Illinois Board of Natural Resource Sustainability (IBNRS) - Minutes
Tuesday, November 8, 2010
Technology Room, I Hotel & Conference Center
Ravishankar Iyer, Chair, William Shilts, Vice Chair, Brian Anderson, Craig Bazzani, Tom Brooks, Mike Demissie, John Ebinger, Tom Emerson, Rob Finley, Gregg Good, David Gross, Bob Hauser, Libby Johnston, Manohar Kulkarni, Don McKay, Gary Miller, Jerry Shea, Deb Stone, Steve Wald, Kay Whitlock
Full member information
Bob Hauser, College of ACES, UIUC was introduced as the new Dean. He formerly served as Interim Dean.
2. INRS Updates from Executive Director Shilts
INRS continues to face retention issues with employees. The University is beginning to face similar issues related to salaries, but INRS faced salary freezes for several years before joining the University. Executive Director Shilts and the Division Directors are very concerned about retaining the Institute's research core and maintaining commitment to INRS and the State.
33 staff members participated in the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP). One way to use the savings from those salaries (~$1.3M/year) would be to build up an intern program to help attract future qualified staff. Another idea is to create a pool of money to seed initiatives or start-up projects to enhance research capabilities and generate external funding. Executive Director Shilts would also like to use the money to hire scientists as scientific priorities change.
There is still a need to build a collections facility to house significant collections for the Archeological Survey, Geological Survey, and Natural History Survey. INRS is currently storing several collections received from the University as well. The impediment to moving forward is the $250K for a Master Planning Study required by the University.
There continues to be a constant stream of information from different groups in the University with regard to eliminating the use of coal. It sounds as if it's University policy, without any counter-information. There is $2B in clean coal research taking place at the University, primarily carried out by or supported by the Institute. Executive Director Shilts indicated it is part of the INRS Communications Director's job to ensure that INRS receives positive press about major research and proof-of-concept projects that the State and Nation are looking to INRS to lead.
Executive Director Shilts attended a Senior Leadership Council meeting hosted by Chancellor Easter recently. Chancellor Easter asked what value can be placed on an expensive college education on campus versus an online or less expensive educational alternative. He suggested that a large public research university provides opportunity for students to acquire skills and experiences that better prepare them for real world jobs. This is very important, particularly in the natural and cultural sciences area, and the Surveys offer something very unique in the "real world" work experiences for the 400+ students the Surveys collectively employ every year.
Executive Director Shilts asked the Board to take a look at the Draft Annual Report that's been distributed and provide feedback. He pointed out the graphic representations of annual expenditures in the back of the report. The last year the Surveys were part of DNR they spent $50M, including an $18M appropriation. Coming into the University, the Surveys took a permanent reduction of almost $2M. Last year the Surveys spent $67M. It should be noted approximately $2M of this is from ISAS joining INRS mid-year. Bill feels that in spite of some of the frustrating issues that have arisen as the Surveys adjust to their new status within the University, INRS is thriving. He feels the Institute is doing very well and will do even better this year.
INRS is very interested in trying to develop a systematic way to attract people in the natural and cultural resources, especially minorities. It is a difficult challenge but steps are being taken. The Institute is starting to work with the College of ACES, who have developed very effective minority programs, also.
3. Research Scientist Classifications
Mr. Bazzani urged the INRS Management Team to put together a comprehensive proposal detailing what they want to do in the next 2 years to address the need for promotions and the rights and privileges of senior scientists. He feels it's important to show the separate funding line. Vice Chancellor Iyer voiced his approval for a proposal. He feels the Institute should emphasize its uniqueness. Dean Hauser also agreed with Mr. Bazzani. He added the College of ACES has come up with different plans to address salary and retention issues. In some cases ACES has been able to substitute state dollars for grant dollars, depending on the source. They have also moved APs from 12-month appointments to 9-month appointments, but it has to be that person's choice. Vice Chancellor Iyer doesn't think this would be a bad idea for the Institute, but he urged Bill and the Directors to be careful doing this. The staff must understand what it means to have a 9-month appointment. Vice Chancellor Iyer also mentioned the idea of giving mid-year promotions. Mr. Bazzani and Dean Hauser agreed that Human Resources cannot drive policy decisions that are this important. Mr. Bazzani added it's up to the management team to push a proposal forward and make sure it gets consideration by campus administrators.
Bill mentioned that all salary requests from INRS that were taken to the Campus recently were denied. Dean Hauser indicated he has a similar problem. Several APs in ACES and even Engineering, whose salaries are paid on their grants and contracts, were denied salary increases, even though their grants and contracts are growing. Vice Chancellor Iyer added he faced those issues in his own research center. Vice Chancellor Iyer also added President Hogan recognizes more has to be done internally with regard to salary increases to get ahead of the curve.
Vice Chancellor Iyer feels it's important to get the help of the Board for the Institute. The Institute needs to maintain its base funding, and it should be kept separate from the University budget. In order to get salary and promotion issues addressed it's important to show why the Institute is so critical for the Campus. The Institute needs to let people on campus know how many students are employed at any one time between 100-400 students. He added that it is great to see the number of interactions with faculty is increasing. We should be asking how we bring visibility and opportunities to people within the Institute. What are the broad suggestions on rewarding people and making the Institute one of the jewels on campus?
Don McKay presented a document developed by the Division Directors titled, "Recommendation Regarding Titles of INRS Scientists." Mr. Bazzani moved to support this proposal. The Board unanimously agreed by voice vote.
4. Natural and Cultural Resource Workforce Development and Diversity
Steve Wald described workforce development and diversity efforts within the Institute. To maintain its position as a world-class resource for applied research and service in the natural and cultural resource sciences, INRS must continue to attract and retain a high quality, interdisciplinary, and diverse workforce. To fulfill its broader public service mission as part of the University of Illinois and the State of Illinois, INRS is pursuing initiatives to inspire and train the next generation of scientists and engineers working in these fields.
To attract a quality workforce, the Institute must continue to make progress on salary equity. We must emphasize other aspects of job quality, e.g. sense of mission, autonomy. We must develop and emphasize advancement and professional development opportunities.
The natural and cultural resource fields lag the workforce overall in terms of diversity, but there are multiple opportunities to increase underrepresented minorities at INRS. The Institute is interested in partnering with the College of ACES in a proven summer residency program targeting high school students: the Research Apprenticeship Program. There are opportunities to target undergraduates with an existing intern program on campus: the McNair Scholars Program. The Institute will pursue funding to support summer and school-year interns.
The Institute will target possible new programming for undergraduates and graduates who are student employees of the Institute.
The Institute is also going to work on adopting cutting-edge recruitment practices to identify and recruit top candidates for key positions.
Executive Director Shilts added that the Institute needs to have a steady stream of people coming in for succession purposes. To make sure the Institute will continue to flourish, current management needs to look hard at people who will be in a position to replace them. There needs to be a strategy for succession.
Ms. Whitlock added she has a friend who is in charge of a charter school system who might be interested in working on a pilot project. She will give her friend Steve Wald's contact information. Vice Chancellor Iyer added he would be interested in this connection as well.
Mr. Shea added his daughter is in the Securities industry, and employs 30-40 high school students over the summer who go on to college. He is going to ask his daughter to contact Executive Director Shilts.
Ms. Stone has a friend in a charter school, with environmental interest, who might be interested in a pilot project as well. She will touch base with her to seek her interest.
Mr. Bazzani asked if there is an internal program to train potential candidates to take over senior spots. Executive Director Shilts indicated the Institute does not have such a formal program.
Director Anderson indicated INHS is losing a senior administrator. He plans to conduct an internal search, and will rotate people in that role every 2 years. This will give those who are interested a taste of administration.
Vice Chancellor Iyer suggested hosting a leadership seminar. Bring in people who are successful, including Board members, to discuss their experiences. This might interest younger scientists who think administration would be for them.
Executive Director Shilts added that there are a large number of issues to deal with, including several that have been talked about so far this morning. He appreciates the input from the Board on these issues.
5. INRS Strategic Plan
Executive Director Shilts had asked Ms. Johnston to draft a strategic plan with input from the management team, to help keep the team on track with direction and goals. He asked for Board feedback.
Ms. Johnston went through the draft strategic plan with the Board, highlighting the INRS Mission and Vision Statements. The Plan lists objectives, goals or issues, and next steps.
The objectives are:
• Set direction and paths for the successful evolution of the Institute and Surveys over the next three to five years.
• Address strategic issues critical to meeting the mission and pursuing the vision of the Institute.
• Unify Institute and Survey management and staff around common goals.
• Serve as a resource to communicate the Institute"s goals, priorities, programs, and needs to IBNRS, OVCR, University Administration,
elected officials, and state and federal agencies.
The goals or issues are:
• Long-term attraction and retention of quality staff
• Strategic research priorities
• Constituency development
The next steps are:
• Agree on goals and strategies.
• Detail tasks, timelines, and responsibilities of senior managers across the Institute.
• Implementation and follow-up.
Mr. Bazzani suggested that Executive Director Shilts also look at the Campus Strategic Plan. The Campus Strategic Plan has 4 pillars: education, environment, energy, and human health. The Institute fits into all 4 pillars. The INRS Strategic Plan should align with the Campus Strategic Plan. He added that the Institute's return-on-investment, $3+/$1, should also be highlighted.
He also added that a discussion should take place with Jim Schroeder, Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement. His office has 10 regional directors that may be able to help attract alumni interest. He said to give Schroeder 5-6 priorities that the directors could discuss with alumni. Mr. Bazzani added he would be happy to participate in the meeting.
Dean Hauser questioned whether more emphasis shouldn't be placed on partnering with faculty and programs on campus. He was struck by the bullets that refer to differentiation from faculty and programs on campus. Should there be a more collaborative framework? He feels we're all in the same boat. He wonders if it isn't time for INRS, ACES, and Engineering to sit down and discuss collaborations. Ms. Johnston felt that was a good point. But, part of the basis for these statements is the need to demonstrate our value, that we are not the same as academic units, and we bring something different to the University. INRS wants to further engage in research collaboration, not retract. Mr. Wald feels Ms. Johnston made the right point about the Institute's need for distinction. Dean Hauser added the College of ACES is facing the same thing, with a different context.
Director Anderson added Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) and INHS work closely together, but they have not sat down together to discuss their strategic plans. That is probably an exercise that would be helpful. Dean Hauser agreed, adding the sooner the better.
Vice Chancellor Iyer feels it's important to highlight the number of students and faculty who have grants with INRS. Brian added INHS is running into problems with running out of matching funds because salaries of staff are already consumed with grants.
Director Demissie added that trying to increase collaboration is difficult because it is left up to the individual to contact faculty they may want to work with. Dean Hauser feels that is a must. He thinks there are some system level approaches that could be taken, but it's best to have a meeting and explore some opportunities.
6. Surveys Update
AETI — Director Finley reported that AETI grew out of the development of a large geological sequestration contract, initiated by the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC), in 2003 with U.S. Department of Energy and Illinois Office of Coal Development funding. AETI formed from the ISGS. AETI staff consist of 17 researchers and one office administrator. AETI contracts support an additional 8 full-time staff and 2 half-time staff members in the ISGS. AETI currently holds 17 research contracts worth $120.3 million. MGSC Phase III (Illinois Basin-Decatur Project) is the largest of these at $74.9 million and runs through 2016. The Applied Research Laboratory (2 GRF, 8.5 contract staff) as part of AETI holds six contracts worth $4.0 million. Looking forward five years, depth of AETI leadership potential needs to be enhanced. Planning needs to be initiated now for contract funds replacement beginning in mid- to late 2012 to maintain staff and programs.
The Applied Research Laboratory is currently involved in innovation in chemical sorbents likely to attract continued funding, depending on process success. Water use in energy production is a major potential growth area for the group and is an important area for collaboration with campus. Nanoparticle applications in energy production, and even enhanced oil recovery, is a potential growth area as well.
Dr. Gross asked Director Finley what AETI's role is in FutureGen 2.0 and what the probability is of it going forward. Director Finley indicated AETI will be responsible for providing earth science data to the FutureGen Alliance that will be essential to them in choosing the final site. The probability is high that an acceptable site will be found. The accelerated timeframe is good in order to keep the project going forward. An announcement on site selection will be made January 17.
Director Finley added there are many other countries interested in carbon sequestration such as China, Norway, Australia, and France. AETI has great contacts in DCEO. Mr. Bazzani urged the Institute to use Governor Quinn whenever possible to join in international efforts. Vice Chancellor Iyer agreed. He feels Australia and Korea will put forward money into carbon sequestration research.
ISAS — Director Emerson reported that ISAS is currently involved in a project in the East St. Louis area that is sponsored by IDOT. This State of Illinois project totals $650M. It involves rerouting I-70 and constructing a new Mississippi River bridge. Staff of ISAS are excavating the area, including the former stockyards site. In the 1950s, East St. Louis was listed in Life magazine as one of the best places to live in the United States. The area has been going downhill ever since, but it is expected that once this project is completed, the East St. Louis area will become revitalized. During the excavation process, archeologists have found a mound site from 1,000 years ago. It is the 2nd largest mound site in North America, behind Cahokia. They have dug over 50 excavation blocks in the last 2 years, excavating 300 houses, 700 storage pits, and several hundred other features. They have found many burned buildings, arrowheads, stone hoes, copper, and pieces of clay pottery. It has been determined from these findings that people arrived from Iowa, Indiana, and Southern Missouri and lived there a very short time. Director Emerson expects ISAS to continue work in East St. Louis for at least 2 more years. There are 100 people excavating in the summer plus 30-50 student workers as well. ISAS hires and trains local people in to help with excavations.
Several Board members expressed interest in visiting the excavation site during a future field trip.
ISGS — Director McKay indicated there was a need to address vacancies in 11 positions impacted by VSIP. He is taking this opportunity to restructure ISGS. He plans to refine the organization by sustaining the high profile of AETI and using it as a model, facilitating teamwork, improving communications, improving leadership overall, improving operations, and helping staff obtain appropriate approvals. There are currently 21 managers, but as a result of the reorganization there will only be 13 managers. Currently, ISGS has Centers that have several units reporting to them. With the reorganization, ISGS will "go flat". Essentially, there will be 11 Sections — no Centers or units. Those Sections will be: AETI, Hydrogeology and Geophysics, Geochemistry, Wetlands Geology, Coal and Petroleum Geology, Bedrock Geology & Industrial Minerals, Quaternary & Engineering Geology, Environmental Site Assessments, Geoscience Data and Information Stewardship, Publications & Outreach, and Administrative & Technical Support. ISGS will refocus their science strategy by undertaking strategic planning. They will review, benchmark, self assess, analyze, envision, and plan appropriately. They will do these things by anticipating research trends and societal needs, honoring mandates, expanding horizons, refining direction, and expecting change. They will staff appropriately, and develop facilities and capabilities. The ISGS will continually try to improve. Director McKay hopes to implement this plan by mid-2011.
ISWS — Director Demissie highlighted 3 ISWS projects. ISWS is involved in Water Supply Planning reports for 3 regions in Illinois. Northeastern and East Central Illinois were started in 2006 and are continuing. The Kaskaskia Basin was started this year and will continue through 2012, as long as funding continues. This project involves collaboration with ISGS and the Office of Water Resources at DNR. It is important to note that the projects started in 2006 were on a 3-year timeframe, and funding was cut after the second year. ISWS continues their work on the reports. DNR was able to find funding for the Kaskaskia Basin.
Ms. Stone indicated she lives in Northeastern Illinois and the Water Supply Planning study was very important for that area. As a result of the study, 5-7 mayors in that area have come together to create an intergovernmental agreement to address the issues in the report.
ISWS is involved in the Fox River Watershed Investigation. This is a multi-year, 4-phase study of the Fox River watershed from Stratton Dam to the Illinois River confluence. The study began in 2002 and is expected to wrap up by 2012. The objective of the full study is to identify significant watershed issues and implement a watershed plan that includes data collection, model development, and monitoring.
The third project Director Demissie highlighted was the work done on the Cache River Watershed. A century of drainage modifications has threatened the ecology of the Cache River. Hydrologic and hydraulic models are being developed to objectively evaluate benefits and impacts of alternative restoration measures compared to base and current conditions. The goal is to restore as much of the natural hydrology as possible.
Director Demissie also announced the hiring of 2 new staff members: George Czapar is the new Head of the Center for Watershed Science, and Jacqueline Dalzell, new Assistant Director for Administration.
ISTC — Director Kulkarni mentioned that often ISTC staff have to explain what they do. ISTC's focus is on sustainable technologies that conserve energy and protect the environment. A key service is industrial outreach to help companies comply with environmental regulations and adopt innovative strategies to be green or sustainable. There are 2 groups or divisions in ISTC: Applied Research on Industrial and Environmental Systems (ARIES) and the Technical Assistance Program (TAP). ARIES is currently focusing on water conservation technologies (especially forward osmosis), use of wastes to produce biochar beneficial for land/soil conservation, agriculture wastes, and biofuels from wastes, all in the energy-water nexus. TAP has been heavily involved in technical assistance, but Director Kulkarni would like to see a balance between technical assistance and technology development.
In October, ISTC hosted the 2010 Illinois Governor's Sustainability Awards. 27 Illinois companies and organizations were honored for their significant achievements in protecting the environment, helping sustain the future, and improving the economy.
Recently, ISTC has been recognized through a pair of MVP2 (Most Valuable Pollution Prevention) awards for the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI). SEI was given the MVP2 award, and Tim Lindsey, former Associate Director of TAP was given the MVP2 Champion award. SEI will help to uncover new knowledge to reduce the generation of waste electronics, strengthen ISTC's position as a leading authority on e-waste, develop actionable sustainable e-waste prevention strategies, and help to create proactive IT systems management.
A few emerging initiatives at ISTC are: greater utilization of open geothermal systems, helping create a zero-energy building on campus, CERL and Forward Deployment, membranes research for waste reduction and water conservation, and use of biochar from various wastes to formulate new materials.
INHS — Director Anderson highlighted FY10 extramural funding for INHS. $13,066,841 in total grants and contracts were received. 69 grants were awarded, and 120 proposals were submitted.
Total publications for FY2010 were approximately 227. 138 Journal Articles were published in 93 journals; 2 books were published (including Canaries in the Catbird Seat); 29 book chapters were published (which includes the 19 chapters from the Canaries book); and, 33 magazine/newsletter articles were published. INHS had a total of 107 authors, with 354 co-authors from outside of INHS. New publications coming out soon are: Field Guide to The Sphinx Moths of Illinois (available in November), and Illinois Birds: A Century of Change (available in December).
INHS has had 10 recent retirees, losing 256 years of institutional memory.
INHS is working with the other Surveys to share services, such as inventory, mailroom services, Institute library consolidation, shop/facility services, and HR services. Since entering UIUC, INHS support staff has been cut from 19 to 9.
The Robert A. Evers Laboratory (herbarium) will be ready late December/early January. Staff moves are expected at start of 2011.
The dedication ceremony for the Jerry F. Costello Confluence Field Station of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center near Alton was held on October 26. INHS staff housed at the Great Rivers Field Station in Brighton, Illinois will move to the new facility before year end.
The Survey application for the NSF Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC) Program has been selected as the UIUC campus nomination for a full proposal to be submitted to the NSF in the Thematic Collections etwork (TCN) category in December.
Director Anderson is proposing a new initiative within INHS similar to AETI's structure, the Aquatic Nuisance Species Initiative (ANSI). Invasive species are consistently identified as some of the most important environmental issues throughout the U.S. and world. Illinois has recently come to the forefront on these issues with movement of Asian carp into our waters. IDNR recently committed $900K to Asian carp control and research. ANSI would initially have a Director, Associate Director, Assistant Director and an Outreach Coordinator. Staffing would come from scientists who are currently working at INHS and involved in the Asian carp and other invasive species issues. The scientists in these roles would be charged with developing the larger ANSI that would incorporate partners and stakeholders from throughout the Institute and U of I, as well as the state and region, with stipends funded by the grant for those taking on coordination roles. ANSI would take a leadership role in Illinois for coordinating research and outreach related to aquatic nuisance species. Framework for such an effort is already taking shape for the Asian carp issue.
Director Anderson reported INHS continues to be hit by staff leaving for opportunities and increased salaries elsewhere; 6 just recently expressed their intention to leave, and he feels there will be others.
Senate Bill 51, the new State procurement law, continues to create roadblocks to get research done. Director Anderson hopes the University can communicate to the State the issues INHS and other departments are experiencing.
7. INRS Budget Overview
Associate Executive Director Miller gave an overview of the INRS budget from FY08-FY10. Total grant and contract expenditures have increased by almost $19M, or 67%. Federal funding has increased from $9.7M in FY08 to $24M in FY10. INRS now spends $3.17 for every state-appropriated dollar expended. The University did hold back an estimated $340,000 from the INRS budget for FY11. But so far, any other cash reserves that have been required to be held back in the case of a rescission have stayed within the Institute. Any monies not spent during a fiscal year are rolled over to the next fiscal year.
Executive Director Shilts reminded the group the appropriation for the INRS state budget is a separate budget line from the University's. He believes it is important to keep the budget separate.
8. Impacts of the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP)
Associate Executive Director Miller reported VSIP was a program introduced by the Campus with the objective of reducing the size of the Urbana Campus workforce to save money over the long-term. A total of 33 staff within INRS participated in VSIP. More than 20 of these positions will be eliminated; 12 positions will be refilled. As a result, shared services in some areas has been implemented across the Institute, such as the libraries, inventory, fiscal management, human resources, and shipping, receiving, sales operations, and E-Commerce. The vacancies have created a challenge, but have also provided an opportunity to re-tool and re-direct efforts. The total payout for VSIP was $1.7M. Projected savings in FY11 will be $200K; FY12 - $1.4M; and, FY13 - $1.3M.
Executive Director Shilts indicated that he felt from the beginning of the merger that it would take 5 years for the Surveys to become fully integrated in the University, and it would take the University that same amount of time to become familiar with and fully accommodate the Surveys. He feels we're well along that path. He is committed to making people aware of the Surveys. He also feels the relationship with the state agencies has improved.
Executive Director Shilts thanked everyone for taking time out of their schedules to attend today's meeting.
Updated 07/19/11 AW