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INRS Administrative Retreat

October 3, 2008

Attending: Brian Anderson, Don McKay, Gary Miller, Asghar Mirarefi, Bill Shilts, Steve Wald, Angie Wisehart
Discussion Items:

  1. Comprise new Illinois Board of Natural Resources and Conservation (IBNRC); set first meeting date

  2. Mission and Vision statements

  3. Discuss meaning of the word “Sustainability”

  4. Role of ISTC

  5. Structure of INRS office

  6. Major scientific issues over the next year, 5 year span, and 10 year span

  7. Distribute resources, purpose of financing the Surveys

  8. Relationship with various Institutes, Schools, and Departments across campus

  9. Relationship with Office of Sustainability

  10. Major transition issues still pending, ie., classifications will need to be restructured in order for the Surveys to thrive

  11. Augmentation of student research and participation in Surveys – how to generate dollars

  12. Funding prospects – in particular non-traditional prospects

  13. Types of events the Institute should be sponsoring, locally or otherwise

  14. Documents to indicate operability among the Surveys

  15. List of programs the Surveys have worked on that have national and international significance, ie., Water Supply Security

  16. What is Bill’s role and how will it relate to future Executive Directors?

These items are not in any particular order.

Bill – We can’t talk about the future unless we know where the Surveys have been. Bill has been meeting with the different Sections at each Survey. He is a Survey person and has had the background and interest for 50 years – some staff he has met with have not realized that. There is very little that Bill knows that he won’t share with the staff. Brian is getting positive feedback from his staff on the meetings.
Bill – The Institute will facilitate what the Surveys do. It is not a feasible model to think of only the Institute.

  1. IBNRC

The first meeting will take place on December 1. The Chancellor’s Office is hosting a

dinner celebrating the formation of INRS that evening. The initial Board will comprise the previous BNRC. Bill will write a letter to the Board members inviting them to the first meeting.

The first agenda item for the Board will be to discuss expanding the Board membership; Bill believes one or two from State government agencies should attend, ie., DNR, IEPA, DCEO, IDOT, as well as one or two from non-governmental organizations. There should also be one or two from the private sector and local government (including Chicago). There should also be Campus representation, possibly one or two Deans.
Brian and Don would like to see a member from IDOT on the Board right away because of their interactions with the Surveys. Perhaps Associate Deans for Research should be asked to serve as well.
Steve mentioned possibly asking someone from a Foundation within Illinois to serve.
Bill wants to make sure the Board members bring real value to the Institute.

- Bill will write letter to Board inviting them to December 1 meeting.

- Angie will confirm Board meeting on Vice Chancellor Iyer’s calendar.

  1. Mission and Vision Statements


To provide objective integrated scientific research and service, in cooperation with other academic and research units of the University of Illinois and elsewhere, that allow citizens and decision-makers to make choices that assure sustainable economic development and enduring environmental quality for the people, businesses, and governments of Illinois.


In providing our citizens with proactive research to assure wise and sustainable management of Illinois’ natural resources, the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability will serve as a national and international model of cooperative, multidisciplinary research and service as a key to economic development and environmental quality. The integration of multidisciplinary, natural resource research institutions with a major University is a unique opportunity that will continue to be an example for the nation and the world.


- Angie will give statements to web committee to post on website.

  1. INRS office

Currently, Bill, Steve, and Angie are in the INRS Office. Steve’s appointment is still within the Geological Survey. He continues and will continue to carry out duties within the Geological Survey, but an appointment needs to be created for him within the Institute. A job description is being drafted for Steve’s position.
Brian indicated it is important to keep support staff close to the researchers at each of the Surveys. Bill wants to see things flow up from the Surveys; not down from the Institute.
Don has seen a growth in collaborations among the Surveys since the transition.
Brian’s staff would like to see the Institute hire a Development Director. Gary believes the position needs to be carefully defined. Steve indicated we need someone who is familiar with the University and the Surveys. Gary suggested making it an attractive position by making it a 3-year position. Bill would like to see this person bringing in big money and potentially enough to construct a building big enough to house everyone. That may be 5-10 years down the road. Bill could see the possible funding of the building as: 1/3 – donor; 1/3 – State; 1/3 – University.
Bill – Our constituents have connections. We need to have a plan to cover State funding and finance what the Surveys do. In order for the Surveys to succeed we need to have a plan in place so people don’t have to rely on strictly grants and contracts.
Asghar suggested an annual fund drive. There have been small fund drives among the Surveys in the past, but holding one, big annual drive could be beneficial to everyone within the Institute.
Bill will be meeting with the Vice Chancellor soon to discuss the organizational structure of the INRS administrative office.
Bill indicated a strategic plan needs to be created for the Institute. The Geological Survey’s plan from 2005 is a good example.
Bill will control hiring of major positions at the Surveys on State money. If someone leaves he wants to know why they are leaving and who the Surveys plan to replace that person with.
Bill will also make decisions about space and facility planning.
Bill wants to eventually have enough money in the Institute to help fund major initiatives.
Gary mentioned ISTC does not have any faculty affiliated with them, but ISTC is affiliated with other departments. There is huge potential and it could allow staff to have appointments in other departments across campus.

- Bill will present his vision of the INRS office to the Vice Chancellor at his next staff meeting.

- Division Directors should create an Annual Report for each of their Surveys. The report

should not be longer than 5 pages with minimal graphics. A pie chart can be included. Don

indicated his staff is already well along on their report which will be longer.

  1. Issues on the horizon (in no particular order)


    1. adapting to climate change (all)

    2. molecular (DNA) monitoring and management

    3. protection and restoration of aquatic habitats (all)

    4. fragmentation of ecosystems

    5. invasive species control resulting from globalization and climate change

    6. CARA; State Wildlife Grants (SWG) – increased funding

    7. biodiversity conservation


  1. biofuels


  1. technology assessment

  2. industrial sustainability

Water Survey

  1. climate modeling

  2. watershed management

  3. hydrology of large rivers

  4. groundwater support of native biota


  1. carbon sequestration

  2. geoinformatics, 3D modeling, and data serving

  3. fossil fuel development and management


  1. ecosystems services

  2. water and energy

  3. water planning

  4. urban redevelopment associated with Olympics

  5. global campus/continuing education

  6. interoperability of databases and informatics

  7. modeling (in cooperation with NCSA)

  8. orphan science (knowledge capture from retiring boomers)

  9. megacity science

  10. cybertechnology applications

  1. Sustainability

Brian feels this word creates opportunity, funding, energy, and public interest, and the University zeroed in on that. Bill feels sustainability has to include the possibility of a nonsustainable resource or bridge technologies to get us from where we are to something more sustainable. Bill also feels it is important to keep objectivity even with the word “sustainable” in our name. If the Surveys keep going the way they have been we’ll be very successful. Steve indicated major companies are going after the name as well, ie., ADM, BP.

  1. Office of Sustainability

There are two objectives for this office: 1) engage students in sustainability projects on campus, and 2) help the campus become more energy efficient. It is campus-focused.
Gary believes ISTC will have a lot of interaction with the Office of Sustainability. Dick Warner could potentially help find funding.

  1. Miscellaneous Discussion/Action Items

Bill would like the Directors to think about our relationship with community colleges, ie., Lewis and Clark, DuPage, and Parkland.
The AAAS 2009 Annual Meeting will take place in Chicago in February 2009. Don Keefer mentioned to Bill the idea of putting up a booth. Is that something we should do?
A lot was discussed at the retreat and everyone agreed this type of meeting should take place on a quarterly basis.

- Angie will schedule quarterly retreats through 2009.

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