April 13, 2021
North Carolina Board for Licensing of Geologists
Minutes • April 13, 2021 • 9:30 a.m.
Virtual Meeting held by Zoom
Call to Order/Conflict of Interest Statement/Welcome and Introductions
The meeting was called to order at 9:28 a.m. by Board Chair Steve Stadelman. Other Board members present included Rachel Kirkman, Dennis LaPoint, Robert Mensah-Biney, Richard Spruill and Kenneth Taylor. Former Board member and chair, Bill Miller and lead investigator Neil Gilbert were present. Executive Director Barbara Geiger, staff member Jenna Miller and Board Counsel Sarah Zambon were also present. Dr. Stadelman read the Conflict of Interest Statement as required by the State Government Ethics Act. Dr. Taylor noted that, as the State Geologist and employee of the NC Department of Environmental Quality, he would refrain from participating in the deliberation or taking any action by the Board with respect to any matter involving an employee of the Department. A quorum was established.
Welcome and Introductions
Dr. Stadelman welcomed Board members to the meeting.
Approval of Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes of the January 27, 2021 meeting was made by Richard Spruill and seconded by Dennis LaPoint. The motion carried unanimously.
Dr. Taylor presented the second quarter balance sheet and profit and loss statement. Following an overview, motion was made by Dr. LaPoint and seconded by Dr. Mensah-Biney to accept the report as presented. The motion carried.
Ms. Geiger reported that there are currently 1122 active individual licensees and 233 active corporate licenses. There are 229 licensees on inactive status.
Ms. Geiger reminded Board members of the April 15, 2021 deadline to file the Statement of Economic Interest (SEI). She also informed members of the Board that the mileage reimubursement rate as of January 1, 2021 had decreased to $.56 per mile.
Legal Report and Board Training
Board Counsel Sarah Zambon provided a review of the Geologist Licensing Act, Chapter 89E 1-16, as part of the ongoing educational review of NC statutes and administrative rules as relates to occupational licensing.
The Board briefly discussed the requirement of a degree in geology and the requirement and use of the seal.
There was discussion by the Board regarding what constitutes the practice of geology, i.e. does research, performed by academic geologists affect health, safety and welfare of the public? It was established that although no license is required, teaching does affect HSW. Once again, Board members discussed incentives and possibilities regarding the licensure of geology department faculty members.
Licensure of regulatory agency geologists and oversight of the work of NC licensees was discussed. There was discussion regarding the type of research that is being done that would pose a potential risk to the public. The Board discussed various regulatory agencies and their having the personnel and the knowledge to evaluate licensed professionals.
Continuing Education Report
Dr. Miller was invited to attend the meeting to share his historical knowledge and perspective of the continuing education program of the Board. Following an overview of the history of the institution of the requirement for continuing education, beginning in the early 1990s to present, Dr. Miller shared his thoughts regarding the current process for CE application and approval, including the requirement of pre-approval of providers and/or activities, personal accountability and ethics of licensees and allowing regulatory and safety training to fulfill the CE requirement.
The Board agreed that the continuing education requirement and process must be clearly defined for licensees, indicating what is expected and what is allowed. Dr. Stadelman noted that the CE guidelines were written to specifically address those expectations and allowances and that any deficiencies in the document must be addressed. Dr. LaPoint pointed out that the NC Board had high standards and expectations of its licensees, but that the process might be too rigid and cumbersome.
Dr. Stadelman informed the Board that he would like to concentrate on discussion and implementation of methods to streamline the continuing education process during the August meeting of the Board. He suggested that the Board inquire of other state Boards of geology having a CE requirement for renewal, be contacted regarding their process for continuing education application, acquisition and reporting. Ms. Kirkman will speak to ASBOG® and Ms. Geiger and Ms. Miller will contact other state Boards where CE is a requirement for license renewal. Dr. Stadelman suggested drafting a proposal for review and summarization by the Board at the August meeting.
Dr. Spruill suggested that the Board continue to promote the value of continuing education, but that the process be streamlined and that the Board come up with a way to bring those who went inactive because of CE back into licensure, noting that many of the best mentors let their license lapse or went on inactive status because of the implementation of continuing education. He suggested an emeritus status license or other less active license status.
Dr. Stadelman appointed a subcommittee to study the CE process. The members are Rachel Kirkman, Chair, Richard Spruill, Kenneth Taylor, Bill Miller and staff member Jenna Miller. This committee will report back to the Board at the August meeting.
The Continuing Education Committee met just prior to the Board meeting. There were 22 applications reviewed. The Committee approved 15 applications with no changes and six applications for a different number of hours. One application was denied. The following organizations were reviewed and added to the list of pre-approved providers of CE:
Motion was made by Dennis LaPoint and seconded by Kenneth Taylor to approve the CE Committee report as presented. The motion carried with Dr. Spruill recusing himself for the vote on Groundwater Management Associates as a pre-approved provider and Dr. Taylor recusing himself from activity number 200050. The motion carried.
The use of stream restoration activities as CE hours was discussed by the Board. It was noted that the CE Committee has been wrestling with approval of stream restoration activities, because of the difficulty in separating the engineering and geological aspects. Dr. Stadelman will contact the NCBELS to inquire of how that Board views this type of activity for use as CE. Again, the matter of the amount of work required for the CE Committee and the Board was discussed. The consensus of the Board is that continuing education should be the onus of the licensee. The Board has used the last 4 years to pre-approve activities and providers. The annual random audit of continuing education will reveal those licensees who are not in compliance with the requirement for CE as a condition of license renewal.
Dr. Stadelman noted that the focus of the August meeting of the Board would be centered on the simplification of continuing education for both the Board and licensees. Ms. Kirkman pointed out that precedents have been set and that the Board must maintain the integrity of the CE program, making adjustments to the established guidelines. Dr. Stadelman encouraged Board members to be prepared in August with suggestions to streamline the CE process.
Ms. Geiger reported that the March administration of the ASBOG® exam had gone well and that the exam had returned to the McKimmon Center, with 52 candidates taking the test. Drs. Spruill and Stadelman were in attendance. Dr. Stadelman encouraged Board members to attend an exam administration at some point. Ms. Kirkman inquired if there were a backlog in candidates due to postponing the March 2020 examination due to Covid. Ms. Geiger said there was not.
Ms. Kirkman gave the Board a brief overview regarding the Council of Examiners Workshop (COE) and Executive Committee meeting that was recently held in person in Madison, WI, noting that the event went well and that social distancing and Covid protection efforts were followed. Ms. Kirkman participated in the group who took Part 1 (FG) and Dr. LaPoint participated in the group who took Part 2 (PG). She shared with the Board, the intent of ASBOG® to implement computer based testing (CBT) within the next year to eighteen months and that the Task Analysis Survey (TAS) was scheduled for 2022.
Dr. LaPoint agreed with Ms. Kirkman that the workshop was well organized and that there were fewer questions that were eliminated from the test due to the improved quality of questions.
It was noted that Randy Kath would be present at the August meeting of the Board to make a presentation on what he refers to as CPAT or Curriculum Performance Assessment Tool. Executive Director Deana Sneyd will also attend.
Dr. Spruill noted that he would like to see more questions on the examination score sheet regarding the evolving geological curriculum. Candidate responses could be evaluated based on education and performance.
Dr. LaPoint pointed out that there is on-going discussion regarding exam questions that require memorization and the fact that candidates don’t understand certain content of questions.
Again, the Board discussed the evolution of departments of the geological sciences and the affect that it has and will have on licensing.
Ms. Kirkman asked that Dr. Spruill put his thoughts in writing regarding adding questions to the score sheet and to indicate the intent and the ultimate goal of the questions and she would share his thoughts with the ASBOG® Executive Committee.
Dr. Spruill informed Board members that he had once chaired the TAS Committee, but that the profession has changed more dramatically in recent years, with the fundamental difference being academic versus non-academic.
Rules Review and Updates
Ms. Geiger reminded Board members that they should be reviewing the rules of the Board in preparation for possible changes to existing rules and/or adding or deleting rules.
Meetings & Virtual Presentations
Ms. Kirkman shared that there are several canned presentations that can be used for presentation to students and faculty, and that the Board needs a champion to put these together. It was decided that it would be wise to wait until the new website and Certemy are up and running smoothly to decide which presentations will be posted and where.
As requested, Dr. Taylor prepared an analysis of departments of geology and geosciences in NC (current as of 2019). Ms. Geiger emailed the list of departments, noting the number of graduates and degrees of each, to the full Board. Dr. Spruill asked if this information could be obtained from ASBOG® on a Nationwide basis. He will take the NC stats to Randy Kath to see if he can provide similar data regarding candidate performance on the ASBOG® exam. Ms. Kirkman suggested that it would be advantageous to have the information in a spreadsheet to compare the departments within the NC institutions.
Ms. Geiger shared an ongoing issue with the NCBELS and the NCBLG 1991 Grandfather provision for corporations. Following discussion, the NCBLG will continue to be consistent in regulating corporations and will continue to recognize the grandfather date of September 1, 1991, but that those firms should be informed of the possibility of a conflict with the NCBELS.
In order to give adequate time to discussion of continuing education at the August meeting, it was determined that a meeting would be held by Zoom on August 11, 2021 for review of applications. The regularly scheduled meeting of the Board will be held in person on August 18, 2021. The November 3, 2021 meeting will be held at UNC Chapel Hill, where a presentation on the examination and licensure will be made to students.
Per NCGS § 143-318.11(6), motion was made by Dr. Taylor, seconded by Dr. LaPoint and carried, to move into closed session to review applications.
Motion was made by Dr. Taylor and seconded by Ms. Kirkman to resume the open session. The motion carried.
Motion was made by Dr. Taylor to accept those actions taken by the Board in closed session regarding applications for examination, comity, reinstatement and corporate license. The motion was seconded by Dr. LaPoint and carried unanimously.
There being no further business, on motion by Dr. LaPoint, the meeting was adjourned at 1:25 pm.
Kenneth Taylor, Secretary/Treasurer