Message from the Treasurer
The Annual Meeting in San Diego has come and gone and was in my opinion by all measures a great success (except for the bloody cold, rainy Southern California weather!) The attendance was just short of the recent record in New Orleans, and continued the trend of excellent participation by students and post-docs. As President Woodin will note, the Society owes a debt of appreciation to Kate Loudon and the divisional program officers for assembling an excellent program.
As most of you know, the Society supports many students presenting papers or posters at the meeting with either complimentary housing or registration in return for various types of work-assistance. This year 286 students received a total of about $46,800. That number of students is up slightly from the meeting in New Orleans (275), but cost the society about $3000 less since San Diego was a little less expensive. In addition to this element of student support, the Society currently funds the Grants in Aid of Research program at $24,000 per year, the Fellowships for Graduate Student Travel at $6000 and the Graduate Student-Post-Doc luncheon at about $18,000. I think it's safe to say that this $90,000+ in student support speaks exceptionally well of the Society in terms of the importance it places on its students. Obviously this is money well spent if many of these students ultimately remain long-time members of the Society. However, with the expanding number of students requesting complimentary housing/registration, the Executive Committee voted to institute a modest co-pay (capped at $75) for students receiving such aid at future annual meetings. The Student Support Committee will handle the details of this plan.
The Society remains in good financial condition. Although the audit for 2004 is not yet complete, nor are the 1st quarter reports on the budget and the investment accounts at LPL Financial Services available at the time I'm writing this, all indications are that we will have finished 2004 solidly in the black, and are off to a good start in 2005. The February statement from LPL indicates that our mutual funds are up about 1.5% for February compared to January 31. If that pattern were to hold, it would translate into a very respectable annual return. The Real Estate Investment Trust with Inland Corp also continues to do very well. In fact, if the prediction from our financial advisors is correct that this REIT will go public in 2005, SICB stands to realize a substantial capital gain.
We continue to be cautious, however, and the Finance Committee has not invested the remaining sum with LPL that was authorized by the Executive Committee in 2002. The reason for that caution is several fold, but is influenced primarily by a budget for 2005 that could be as much as $75,000 in the red, and the continuing concern about the journal and journal income. As President Woodin will describe, the production of the journal (Integrative and Comparative Biology, ICB) is currently under review. Requests for proposals have gone out to a series of publishers to investigate whether or not SICB will elect to change from the current arrangement of having Allen Press print the journal to having a company (perhaps even Allen Press) publish and promote the journal, much as several other societies do. One further measure to reduce the pending overrun of the 2005 budget, and that was approved by the Executive Committee in San Diego, is raising the registration fee at the annual meeting to $225 for full members. This is a $30 increase and is required in part to offset the substantial Audio/Visual expenses incurred by changing over to PowerPoint presentations and computer switching systems, all of which seemed to work especially well at San Diego.
As was noted in my report to the Executive Committee and at the Business Meeting in San Diego, Mr. Matt Tederick of LPL Financial Services, who has very ably overseen the management of the Society's portfolio, has left that company. Brett Burk and I met two weeks ago with Mr. Robert Earls, also of LPL Financial, and Matt Tederick, to consider keeping the Society's assets with LPL but under the management of Mr. Earls, who has worked closely with Matt for several years and whom Matt strongly recommended that the Society retain. As a result of that meeting, Brett and I are very comfortable making a transition to Mr. Earls, and since President Woodin agreed, we have authorized that change in management. One distinct advantage to this arrangement is that there is no need to convert or otherwise transfer any of the assets Matt was overseeing. Furthermore, Matt has agreed to assist Robert in any way he can over the next several months as he becomes fully familiar with the Society's assets and investment philosophy.
Finally, I would like to encourage everyone to visit the SICB homepage and consider making a contribution via the donation link. I would also encourage members to consider Life Membership as an additional way of assisting the Society.