ESA Governing Board
May 15-16 2008
Washington , DC
Members Present: Norm Christensen (President), Alan Covich (Past-President), Sunny Power (President-Elect), Mary Power (incoming President-Elect), Meg Lowman (Vice President for Education and Human Resources), Bill Parton (VP for Finance), Rich Pouyat ( VP for Public Affairs), David Inouye (Secretary), Juan Armesto (Member at Large), Ann Kinzig (Member at Large), Jayne Belnap (Member at Large), Emily Stanley (incoming Member at Large), Josh Schimel (Incoming Member at Large)
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 (Director of Development), David Baldwin (Managing Editor).
I. Roll Call, 9:01 AM
A. The GB unanimously adopted the proposed agenda.
B. Minutes from the November, 2007 Governing Board meeting were ratified.
C. Biofuels position statement (vote conducted earlier by e-mail) was ratified.
A. Report of the President (Christensen)
President Christensen noted that it’s nice to have all of the ESA staff now comfortably ensconced in the new office, and expressed appreciation for the reception hosted by the staff yesterday afternoon. He appreciated an opportunity recently to spend time with the SEEDS students, and called attention to the Presidential award that the program won last year. The Southeast Regional Knowledge Partnership had a successful meeting this spring at the annual meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists, April 16-19, 2008, Spartanburg, SC.
B. Report of the Executive Director (McCarter) and staff
The move to the new office was accomplished smoothly with lots of help from the staff. An ESA Google toolbar has been sent to all ESA members. (See the materials in the literature sent to the Board for more detail.)
Cliff Duke (Director of Science). See the Board reports for more detail. A few highlights: The ESA Millennium Conference planning is underway. “Water – ecosystem services, drought and environmental justice” was chosen from seven proposals. A meeting was held here in DC recently to work on logistical details. Venue will probably be University of Georgia, probably in fall 2009. President Christensen suggests that we should make this a biennial rather than annual event, given the amount of work that goes into the planning. Science Program is working with the Wildlife Society to help USGS plan a new national global warming and wildlife science center. Sue Hazeltine has asked for help in organizing some initial planning meetings. Around the end of this year there will be a comprehensive review meeting. ESA is also partnering with RTI International in a proposal led by Mary Barber to conduct a full program review of the biological sciences at USGS.
Sue Silver (Frontiers Editor). Submissions to Frontiers have been rising dramatically and acceptance rate has dropped to 20% (see graphs in Board materials). Most issues through next April are already filled. The special issue on continental-scale ecology is almost completely funded by contributions from several sources. The ecosystem services special issue will appear in November and also has existing and pending funding that may cover most expenses.
Teresa Mourad (Director of Education). This month there will be a SEEDS field trip to Alaska. The Chapter of the Year award will be given for the first time (now 43 chapters, and one more about to form). SEEDS has signed an MOU with SACNAS, and NSF will help fund participation by some SEEDS students at the SACNAS annual meetings for the next three years. EcoEdNet Digital Library and use of it has been growing well (see graph in Board materials). Educator Day at the annual meeting is shaping up well. There seems to be growing interest in partnering with SEEDS on REU and other grant proposals that could be strengthened by showing significant involvement with minority students.
Liz Biggs (Director of Finance). Early registration is open for the annual meeting, and contributions for student travel funds are encouraged. Prediction is that it will attract about 3,200. Membership in the Society is expected to level off at about 10,300 in the coming years.
Ramona Crawford (Director of Development). See the Board materials for a comprehensive list of fund-raising efforts during the past year. This has been a year of review and re-evaluation. Program review will be discussed this afternoon.
David Baldwin (Managing Editor). Publications are now back on schedule (e.g., June issue of Ecological Applications was posted online today). There is an increased amount of use of color, and of open access material in ESA publications. By the time of the annual meeting there will be some updates to the journals website. We should have soon some good statistics on things like use of open access materials (number of downloads).
Nadine Lymn (Director of Public Affairs). There’s been an increase in media activity related to Society publications. In June there will be a Capitol Hill briefing on cellulosic ethanol. Also next month an ESA grad student will be showcased in a program about NSF funding of ecological research, and in July there will be a briefing (co-sponsored with two other societies) about post-fire management that will include Norm Christensen. The new public affairs officer will start work next week.
C. Financial Updates (Parton/McCarter)
Third quarter financials are distributed and discussed. The financial picture for the rest of the year is good.
D. Report of the Audit Committee (Pouyat)
As required by Sarbanes-Oxley, we now have a separate Audit Committee. This year we served as guinea pigs for new auditing standards that will come into effect next year, and no problems were encountered. The Governing Board accepted the Audit Report.
E. Proposal for the 2008-09 budget (McCarter, Parton, Biggs)
Program managers are asked in April to start planning budgets for the coming year. A draft budget was developed by the staff and reviewed by Vice President Parton prior to being presented to the Board. The initial draft budget assumes that membership numbers will level off, that library subscriptions will continue to decline about 2% per year (with about 20% switching to on-line only), and that member subscriptions will continue the expected decrease of 20%. Revenues were estimated based on 2007 actual revenues and to-date figures for 2008. The Annual Meeting is expected to generate some income and includes an environmental offset donation of $5 per person (about $16,000 estimated total). No capital expenses are budgeted for the coming year, but there is a $100,000 commitment to the Publication Fund that supports Frontiers. A contribution of $50,000 is budgeted toward the goal of a $5 million reserve (which is less than a full year of operating funds). Print-plus-online subscriptions are being increased 9% for libraries, as are online-only subscriptions. Page charges are being raised after 8-10 years, from $60 to $70 per page. Membership dues will be increased 2% for all categories of membership.
Millennium Fund contributions will be made to the Development budget, Board Strategic Activities, and the Millennium Conference. Long Range Planning grants will be offered to Sections, Chapters, and Committees. Overall, expenses have been kept flat wherever possible so some requests by program managers for additional activities and staff have not been included in the proposed budget.
A sub-committee is asked to provide guidance to Katherine about how cost-of-living increases should be made equitably across staff with a range of salaries.
The Board concludes that the budget is ready for presentation to the Council for approval in August.
Suggestions were solicited for how to spend the Board Strategic Initiative funds. Much of the conversation focused on planning for ways to reduce the environmental impact of ESA activities, with ideas ranging from virtual meetings (e.g., using Elluminate software or maybe Skype) to reducing the frequency of Board or committee meetings. Perhaps the Board should invest in the software and hardware needed to support virtual meetings. ESA member John Gelbard may be willing to donate services as a consultant on how to green ESA. Another idea is a prize for best suggestions on how the ESA could reduce its environmental impact (including cost-benefit analysis). Meetings (virtual?) of the Development or Publications committees were also suggested.
F. Governing Board resolution about a cafeteria plan
Although the plan is already in place, IRS regulations require approval by the Board.
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board approves the “cafeteria plan” that allows employees to set aside pre-tax dollars for payment of medical and child care expenses, to be administered by Benefit Analysis.
Lunch break – Sue Silver reprises a presentation she gave recently about the efforts that Frontiers and the Society are making to reduce their environmental footprint.
G. Finance / Development Program Review (Biggs, Crawford, Parton)
The Society’s portfolio has taken a loss (-4.4%) over the year to date and is slightly positive (0.7%) over the past 12 months, with a market value of just over $1 million. Unrestricted Net Assets are up, membership is up, and although library subscriptions have declined slightly the bottom line is that the Society is in good fiscal shape overall. Net asset value is comfortably in the positive range, which presents a positive picture to potential donors about the Society’s financial stability.
Ideas were discussed about how to encourage some subsets of ecologists who have drifted away from the Society to return, and how to be proactive about finding other groups who might benefit from (and vice versa) association with ESA. E.g., is there a way to tap into the growing interest on academic campuses in sustainability issues? For example, there is a new Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Development office. Ramona is at the end of her first year with the ESA. www.philanthropy.iupui.edu has some information about general trends in philanthropy that provide context for what the Society is trying to do. One estimate is that it takes 10 applications for funding to get one grant, so it’s important to keep up the flow of proposals. Ramona has been working with the list of corporations that the Board approved for soliciting for support. She also presented a list of milestones in the Society’s history of fundraising. Nationally, about 76% of dollars raised by charities come from individuals. 65% of organizations raised more in 2007 than in 2006, but projections are that gifts will be less in 2008 given the economic downturn. Foundations provide about 12% of philanthropy, corporations about 5%.
Results of the 2006-2008 Development Plan were reviewed; they included some successes and some opportunities to reorient future submissions.
Our efforts were thinly spread over numerous priorities
There was an imbalance of time spent on three large new projects
There is a need for a stronger role by the Development Committee
Strengthened program descriptions and evaluation methods are needed.
Proposed priorities for 2008-2011:
A proposed strategy: Over the next three years, grow the society’s external resources and increase the number of ESA members involved in supporting the organization.
Foundation relationships and grants
Corporate contributions and sponsorships
Non-member support through direct mail and electronic gifts (via the Web site)
Millennium Fund growth through major and planned gifts from members
One effort this year that was not very successful was a direct mail campaign targeting donors listed as having given to other environmental organizations. Although this list was culled in an attempt to refine targeting of potential donors, there was very little response. The Board has mixed feelings about the value of repeating the mailing.
H. Education and Diversity “Mid-Term program update (Mourad)
The SEEDS program costs about $450,000 per year. Funding has come from a variety of sources. Current initiatives include:
1. A professional development institute and support for participation by 6-12 teachers
2. Math and science partnership: A proposal to NSF to fund “The role of a professional society in fostering university faculty scholarship in K-12”
a) Form a cadre of leaders who will develop an appreciation of education as science with an in-depth understanding of the context of K-16 science education reform
b) Gain relevant communication and leadership skills
c) Have an annual leadership institute, education events at the ESA annual meeting, presentations at K-12 educator events, and a national Ecology Education Summit in 2010.
d) K-12 educator events in Milwaukee
i. Ecological Literacy and Research Day
ii. A BioBlitz along the Milwaukee River corridor (part of a SEEDS field trip)
3. NEON-related education efforts
a. A faculty workshop 2-4 October
i. Explore the breadth and scope of continental-scale data
ii. Reflect on the use of continental-scale approaches in the classroom and in independent undergraduate research projects
iii. Generate recommendations to inform the development of NEON’s infrastructure from the perspective of education
iv. Generate recommendations to inform the development of Phase 2 that will include collaborative faculty and student activities
4. EcoEdNet Digital Library. One staff person is working part-time on this community-driven effort to create thematic collections.
5. Resources for Ecology Education * Fair & Share (REEFS) is a new undergraduate teaching session to debut at the 2008 Annual Meeting in Milwaukee. Bring a lab, lecture, or field activity to share (abstracts due in early June).
6. SEEDS Mexico. Working with the Science Office to make the case for building a community of students and mentors who can communicate across borders on ecological research, encourage mentor participation in international ecological research, foster a new generation of leaders in international research, and increase effectiveness of mentoring by increasing cultural competency.
7. SEEDS high school: a student education and outreach initiative begun at the annual meeting last year in San Jose will be expanded to Milwaukee. Project Learning Tree provided a small service learning grant for this.
8. Collaboration with SACNAS on recruiting students for SEEDS field trips.
VP Lowman reviewed a range of activities that the Education and Human Resources Committee has identified for the 2007-2008 action plan.
I. Proposal from TIEE
TIEE has been funded for four years through Hampshire College, with TIEE Editor Charlene D’Avanzo as PI for four NSF grants totaling $750,000. Funding will end in November and D’Avanzo would like ESA to consider taking over the publication of TIEE. She proposes establishment of an advisory committee that would be charged with preparing a recommendation about the issue, including a business plan. The Publications Committee is asked to form a group that includes educational expertise to consider the issue. The committee is charged to: 1) consider the value and worthiness of the publication, 2) determine whether ESA is the proper home, and 3) develop a business plan that may include other alternatives. The Committee will make a recommendation to the Governing Board, preferably by the November Board meeting. Options to explore could include partnering with a publisher (e.g., Island Press).
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Governing Board requests the Publication Committee to form a subcommittee which includes educational expertise, to conduct a feasibility study of having the Society take over publication of Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology. The subcommittee shall consider the three elements of the charge mentioned above.
J. Recommendation of the Awards Committee
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board accepts the recommendations of the Awards Committee for recipients of ESA annual awards. The Board expresses its appreciation of the Committee’s efforts.
K. Consideration of the Corporate Award
The Board discussed the message from Corporate Awards Subcommittee chair Margaret Palmer about how the Society should solicit nominees for the Corporate Award. An announcement about the winners in the Economist or Business Week would help to attract attention about the award. Other environmental groups might be a good source of nominations. Making the award for a specific program by the nominee rather than a corporation or business as a whole would be preferable.
L. Regional Policy Award (Pouyat/Lymn)
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board accepts the recommendation of the Public Affairs Committee to name Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle as winner of the Regional Policy Award to be presented at the Milwaukee Annual Meeting.
M. Report on the Biofuels Conference and Workshop (Pouyat, Parton, Duke)
The consensus is that the both the conference and workshop were successful. Products from the events will include a special issue of Ecological Applications featuring the plenary speakers, a policy piece to submit to Science, and a paper from each of the breakout groups that may go into Frontiers (or possibly a larger synthesis paper). Compliments are given to the staff for all the support that made the meeting run so smoothly.
N. 16 May, 7:30 AM meeting at the Heinz Center with the NEON Board
Dave Schimel suggested the idea of a collaboration with ESA (or a broader consortium) to get graduate students involved with NEON in an IGERT-like professional training opportunity. Fifteen slots per year seems like a good target, and NSF seems like a likely source of funding. Training of the next generation, by funding graduate students and postdocs, is critical for success of a long-term project like NEON. A workshop for Deans and Department heads is another idea to help educate the broader community about NEON, its opportunities and cultural implications. Jim MacMahon suggested ideas about how to broaden support for NEON as a vehicle for bringing funding that would otherwise not be available to the ecological community. NEON’s public image with the ecological community has been hindered in part by constraints placed by NSF on making public some of the funding progress (e.g., education program, until a cooperative agreement is finalized). A joint editorial from NEON and ESA for Frontiers might be a way help make the point about the importance for the broad ecological community of getting NEON funding. NSF’s Bio Directorate does seem to have a concrete plan for providing the funding. Concrete examples of how individual researchers will benefit from NEON would be a good way to increase support.
There is broad support among the Boards for the ideas of a graduate training program based on NEON and for a statement of joint support/education, and also for getting the Boards together again soon (maybe at the Milwaukee Annual Meeting).
O. Executive session (ESA headquarters)
P. Report of the Publications Subcommittee and Publications Committee (Belnap)
Seven recommendations were presented (see the Board materials sent before the meeting), many of which have already been implemented, and a few of which were addressed at the meeting. Discussion of the long-term vision for the publication portfolio needs to be an ongoing process. A mechanism is needed for funding Issues in Ecology, because important topics come up without the lead time that may be required for raising funds for them (perhaps the Millennium Fund could be used for this purpose). Ecological Monographs needs to have a clearer identity and current (relatively new) page length limitations should be relaxed. Appointment of an Editor or sub-editor for Ecological Monographs would help to develop the identity of the journal; this topic will be suggested to the current Editors and discussion continued at the August meeting. To help strengthen areas of ecology that have moved away from ESA publications, we could solicit invited papers from leaders in those fields. Open access to Society publications should be encouraged within the constraints of not jeopardizing library subscriptions; 25% of articles set as Open Access would be a target.
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board accepts the report of the Publications Sub-Committee and the Publications Committee and thanks them for their efforts.
We will continue discussion at the next Annual Meeting about the idea of requiring data deposition in a public archive for papers published in ESA journals, and will encourage Michael Whitlock to attend by speakerphone.
Q. PrePrint option for Ecological Applications, Ecology, Ecological Monographs (McCarter/Baldwin)
There is pressure from some authors to speed up the publication process, and posting of raw, un-copy-edited (but accepted) manuscripts would be one way to do this. It could be offered as an opt-in choice for authors (some may prefer to wait until after copy editing). Cost of posting manuscripts at this stage would be about $25.
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board recommends that the Editorial Office offer authors the option of posting preprints of accepted manuscripts, with the cost to be borne by the authors.
R. Report of the Nominations Committee (Covich)
The following individuals have accepted nominations for positions to be filled in 2009:
President Elect: Terry Chapin, Rob Jackson
VP for Education and Human Resources: Diane Ebert-May, Meg Lowman
Member at Large: Steve Chaplin, Debra Peters
Board of Professional Certification: Carmen Cid, Louis Iverson, Lawrence Kapustka, Niki Nicholas, Nathan Stephenson, Kimberlyn Williams
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board accepts the recommendations of the Nominations Committee for candidates for the 2009 elections and thanks the Committee for their work.
S. Carbon/Environmental Impacts (Christensen)
The original discussion focused on carbon footprint but it was recognized that the impact of Society impacts is greater than that so the entire environmental footprint was addressed. The $5 surcharge on registration costs will generate about $16,000 this year, and the committee considering this issue has recommended that $10,000 be put at the disposal of the local host committee to use in a manner that recognizes the environmental impact of our annual meeting on the local community. The local host committee will be asked to suggest how this money should be allocated locally.
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board accepts the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee to use the funds collected from meeting registrations to provide $10,000 to distribute in recognition of the Society’s environmental impact on the local community, and to use the balance toward offsetting carbon dioxide production. An Ad Hoc Committee will be appointed to consider the future of this program.
T. 2015 Annual Meeting sites
The Board appreciates the efforts of the Meetings Committee in considering potential sites for our 100th Anniversary Annual Meeting.
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board accepts the recommendation of Boston as a Tier 1 option, Fort Lauderdale and Minneapolis as Tier 2 options, and asks the Meetings Committee to consider Baltimore and contact Denver again as possible options for the 100th Anniversary Meeting site.
The Meetings Committee is asked to make a recommendation in November.
The idea of a meeting in Latin America, perhaps in 2016, received support.
U. ByLaws Change – Meetings Committee
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board accepts the recommendation to change the ByLaws to make the immediate Past Program Chair the Chair of the Meetings Committee. The Board will recommend this change to the Council for approval.
V. Recommendation to discontinue the Western Chapter (MacCarter and Inouye)
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board recommends that the Council vote to discontinue the Western Chapter. The Council is asked to choose an option for distributing accumulated dues (e.g., to all chapters, to the Rocky Mountain Chapter, Southwest Chapter, as an inducement for someone to reinstitute the Western Chapter, or (see item Y below) to help with funding of the Mexico chapter or another Latin American chapter).
W. New Business
a. Program Chair for the 2010 meeting
The Board discussed a list of potential program chairs for the 2010 annual meeting. President Christensen will contact the individuals and name the 2010 Program Chair.
b. Local Host for the 2010 meeting
A motion is moved, seconded, and approved unanimously: The Board recommends that Steve Tonsor be appointed as Local Host for the 2010 annual meeting in Pittsburg.
X. Owens Valley science-based conflict resolution (Christensen and Duke)
The Inyo County (California) Water Department (ICWD) and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) have crafted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ESA that calls for ESA to manage scientific peer reviews of the water management methods, applications, and conclusions in the Owens Valley (the LADWP has not as of this date formally signed this MOU). A local ESA member who is associated with the California Native Plant Society’s Bristlecone Chapter has expressed concern that the ESA did not take advantage of local members’ knowledge about the politics of the water issue before signing the MOU.
The discussion was broadened to consideration of how to take advantage of regional expertise among the membership (i.e., Chapters) for efforts such as the Owens Valley MOU and the Southeast Regional Knowledge Partnership. The Board of Professional Certification and other ESA members who have expertise working on applied ecological issues could be another potential resource.
We can proceed to contribute to this MOU with the understanding that ESA is not required to take on all issues that arise (e.g., they may not all be scientific issues). President Christensen would like to continue with the process under the auspices of the Science Committee. VP for Science Rob Jackson has been involved to date and the ESA Science Office will continue to contribute. Christensen will ask Jackson to work with the Science Committee to draft a set of principles to guideESA’s future involvement in regional and local scale endeavors.
Federation of the Americas (Armesto)
Progress is being made in development of ecological societies in Latin America. One way to encourage this growth would be to have an award for a Latin American ecologist at the Annual Meeting. This would be an opportune time to follow up on the achievements of the jointly sponsored 2006 meeting held in Merida, Mexico (Ecology in an Era of Globalization). Juan is planning to petition ESA to establish a Latin America Chapter and hopes to have the paperwork ready for the Board to review in August.
Meeting adjourned at 12:38.
David Inouye, Secretary