Meeting Minutes - February 27, 2015

Date of Meeting: 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Attendance:  Ed Gillan, Bob Kirby, Gary Gussin, Johna Leddy, Faryle Nothwehr, Barbara Eckstein, Claire Sponsler, Cara Hamann, , Ryan Tinnes, Nicholas Borcherding, George Hospodarsky, Paul Soderdahl, Christopher Benson, David Cunning, Scott Bounds

Others:  Dan Reed, John Keller, Rich Hichwa, Cheryl Reardon

Item 1:  Welcome and Updates (Ed Gillan)

  • Meeting called to order at 1:00 pm
  • Introduction of new members, David Cunning (Philosophy) and Christopher Benson (Internal Medicine)

Item 2:  Discussion with John Keller, Dean of the Graduate College

  • Dean Keller briefly spoke about his reason for attending and his questions for the Research Council.  Keller discussed previous review of UI’s graduate programs five years prior and asked the research council how UI should review them if they do so again under a new University Administration and upcoming Grad College strategic plan.  Keller provided the council with several questions in advance of the meeting to consider:
    • How can we assess the success of our graduate students and our graduate programs?
    • Do you know the doctoral completion rates of your respective programs? What can programs be doing to differently to enhance the success of our students?
    • Do your students gain the preponderance of their paid assistantship experience in either Teaching or Research, rather than a good balance of both opportunities?
    • Do the faculty have experiences and desire to guide, mentor and counsel students in their preparation for a wide variety of career options?
    • Are there opportunities on campus for field specific re-alignments that would advance the goal of interdisciplinary graduate education?

Discussion around how we can measure successfully educating graduate students given the breadth of study across all fields.  Rates in graduation (masters & PhD), attrition, job placement, national standards are all metrics that were the subject of lively debate.  Several members noted the challenges of a general rule or policy enacted over a diverse range of graduate programs.  The idea that programs are penalized for doctoral students who graduate with masters degrees was discussed.  In many disciplines, students obtain good jobs with the masters degree; career placement was noted by Keller as one metric of program success.  He challenged council members to give him advice on how individual programs may quantify their success in graduate education (such as percent obtaining intended degrees and career placement).  Keller also questioned whether a program where students entered a masters track before jumping to a doctoral track was desirable.  Comments from members suggested that this was also a discipline specific question without a one-size fits all answer.  Several faculty noted that masters versus doctoral rates (referred to as attrition rates by Keller) vary by discipline so our metrics versus national or regional rates seems appropriate.  Keller indicated a desire to be a leader among peer institutions rather than us just comparing our metrics against peer institutions.  Dan Reed noted that academia tends to be in a ‘steady state’ versus one of perpetual growth.  Faculty numbers are not growing, so existing faculty can only be replaced by one of the students they educate.  As a result, there is a need to educate students about the reality that the majority of students will have to find work outside of academia.  One suggestion made was that UI look at one or two questions in detail and try to improve the data needed rather than asking too many questions and getting incomplete data.  Dean Keller indicated that he would like further feedback on how the Graduate College should utilize its resources and review its programs.  One member commented that it was desirable for the Grad College to provide career placement and resume services for graduate students and Keller noted that this was already in place, but could use additional resources (and probably additional methods to publicize these services).

Item 3: Review and Approval of Minutes from December 12, 2014. 

Minutes reviewed and approved

Item 4:  Updates on recent OVPRED activities (Cheryl Reardon & Dan Reed)

  • OVPR has released a fourth call for Faculty Fellow applications.  Applications will be due April 1
  • Research Awards Banquet – 49 nominations were received this year with a broad scope of candidates.  This reflects an increase over last year’s nominations
  • Jim Walker, Associate Vice President for Research (compliance) is retiring in 2015. Three candidates will come to campus to interview in the months of March and April
  • Research Development Center – this office would aim to provide resources and assistance to faculty developing proposals.  It would be aimed at larger and more complex proposals.  OVPR would like feedback from the Research Council on what they feel would be useful.
    • The council discussed the internal funding application review process and how it is and isn’t useful, what can be done to improve feedback, and how the Research Development Center can help.

Item 5: Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates Updates (Bob Kirby)

  • Fall 2014 – Undergraduate Research Subcommittee was formed from Research Council and additional faculty to give disciplinary breadth.
  • UI is increasing undergraduate enrollment which will increase the ratio of students to available research positions. This will diminish the opportunity for individual students to take part in the traditional “mentor/mentee relationship”. How can we mitigate this problem?
  • ICRU is currently considering a “research portal” that will link undergraduates to the medical campus to help increase undergraduate research opportunities.
  • Current metrics show that 25% of graduating seniors have had some sort of research experience. ICRU would like to see this number go up, but not necessarily through traditional one-on-one research experiences.

Item 6: Charter Revisions (Ed Gillan)

  • Ed gave an update on recent developments regarding the Research Council’s suggested charter revisions – the FPCC faculty policy committee had some concerns with the council’s decision to rework faculty representation areas to allow the Faculty Senate more flexibility in nominating council members. 
  • Will send an email with the feedback he’s received from shared governance and suggestions for further revisions.