November 18, 2014

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board,
November 18-19, 2014
Linthicum Heights, MD
Members Present

David Inouye              President
Monica Turner            President-Elect
Evan DeLucia             VP for Finance
Scott Collins               VP for Public Affairs
Valerie Eviner             VP for Science
Julie Reynolds            VP for Education and Human Resources
Charles Canham         Secretary
Carmen Cid                 Member at Large
Ana-Elisa Perez Quintero       Member at Large
Leah Gerber                Member at Large

Staff Present
Katherine McCarter    Executive Director
Elizabeth Biggs           Directory of Finance
Cliff Duke                    Director, Science
Michelle Horton          Director, Administration and Meetings
Teresa Mourad           Director, Education and Diversity
Sue Silver                   Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers
Alison  Mize                Director, Public Affairs
Regina Przygocki       Publications Office

Members Absent
Jill Baron                     Past-President 

Kate Gallagher            Co-Chair, Student Section

9:00 am, November 18, 2014, meeting called to order by President David Inouye

  1. Roll Call and Agenda
  1. Adopt Agenda

            Monica Turner moved and Valerie Eviner seconded a motion to approve the agenda.  All aye.

  1. Ratification of Vote – Minutes from August 2014

            Julie Reynolds moved and Scott Collins seconded ratification of the minutes of the August 2014 meeting.  All aye.

  1. Reports
  1. Report of the President

            David Inouye gave a brief report on a visit to the ESA office to meet with staff.  He has been in contact with other ecological societies around the world, including societies in Mexico and Europe.  He has been in frequent contact with Alison Mize for ESA communications.  He also reported on meetings with the Ecological Society of China.

  1. Report of the Executive Director and Staff

            Katherine McCarter began her remarks by noting that preparations continue for the Centennial.  She recently visited the Publications Office in Ithaca.  There was discussion of the ongoing concerns within members of the Society about connections between NEON and the scientific community.

            Teresa Mourad provided highlights from the Education and Diversity program, including recent field trips funded by the Packard Foundation.  She has submitted a number of proposals for funding the SEEDS program, including to NSF and NASA.  She continues to seek support from private foundations.  Elizabeth Biggs noted that the changes in membership dues structure approved by the Council this year have been implemented.   The annual audit has been done.  Regina Przygocki gave an update on activities in the Publications Office during the past year.  Ecosphere continues to do well.  A process of transferring submitted manuscripts from the print journals to Ecosphere was instituted in August 2014, and has worked well, and in the past month constituted a significant fraction of the submissions to Ecosphere.   Sue Silver reported that Frontiers is expected to finish the year with an acceptance rate and number of submissions that are similar to last year.  The new series on natural history is taking shape.  The Co-Chairs of the Natural History Section have agreed to edit the series.  There was discussion of the pros and cons of a page in Frontiers devoted to news and activities from the Washington office.  There will be two special issues in 2015, and one online-only special issue.  Cliff Duke highlighted activities of the Science Office, including the series of courses on sustainability planning for scientific infrastructure projects.  Michelle Horton gave an update on upcoming deadlines for a variety of programs, including Fellows and Awards.  She will be conducting a site visit at the Baltimore Convention Center later this month with Nancy Huntly and Carol Brewer.  Alison Mize reported on activities in support of science funding within the federal government. 

  1. Financial Update
  2. Fourth Quarter Financials

            Katherine McCarter and Liz Biggs reviewed the first quarter financial report.  Revenue from the annual meeting exceeded budget, but expenses did as well, so net revenue from the annual meeting will be slightly below last year.  They expect that both revenue and expenses are on track to be very close to the budget approved at the August 2014 Council meeting.

  1. Investment Update

            Evan DeLucia gave his overview of Society finances, and discussed broad strategies for dealing with long-term trends in both revenue and expenses.  He also reviewed the Society’s investment portfolios, which are very conservatively invested.  He feels that the investment mix is probably more conservative than the stated investment goals for these funds. 

III.        Discussion/Action Items

  1. Awards Committee Questions

            Alan Hastings, Chair of the Awards Committee, submitted a set of questions for clarification by the Governing Board.  The first question concerned whether awards should focus primarily on ESA members.  It was the sense of the Board that unless the documents creating the award stated otherwise, the Awards Committee and its subcommittees should give priority to ESA members.  A second question concerned when it is appropriate to give an award to more than one person.  The Governing Board agreed that there are clearly cases where this is appropriate, but that it should be the exception rather than the rule.  The third question concerned whether nominations need to come from ESA members.  There is no requirement for this, and creating a pool of suitable nominees is ultimately the responsibility of the specific award subcommittees, but the Board encourages as broad a pool of nominees as possible, from all sources.  This same principle applies to their question about self-nominations.  The Awards Subcommittee holds ultimate responsibility for recommending awardees, regardless of the source of a nomination.

            The Awards Committee recommended that the Governing Board make decisions via e-mail on award nominations by February of each year.  The Board agrees that this is desirable and should be implemented.  The Committee also asked about the cap on 20 Honorary Members at any one time.  The Governing Board generally felt that the cap was reasonable, particularly given the costs associated with designating honorary members.  There may be other innovative ways to recognize other international scholars.

  1. Environmental Offset Guidelines

            Julie Reynolds reviewed discussions during the August 2014 meetings about how the annual meeting funds are used for environmental offsets.  A general principle is to use these funds to offset the environmental footprint of the meeting.  She proposed the following language as guidance for awarding these funds:

Earth Stewardship is a high priority for the Ecological Society of America, and one way in which we demonstrate this value is to mitigate the environmental impact of our annual meeting.  Therefore, ESA contributes $5 for each registrant to an environmental organization whose mission achieves this goal.  The Governing Board invites the meeting local host to nominate a local organization or organizations who meets these criteria to which this contribution will be donated.

Charlie Canham moved and Scott Collins seconded accepting this language.  All aye.

  1. Strategic Initiatives/Opportunity Fund

Each year the ESA budget has contained $10,000 moved from the Opportunity Fund to the line item called Board Strategic Initiatives.  This allows the Board to determine the use of this subset of the Opportunity Funds, which are expected to be used for strategic activities not included in the annual budget.  During the August meeting, the Board began a discussion about the use of these funds and expressed sentiment that the funds need not be used each year, allowing them to be accumulated over time for more substantive initiatives (such as the strategic review of publications).  There was also discussion of the desirability of allocating time at Governing Board meetings for considering strategic long-term initiatives in general.  President Inouye recommended that a time slot for this be scheduled during the May meetings.

  1. Diversity Statement

            Julie Reynolds presented a request from the Committee on Diversity and Education for the Governing Board to adopt a diversity statement and to add links to the statement on the ESA website.  In addition, they are asking for an amendment to the ESA ByLaws to add language that directs the Nominations Committee to be guided by the diversity statement. 

            The proposed diversity statement is:

“The Ecological Society of America is dedicated to the science and study of ecology. The society welcomes and encourages participation by all individuals regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, national origin, physical or mental difference, politics, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or subculture. We strive to cultivate a society built on mentorship, encouragement, tolerance and mutual respect, thereby engendering a welcoming environment for all. Ecologists believe in the need for interdisciplinary study, both in terms of disciplines and participants.  We believe in biodiversity both in terms of ecosystems and membership. We will vigorously and proactively reject prejudice and stereotyping wherever it is encountered in our profession. ESA further promotes diversity in all areas of activity, including fostering diversity in membership, leadership, committees, staff, outreach, public engagement, recruitment, and all other areas of societal activity.”

            Julie Reynolds moved and Monica Turner seconded approving the language as the Society’s formal statement on diversity.  All aye.

            There was further discussion on how to disseminate the statement and give it visibility in the ESA webpage.  Julie Reynolds moved and Evan DeLucia seconded a motion to change the webpage in ways specified in the board book to highlight the statement and the diversity programs on the ESA website.  All aye.

            The Committee also recommended a change to the first sentence of Bylaw 1 as follows (new text highlighted in red):

Bylaw 1. Elections. The Nominations Committee shall be guided by the Diversity Statement when soliciting names of potential candidates for each position from the Chairs of ESA Sections, Chapters, and Committees and the general ESA membership prior to 1 March. 

            Julie Reynolds moved and Carmen Cid seconded approving this change and recommending to the Council that the Bylaws be amended accordingly.  The motion passed by majority.

            There was also discussion of updating the Bylaws to correctly list new awards.  David Inouye will work with Katherine McCarter and Carmen Cid to propose appropriate updates.

  1. New Section Petitions

            Bylaw 13 indicates that any group of 50 or more members of the Society may petition for the establishment of a Section.  The petition must specify the proposed general scope of the Section and its proposed plan of organization.  Article 10 of the Constitution indicates that each Section must be approved by a vote of the Council and that proposed Section bylaws must be approved by the Governing Board.

  1. Science Communications Section

            Holly Menninger has submitted a petition to establish a Science Communication Section.  The petition contains a statement of general scope, proposed bylaws, and the names of at least 50 members.

            Staff review of the proposed bylaws indicates that they are in accordance with the requirements of the ESA Constitution and Bylaws and also confirms that 50 members have signed the petition.

            Charles Canham moved and Julie Reynolds seconded approving the proposed bylaws and recommending to the Council the formation of a Science Communications Section.  All aye.

  1. Open Science Section

            Andrew MacDonald has submitted a petition to establish an Open Science Section.  The petition contains a statement of general scope, proposed bylaws, and the names of at least 50 members.

            Staff review of the proposed bylaws indicates that they are in accordance with the requirements of the ESA Constitution and Bylaws and also confirms that 50 members have signed the petition.

            Leah Gerber made a motion that the Board recommends approval to the Council, but that the petitioners be required to add additional detail about the definition of open science principles in Article 2 of the proposed bylaws.  Julie Reynolds seconded the motion.  Motion failed, 4 aye, 5 nay. 

            Evan DeLucia moved that we table discussion of this proposal pending further clarification of the definition of open science in the Bylaws.  Monica Turner seconded.  All aye.

            Further clarification was provided later in the day.  Scott Collins moved and Leah Gerber seconded approving the bylaws with the additional clarification and recommending to the Council creation of the Open Science Section.  All aye.

  1. Invasion Ecology Section

            Jennifer Funk, Luke Flory, Erik Aschehoug, and Virginia Matzek have submitted a petition to establish an Invasion Ecology Section.  The petition contains a statement of general scope, proposed bylaws, and the names of at least 50 members.

            Staff review of the proposed bylaws indicates that they are in accordance with the requirements of the ESA Constitution and Bylaws and also confirms that 50 members have signed the petition.

            Monica Turner moved and Valerie Eviner seconded approving the proposed bylaws and recommending that the Council approve the formation of the Invasion Ecology Section.  All aye.

  1. EiC Review – Ed Johnson

            The Editors in Chief of Ecology, Ecological Monographs, Ecological Applications, Ecosphere, Issues in Ecology and the ESA Bulletin are appointed by the Governing Board to three year terms.  At the end of the term, the Publications Committee is asked to review the EiC and make a recommendation to the Governing Board about reappointment. There are no term limits.

            Ed Johnson’s current agreement with ESA expires in December, 2014. The Publications Committee named Josh Schimel, Paul Grogan and Christine Hawkes to review Johnson’s leadership of the ESA Bulletin.  The committee recommends that Ed Johnson be reappointed to a fourth three-year term as Editor in Chief of the ESA Bulletin.

            The Board expressed its appreciation for the excellent job Editor-in-Chief Johnson has done with the Bulletin.  Monica Turner moved and Charles Canham seconded reappointing Ed Johnson as the Editor-in-Chief of the ESA Bulletin.  All aye.

  1. Annual Meeting Issues
  2. 2016 Annual Meeting Program Chair

            Program Committee Co-Chair Kiyoko Miyanishi and the Meetings Committee are recommending Lee Frelich as the Program Chair for the annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2016.  Dr. Frelich is a Research Associate at the University of Minnesota and Director of the University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology.  He was the Local Host for the 2013 annual meeting and as a result has served on the Meetings Committee. 

            Monica Turner moved and Julie Reynolds seconded appointing Lee Frelich as the Program Chair for the 2016 Annual Meeting.  All aye.

  1. 2016 Local Host Chair

            Program Committee Co-Chair Kiyoko Miyanishi and the Meetings Committee are recommending Brian Benscoter as the local host chair for the annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2016.  Dr. Benscoter is with the Department of Biological Sciences with Florida Atlantic University.

            Valerie Eviner moved and Julie Reynolds seconded appointing Brian Benscoter as the local host chair for the 2016 annual meeting.

  1. Certification Review Committee

            Carmen Cid, Certification Review Committee Chair, provided an update on the deliberations of the committee and described future plans of the committee.  The committee has a long list of recommendations for expansion of the certification program, including issues of continuing education, and certification for ecology teaching.  There was discussion of both the fees and expenses that could be associated with the various proposals. 

  1. New Phytologist Trust Plenary Speaker

            Evan DeLucia presented a proposal to designate a New Phytologist Trust Keynote Speaker, with details outlined in the board book.  Funding will be supplied by the New Phytologist Trust.  The major change from the proposal outlined in the board book was replacement of “plenary” with “keynote”, since there are so few true plenary time slots in the program. 

            Julie Reynolds moved and Charles Canham seconded approving the amended proposal.  All aye.

  1. Board Fundraising Update

            Charles Canham gave an update on the board efforts to increase contributions to the Fund for the Future (and its component parts – SEEDS, Student Travel Grants, and the Opportunity Fund).  As in the past, board members were asked to personalize e-mails to friends and colleagues encouraging them to contribute.      

  1. Centennial Survey

            Valerie Eviner, Elena Bennet, Daniel Scholes, and Kelly Garbach have drafted a series of surveys to be sent to four groups: researchers, educators, environmental managers and policy makers.  They provided a cover sheet explaining the project and a draft of the four surveys in the board book.   Val Eviner gave an overview of the effort, and asked for feedback from the Board to assess the scope of the survey and identify any gaps in what is covered.  The Board expressed their strong support for the effort.

  1. CourseSource

            Julie Reynolds described a long-range planning grant proposal to create a working group to produce a list of topics that would represent the core set of ideas that should be contained in a college ecology course.  The materials would be posted in an online journal from an organization named CourseSource from the University of Minnesota.

The Board entered executive session at 4:45 pm and adjourned for the day at 5:30 pm

David Inouye called the meeting to order at 8:00 am on Wednesday, November 19.  The Board entered executive session to consider the strategic review of ESA publications. 

At the end of that session, David Inouye moved and Charles Canham seconded that the ESA issue a Request for Proposals to seek a publishing partner for its journals.  The motion passed unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at noon, Wednesday, November 19, 2014.