EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING
Present: Bryant, DiMagno, Fuller, Logan-Peters, Miller, Sawyer, Siekman, Spann, Whitt, Wolf
Absent: King, Prochaska-Cue, Scheideler
Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2002
1.0 Call to Order
Bryant called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m.
2.1 Search Committee for Academic Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Bryant reported that faculty interested in serving on the search committee for the Dean of Undergraduate Studies should send a notice of their interest to him. He stated that he will then forward the information to SVCAA Edwards. Bryant noted that Academic Affairs hopes to have a search committee formed before the end of this semester. The committee suggested names as possible candidates to serve on the search committee.
3.0 Vice Chancellor Prem Paul
VC Paul stated that in his ten months on campus he has seen a lot of good research being conducted at the university. He stated that there is a need to capitalize on this research by obtaining outside funding for it. He reported that he has been speaking on campus and that he hopes to help faculty succeed by providing them with information regarding external grants. He stated that his office needs to be customer oriented and as helpful as possible to the faculty.
VC Paul reported that he has formed two research advisory boards. He noted that he has appointed faculty from various disciplines who are tops in their fields to these boards. He stated that the Chair of the Research Council sits on one of these boards. He pointed out that these boards are a very vocal group with good ideas. He reported that part of the charge to these advisory boards is to help develop a strategic plan for research on campus. He noted that he has put together a task force to look at the infrastructure of the campus. He pointed out that space is a huge issue that needs to be dealt with. He stated that he hopes they can develop a culture that is research intensive on campus.
VC Paul stated that the Technology Transfer Board has just recently formed. He noted that members of this board include faculty from UNK and UNO. He stated that the members of this board all have experience with patents and start up companies.
VC Paul reported that he has been busy trying to implement recommendations made by different faculty committees. He stated that the Life Sciences task force recommended research cluster grants to encourage multidisciplinary projects. He noted that there is now one competition for these funds. He reported that 16 proposals have been submitted and 10 will receive grants. He reported that the Tobacco Settlement Funds will be used for biomedical research, as well as for other research. He noted that $1.9 million of this fund will be used this year to attract top faculty.
VC Paul stated that he has started the Arts & Humanities research enhancement program. He stated that a number of proposals have been submitted and that external reviewers are being used to help select proposals for funding. He stated that his goal is to leverage these funds with external funding.
VC Paul stated that he has learned about the due process with respect to NRI funds. He noted that a number of faculty members are not happy with how these funds were handled in the past. He stated that he hopes to improve the process and that he is willing to take faculty to Washington, DC, to help them get external funding.
VC Paul reported that an outside consultant came to the campus to conduct a grant writing seminar. He noted that 150 faculty attended the seminar and gave it rave reviews. He noted that his office will concentrate on helping faculty to get NIH grants. He stated that he plans on working with departments to help them develop a strategic plan for research.
VC Paul stated that each month the staff members of his office meet to conduct searches for major external research funding grants that might fit with research that is being conducted on campus. He noted that Deans and Chairs are then contacted to see if anyone might be interested in applying for these grants. He stated that they are working with faculty members to tailor their needs to grants. He pointed out that it is important to bring in experts in areas where there are large grants to help faculty members write better proposals.
VC Paul stated that last year a new policy on indirect costs was developed. He noted that part of the indirect costs goes towards the centers. He stated that grants of $1 million or more will have an additional 5% of the indirect costs returned to the investigator by the Chancellor and VC for Research. VC Paul stated that he hopes to establish a committee to create a conflict of interest policy.
DiMagno stated that he asked faculty members from various departments to provide him with concerns they have regarding research, and he brought a list of some of those concerns to the meeting. DiMagno asked how the members of the advisory boards were selected and if it is possible to get a list of the members of these boards. VC Paul stated that he selected the faculty members based on their funding history. He pointed out that he tried to get representation from the various disciplines as well as gender equity on the committee. He noted that each member has a proven track record and is actively engaged in research. He stated that he would make a list of the members available. Whitt asked if these boards are replacing the functions of the Research Council. VC Paul stated that they are not replacing the Council.
DiMagno asked for further information on the Technology Transfer Board. VC Paul stated that the board was formed to help with coordinating technology transfer on campus. He noted that they are trying to develop a database that will assist them with technology transfer. He stated that the board works to provide advice on what should or should not be patented. He noted that last year we had a legal bill of $1 million for work on technology transfer. He stated that in the past anyone could apply for a patent. DiMagno pointed out that in the past there have been faculty members on campus whose technology was declined by the University and who have pursued intellectual property protection at personal expense. VC Paul stated that the board will help to standardize policies. Bryant stated that he has heard from faculty that in the past they have not received much help in trying to get a patent. VC Paul reported that once the office is fully functional, a separate non-profit entity will be formed called the UNL Technology Development Corporation. He stated that he, the Chancellor, VC Jackson, three people from the private sector will be members of the corporation. He noted that they hope to be able to work with faculty members to explore business opportunities. DiMagno asked how the patent law firms that work with the university were selected. He asked if the faculty were ever asked to provide feedback on their experiences in working with these firms. VC Paul stated that he was unsure of how the firms were originally selected and that it would be helpful to receive feedback from faculty. He stated that they are trying to manage the office more appropriately and they are watching the budget more carefully.
DiMagno asked what the rationale is for putting a lot of funding in team research rather than individual research. VC Paul stated that single investigators are definitely supported. He stated that team research is being encouraged in addition to individual research. He noted that federal research funds are currently going more towards grants with multiple investigators. DiMagno stated that a problem exists in that there is a finite amount of local research funding and that most of this funding appears to be going towards team investigators at the expense of individual investigators. He suggested that an alternative model, to avoid the small grant administration problem, would be to stipulate that in order to participate in NRI funding the investigator must have in place some defined quantity of external research funding. VC Paul pointed out that a team can include people outside of the university.
Sawyer suggested that universities which have professional grant writing offices have the best written proposals. He pointed out that the university needs this kind of office if it wants to compete for large research grants because faculty members do not have the time to write grant proposals. He suggested that the indirect costs should be used to set up this kind of office. VC Paul stated that this was a good idea. He pointed out that resources have not gone into the operation of his office because all indirect costs are not recovered.
DiMagno stated that faculty members are going through an arduous task of applying for small grants. He stated that another problem is the lack of feedback to investigators who submit proposals. VC Paul stated that they are trying to make improvements in the office but they cannot afford to spend all of their time on internal grant proposals. He noted that the money for funding is in DC and that is where efforts need to be focused. He stated that the Research Advisory Board is going to be engaged in developing a strategic plan that will help the university move towards the goals of the 20/20 report. Bryant pointed out that the issue concerning local funds and the competition for them has been a long term problem. VC Paul stated that he is concerned with quality and fairness. He noted that in the first round of local competition feedback was not provided, but he has since made it clear that this needs to be done. DiMagno stated that faculty could use their effort to apply for external grants if they are made aware that their area of research would not be considered for local grants.
DiMagno stated that another problem mentioned by faculty involves the errors made with the SAP system. He pointed out that people must enter a 13 digit cost/object number and that errors are frequently made. He stated that investigators often have to spend a significant amount of time reconciling the statements on their grant accounts because incorrect charges are often posted to the wrong cost/object numbers. VC Paul suggested that DiMagno and he should get together to discuss all of these issues further.
Bryant stated that it appears that the Office of Research is trying to make improvements in the office as recommended by the Research Council in their report to the Academic Senate. He asked if it is possible to have a web based directory that would list grant opportunities. VC Paul stated that this is a good idea that has not yet been achieved. He stated that he would like the web directory to be capable of identifying funding opportunities simply by entering a key word.
4.0 Approval of 4/17/02 Minutes
Miller moved and Siekman seconded approval of the minutes as amended. Motion approved.
5.0 Budget Cuts
Bryant reported that the center at Scottsbluff is very upset with the budget cuts. He noted that VC Owens went out there to meet with them to discuss the cuts. Bryant stated that the faculty position cut in Agricultural Leadership will damage the program because it deals with agricultural journalism. He noted that there are currently 15 students in the program who will be hurt because of this cut. Griffin stated that she has been told that the Agricultural Economics department is very upset about losing another faculty position. She stated that they have lost a significant number of faculty members over recent years even though they have a large number of majors. Whitt noted that a lot of departments in Arts & Sciences fund graduate students by having them teach Division of Continuing Studies courses. He stated that the cuts to DCS could have an impact on graduate programs. Bryant stated that he does not know the impacts the cuts will have on the closing of some centers.
6.0 Unfinished Business
6.1 Quality Indicators
Bryant stated that faculty members are still concerned over the quality indicators. He stated that the committee will need to monitor this issue over the summer. Sawyer stated that the faculty should make a statement that they know their field the best and that there should be no restrictions on the number of journals that can be listed. Bryant stated that this should be conveyed to SVCAA Edwards again because restrictions are occurring in Arts and Sciences. Fuller stated that faculty members feel that the quality indicators will be used to measure individual faculty performance and unit performance. Bryant suggested that the committee should continue further discussion of this issue.
6.2 Climate Survey
Bryant reported that there are concerns regarding the feedback on the climate survey. Whitt pointed out that there are methodological reasons for this concern because it is not a sound survey. He stated that previous surveys developed by the Bureau of Sociological Research did a better job of meeting the concerns of classified minority groups. Logan-Peters stated that there is concern that the survey will only address issues at the local unit, rather than at the campus level. Wolf stated that this is a concern that needs to be resolved. He pointed out that many issues are not related to the unit but to the operating administration. Spann noted that some of the questions apply better to staff than to faculty.
Bryant stated that he would encourage faculty to fill out the survey but admitted that the committee needs to work with administration to resolve some of the problems with the survey. Wolf noted that the administration had other alternatives. He stated that it needs to be made clear that input is needed on how the data will be used. Siekman noted that it must be costly to use Gallup. He asked why the administration chose to go outside to have the survey conducted. DiMagno suggested that the administration was perhaps looking for assessment and implementation in one package. Fuller pointed out that the Chancellor receives reports from the Chancellors Commission on the Status of Women and the Chancellors Commission on the Status of People of Color. She asked why these reports are not being used to identify the climate on campus. Spann pointed out that a problem with the survey is that people will respond to global problems but the survey is designed to deal with the local level. Griffin asked if there will be a place for people to write comments. Wolf stated that this would not be available.
7.0 New Business
7.1 Budget Committee
Fuller reported that the Committee on Committees would like to get feedback from the Executive Committee regarding the elimination of the Budget Committee. She stated that the Committee on Committees feels that the charges to the committee no longer apply and that most of the functions have been moved to other committees such as the Academic Planning Committee. The committee agreed that the Budget Committee should be eliminated. Bryant stated that this would need to be brought to the attention of the Academic Senate at the September meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:06 p.m. The next meeting of the Academic Senate Executive Committee will be held on Wednesday, May 1, 2002 at 3:00 p.m., 201 Canfield Administration Building. The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and James King, Secretary.