May 12, 2016

Members Present

Monica Turner, President

David Lodge, President-Elect

David Inouye, Past-President

Evan DeLucia, VP for Finance

Frank Davis, VP for Public Affairs

Valerie Eviner, VP for Science

Nalini Nadkarni, VP for Education and Human Resources

Charles Canham, Secretary

Kathryn Cottingham, Member at Large

Ana-Elisa Perez Quintero, Member at Large

Members Absent

Leah Gerber, Member at Large

Staff Present

Katherine McCarter, Executive Director

Elizabeth Biggs, Director of Finance

Michelle Horton, Director of Administration and Meetings

Teresa Mourad, Director of Education and Diversity

Sue Silver, Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers

Alison Mize, Director of Public Affairs

Steve Sayre, Associate Director of Publications


Winslow Hansen, Chair, Student Section

8:30 am, May 12, 2016, meeting called to order by President Monica Turner

  • Roll Call and Agenda

President Monica Turner called the meeting to order.  David Inouye moved and Val Eviner seconded a motion to approve the agenda.  All aye.

David Inouye moved and David Lodge seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the November 2016 meeting, and ratify the following e-mail votes:

  • Approving the Awards Committee recommendations,
  • Approving the 2016 Regional Policy Award to Shannon Estenoz, DOI Director of Everglades Restoration, and
  • Approving the appointment of Serita Frey to a second term as Editor-in-Chief of Issues in Ecology.

All aye.

  • Reports
  • Report of the President

Monica Turner reported on her activities as President since the November board meeting.  Much of her efforts were devoted to organizing the strategic planning retreat on May 11, 2016.She noted efforts to make recommendations from the Awards Committee more timely to allow recipients more time to plan to attend the annual meeting.  There has been discussion to ensure that the new journal structure under Wiley is consistent with guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).  She attended the SEEDS Leadership Meeting at Coweeta this spring, and reported being very inspired by the event. 

  • Report of the Executive Director and Staff

Katherine McCarter noted the extensive staff reports provided in the board materials.  She reported on the transition at NEON to management by Batelle Labs.

Teresa Mourad will present a program review of the Diversity and Education programs later in the meeting.  She reviewed meetings she has attended in the past 6 months, many of them focused on K-12 education. 

Sue Silver reported on the status of Frontiers during the transition to Wiley. There has been a steep learning curve but submission rates remain strong.  The production side has been completely transformed, including page layout/design that is now handled by Wiley.  Wiley needed to bring on additional staff with the necessary design expertise, but she is comfortable with progress at this point.

Steve Sayre reported on the publication transition to Wiley.  The compartmentalization of processes at Wiley requires that he work with many different people there.  He will provide metrics for the first half of the calendar year for each of the journals to Editors-in-Chief and the Publications Committee in advance of the annual meeting.

Michelle Horton gave an update on the annual meeting.  The program committee is finalizing compiling the program.  She and staff are working on a much more streamlined meeting registration process, and processes to reduce streamline registration processes on-site.  She also gave an update on the professional certification program.  The Board of Professional Certification will meet in Washington in June to review the large number of applications for Professional Certification. 

Elizabeth Biggs noted that audited financial statements are now available.  The Audit Committee will meet next week to review the audit.  The audit was clean, with no issues in the management letter. 

Alison Mize noted that the Society’s Annual Report is now being produced as a website, rather than as a PDF.  The bimonthly policy news mailings are being tweaked to expand reach.  Staff organized two days of meetings for ESA members on Capitol Hill.  The graduate student policy award event was held in April.  Six graduate students were recognized, and met with elected officials from their home states.  

  • Financial Update

Elizabeth Biggs reviewed finances at this point in the current financial year. The publication transition resulted in many one-time perturbations to the budget, particularly in terms of timing of revenue and expenses relative to past years.  Subscriptions are ahead of budget, although this pre-dated the transition to Wiley.  The Baltimore annual meeting significantly exceeded the original revenue projections.   She expects this year to show a net loss, but this was expected given transition costs.  Monica Turner thanked staff and VP for Finance Evan DeLucia for managing the transition so well.

III. Discussion/Action Items

  • Asset Allocations for Unrestricted and Temporarily Restricted Funds

Evan DeLucia reviewed objectives and asset allocation for Society investments.  Merrill Lynch manages our unrestricted funds; while Townley Capital manages temporarily restricted funds (i.e. award endowments).   The funds are very conservatively invested.  In consultation with our adivisors, there has been a slight increase in allocation of the Merrill Lynch funds to equities.  There have been no major changes in the allocation of the Townley funds.

  • Proposed FY 2016-2017 Budget

Katherine McCarter and Elizabeth Biggs presented the FY 2017 proposed budget.  Non-institutional (i.e. member) subscriptions for print versions of the journals bring in significantly less revenue than the costs of printing and mailing those journals.  This represents a significant net loss to the Society.  The board supports making the non-institutional(member) print subscription rates beginning in 2017 reflect the true, full cost of the print versions.

Charles Canham moved and David Inouye seconded a motion to recommend that the Council approve the budget as presented when the Council meets in August 2017.

  • Board Strategic Initiatives

There is a tradition of allocating $10,000 from the Opportunity Fund each year for board strategic initiatives.  In recent years, the board has chosen not to use all of those funds to allow the Opportunity Fund to grow for more substantive initiatives.  The strategic planning process that is underway envisions a number of new initiatives that will require resources.  The board decided to postpone allocating the Strategic Initiative budget line until there is more clarity about broader strategic plan initiatives and costs.

  • Core Concepts

George Middendorf  joined the meeting via Skype and gave an update on the work of an ad-hoc committee that has been developing a list of core concepts in ecology.  The original motivation for this work was to potentially serve as the basis for new standards for professional certification.  The committee also sees value in use of the effort in broader education programs. 

The Governing Board will forward the materials developed by the committee to the members of the Board of Professional Certification for use in their deliberations of any changes in the certification process.

  • Report of the Nominations Committee

Past-President David Inouye presented a slate of nominees for election to the Governing Board for terms beginning in August 2017. The list will be forwarded to the Bulletin for publication.

  • Program Review – Education & Diversity

Teresa Mourad and Nalini Nadkarni presented the 3-year review of the Education and Diversity Programs.  Teresa focused on reviewing the goals and programs of programs such as SEEDS, and various programs designed to advance undergraduate education, including resources for both students and faculty.  Nalini reviewed a recent strategic planning process undertaken by the Commiteee on Diversity and Education.  The plan identified 5 priority goals for 2016-2018:

  • Enhance public awareness of and engagement with ecology
  • Disseminate best practices in ecology to attract a continuing supply of new ecologists
  • Diversify ESA membership, the population of ecologists, and the range of publics whom we reach
  • Shape the CDE as a hub to coordinate and amplify impacts of events and initiatives
  • Measure and understand the efficacy and extent of the impacts of CDE activities to create improved programs and best use resources into the future.
  • Awards Issues
  • Award Nominations Issues

Monica Turner led a discussion of issues raised by recent members of the ESA Awards committees and subcommittees.  The issues included how to ensure an adequate diversity and number of nominees, and how to deal with conflicts of interest between committee members and nominees.   There are also issues with the timing of award notifications relative to the timing of the annual meeting.  Jonathan Levine, Awards Committee chair, and Tony Ives, chair of the MacArthur award subcommittee forwarded a number of suggestions for ways to improve the award nominations process.  The board discussed them, and encouraged Jonathan and Tony to pursue them.

  • Wiley Contribution to ESA Awards Program

ESA’s agreement with Wiley includes an annual contribution of $20,000 to ESA’s awards program. The Governing Board considered a variety of proposals for how to use the monies.  The Board will wait for more clarity on strategic directions and try to use the award funds to enhance the strategic plan.

  • Awards – Bylaws Amendment

Carmen Cid has pointed out that ESA’s Bylaws include a list of some ESA awards and not some of the newer awards that have been approved.  Removing the list of specific awards in the Bylaws was proposed since these can change over time and would require an amendment every time an addition or deletion is needed. Award decisions are the responsibility of the Governing Board and not the ESA Council.

David Inouye moved and Monica Turner seconded that the Governing Board recommend to the Council that it amend the bylaws to remove mention of the specific awards.  All aye. 

  • Sexual Harassment and Violence

A group of ESA members led a workshop at the ESA Annual Meeting in 2015 on the subject of “Recommendations for Reducing Sexual Violence and Harassment in the Field.”  The group submitted a summary of recommendations to the Governing Board.  Several board members noted that the recommendations conflict with guidelines specific to their home academic institutions.   The board has referred the matter to the Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee for recommendations for ways that ESA can respond to these issues.  Currently ESA has a meetings code of conduct which defines expected behavior, unacceptable behavior and outlines a reporting process and actions that ESA may take for unacceptable behavior.

  • Section/Chapter Issues
  • Discontinue International Affairs Section and Rocky Mountain Chapter

David Lodge moved and Val Eviner seconded a motion to recommend to the Council that the International Affairs Section and the Rocky Mountain Chapter be dissolved.  All aye.

Evan DeLucia raised the issue of whether there should be an automatic process of dissolution if a Section or Chapter is inactive or has no officers through 2 successive annual meetings.  This would require an amendment to the Society’s Constitution, and the Governing Board decided not to pursue this.

  • Black Ecologists Section Petition

Senay Yitbarek submitted a petition for a new section which was signed by 50 ESA members and contains the proposed bylaws which contain the general mission and scope. Staff review of the proposed bylaws indicate that they are in accordance with the requirements of the ESA Constitution and Bylaws and also confirm that 50 members have signed the petition (list available on request).  However, there were concerns with exclusivity in the definition of membership in the section.  The Governing Board asked Executive Director McCarter to communicate these concerns to the organizers of the proposed section, and ask that they consider revising the proposed by-laws and mission statement. 

  • Section Proliferation

            The number of Sections has grown considerably in recent years.  The Society by-laws have a relatively simple procedure for creation of new sections.  While there is substantial staff time involved in providing services to sections, there is relatively little net cost to the Society in the proliferation of sections, and there is a sense that sections serve an important function within the Society.

  • Publications Update

Steve Sayre provided a thorough review of the status of the transition to publishing with Wiley.  There have been concerns with quality and speed of the production process, but the concerns have been brought before Wiley and are being addressed.  Steve also outlined initiatives he plans to pursue in broader development of the Society’s portfolio of publications.

  • Annual Meeting Issues
  • 2017 Meeting Theme

Chris Swan, Program Committee Chair for the 2017 meeting has proposed a theme for the meeting: “Linking biodiversity, material cycling and ecosystem services in a changing world”.  David Inouye moved and Val Eviner seconded a motion to approve the theme.  All aye.

  • 2019 Program Chair

Kathy Cottingham moved and Val Eviner seconded a motion to approve the recommendation of Ryan McEwan as the Program Chair for the 2019 meeting in Louisville, KY.

  • Resolution of Appreciation for Michelle Horton

Charles Canham moved and Monica Turner seconded a motion for the Governing Board to express its deep gratitude to Michelle Horton for her many years of service as Director of Administration and Meetings.  All aye.