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Board Minutes – December 10, 2019

South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium Board of Directors Meeting
December 10, 2019
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

  • Dr. Harris Pastides, President, University of South Carolina, Board Chairman
  • Mr. Robert Boyles, Interim Director, S.C. Department of Natural Resources
  • Dr. Paul Gayes, Director, CMWS, Coastal Carolina University
  • Dr. Bob Jones, VP and Provost, Clemson University (via Webinar)
  • Dr. Sebastian van Delden, Dean, School of Science and Mathematics, College of Charleston
  • Col. Darin T. Zimmerman, Dean, School of Science and Mathematics, The Citadel

Consortium Staff

  • Mr. M. Richard DeVoe, Executive Director
  • Dr. Susan Lovelace, Assistant Director for Development and Extension
  • Mr. Ryan Bradley, Assistant to the Director for Administration
  • Ms. Annette E. Dunmeyer, Executive Assistant/Office Manager
  • Ms. Susan Ferris Hill, Director of Communications
  • Mr. Joey Holleman, Science Writer
  • Ms. Crystal Narayana, Web Developer/Graphic Designer​

1. Opening Remarks by the Chair

Chairman Pastides called the meeting to order at 10:01 am. He thanked everyone for attending and briefly commented the Site Visit results. He them invited everyone to introduce themselves. The Board unanimously approved the agenda; Mr. Robert Boyles 1st motion; 2nd motion by Dr, Sebastian.

2. Review/Approval of Minutes of December 18, 2018 Meeting

Due to an oversight, review and approval of the minutes was handled by the Board near the end of the meeting.

3. State-of-the-Consortium Update

Mr. DeVoe started his presentation by mentioning the Mission statement of the Consortium. “Generate and apply science-based information on issues and opportunities to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal and marine resources to foster a sustainable economy and environment.” He also discussed the organization of the Consortium, and that S.C. Sea Grant is a nationally certified Sea Grant College Program under the auspices of the National Sea Grant College Program, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce. Dr. Pastides informed Mr. DeVoe that USC Spartanburg name has been changed to USC Upstate; Mr. DeVoe acknowledged and stated that the correction will be made.

Mr. DeVoe’s discussion the Consortium Strategic Plan Areas for FY18-21 and mention that the Board has a role in the development of the Consortium’s Strategic Plan. He mentioned the agency’s Impact and Accomplishment. He stated that 58 in total were reported; 6 impacts
and 52 accomplishments. He reviewed the “By the Numbers’ FY2018-19 flyer, and mentioned that the Consortium brought in $1,802,795 in leveraged funds, a 248% return on state’s investment. He also referred to the Consortium’s Volunteer Stewardship work; 3,156 volunteer hours completed; Beach Sweep/River Sweep is a model program. Subsequent research conducted at The Citadel and USC is based on the data and results of the Beach Sweep/River Sweep program.

4. National Sea Grant Site Review

Mr. DeVoe stated that the National Sea Grant Site Review was held on August 6-8, 2019, and that the Sea Grant Consortium has met the Standards of Excellence expected of Sea Grant College Programs, primarily because the agency employs people who care. He briefly mentioned the success of the Sea Grant Site Visit, and asked the Board to read the Summary Report, the Director’s Response, and Future Actions at their leisure. Mr. DeVoe also acknowledged the three Best Management Practices that the National Sea Grant Site Review Team identified. He thanked the Board for their participation and contributions during the Site Visit.

5. Consortium Program Specialist Update

Mr. DeVoe introduced Dr. Susan Lovelace, who then welcomed the Board, and presented a slide presentation on the premium program partnerships. She stated that in 2019 that Sea Grant gave an overview of the Program. She mentioned that in 2019, the Consortium, working in partnership with our constituents, built capacity for communities and researchers to become more resilient. Dr. Lovelace stated that an advisory group was developed, the group assess what the needs were, etc. She mentioned the Consortium’s work with City of Folly Beach, which is based on previous work there. After Sea Grant assisted the City of Folly Beach in developing their Sea Level Plan, Sea Grant engaged with the City to begin to develop policy to protect property owners, residents, and natural resources in the future. Flood vulnerability maps, public engagement, sea level rise education, and other technical assistance provided residents, planning commissions and city council members with information and resources to enhance environmental literacy and allowed the community to pass new beach front management and march management council.

She mentioned another example; in this case working with the City of Beaufort, S.C. She stated that after previous work with the city to develop their Sea Level Rise Plan, the city again asked for assistance to determine potential exposure vulnerability to flood hazards. The Consortium, working with faculty and students at the College of Charleston and the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments at the USC, developed high-resolution tidal and precipitation-based flood models specific for the Beaufort.

In another example, Dr. Lovelace described a suite of activities undertaken by Consortium staff to provide training and education to stormwater planners and engineers, homeowners association, stormwater pond managers, and local decision-makers. From this project a Stormwater Ponds State of Knowledge report has been completed.

Another project mentioned was the establishing a training program for realtors regarding climate change and sea level rise. Consortium staff worked with the coastal regional realtor associations to launch “Calling the Coast Home” training courses for realty professionals in 2020. The training consists of a four-courses series. Dr. van Delden asked if they is a charge for the courses? Dr. Lovelace said not for Sea Grant, but that the realtors charge their members. She added that all the slides and materials have a Sea Grant Consortium logos on them. She mentioned that after the participants complete the coursework, they will become Coastal Certified. The courses are being reviewed by the S.C. Real Estate Commission and are expected to be offered by the Association in early spring 2020.

Dr. Lovelace also mentioned that the Consortium will be working with partners at South Carolina State University to focus work with farmers with small, mostly vegetable operations impacted by hurricane flooding in recent years to improve storm outcomes for their farms and families. She mentioned that with funding from Sea Grant, a large workshop with be organized and held. Dr. Pastides asked Dr. Lovelace “Did the farmers came to you?” She answered, “I have been looking for a partner, however, we met at a conference.” Mr. DeVoe stated that Sea Grant has been trying to connect with S.C. State University for a while and finally “something hatched.”

Finally, Dr. Lovelace briefly mentioned the Consortium’s work with resilient tourism. The Consortium intends to solicit small proposals from investigators in the coastal tourism programs at the USC-Beaufort and the College of Charleston to conduct work that seeks to advance sustainable coastal tourism. The Resilient Tourism program will target college freshmen.

Dr. Pastides asked if there were any questions for Dr. Lovelace. There were no questions.

6. Consortium By-Laws

Dr. Pastides thanked Dr. DeCenzo and Dr. Jones for their work on the proposed By-Laws update. During the discussion of the By-Law proposed changes, Dr. Pastides mentioned that having a Vice Chairman might be appropriate. Mr. Clark added by asking if the Board of Directors meeting can be electronic? Mr. DeVoe mentioned that the Board only meets once a year in person, but electronic participation is permissible. Dr. Pastides confirmed that both electronic and present are allowed. Mr. DeVoe said that there was a minor suggestion change to the By-Law under Article III – Officers, the change was to amend the By-Laws to state that the Vice Chairman will move into the Chairman Role’s tenure upon completion of the Chair’s tenure. Dr. Pastides opened the floor for discussion of the amendment to the By- Laws. Dr. Pastides asked if there were any other changes to the By-Laws? There were no other changes. Dr. DeCenzo suggested that By-Laws be approved. Mr. Robert Boyles motioned to adopt the amendment to the By-Laws; Dr. Sebastian seconded the approval. The Board unanimously approved.

7. Budget Overview and Audit Findings and Responses, and Action Items

Mr. DeVoe introduced Ryan Bradley, Assistant Director of Administration, to discuss this section of the agenda. Mr. Bradley presented an overview of the audits.

The South Carolina Office of the State Auditor conducted an audit and provided a report on June 30, 2018. He mentioned that there were two minor findings. With the first (Cash Disbursements/Non-Payroll Expenditures), the applicable monthly purchase summary was found not to be signed by the cardholder for one of the five purchasing card transactions. And the second (Reporting Packages), the Consortium submitted the Master Reporting Checklist one business day late.

The State of South Carolina Statewide Single Audit report was submitted on June 30, 2018. The number of Audit findings decreased from five to three findings. Dr. Pastides stated it is important that the Board have input regarding the findings of the audit. He then mentioned that Mr. Bradley’s new approach is good, but if it doesn’t work, then Sea Grant needs to spend the money to resolve the findings. He re-emphasized that he wants to make sure that the Board is informed of the audit. Dr. Pastides said not to overlook small findings. Dr. Pastides asked Mr. Bradley if the auditor requested a meeting with the Board; Mr. Bradley said, no. Dr. Pastides seemed surprised that the auditor didn’t want to meet with the Board. Dr. Pastides wants to clarify the findings with auditor. Dr. DeCenzo stated that they should be a letter from the auditor that corrective action has been taken regarding the findings. Dr. DeCenzo asked Mr. Bradley if he got a management letter to the Board; Dr. Pastides suggested that the Board would like to meet with the auditor.

8. Information Technology and Disaster Recovery

Mr. Bradley discussed the Consortium Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan. He explained that the plan provided progress made over the past year to continue ensuring SCSGC business-critical systems remain safeguarded and, when possible, operational before, during, and after a disruptive event. He stated that upon hiring a new IT Resource Manager (Chris Carr), Consortium Administration has begun to lay the groundwork for a transition to update/upgrade our in-house on-site servers and storage. The plan includes: Phone Systems, Website Hosting, Administrative Network, Email, and Data Storage Backup.

9. Consortium FY20-21 State Budget Request

Mr. DeVoe reviewed the FY20-21 Agency Budget Plan. He mentioned the S.C. Senate Oversight Committee’s review of the Consortium in Columbia; a draft report has been prepared by the subcommittee and was presented to the full committee, but no action has yet to take place. Topics included in their report include Senate committee jurisdiction over the Consortium, roles and responsibilities of the Board of Directors, and agency visibility. Mr. DeVoe also mentioned that the overall budget for national Sea Grant Omnibus was for four years, He reviewed the research programs that were selected for funding. He reviewed the Consortium’s funding levels in the Governor’s Executive Budget in the last six Fiscal Years. The Consortium’s state recurring appropriation increased 32% thanks to the S.C. General Assembly during that time. Mr. DeVoe then asked the Board if they would agree to adopt the Biennial Financials for Sea Grant College Research Support. 1st motion was made by Dr. Gayes; 2nd motion was Robert Boyles, and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. DeVoe mentioned that Sea Grant has budgeted $20,000 for the Margaret A. Davidson Scholarship Program, with the support of the Board. Rick also mentioned that fact that Sea Grant has requested the conversion of three Temporary Grant Employees into Full-Time Employees, so that when their term at Sea Grant is over, they will not lose their annual or sick leave. The Board then endorsed the support of the two state budget requests unanimously, after being moved by Mr. Robert Boyles and seconded by Dr. Bob Jones.

10. Budget Trends

Mr. Bradley explained the Budget Appropriations for FY18-19 and FY19-20. and stated that the Consortium’s annual return-on-investment. He stated that Sea Grant is building capacity (through re-staffing over the past five year). He also mentioned that the Consortium did not request additional state appropriations for FY19-20. Dr. van Delden asked “if the Omnibus budget ever changes.” Mr. Bradley answered, when it does, it is on a four-year cycle. He added that Sea Grant received $1.3 million in each of the last two years. However, in 2022, we do not expect to see changes in the budget.

11. Election of Board Chair

Dr. Pastides stated the need to select a chair was at hand. The Sea Grant Staff presented an appreciation gift to Dr. Pastides for serving as the S. C. Sea Grant Board Chairman for the past two terms. Dr. Pastides kindly accepted the gift, and thanked everyone for their support while he served his terms. Dr. Van Delden then nominated Dr. Clark, President of S.C. State University, to serve as the Chairman, with the motion made by Dr. van Delden, and a second by Mr. Robert Boyles. Dr. Pastides stated that Mr. James Clark has been serving as the Vice Chair. The Board then unanimously voted for both President Clark to serve as Chair, and Dr. Jones to serve as Vice Chair, after a motion by Mr. Robert Boyles and a second by Dr. van Delden.

12. Executive Session

The Board moved into Executive Session to discuss personnel matters.

13. Reconvene Board Meeting

The Board meeting was reconvened with no action being taken or necessary. A motion was then requested by Dr. Pastides to bring this Board of Directors meeting to a close; Dr. DeCenzo made the motion, Robert Boyles provided the second.

The meeting was then adjourned at 1:20 pm.

Respectfully submitted by
Annette E. Dunmeyer