LTER Governance

The Science Council, led by an elected chair, is the governing body of the LTER Network. The lead PI of each site plus a rotating representative from that site and Network committee chairs make up the Science Council. The 12-member Executive Board is authorized to act on the Council's behalf (see figure). Most network business is conducted by the Executive Board, which meets once per month mainly by videoconference. The Executive Director of the LTER Network Communications Office is an ex officio member of the Science Council and a voting member of the Executive Board.

Main components of the LTER Network governance structure
Main components of the LTER Network governance structure

Science Council

  • Role and authority: The scientific direction and vision of the LTER Network is established by the Science Council. The Science Council reserves ultimate authority for decisions affecting the Network and may address issues that arise from the Executive Board, the Network Office, or the participating LTER sites.
  • Composition: The Science Council is composed of a Chairperson, a Chair-Elect (as needed), the Chair of each Network-wide and Targeted Standing Committee, the Executive Director of the Network Office, and the Principal Investigator and an additional participant from each LTER site.

Executive Board

  • Role and authority: The Science Council grants the Executive Board the power to make rules or regulations for the Network's management; to create, evaluate, and dissolve committees; and to fill vacancies in and change membership of committees. All members of the Executive Board are charged to act on behalf of and are accountable to the membership of the LTER Network.
  • Composition: The Executive Board is composed of the elected Chair of the Science Council, 9 members selected by individual sites on a rotating basis; an Information Manager; a representative of the Education Committee; the Executive Director of the Network Office; and, as needed, a Chair-Elect.

The Chair

The Chair is elected by the voting members of the Science Council. The Chair presides at all meetings of the Science Council and Executive Board. Along with the Executive Board, the Chair generally oversees and supervises the governance of the LTER Network. The Chair facilitates communication to the Network sites regarding decisions of the Executive Board; provides a receptive ear for any Network member who wishes to raise an issue of concern; and serves as or appoints liaisons to NSF, other agencies, etc. The term of office for the Chair is 2 years. The Chair may stand for re-election for one consecutive 2-year term.


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