Recap of AGU’s Board of Directors quarterly meeting

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A few weeks ago, AGU’s Board of Directors held their first meeting of 2021. Over the course of this three-day virtual meeting, the Board focused on the implementation of the new strategic plan, AGU’s finances, Fall Meeting 2021 and AGU publications strategy. Here are the highlights of those topics, as well as others:

  • Randy W. Fiser, CEO, led a discussion of the implementation plan for the new AGU strategic plan. The implementation plan has been created with guideposts and approaches to help clarify the activities needed for the coming years.
  • Executive Vice President of Finance and IT Mary Mohney led a review of AGU’s 2020 and 2021 finances and she presented a new net assets policy that had been previously approved by AGU’s Finance and Investment Committee. The Board approved the new net assets policy, which will create a holistic approach to the use of AGU’s net assets during times of unforeseen shortfalls. The resources required to begin implementing the strategic plan in 2021 were also included in AGU’s budget.
  • Lauren Parr, Vice President of Meetings, led a discussion on AGU Fall Meeting 2021. In light of the ongoing pandemic, AGU Fall Meeting will be in-person at the New Orleans Convention Center from 13-17 December and will also offer online attendance and presentation options. The board considered questions related to this model, including how to enhance the experience of 2020’s fully-virtual Fall Meeting to provide value to those who attend online.
  • Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Deputy Director for Climate and the Environment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, was a guest speaker at the Board Meeting. Dr. Lubchenco is responsible for overseeing the execution of President Biden’s priorities of science integrity; climate; and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), all of which align well with AGU’s three strategic goals. Dr. Lubchenco ended her remarks with a reminder that there is an opportunity for scientific organizations, such as AGU, to help meet the administration’s goals. After Dr. Lubchenco’s talk, the board held a robust discussion on the impacts and implications of these priorities for AGU.
  • The Board learned of a proposal to create a new journal, focused on community science, that would utilize a multimedia platform with content from sources such as meeting posters, white papers, policy statements, data sets and news articles.
  • The Board also received an update on the effort to increase open access to AGU publications.

At the end of the three-day meeting, I asked Board members to share their thoughts on the highlights of the meeting. Overall, Board members remarked that they were proud to see AGU focused on the implementation of the strategic plan; that they were glad to see a simple and robust net assets plan; and that they think the organization has maintained its focus productivity during the global pandemic. Board members also shared specific comments:

  • AGU Development Board Chair and AGU Board member Peter Schlosser said that he “liked the discussion around the implementation of the strategic plan. It offers many opportunities to make AGU more relevant to ‘the world’. It also points toward areas in which we can improve and lays open significant challenges.”
  • Jill Karsten noted, “I was impressed with how the AGU staff and Randy were able to bring our ambitious, ‘pie in the sky’ strategic plan and translate it into a nascent implementation plan that is thoughtful and concrete.”
  • Rick Murray said that he “love[s] the partnering with staff for idea sharing and candid vetting.”
  • Jenny Riker expressed appreciation for AGU’s strong financial position and remarked that she was “hugely proud of the net assets plan!”
  • Six out of the 14 members of the board were new. Past AGU President Robin Bell commented that their “contributions [were] remarkable.” These individuals asked probing questions and provided unique perspectives, illustrating why they were elected.
  • One of those new board members, Catherine Johnson, remarked that “I wasn’t sure if I would step into something that is just moving along with ‘old ways’ of doing things. [I’m] really proud that AGU is so forward looking in all aspects of what we discussed: pubs, meetings, strategic plan [and] budget.”
  • Another new board member, Ligia Pérez Cruz, said that she was “very excited to be part of this amazing group. Great minds.”

Finally, I would like to note that I am grateful to the members of the AGU Board for their time, dedication and commitment to serving our community, and to the AGU staff for their efforts, creativity and dedication to AGU’s mission and vision.

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