Minutes of the Meeting of the Policy Council

Of the

System Dynamics Society

28 July 2002

Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, Palermo, Sicily



In Attendance


James Hines (President), David Andersen (V.P. Finance), Robert Eberlein (V.P. Meetings and President Elect), and David Packer (Secretary)


Policy Council:

Carol Francis, Andreas Groessler 



Allen Boorstein, Carmine Bianchi, Bob Cavana, Brian Dangerfield (Executive Editor, System Dynamics Review), Issac Dyner, Ibrahim Hussney, Nicholas Georgantas, Hironi Kurno, Peter Milling, Ozga Pala, Habib Sedehi, Roberta Spencer (Executive Director), Ginny Wiley


Call to Order

President Jim Hines called the meeting to order at 9:05am, welcoming participants, leading a round of introductions, and reviewing the agenda.


Agenda Items


·       Executive Director’s Report: Roberta Spencer.  Roberta commented on key areas of her responsibility, all covered extensively in the written report. She noted that this year there is a brief executive summary as well as a very comprehensive report on all aspects of Home Office operations. Membership is now at 836.  Peter Milling inquired as membership turnover; Roberta said that tracking of this statistic will be started.  David Andersen reviewed the Wiley arrangement regarding finances (the society receives $10 from each $90 membership as well as royalty payments for System Dynamics Review sales). David noted that if the Home Office takes over more of the work Wiley is doing in processing membership transactions, the Society’s costs would increase but revenue would not. Bob Cavana suggested considering increasing dues to $100, with the Society receiving $20 of this. [Complete report]


·       Report of the Vice President-Finance: David Andersen reviewed the three business of the Society:  Product Sales which make money, Core Operations that loses money, and Conferences which can be uncertain and variable.  His latest projection for 2002 is that the year will end with a $36,000 deficit, consistent with the previous projection at the February 2002 meeting.  The budget proposed for 2003 is for another deficit, this time $38,000.  He believes we are seeing a structural deficit that results from Home Office staff expansion of fixed costs that are necessary to support increased conference management requirements, web development and operations, and other activities of a growing society.  These costs are growing more rapidly than revenues.  The good news is that our cash reserves provide a substantial buffer and time to solve the basic issue of creating a sustainable business structure.


Both David Andersen and Jim Hines stressed that this situation is a major concern and that the Policy Council has the responsibility to deal with it.  Current initiatives in this area are the Task Force headed by Jack Pugh to explore the Wiley relationship and identify changes that would benefit the society and the Task Force headed by David Peterson to identify long term issues of sustainability, both chartered at the February 2002 Policy Council meeting.  Andreas Groessler and Issac Dyer volunteered to be a part of the latter Task Force; David Peterson will send out the information to them.


Another issue that may be at play in this unfavorable trend is that the Home Office support and management of conferences (which used to be done by volunteers and for which financial responsibility lay with the conference host). This may be “shifting the burden” by diffusing responsibility, resulting in higher costs than necessary.


David Andersen also made the point that the Executive Director is charged to manage to the plan approved by the Policy Council and should not feel responsible for “solving” our deficit problem.  The deficit problem is a Policy Council problem to solve, and it is urgent we do so over the next several years.


David Anderson moved and Brian Dangerfield seconded a motion to approve the proposed 2003 budget.  This motion was approved unanimously.

Report of the Vice President - Finance
Budget Trends: 1996-2004
Audited Report for 2001
Budget Comparison, First Six Months 2002
Profit and Loss Comparison, First Six Months 2002
Profit and Loss by Cost Centers, First Six Months 2002
Budgeted Staffing Plan 2000 - 2003
Budget for 2003
Budget for 2003 by Cost Centers

·       Report of the Vice President-Meetings:  Bob Eberlein reviewed the status of conferences:


·       2001-- Atlanta was a very successful conference with attendance of over 350 and a profit of about $32,000.


·       2002-- Palermo attendees number about 350.  Costs have been a problem and some major changes have occurred.  Bob projects that this conference will lose $20,0000 to $50,000. 


·       2003--New York City. The Roosevelt Hotel has been chosen as the site; planning appears on track.  Nicholas Georgantas made clear that WPI is the sponsor for this conference and that Fordham University is the “local co-host”.  Fordham is generously providing parking support, audio-visual for break-out rooms, and may be an option for the reception.


·       2004—Oxford/Keble College.  Also on track and going well.


·       2005—Slated for North America.  The two sites submitting proposals are Anchorage, Alaska (Henry Cole) and Las Vegas, NV (Krystyna Stave).   A brief presentation was given on each of these venues.


Anchorage (Henry Cole):  Henry discussed the possiblity of a sustainable development issues focus, critical to the area, possible funding from University of Alaska and other sources, good weather in July, and excellent venue possibility (Captain Cook Hotel), and direct flights from Frankfurt for European participants.


Las Vegas (Krystyna Stave):  Krystana noted that Las Vegas has low costs (rooms are $65-$100), many possibilities for venues, weekend trips (like Grand Canyon), and excellent air-conditioning for summer heat.


Discussion included a concern about costs and the need for a head to head comparison, and the need for a low cost option.  Ginny Wiley suggested that proposals include specifics of on-site support (to reduce Home Office costs).  David Anderson requested that proposals be pre-reviewed and rated by the Home Office before sending out.


2005 proposals will be reviewed at the Winter Policy meeting with a final vote at the July 2003 Policy Council in New York City.


·       2006—Preliminary candidates are Egypt and Switzerland (University of St. Gallen).



·       Conference Program Guidelines Proposal:  Bob Eberlein moved and David Anderson seconded a motion to approve this proposal which has been available on the web for some time.  It establishes standards which reduce the flexibility now available to program chairs, but which are intended to improve quality and consistency.  After brief discussion, the motion carried unanimously. [Conference Program Guidelines]



·       Program Chair Proposal: Bob Eberlein moved and Ginny Wiley seconded a motion that conference proposals include naming a Conference Chair and a Program Chair to create a team that works together; replacing the current practice where the President Elect automatically becomes the Program Chair.  After brief discussion, the motion passed unanimously.  This structure will be implemented in 2004 with the agreement of Jonathon Coyle for the UK conference and in proposals for 2005 and beyond.


·       Publication Reports:


·       Systems Dynamics Review: Brian Dangerfield, Executive Editor, reported a healthy backlog, with current time from submission to publication about one year.  Issues are now full through 18-4.   He noted that this is a substantial favorable change from the situation over the last several years.  Responding to Peter Milling’s inquiry about the quality, Brian stated that the rejection rate is about 40%, which he believes is high for journals of this type.  Also, Wiley sees sales increasing, which is a good sign.


·       Webmaster Report: A motion to send best wishes to webmaster Jack Pugh, currently recovering from surgery was approved unanimously!   Roberta Spencer reported that the on-line directory is up and running, but we need a process to provide permissions for people to be added to the directory.   Suggestions included an email process giving permissions and a check box on renewals giving positive confirmation.


·       System Dynamics Newsletter: Jim Hines noted that this went out recently and looks good.  It was formerly called the President’s Newsletter.


·       Report of the Vice President, Chapters: Dave Packer (for Nan Lux) moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion to approve the Egypt Chapter of the System Dynamics Society and a motion to approve the Hellenic Chapter of the System Dynamics Society, HCSDS, each of which had met the requirements and submitted the required papers.  Discussion strongly endorsed these new chapters and each motion passed unanimously.


·       Interest Group Proposal: Carol Frances reviewed the proposal for Society endorsement of Special Interest Groups and Local Interest Groups as defined in the report of the Task Force in this area which is on the web.  These groups are not legal entities but are groupings of members around topics or geographies.  The proposed requirements for endorsement  are a minimum of six people with two leaders.  Carol Frances moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion to accept the Task Force report and its recommendations.  After discussion, the motion passed unanimously.  


·       Higher Education Special Interest Group ProposalA motion by Carol Frances and seconded by Bob Eberlein to formally accept the Higher Education Special Interest Group into the System Dynamics Society passed unanimously.


·       Proposal to Amend Society Policies relating to VP Positions:  Dave Packer reviewed the proposal on the web to restructure change VP roles and titles in accordance with direction given at the February 2002 Policy Council Meeting.  Specifically, it proposed splitting the current VP Members and Chapters into two positions, VP Members and VP Chapters, and eliminating the position of VP at Large.  This would provide more focus on members in a growing society and recognize that the VP Chapters task warrants full time attention (as it has had in the last several years).  After discussion, it was concluded that the issue was complex and warranted additional review of the entire VP structure.  The motion on the proposal was tabled indefinitely and Bob Eberlein moved with Carol Frances seconding that a committee be appointed to look into the appropriate mandates for all VPs.  This motion passed unanimously and Ginny Wiley was charged with heading up the effort supported by David Anderson, Peter Milling, Bob Eberlein, and Dave Packer.


·       Policy Council Procedures: An issue that arose in the preceding discussion was that of Policy Council voting, specifically “can Chapter Representatives vote at a Policy Council meeting?”   Jim Hines noted that this is something we need to consider for the future.


·       Chapter Reports: Brief Chapter reports were solicited from those in attendance.  Reports were presented from the following Chapters: Japan, Latin America, Student Chapter, Italy, Australasia, Hellenic (new), Egypt (new), UK, and the Higher Education SIG (new).


·      Nominations:  Jim Hines announced to the Policy Council the  decisions of the Nominating Committee for the coming year, also on the Society web site:


President Elect: Bob Eberlein 2003

Secretary: David Packer 2003 - 2004

VP Publications: John Morecroft 2003 - 2005

VP Chapters: Ginny Wiley 2003 - 2004

VP Meetings: Jim Lyneis 2003


Policy Council members:

*    - David Lane 2003 - 2005

*    - Etienne Rouwette 2003 - 2005

*    - Deborah Campbell 2003 - 2005

*    - Scott Rockart 2003 – 2005


In addition, Jim Hines named the Nominating Committee (which he, as current President, appoints).  Members are: John Barton, Goeff Coyle, Paal Davidson, Jim Hines, George Richardson, Quifan Wang, and Erich Zahn



·       Approval of Minutes: Dave Packer moved and David Andersen seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the prior Policy Council meeting (13 February 2002 in Providence, RI).  The motion passed unanimously.




A motion to adjourn by Bob Eberlein, Jim Hines seconding was passed unanimously at 1:15pm.


Respectfully Submitted,

David W. Packer


 [email protected]

Last edited by JP 10/19/02