May 2013

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board,
May 20-21, 2013
Washington, DC

Members Present:
Scott Collins               President
Steward Pickett          Past-President
Jill Baron                     President-Elect
Sharon Collinge          VP for Public Affairs
Deborah Goldberg      VP for Science
Julie Reynolds             VP for Education and Human Resources
Charles Canham          Secretary
Michelle Mack            Member at Large
Mimi Lam                   Member-at-Large
Stephen Jackson          Member-at-Large

Staff Present:
Katherine McCarter    Executive Director
Elizabeth Biggs           Chief Financial Officer
Nadine Lymn              Director, Public Affairs
Cliff Duke                   Director, Science
Michelle Horton          Director, Administration and Meetings
Teresa Mourad            Director, Education and Diversity
David Baldwin           Managing Editor
Sue Silver                    Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers

Members Absent:  
Leslie Real                  VP for Finance

Josh Scholl                  Representative, Student Section                    


9:00 am, meeting called to order by President Scott Collins

I. Roll Call and Agenda

A. Adopt Agenda

Jill Baron moved and Deborah Goldberg seconded a motion to approve the agenda.  All aye.

B. Ratification of Votes

Stephen Jackson moved and Steward Pickett seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the December 2012 Governing Board meeting and the e-mail vote to approve Ellen Anderson for the Regional Policy Award.  All aye.

II.  Reports

A.  Report of the President

Scott Collins reported on his activities since the December board meeting, including efforts to increase coordination among the REU programs at LTER sites to improve minority recruiting to the field.

B. Report of the Executive Director and Staff

Katherine McCarter summarized her report, and noted that publication issues have been a priority.   Michelle Horton gave an update on planning for the 2013 meeting.  Membership numbers and institutional subscribers are both down this year.   Elizabeth Biggs summarized work of the Finance office.  The budget will be discussed in detail later in the meeting.  Teresa Mourad reported that her program received a 1-year NSF grant to support the SEEDS program, and to survey SEEDS alumni.  The EcoEd Digital Library will merge with other programs to form a new resource called LifeEd Digital Library.  She is looking for new funding for this effort.  Cliff Duke summarized work in the Science Office.  The Vegetation Classification Panel met recently in Chapel Hill, NC.  He reported on progress on a number of new volumes in the Issues in Ecology series.  Nadine Lymn distributed copies of the ESA 2012 Annual Report, and then summarized events related to federal science funding, budgets, and proposed legislation.  Sue Silver reported on the status of Frontiers, with 4 special issues currently in the pipeline.  David Baldwin reported on two new hires in the Publications Office.  The May issue of Monographs will be posted shortly.  The requirement that Monographs authors upload their data has required effort by staff to enforce.  Advertising has been instituted on the issue alerts.  There remain problems with generating issue alerts and RSS feeds for Ecosphere.

C. Financial Update

Third quarter financial reports were distributed and summarized by Katherine McCarter and Elizabeth Biggs. Revenues are running ahead of YTD budget, and expenses below YTD budget, with a strong positive balance of revenue over expenses that is expected to carry over but at a lower level to the end of the budget year.  Much of this can be traced to the success of the 2012 meeting in Portland.  There has been a significant drop in membership year to date, but staff are working hard to raise membership by year’s end.  Liz Biggs gave an update on our investment accounts.  Thanks to a strong market, the investment accounts are up 5-12% since the beginning of the year. 

III. Discussion/Action Items

A. Report of the Audit Committee

Sharon Collinge moved that the Audit Committee report be approved.  Steve Jackson seconded.  All aye.

B. Proposed FY 2013-2014 ESA Budget

1. Budget and Assumptions

Katherine McCarter began the discussion of the FY 2013-2014 budget with a summary of the assumptions behind the budget.  Elizabeth Biggs stressed the continuing problem of declining subscription revenue and rising expenses.  These are long-term trends, but have been masked in recent years by better than expected revenue from meetings.  Pressure from open access puts additional uncertainty on budget projections. There was discussion of strategies to recruit and retain new members.  Teresa Mourad raised the issue of the desired scope of Society membership, and the continuing challenge of recruiting members outside of traditional academic careers.  Nadine Lymn mentioned the challenges of meeting needs of members in policy and NGO positions.

Deborah Goldberg suggested a new membership category above Level 3 at a higher income level.  She moved and Steve Jackson seconded creating a Level 4 at $100,000 annual income and a Level 5 at $150,000 annual income.  All aye.  New membership rates associated with these levels will be proposed by staff.

Deborah Goldberg, Josh Scholl, Jill Baron, Michelle Mack, and Mimi Lam volunteered to serve on an ad hoc committee to explore recruitment and retention of new members.

Steward Pickett encouraged the board to establish a strategic process for planning the Society’s response to long-term budget challenges.

Jill Baron moved and Steward Pickett seconded a motion to approve the draft budget.  All aye.

2. Board Strategic Initiative

Ideas for use of Board strategic initiative funds included (1) board fund-raising efforts, (2) increase the number of Graduate Student Policy Awards, (3) funds to support further work on contingent faculty initiatives, and (4) SEEDS program funding. 

C. Report of the Ad hoc Publications Visioning Committee

Scott Collins opened up a discussion of the report from the ad hoc Publications Visioning Committee.  The Committee consisted of Ted C. Bergstrom (University of California, Santa Barbara), Aimee T. Classen (University of Tennessee), Scott L. Collins, Chair (University of New Mexico), Mark Schildhauer (National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis), Diane C. Schmidt (University of Illinois), Don R. Strong (University of California, Davis), and Crispin Taylor (American Society of Plant Biologists), and 4 members of the ESA staff: Katherine S. McCarter, Executive Director, J. David Baldwin, Managing Editor, ESA Journals, Sue Silver, Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, and Liz Biggs, Chief Financial Officer, ESA.

The report contained recommendations in the areas of (1) data accessibility, (2) development of Frontiers, (3) youthful exuberance, (4) pricing (5) Ecosphere, and (6) open access.

Manuscripts published by Monographs are currently required to post data.  The Board recommended changes to the process of ensuring that authors adhere to this requirement, to reduce the work-load on ESA staff.  Phasing the requirement in on other ESA journals will wait until further data have been collected on costs.

Efforts to create an App for Frontiers have been challenging, and experience suggests that it is very expensive to do well.  A digital version of the journal is currently being tested and evaluated.

A subcommittee developed recommendations for a variety of future directions for ESA publications in an evolving technology landscape.  One recommendation focused on methods for preprint distribution.

The section of the report on journal pricing recommended establishment of a pricing structure that accommodated smaller libraries and institutions.  Staff seconded this idea and are pursuing it.

There was extensive discussion of a proposal to facilitate transfer of papers rejected by other ESA journals for consideration by Ecosphere with quality control to be provided by the other journal’s EiCs.  No concrete recommendation was adopted, but it was suggested that once Ecosphere has an impact factor, to move towards a PlosOne model and to accept papers reviewed and rejected by the other journals and sent to Ecosphere by the EiCs.

Analysis of access to online versions of ESA journals suggests that the vast majority of full-text views happen within the first 12 months of publication, however the number of views remains high over the long term.  This suggests that open access to the journals after 12-18 months might not result in significant loss of subscription revenue.  Increases in page charges could replace some of revenue lost from subscriptions, but it would be difficult to have page charges cover any substantial portion of the full cost of publication in the current print journals.

We tabled the recommendation to make all ESA journals open-access until further data on the potential impact of lost subscription revenue is developed and presented to the Board.

D. Contingent Faculty Results/Recommendations

Mimi Lam summarized the results of a survey of the needs of “contingent faculty” members of ESA.   The survey received 536 responses.  The respondents appear to represent a broad range of stages and types of employment.  Based on the survey results the subcommittee recommended a number of actions the Society could take to support contingent faculty, including various forms of reduced fees, recruitment services, and professional development workshops.  Governing board members suggested a number of other possible efforts, including mentoring and networking opportunities.  The Committee on Diversity and Educatin will continue the discussion of Contingent Faculty and will report back by the Fall meeting of the Governing Board.

E. ESA Award Recommendations 

The Awards Committee, chaired by Alan Hastings, has provided its recommendations for the ESA-wide awards to be presented during the Scientific Plenary during the 2013 Minneapolis Annual Meeting.  Alan is setting up a subcommittee of the Awards Committee to work on increasing the diversity of nominees for Society awards.   The chair of the subcommittee for the new Fellows program noted that the overall number and quality of nominees was not quite as high as expected or hoped for (additional nominees were generated partly by the subcommittee itself).   The committee recommends that we explore ways to publicize this program more, especially since it is a way to increase diversity of awardees.

Steve Jackson moved and Charlie Canham seconded that the Governing Board approve the recommendations of the Awards Committee with the exception of the Senior Fellows who were on the board at the time of the approval of the policy.  All aye.

F. Update on New Generation Committee Implementation  

Teresa Mourad provided an update of activities and pointed out four areas of recommendations that staff are currently working on, based on the report of the New Generation Committee.  There will be a full report on activities during the August meeting.

Adjourned, 5:00 pm, May 21, 2013

May 22, 2013

Governing Board Executive Session, 8:00 – 9:00 am

Meeting called to order at 9:00 am, May 22, 2013

G. Public Affairs Midterm Review 

Sharon Collinge and Nadine Lymn presented the midterm review of the Public Affairs program.

H. Emerging Issues Conference

Cliff Duke summarized planning for ESA‘s third Emerging Issues Conference, Integrated Landscape Science for Agriculture, Biodiversity Conservation, and Poverty Alleviation.  Funding for the conference has been challenging, and conference organizers are exploring options for modifying the goals and products of the effort.

I. Centennial Implementation Update

Scott Collins led a discussion of the implementation of the recommendations of the Centennial Committee.

J. Earth Stewardship Application Ecological Action Plan: Designed Ecological Transect

Jill Baron reported on a proposed collaboration between ecologists, landscape architects, and urban planners focused on the themes of earth stewardship and sustainability.   The initiative, coordinated by Alex Felson and Jill Baron, would focus on efforts centered on the annual ESA meetings in 2014 and2015.  Jill also described efforts to train ecologists in communicating with the business community on issues of sustainability.   Activities planned for the annual meetings will require coordination with staff over issues of allocating space, etc.  Sharon Collinge volunteered to assist Jill Baron in providing feedback on the project.

K. Nominations

The Nominations Committee is chaired by Past President Steward Pickett. Members of the Nominations Committee include Members At Large Mimi Lam, Michelle Mack, and Stephen Jackson. Additional members appointed by Past President Pickett are Jessica Hellmann, University of Notre Dame, Bob R. Pohlad, Ferrum College, and Silvia Alvarez-Clare, University of Montana.  A slate of candidates was presented for approval by the Governing Board.   Charles Canham moved and Jill Baron seconded a motion to approve the slate of candidates proposed by the Nominations Committee.  All aye.

There was discussion of the nominating process, including the issues of pairing of candidates for individual slots, and ensuring diversity within the Board.  Steward Pickett addressed the role of the Nominations Committee in leadership development within the Society, and was encouraged to summarize ideas from the committee in an informal document that can be distributed to future Nominations Committees.

L. ESA Code of Ethics

Patricia Flebbe, chair of the Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee (PEAC), presented a proposed addition to the ESA Code of Ethics.  The addition would insert after Item 6 in The “General” Section (and renumber successive items):

“7. Ecologists will, to the extent practicable, engage meaningfully with the communities in which they practice to promote teaching, learning and an understanding of their study; broaden the participation of underrepresented groups; enhance local infrastructure for research and education; and disseminate results broadly to benefit the local community.”

Deborah Goldberg moved and Sharon Collinge seconded a motion to approve the proposed addition to the ESA Code of Ethics.  All aye.

M. Annual Meeting Issues

1. Environmental Offsets

Sharon Collinge moved and Julie Reynolds seconded approving Great River Greening for use of Environmental Offset funds from the Annual Meeting.  All aye.

2. 2014 Annual Meeting theme

Program Chair Hal Balbach has submitted a recommendation for the theme of the 2014 Annual Meeting in Sacramento, CA. He is recommending “From Microbes to Mountains: It‘s All Ecology”.  There was discussion of the need for a scope that ranged from local to global, using opportunities provided by the specific meeting location to illustrate meeting themes.  Scott Collins will discuss ideas for revising the theme with the Program Chair.

3. Local Host 2015

Steve Jackson moved and Jill Baron seconded a motion to approve Chris Swan as 2015 Local Host.  All aye.

4. Local Host 2016

Deborah Goldberg moved and Steve Jackson seconded a motion to approve Frank Mazzotti as the 2016 Local Host.  All aye.

5. 2017-2018 Annual Meeting Sites

The Program Committee, through its chair Kiyoko Miyanishi, is recommending Portland OR for the 2017 meeting and Louisville KY for the 2018 meeting.  Charles Canham moved and Julie Reynolds seconded a motion to approve the recommendations.  All aye. 

N. ESA/ESC Joint Journal Update

Katherine McCarter reported on the status of the development of a joint ESA/ESC journal.  An agreement has been signed covering the functioning of the new journal.  Applications are being received for the position of Editor-in-Chief.   Candidates are being screened by a search committee with members from both Societies.

Meeting adjourned at 12:00 pm, May 22, 2013