2016 ESCOP Committee Meeting

Sheraton Gunter Hotel (Mahncke), San Antonio, Texas

July 19, 2016 (1:00 PM - 5 PM)

In Attendance:  Carolyn Brooks, Rick Rhodes, Jeff Jacobsen, Ernest Minton, Becky Walth, Rachel Leon Guerren, Valerie L. Giddings, George Hopper, Conrad Bonsi, Dyremple Marsh, Ali Fares, Karen Plaut, Louie Tupas, C.Y. Wang, Clarence Watson, Eric Young, John Russin, Bob Godfrey, Bill Brown, Gary Thompson, Mike Harrington, Bret Hess, and Shirley Hymon-Parker 

Action Items from the meeting:  




Topic and Presenter(s)

1:00 PM


Call to Order - Shirley Hymon-Parker, Chair
1.1 Approval of Agenda
1.2 Approval of March 7, 2016 Notes from ESCOP Meeting in Alexandria, VA - March 7, 2016

In meeting report: 

The meeting was convened by the ESCOP Chair, Shirley Hymon-Parker at 1:30 PM.  The agenda was approved, participants introduced themselves and the notes from the March 7, 2016 ESCOP meeting were approved with the correction that the 2016 ESS-NEDA September meeting registration is $650, not $625.

The chair summarized the request from Ian Maw to continue the annual cost to support the full-time program manager, Dr. Chase Crawford, who was hired to lead the charge of the Antimicrobial Resistance Initiative Task Force through various initiatives.  Current funding for this position ends in August.  To continue to fund this position, ESCOP is requested to contribute $7,000 as is also requested of ECOP and that has been received from ACOP.  It was determined that the ESS Rules of Operation would only allow as much as $5000 to be spent (with ESCOP Executive Committee approval) from the ESCOP account without ESS approval.  Therefore, this request will be taken to ESS for approval in the fall.  A letter from Shirley will be sent to Ian explaining this.  Additionally, if this request is approved by ESS, ESCOP should have representation on the executive committee of the AMR Task Force.  The S&T committee requested that the letter to Ian also include the following recommended actions:

  1. Engage APLU/AAVMC with ESCOP to directly participate in pilot projects and the University Research Organization (URO)
  2. Create an AR Session at the 2017 ESS Meeting
  3. Partner with other groups to create regional/national summits, symposia and /or conferences
  4. Support increased funding across NIFA, USDA ARS and other federal agencies
  5. Engage the public sector in collaborative efforts
  6. Create a central mechanism for enhanced communication efforts (ESCOP website, other collaborative software packages.

Finally, in the letter to Ian the question will be asked if AHS will be asked to contribute.  

1:10 PM


NIFA Report - TBD (To include updates on the evaluation of capacity programs, requirements for 'Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research', and approvals of equipment purchases with capacity funding)

Report Appendix  


1:30 PM


Cornerstone Report - Hunt Shipman, Vernie Hubert or Jim Richards

In meeting report:  

  • Although there may be a CR put in place once Congress returns this fall, there is hope that an Omnibus appropriations bill could be finalized in December.  The Omnibus is preferred because then the NIFA increases would be realized whereas the CR would maintain the same funding levels as the current fiscal year. 


1:45 PM


Policy Board of Directors - Clarence Watson and Eric Young 

  • The BAA Policy Board of Directors will meet Wednesday, July 20, 12:00 - 5:00 after the Joint COPS meeting adjourns.  One item of discussion will be revision of the current PBD Plan of Work (attached), any suggestions for changes will be appreciated. 
In meeting report: 
  • Clarence only received three responses about the PBD POW draft.  One was editorial, one wanted more specificity and measurability in the PBD’s goals, and the third asked why the PBD does not submit to the land-grant family an annual written report. The Board will meet on 7-20-16. 

1:55 PM


Budget & Legislative Committee   - Gary Thompson and Mike Harrington

In meeting report:

A response to the B&L letter to NIFA about concerns relating to the policy requiring prior approval for equipment purchases with capacity funds emanating from the OMB Guidance document was sent to Robert Holland and Cynthia Montgomery and a response has been received.   In the response the following was stated Authorizing statutes and appropriations laws trump all other
requirements. In the case of direct conflict between the Uniform Guidance and the authorizing statute, the authorizing statute prevails.”
Consequently, the B&L recommends that Cornerstone pursue the possibility of having relief on this based on the above which could provide a legislative fix.  The B&L Committee will send a letter to the BAC asking to have this trek considered. 

In summary, the B&L committee made the following points/recommendations:

  • Issues of concern – “Delaying Research Projects
    • 30-day turnaround at NIFA achievable?
    • Funds from other sources – capacity $$ <$5000
    • POW increases complexity
    • Recommendations:
      • Maintain flexibility in submission timing
      • AES Directors delegated approval authority

The results of the survey on recommendations for the next Farm Bill resulted in the following Overarching priorities:

  • Maintain and increase Capacity Funds
  • Maintain and increase AFRI to authorized level
  • Increase or fully fund all grants programs as authorized
  • Reduce the number of lines by combining small grants programs into AFRI
  • Seek addition partnerships outside NIFA

 New Program Ideas 

  • 1)Advanced energy technologies, 2) Antibiotic resistance, 3) Global water resources, 4) Big Data and food security, 5) Connect to the public / public education / youth, 6) Extreme events in agricultural production, 7) Aquaculture, 8) Graduate interdisciplinary training grant program, 9) Advanced technologies for precision agriculture, and 10) Regional integrated block grants   

2:10 PM


NRSP Review Committee Report  – Clarence Watson and Eric Young 

  • Discussion of NRSP's 1 nenewal Bill Brown and Jeff Jacobsen
In meeting report:

NRSP_temp11 National Research Data Network for Harmonized Data – rejected by the committee because of many problems and barriers and the project as proposed does not appear to be financially sustainable.  The committee agreed that revisions and proposal improvements were needed and will resubmit for consideration next year.

NRSP-8 is progressing well and thus the committee agreed that no changes are needed.

Bill Brown reported that a draft NRSP-1 is being reviewed and will be discussed by the NRSP-1 Management Committee next week as the current NRSP-1 (NIMSS and Impact Writer) expires in September, 2017. 

2:25 PM


Communications and Marketing Committee  - Rick Rhodes

In meeting report:

As Rick is now the ED for the North East, a new chair must continue in his stead until Bev Durgan takes over as the incoming chair.  The agenda brief described the work of the committee.  Number of twitter followers is impressive and Darrin Katz asks that we do better at sending stories from our stakeholders or about our work to him, Rick or Bev.  

2:40 PM


Science and Technology Committee  - Marikis Alvarez and Jeff Jacobsen

In meeting report:

The agenda brief provided the status of making sure all is in order for the presentation of the ESS Leadership awards at the APLU Annual Meeting.  The document for the call for the award and the information on the Multistate Award process were revised and provided. 

Discussion about next steps for the Bylaws relating to Assessments and Budgets were discussed.  As soon as possible proposed Rules of Operation changes will be sent by the EDs to their respective directors to prepare them for the vote on the proposed changes at the September meeting. 

In the agenda brief that all will receive in advance of the meeting, the proposed budget for the upcoming year will be provided for approval as will be the process henceforth if the Article VIII amendments are approved.  This budget will be presented by Bret as the ESCOP chair-elect as it will be the budget for his term in office.

Before sending the proposed budget that was in the current agenda briefs, Jeff will add a statement about …..’any expenses that exceed $5,000 must be approved by ESS.’  

2:45 PM


ESCOP budget discussion  - Bob Shulstad and Jeff Jacobsen

3:00 PM


Break - 3:00 - 3:30 PM in Yellow Rose (Second Floor)

3:30 PM


Update on Deferred Maintenance Committee Report  - Clarence Watson, Mike Harrington and Eric Young

In meeting report:

Although this report (draft) will be sent to the PBD, it will also be sent by the EDs to their regions’ deans and directors to solicit further input.  We were advised to reread the Sightlines Report as well.  This report will also be sent to the ESCOP CLP and the B&L.  One recommendation –“Seek full funding of indirect costs from all granting agencies. This should include USDA funding (AFRI, block grants) as well as private industry funding.” – this may not be too beneficial as the IDC funds we receive now primarily go back to other things, not for deferred maintenance.  It was made clear that matching requirement was not specified to be 1:1.  When considering where this requested new funding should be placed, the Farm Bill Committee should suggest appropriate options besides creating a grants program within NIFA.  

3:40 PM


ESCOP Diversity in Research Leadership Task Force  - Karen Plaut (with support from Charles Boyer, Ali Fares, Cynda Clary and Jeff Jacobsen)

In meeting report:

Please see agenda brief for the full report.  The Task Force recommended that to respond to results of the information that was gathered and found to be dismal, it is hoped that ESCOP/ESS will want to act to improve upon the diversity in research leadership.   In addition, the Task Force provided recommendations for ESS and individual directors that should be considered for implementation opportunities across: Recruitment and Mentoring, System Integration, and Training.  An overarching section on Best Practices provides other innovative ideas.  The key elements from the report are Priorities I, II, III from the agenda brief.  Conclusions – ESS should: 

  • Create a permanent ESS Diversity Catalyst Committee.
  • Support training for the Regional Executive Directors and the Assistant Directors. 
  • ESCOP leadership should participate in a diversity training activity followed by a training for ESS.

Bret made the following motion which was carried:  Create a permanent ESS Diversity Catalyst Committee that establishes goals, metrics, timelines, implementation activities, and continuity of practice with a rolling three-year plan to champion a long-term diversity and inclusion agenda.  It should be noted that funding for initiatives would probably be required, some of which could be through grants. 

4:10 PM


Updates on the big Initiatives:  

  • Water Security - Mike Harrington
  • Healthy Food Systems, Healthy People - Clarence Watson, Shirley Hymon-Parker, Eric Young

In meeting report: 

Mike expressed his dismay at being unable to discern in the NIFA RFAs if there are increasing funding opportunities for water security initiatives.  It had been the hope that the majority of the funding could go to regional initiatives with competitive proposals.  The frustration mostly however is that when working on big initiatives the transactional costs are very high and still there is the possibility/probability that the efforts do not result in much success.

Clarence reminded all that the HFSHP had resulted in a report and the funding piece still had to be presented by a committee.  This report will be presented at the PBD meeting on July 20th.  

4:25 PM


CARET Report - Becky Walth, CARET Liaison to ESCOP

In meeting report:

The CARET Executive Committee has met with AHS on the strategic plan and they find that meeting with AHS is extremely beneficial.  The “T” in CARET is for the teaching mission of land-grant universities and CARET feels this aspect is not as predominant as research and extension and would like more emphasis placed on it.  Bill 3856 has been introduced in the House and it proposes that lands that are considered federal surplus be sold and 15% of the proceeds be given to the respective land-grant institution(s).  Most active with BLM to do this are campuses in Arizona, Utah and Nevada. 

4:35 PM


Updates on 2016 ESS - NEDA joint meeting - Bret Hess and Mike Harrington

In meeting report:

After updates were provided it was asked what the process would be to determine if the joint meeting should be continued after this pilot meeting in 2016.  The decision from ESS would be made by ESCOP.  The 2017 ESS/SAES/ARD will be held in Pennsylvania as it is the turn of the North East to host the meeting and Gary Thompson will then be ESCOP chair.  

4:45 PM


ECOP Report  - Tony Windham

5:00 PM


Other items/Adjourn

The meeting was adjourned at 4:30 pm