Minutes of the USUCGER Board Meeting
January 11, 1998
Held at 12:00 noon to 15:30 p.m.,
Eisenhower Room, Washington Sheraton Hotel, D.C.
prepared and submitted by Paul Mayne, Secretary

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Board Members: 

Mehmet T. Tumay/LTRC, President            
Bill Kovacs/Univ. RI                    
Tom Zimmie/RPI
Deborah Goodings/Univ. MD
Paul Mayne/Georgia Tech

Guests: Peter Smeallie/ GeoCouncil
            Roman Hryciw/Univ. Michigan

1. Dr. Tumay opened the meeting at 12:04 p.m. and welcomed the attendees.
He introduced Peter Smeallie, Director of the GeoCouncil: The National
Council for Geo-Engineering and Construction.

2. GEOCOUNCIL: Mr. Smeallie gave an update on the current issue regarding
GeoCouncil's opposition to the issue on ASTM "Standards". The GeoCouncil
has joined twelve other organizations to form the APJGP {Advocates for
Professional Judgment in Geoprofessional Practice}. The APJGP's goal is
to facilitate ASTM's development of guidance materials which do not
increase professionals' liabilities nor hinder their abilities in judgment
and innovation. Specifically, APJGP encourages the use of the word
"guide", as opposed to "standard" in the issuing of ASTM concensus
documents that deal with professional practice. The GeoCouncil initiatives
can be found at their webpage (www.tmn.com/~ geo).

Dr. Tumay indicated that USUCGER membership was polled and had given nearly
unanimous support of GeoCouncil's position on this matter. This was
conveyed in the last GeoCouncil meeting held in Washinghton, D.C., December
5, 1997. Prior to this meeting, ASTM had contended that there existed no
problem because there existed "no case in suit". That is, no professional
firm had yet publicly been challenged in a court case because of the ASTM
published "standards for professional practice". APJGP's stance is that
such cases take years for litigation to develop and that many are not
well-known or publicized because documents and depositions may be sealed
by the court. Furthermore, the USUCGER Board discussion session pointed
out that many ASTM documents are based on old and outdated techniques and
practices, thus not representing the highest available technologies. ASTM
standards are written by volunteers who have the available time, not
necessarily prepared by the most authoritative or experience or
knowledgable individuals. Reference was made to the series of articles
published by Ralph Peck, John Dunnicliff, Gordon Green, and Erik Mikkelsen
in the latest issue of Geotechnical News (Vol. 15, No. 5, December 1997)
for additional discussion on this issue.

ASTM has agreed to a task force meeting with APJGP to establish
negotiations on the above issue and discussions focused on alternative
nomenclature. Mr. Smeallie indicated the next meeting would be in held
Feb. 3, 1998. USUCGER will be kept posted of the future developments.

3. AFOSR: The difficulties facing the continuation of geotechnical
research funding for Dr. Michael Chipley at the AFOSR were mentioned. It
was suggested that Mr. Smeallie of Geo-Council look into preparing letters
of support at higher levels in the Air Force, lest the same fate will
likely occur to the AFOSR program at Bolling Air Force Base, as recently
happened to the FHWA program at the Turner-Fairbanks Facility. Dr. Russell
Harmon at ARO could be of assistance. It was noted that USUCGER should
prepare letters supporting continued funding at AFOSR.

4. National Geotechnical Experimentation Sites (NGES). Dr. Tumay
circulated the results of a survey poll of USUCGER members on their
awareness, utilization, and support of NGES. The NGES program originally
received funding from NSF and FHWA starting about 10 years ago. Two
primary sites and three secondary sites received funding for management and
the establishment of an online internet database that can be downloaded.
Funding has dwindled in recent years, apparently because a more
centrally-focused organization and control is needed. Thus, it was
decided, with USUCGER concurrence, at the December 5, 1997 meeting that the
GeoCouncil will be taking control of the NGES management and operations.
Individual sites (Univ. of Houston, Treasure Island, Texas A&M, Univ. of
Mass., and Northwestern) will continue under their own site management,
however, a fulltime individual at GeoCouncil will be hired to coordinate
and promote the NGES activities. A new NGES site at Spring Villa near
Opelika, Alabama has been established by Dr. Dan Brown of Auburn
University. Here, the 320-acre permanent site was established by the
Alabama DOT with additional funding received from industry partners. The
site is underlain by residual soils (silts and fine sands) weathered from
schist and gneiss of the Piedmont geology.

5. USUCGER BULLETIN: Dr. Tumay announced the new bulletin for USUCGER
members (maintained at the Lousiana Transportation Research Center) and
tied in with the existing USUCGER website (maintained by Dr. Roman Hryciw
at Univ. Of Michigan). The Bulletin address (http://www.ltrc.lsu.edu/bulletin)
will be restricted for posting announcements to dues-paying members of
USUCGER. Dr. Tumay indicated that each member's full address, phone, fax,
email, and research interests will be maintained on this Bulletin. On the
USUCGER website
(http://www-personal.engin.umich.edu/~ romanh/), a new listing is being
created that provides the current available geotechnical faculty positions
in the U.S. This would provide a useful service to member universities in
(1) placing their PhD graduates in faculty openings, and (2) attracting
qualified applicants for openings as they arise. As it stands now, geotech
faculty openings are found in individual issues of ASCE News, ASCE Civil
Engineering magazine, Geotechnical News, and USUCGER email postings. The
above efforts would at least group the USUCGER postings as they arrive.
Additional effort would be required to individually list those that are
published in the "classified" sections of the hard cover issues (no
committment made here). The board discussed the possibility of restrictions
of access to the USUCGER Web & Bulletin sites to dues-paying members only.
The following were agreed: (1) USUCGER Membership is still restricted to
U.S. Universities, (2) others including international affiliates could use
the website, (3) USUCGER Bulletin would list only those from dues-paying
institutions, but the Directory information can be browsed by all and (4)
no postings (or memberships), in general, by students at universities due
to their high transient behavior. For the latter, we shall not allow mass
emailing of resumes and vitae from prospective students or graduating
students seeking employment because of the anticipated large amount of
unsolicited mail that would ensue.

6. USUCGER WORKSHOP: Last fall, NSF funding was approved for the hosting
of a USUCGER Workshop. This to follow after the original workshop in
Houston in 1987 and Arlington, Texas in 1991. Plans are now in the works to
host the 1998 USUCGER Workshop in fall of 1998 in Newport, Rhode Island
with Dr. Bill Kovacs coordinating the event through the Univ. Of
RI/Providence. Here, each member university would have one representative
give a 5 to 10- minute presentation on their current research activities.
USUCGER will subsidize up to $500 per registrant, but only one faculty per
member university. The possibility of having an Exhibits Hall during the
workshop was opened for discussion. Details concerning the actual dates,
location, and schedule were to be researched and explored by Dr. Kovacs.

7. ELECTIONS: Dr. Tom Zimmie will put out the voting for two new USUCGER
board members by January 29, 1998. Votes will be due back for tally by
February 13, 1998. For dues-paying members, only 2 votes per university
will be counted. Dr. Tumay shall provide the current list of dues members.

8. NEXT USUCGER GENERAL MEETING: It was decided that USUCGER would hold a
general meeting in concurrence with the upcoming First International
Conference on Site Characterization (ISC'98) that will be held at the
Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta from April 19-22, 1998. The
USUCGER meeting will be on Monday late afternoon, April 20, 1998 from 05:30
p.m. to 06:30 p.m. in one of the Westin Tower Rooms.

9. TREASURER's REPORT: None given as Dr. Rich Finno was unable to attend.

Force was established by President Tumay consisting of Loren Anderson/Utah
State, Albert DiMillio/FHWA, Hon-Yim Ko/Univ. Colorado, and Mike
O'Neill/Univ. Houston. The report from the USUCGER Alliance Task Force
recommended that USUCGER not become part of the new ASCE Geo-Institute
(GI). A full citation of this report may be found online at the USUCGER

11. OTHER BUSINESS: New books of interest to geotechs will be posted on a
new listing on the USUCGER Bulletin. For example, this will include the
new BiTech publication on Geotextiles by R.D. Holtz, Barry Christopher, and
Ryan Berg (1997).

12. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Paul W. Mayne, PhD, P.E.
USUCGER Secretary