers is now confirmed.  The invitee list is being worked on for the two-day workshop following the conference. Extended abstracts will be presented to participants and posted on the Web site, and there will be a survey of attendees with results to be presented to the workshop participants.  There is a very diverse group of sponsors, and the original fundraising goal of $180,000 has been met. The budget includes funding for an Issues on Biofuels.
  15. Biofuels Position Statement (Pouyat/Lymn)
    Rapid Response Team members for biofuels helped to put together the statement, with input from a member of the Biofuels Steering Committee, Public Affairs Committee, and Science Program Director Cliff Duke. Comments are suggested for how to improve the statement, and a revision will be circulated to the Board for approval via e-mail.
  16. Certification Appeal
    The Board supports (unanimously) the decisions by the Board of Professional Certification and the Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee to deny an application for certification as a Certified Ecologist that was appealed by the applicant.  We will point out to the applicant that he can reapply (soon) after having met the criterion of five years of professional experience.
  17. INTECOL – update (Covich/McCarter) 
    The INTECOL Board has expressed support for the idea of having the ESA take on administrative responsibilities, but is still deliberating. 
  18. Human Ecology Section proposal 
    Motion: It was moved and seconded that the proposal for a Human Ecology Section be recommended to the ESA Council for approval. Passed unanimously. The proposers will be asked to add to their proposed Bylaws a regular five-year review by the Section to confirm that there is still enough activity to warrant continuing the Section. The Board will review the list of current Sections at the May meeting. 
  19. Southwest Chapter proposal. 
    Motion: It was moved and seconded that the proposal for a Southwest Chapter be recommended to the ESA Council for approval. 
    Passed unanimously. The proposers will be asked to add to their proposed Bylaws a regular five-year review by the Chapter to confirm that there is still enough activity to warrant continuing the Chapter. At the May meeting we will consider whether to discontinue the defunct Chapter (one other Chapter – Quebec – has been dissolved previously).  We will consider encouraging members in the Northwest area to form a chapter.  We are enthusiastic about the prospect of a Southwest Region Knowledge Partnership. 
  20. New Business

1. Theme for the 2009 Annual Meeting in Albuquerque.  Motion: It was moved and seconded that the Board approves the proposed theme but suggests dropping the colon and subsequent text, making it “Ecological Knowledge and a Global Sustainable Society.” Passed unanimously

Meeting is adjourned at 11:15 AM. 

David W. Inouye, Secretary