Board Minutes – November 29, 2021
South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium Board of Directors Meeting
College of Charleston
Present at the Board Meeting were:
Attendees (Board Members or Official Representatives)
- Dr. Bob Jones – Clemson University
- Mr. Robert Boyles – SCDNR
- Dr. Sebastian VanDelden – College of Charleston
- Dr. Darrin Zimmerman – The Citadel
- Dr. Michael Benson – Coastal Carolina
- Col. Alexander Conyers – S.C. State University – (Virtual-Zoom)
- Dr. James Morris – USC – (Virtual-Zoom)
- Dr. Alexander Alekseyonko – MUSC
- Dr. Daniel Dukes – Francis Marion University (Guest)
- Dr. Peter King – Francis Marion University (Guest)
- Ms. Jennifer Taylor – Francis Marion University (Guest)
Attendees (S.C. Sea Grant Consortium Staff)
- Dr. Susan Lovelace
- Mr. Ryan Bradley
- Mr. Louis Heyward
- Mr. Matthew Gorstein
- Ms. Elizabeth Bell
- Ms. Marlena Davis
- Dr. Brita Jessen
- Mrs. Susan Ferris Hill
- Ms. Susannah Sheldon (Virtual – Zoom)
The Fall, 2021 meeting of the South Carolina Sea Grant Board of Directors was held on Monday, November 29, 2021 in the President’s Conference Room (Randolph Hall), on the campus of the College of Charleston. Prior to the meeting being called to order, attendees were greeted by College of Charleston president Dr. Andrew Hsu. Dr. Hsu extended a hearty welcome to all, and expressed his regrets in not being able to stay for the meeting.
Following the establishment of a quorum, the meeting was called to order at 10:08 a.m. by the chairman, Dr. Bob Jones, following which, introductions were made by Board members, S.C. Sea Grant staff, and invited guests. The invited guests included Dr. Peter King, Ms. Jennifer Taylor, and Mr. Daniel Dukes, all of Francis Marion University.
After the introductions, business was conducted as follows:
It was move by Mr. Robert Boyles, and seconded by Dr. Darrin Zimmerman to adopt the agenda as presented. It was then moved by Mr. Boyles and seconded by Dr. Sebastian VanDelden to approve the minutes of the September 30, 2020 Board of Directors meeting with the necessary corrections. Both of these motions carried with unanimous votes.
The State of the Consortium Updates were given by staff members of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, beginning with an overview by Executive Director Dr. Susan Lovelace. In her overview, Dr. Lovelace stated the Mission and Vision of the Consortium, and gave details regarding the National Site Review, as well as informed the Board of the Community-Engaged Interns Program, which is set to be launched in summer, 2022, and the Margaret Davidson Fellows Program, which is set to be launched in January, 2023. Dr. Lovelace also provided several administration updates, and provided updates on impacts and accomplishments of several Sea Grant initiatives, including healthy coastal ecosystems, sustainable coastal development and economy, weather and climate resilience, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and literacy.
Several Board members inquired about Sea Grant’s Program Advisory Board (PAB). This included a question from Dr. Sebastian Van Delden regarding the purpose of the PAB, as well as a question from Dr. Darrin Zimmerman regarding whether or not there was representation from every consortium member on the PAB. Dr. Lovelace outlined the roles and responsibilities of the PAB, and indicated she would look into its composition.
Following her overview, the members of the Board commended Executive Director Dr. Lovelace for her leadership, and also commended the entire Sea Grant Board for the work they have accomplished during this transition period.
Summaries of other Consortium efforts were given by staff. These included an overview of the DEI work plan by Ms. Elizabeth Bell and Ms. Marlena Davis, an overview of the Consortium’s Extension programs by Mr. Matthew Gorstein, and an overview of the Agency’s Interdisciplinary Research and Partnerships efforts by Dr. Brita Jessen.
Ms. Davis and Ms. Bell expounded on the Agency’s DEI efforts which include among other things, the posting of the Diversity statement on the Agency’s website, quarterly staff trainings, employee and workforce development, bilingual initiative, and the development of a fellowships, scholarships and internships pipeline.
Dr. Michael Benson inquired whether any metrics or analytical data regarding minority faculty members at the various Consortium institutions was collected. Dr. Lovelace noted that no such data is currently being collected.
The Board members commended the staff for their DEI work, and thanked them for being proactive in their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts.
Extension updates by Mr. Matthew Gorstein included summaries of the Agency’s Community Resilience to Climate Hazards Program, the Local Sustainable Seafood Program, the Agency’s Capacity Building, and the Gullah Geechee Seafood Trail Initiative.
Chairman Jones inquired whether the Agency had made any efforts or had entertained the idea of working more closely with the South Carolina State Extension programs. Mr. Gorstein responded that The Agency was beginning to make in-roads with S.C. State prior to the COVID19 outbreak, but interactions have been at a standstill since the shutdown. Both Mr. Gorstein and Dr. Lovelace acknowledged that they are making efforts to resume discussions with S.C. State as well as investigate new engagement avenues with the University.
Mr. Robert Boyles saluted the Extension Staff for their outreach efforts, and for bringing their resources to the communities (especially in the McClellanville area), and the rest of the Board members concurred.
Dr. Brita Jessen updated the Board on her efforts as Interdisciplinary Research and Partnerships Lead. These included efforts on prioritizing resilience of the coastline, conservation financing, strategic doing, and the announcement of the First Annual Sea Grant Research Symposium.
Dr. VanDelden proposed questions regarding the REconnect Symposium in February, and Dr. Jessen referred this question to Ms. Bell who gave an update regarding that Symposium.
Regarding the Research Symposium, Dr. Alexander Alekseyonko encouraged the staff and Symposium planners to make sure they engage the Sea Grant Alumni in this endeavor. Also regarding the Research Symposium, Chairman Jones gave kudos to the Staff not only for planning such a venture, but also for planning so far in advance.
Staff updates continued with a financials update by Mr. Ryan Bradley. Mr. Bradley noted that the Agency only underwent one procedural audit since the last Board Meeting, and no major issues were noted during this audit. Mr. Bradley then invited the Board members to refer to the fiscal year budget on page 31 in the briefing book, and he also noted that the Agency is requesting funds to support two full time state positions.
Mr. Robert Boyles moved to approve the 2021-2022 budget as presented, and this motion was seconded by Dr. Benson. The motion was carried by a unanimous vote.
The discussion ensued regarding a timetable as it relates to the creation and approval of future Sea Grant budgets. It was agreed that the Board needs to meet earlier in the year to work on the budget. Mr. Boyles moved that the chairman be allowed to act on the behalf of the Board and approve the budget, should it need approving before the Board meets. This motion was seconded by Dr. M. Benson. However, after some discussion, this motion was withdrawn.
The question arose as to whether votes on the budget can be made via email, as opposed to written or “in person” as the bylaws states. Dr. Michael Benson noted that the bylaws need to be amended to clarify voting procedures.
Additionally, in discussions regarding the bylaws, it was agreed that the position of vice chair needs to be included in the document.
Continuing his updates, Mr. Bradley informed the Board of the Agency’s 1) continuity plan, 2) offsite backup procedures, and 3) server update.
Dr. Lovelace thanked Mr. Bradley for the role he played in helping hold the Agency together during the many challenges associated with staff changes and COVID19.
Dr. Lovelace initiated the discussion of the collection of Board demographic information (Board audit), and stated that she would send out a request to the Board members to self-report on their respective agencies related to this matter.
Dr. Peter King, Provost at Francis Marion University, addressed the Board and stated the University’s desire and interest in becoming a member of the Consortium. Speaking on behalf of Francis Marion president Dr. Luther Carter, Dr. King stated that the University can bring new insights and support to the Consortium, especially since they have a unique point of view as the sole institution representing the Pee Dee Area.
The business of the Board continued with the election of officers. Chairman Jones offered to serve another year as chair of the Board for continuity’s sake. Mr. Boyles thanked Dr. Jones for his work and dedication to the Board and then moved that Dr. Jones serve another term as chair. This motion was seconded by Dr. Zimmerman, and this nomination was accepted by acclimation.
Chairmen Jones then nominated Mr. Robert Boyles to serve as vice chair of the Board of Directors. This was seconded by Dr. Benson, and Mr. Boyles was elected vice chair by acclimation.
Following the elections, it was moved by Mr. Boyles and seconded by Dr. VanDelden for the Board to move into executive session.
Following the executive session, the board meeting reconvened, and the final act of business included a motion by Dr. Benson to accept Francis Marion University as the ninth member of the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium. This motion was seconded by Mr. Boyles and the motion was carried unanimously. Following a hearty welcome to Francis Marion University by all present, the meeting was adjourned at 12:18 pm by Chairman Jones.
Louis D. Heyward, Sr.
Executive Assistant/Office Manager
S.C. Sea Grant Consortium