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Ellen Paul

Candidates for Cooper Board of Directors share views on the SFO proposal

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The candidates who are standing for election to the Board of Directors of the Cooper Ornithological Society have shared their views on the SFO proposal and have given permission to post that information here:


Tom Martin:

I am strongly in favor of the SFO, to the point that I wrote the initial publications plan. Details for the entire organization need further development based on feedback from the membership of each society. However, just as a large company recently announced restructuring of their divisions based on changing technologies and consumer base, I believe that American ornithology (Canada, USA, Latin American) similarly could strongly benefit from restructuring to keep it vibrant into the future.


Rob Fleischer:

I was involved in the initial discussions about the potential merger while I was on the AOU council. At the time, I thought it merited consideration, as membership in most societies was dropping, and there was concern among younger members about publishing in journals that were not always respected by their administrators and colleagues. I am not certain that formation of a single society would solve these and other problems, but I am willing to seriously consider alternatives to the current structure. I think a merger would be likely to strengthen our publications (via a stratified set of journals with different orientations), and our ability to influence policy, but I would not like to see our histories and traditions as separate societies be lost in the process. I would work to ensure a smooth transition if one does occur.


Carla Cicero:

I support the proposed new Society for Ornithology. Although I appreciate the rich history of each society, times have changed and we need to be forward-thinking in how we can provide the strongest possible infrastructure for scientific ornithology and its outreach to the broader community. Students and professionals alike have many choices in which societies they join, which meetings they attend, which journals they publish in, etc. and is in our best interest to consider options that strengthen membership, increase financial sustainability, consolidate and restructure journals, consolidate meetings and hopefully reduce costs, and encourage more students and young professionals to become involved in society workings. I also think that a unified Society for Ornithology can potentially have a larger impact on important issues relating to conservation, permitting, and biodiversity informatics initiatives. I am excited about the prospect of being involved in those discussions through service on the COS Board of Directors.


Renee Duckworth:

I am in favor of the formation of the Society for Ornithology as I think current economic and publication realities demand it. I believe that choosing not to form a single society could possibly jeopardize the strength of our organization and the overarching purpose of COS, which is to support scientific discovery and conservation efforts in the field of ornithology. I understand the difficulty of this decision and think that it is important that COS not simply be subsumed into another organization, but instead that members of COS have ample opportunity to influence and shape this new organization and to use this opportunity to bring our unique viewpoints and concerns onto a broader stage. How specifically we do that (e.g. through committees, grants, publications, etc) are the central issues that need to be discussed.


Blair Wolf:

I think the competitive nature of science and financial considerations (rapidly declining membership) demand that we take a very serious look at how American ornithology is organized. The current model that started with many regional societies more than 100 years ago is looking less and less sustainable. To best serve our members we should consider the strengths and scalability of a combined organization. That being said, just because we may vote to combine into a new society doesn't mean we lose the rich history of each of the member societies. I think that can still be preserved and maybe even better celebrated in a new society that is sustainable and that has much greater overall resources and reach. We have just revamped SORA at UNM and will relaunch the new site soon and I think it could have a significant role to play in preserving that legacy. That's my two cents.

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