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Board Minutes – September 2, 2015

South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium Board of Directors Meeting
September 2, 2015
President’s Conference Room – Randolph Hall 2nd Floor
The College of Charleston, Charleston, S.C.

Present at the Board Meeting were:

Board Members and Alternates

  • Col. Alvin Taylor, Director, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Board Chairman
  • Dr. David DeCenzo, President, Coastal Carolina University
  • Dr. Paul Gayes  Coastal Carolina University
  • Dr. Dennis Allen, University of South Carolina
  • Dr. John Weinstein, The Citadel
  • Dr. Bob Jones, Clemson University
  • Glenn McConnell, JD, President, College of Charleston
  • Dr. Michael Auerbach, College of Charleston
  • Mr. Robert Boyles, S.C. Department of Natural Resources
  • Dr. David Cole,  Medical University of South Carolina

NOAA National Sea Grant Site Visit Team

  • Sami Grimes, NOAA National Sea Grant Office (NSGO)
  • Dr. Paulinus Chigbu, NOAA National Sea Grant Advisory Board
  • Dr. Jim Eckman, Director, California Sea Grant College Program
  • Dr. Jim Murray, NOAA NSGO Deputy Director, Retired
  • Dr. Mary C. Watzin, Dean, College of Natural Resources, NCSU
  • Mr. Craig McLean, Assistant Administrator, Ocean and Atmospheric Research, NOAA

Consortium Staff

  • Mr. M. Richard DeVoe, Executive Director, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium
  • Ms. Susannah Sheldon, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium
  • Dr. Susan Lovelace, S.C. Sea Grant Extension Program
  • Ms. Elizabeth Vernon-Bell, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium
  • Mr. Ryan Bradley, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium
  • Ms. Annette E. Dunmeyer, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium
  • Ms. Susan Ferris Hill, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium
The Chairman, Col. Alvin Taylor called the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium Board of Directors Meeting to order at 3:35 pm. He thanked everyone for attending the meeting. He then asked everyone to introduce themselves. President McConnell welcomed everyone to the College of Charleston, and thanked everyone for attending the meeting as well. The Board approved the Board Minutes from last year’s Board Meeting in response to the motion made by Dr. Jones and seconded by Dr. Gayes. Col. Taylor then welcomed and gave special recognition to the NOAA National Sea Grant Site Visit Team for attending the meeting. Col. Taylor introduced Rick DeVoe, who then expressed his thanks to everyone for attending the Board Meeting; Mr. DeVoe also mentioned how grateful we were to have the National Sea Grant Site Visit Team join the Board Meeting. He then began to provide an overview of the status and activities of the Consortium.

  • Tab 1 – State Appropriation – Mr. DeVoe discussed the FY2015-16 State Budget Chart. He stated that the total budget/expenditures were $5,491,288.  He mentioned that in the state FY15-16 budget, the General Assembly appropriated state recurring funds to support the agency’s IT needs. He stated that the Governor included the Consortium in her State Executive Budget proposal for FY2016-17 and mentioned that over the past four years the Consortium’s state appropriation has increased 68 percent. Mr. DeVoe expressed how much he appreciated the help of the member institutions and our stakeholders who provided support in Columbia during the agency’s gubernatorial challenges. Mr. DeVoe closed by acknowledging Ryan Bradley, who did a great job in laying out the budget summary for Board members to review.
  • Tab 2 FY16 Sea Grant Appropriation – DeVoe stated that the FY16 federal budget has not been approved, as members of the Board were well aware. He stated that the President’s budget request for NOAA National Sea Grant College Program is $68.4 million, which represents level-funding, of which $4.5 million is targeted for aquaculture. The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee bill for FY16 contains $64.8 million for Sea Grant, of which $2 million is for aquaculture.  The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY16 Appropriations bill, which includes $72.8 million for Sea Grant, of which $10 million is for aquaculture, and up to $5 million is for red snapper data collection and monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Tab 3Audit Results – DeVoe reviewed the State Audit of the Consortium. He stated that the last audit of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium was performed in 2014, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, by the independent firm of Brown CPA, LLC, applying agreed-upon procedures under the auspices of the State Auditor’s Office. A copy of that audit, along with the Consortium’s response, was provided to the Consortium Board of Directors during its 2014 Board meeting. He also stated that the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium did not receive a formal audit review on behalf of the State this past fiscal year. Mr. DeVoe mentioned that the minor findings identified in last year’s report have been corrected and that the Consortium finance team continues to do a great job.  Dr. DeCenzo recommended that an audit for the Consortium be done this coming year. Mr. DeVoe stated that he will contact the State Audit office to make it happen.
  • Tab 4Consortium New Hires and Separations – DeVoe gave an update on the Consortium’s staff, including new hires and several separations. He stated because of staff changes each staff member has multiple roles to play. He indicated that the Consortium has 14 FTEs, which has been the case for many years.
  • Tab 5 – Sea Grant Core Program Plan 2015-2016 List of Projects – DeVoe reviewed the Consortium’s current slate of Sea Grant omnibus administrative and programmatic projects, referring specifically to the agency’s core program management and outreach funding, as well as its research and education funding.  He briefly described two of the efforts: Project No. R/ER-44 – “Development and Validation of a Novel Molecular Tool to Rapidly Detect and Quantify” by Greenfield at USC/SCDNR, and Project No. R/CH-4 – “Wind and Rain Resistance Design for Coastal Cross Laminated Timber Building” by Schiff et al at Clemson.
  • Tab 6 – Performance and Management Measures (FY11-12 to FY14-16) – DeVoe presented the results contained with the Performance and Management Measures chart. He pointed out that the Consortium currently has management 4 vacancies and 1 program specialist vacancy. Mr. DeVoe stated that the State Accountability Report, through which these data are presented to the state, is due on September 15, 2015. He also mentioned that the same platform for reporting that was use for the state is also used to satisfy our Federal performance measure reporting requirements.  Mr. DeVoe also stated that the Consortium’s Beach Sweep/River Sweep program, which is managed by the agency’s Communications Director, Susan Ferris Hill, and conducted jointly with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, doesn’t depend on any direct state appropriations or federal funds.
  • Tab 7 – Budget Performance and Efficiencies – DeVoe explained that he prepared this fact sheet on budget performance and efficiencies in response to the challenges the agency faced in Columbia, and found it useful for members of the General Assembly. He said that the agency’s state appropriations continued to grow during this time. The return on investment to the state over the last ten years (from 2005 to 2015) was 790%.
  • Tab 8 – Extramural Grants and Contracts Update and Status – DeVoe presented the listing of Program Grants that the Consortium successfully competed for during FY2014-15. He highlighted the program being funded by BOEM which involves faculty from CCU, USC, and C of C, the NOAA marine debris grant we received, which was featured recently in the Post and Courier, and the horseshoe crab research study which was funded with private sector funds.
  • Tab 9 – Recent Grants and Proposal Development – DeVoe stated that since the end of the FY14-15 fiscal year, the Consortium has remained active in preparing and submitting competitive proposals to funding agencies. He noted that the Consortium has a large proposal pending with NOAA regarding regional coastal resiliency (in partnership with the Charleston Resiliency Network). Col. Taylor commented on the marine debris renewal proposal, stating that the Consortium needs to let the public know when we get the grant, as it’s a big win. Mr. DeVoe acknowledged, stating that it is hard to get the media to acknowledge the organizations that make up these partnerships or who is providing the funding to do the work, but we need to build awareness of the great work that the Consortium is doing and supporting. Mr. DeVoe also stated that the Consortium specialist staff is becoming more than just extension specialists, as they serve in multiple capacities.
  • Tab 10Visioning Exercise – DeVoe thanked the Board for endorsing the Consortium’s Visioning Exercise. The purpose is to determine how the Consortium will be doing business in the next 20 years or so. He mentioned that the Consortium held focus group discussions with five groups with different topics – each group included between 10 to 15 people. He mentioned that over 75 people participated in the vision exercise to date, and the feedback in general was that the people felt that their time was well-spent. Mr. DeVoe stated that the Consortium’s Program Advisory Board met on August 6 and contemplated the agency’s vision at a higher level than the focus groups. The PAB discussion pointed out that the agency is missing the millennial, African-American, and Hispanic populations. Mr. DeVoe said that he wanted to further engage the Board into the visioning exercises, because of their leadership, and that they will have great advice.  He also thanked the National Sea Grant Office for supporting the Consortium in the visioning exercise.
  • Tab 11 – Revision to Consortium Indirect Cost Policy – DeVoe discussed how, under the new OMB supercircular, the Consortium may be able to charge a de minimus 10% for indirect cost when dealing with grants. He mentioned that he plans to bring an indirect cost proposal to the Board for approval.
  • Tab 12 – FY16-17 State Budget Request – DeVoe presented the budget request. The Consortium proposes to seek $40,000 in state recurring funds to cover the anticipated increase in costs for our office lease, and requested the Board to endorse the request. He stated that the Consortium has had a great relationship with our land lord since 1986, and that Sea Grant currently pays $10.60 per square foot, which is exceptionally low for our location and the quality of our space. Mr. DeVoe acknowledged Ryan Bradley, Michele Neff, and the State’s Office of Real Property for working hard in getting the Consortium’s lease renewed for another five years. Col. Taylor went back to the indirect cost policy endorsement. Dr. Jones moved and Dr. Allen seconded that the Board approve the indirect cost policy. Dr. Jones asked if the Consortium would have the ability to wave the 10% charge. Mr. DeVoe responded by saying yes, that the Board created the policy and the agency implements it as appropriate. He stated that the 10% waiver would be the agency’s decision and not the PI’s.  Col. Taylor then asked the Board approval the 10% policy, which it did unanimously. The Board then revisited the Consortium’s FY16-17 budget request. Dr. Jones motion for approval, Dr. Auerbach seconded, and the Board voted unanimously to approve.

National Sea Grant Site Visit Team – Consortium Board of Directors Session

  • Tab 13 – Overview – NOAA National Sea Grant College Program’s Site Review Team Procedures Manual – Sami Grimes discussed with the Board how the national Sea Grant Site Visit works. The Site Visit is conducted once every four years. NOAA looks at how the Program is managed. Ms. Grimes stated that the Consortium is unique in the Sea Grant network, being that we are a state agency and not directly tied to a university. She states how NOAA examines both stakeholder engagement and NOAA and agency collaborations and partnerships both locally and nationally. Ms. Grimes mentioned the Program Review Panel annual reports – which result from a review of the agency’s impacts, accomplishments and performance metrics tied to its strategic plan.

Col. Taylor made a comment to Ms. Grimes about how she mentioned how the Consortium is unique. Col. Taylor stated that the Consortium got through the tough times because of the way it is set up. Ms. Grimes responded by saying it is the culture of the Consortium that makes Sea Grant unique. Dr. Murray stated that he is convinced that the consortium model works well for Sea Grant.  Ms. Grimes stated that people go to Rick and his team to get problems solved. Mr. McLain stated that Sea Grant loyalty is across the board, from the stakeholders to the university partnerships. Col. Taylor said that everyone is working together for a common use; if Sea Grant goes under another agency will then be handcuffed to the vision they have. Dr. Gayes stated that if you help another program, your time will come. Mr. DeVoe responded by saying that the Consortium does not serve the Board or NOAA, but that it serves the Consortium members, our partners, and most importantly our stakeholders and constituencies.

Ms. Grimes concluded by stating that the National Sea Grant Site Visit Team will meet to give their recommendations and suggestions to us tomorrow.

  • Board Chairmanship – The Board elected Col Taylor as Chair of Board for another year, with Dr. Weinstein making the motion and Dr. Auerbach seconding it.
  • Executive Session – The Board then went into Executive Session.
  • Open Session – After returning from Executive Session, Col. Taylor stated that there was no action taken. The Board accepted the Agency Head evaluation and planning documents for Mr. DeVoe.   Taylor praised Mr. DeVoe and the Consortium staff for doing an excellent job. He stated that the Board appreciates his leadership. The Board thanked Rick for all he does for the institution and the State. Mr. DeVoe then thanked the Board for sponsoring the Networking Event.
  • Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned 5:12 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by
Annette E. Dunmeyer