Minutes - Apr 5, 2005

Date of Meeting: 

Tuesday, April 5, 2005


Scott Bounds, Joe Cannon, Bill Decker, Michael Chibnik, Karen Farris, Boyd Knosp, Johna Leddy, Michael Mackey, Teresa Mangum, Imran Pirwani, Cheryl Reardon, Jay Semel, Mark Sidel, Scott Stuart, Michael Wichman, David Wynes


Peter Hansen, John Keller, Richard Valentine, Kevin Ward

The meeting was called to order at 10:00 AM.

Discretionary funds

A discussion was led by Decker regarding the best use of discretionary funds available to the VP for Research.  Each year, OVPR coordinates several programs and initiatives, including Internal Funding Initiatives, Research Incentive Program, Biosciences Initiatives, bridging funds, grant matches, etc.  With the advent of the 2005 - 2010 Strategic Plan and VP for Research Meredith Hay beginning her position on June 1, 2005, this is an ideal time to revisit these programs. 

Decker asked the following questions of Research Council:

  • Are these funds being used in the most strategic way in light of the 2005 - 2010 Strategic Plan?
  • Should we continue to emphasize early career launching with these programs?
  • Should these funds be used in an entirely different way?
  • Should we use these funds to emphasize "targets of opportunity" by creating special initiatives (e.g. III program)?
  • Should we emphasize more interdisciplinary research with these funds?
  • Have we become complacent?

OVPR programs 

Council members discussed the various OVPR programs.  Highpoints of this discussion are listed below.

The AHI program is critical to faculty in the arts and humanities due to the difficulty in obtaining NEH and NEA funding.  Therefore, AHI should be handled differently than the other programs.

These programs should be available for all faculty ranks. 

With decreasing NIH budgets, should more bridging funds be available?

The programs and proposals should be tied to a departmental or collegiate strategic plan.  The guidelines should require the applicants to articulate in their proposals how their research will fit into the strategic plan.  Another possible question to ask applicants is how their research opens up new research paths for the university.

Should a college representative sign off on the proposals to ensure that the research fits into the strategic plan?

Establishing a fund for interdisciplinary research could help identify The University of Iowa as a top 10 public research institution.  Many of the funding agencies are emphasizing this trend. 

We need to continue to track the success of these programs by asking for final reports from PI's.  Should colleges be involved with this process?

Should a question be added to the external proposal routing form that asks the PI if this research proposal was supported by any internal seed grant funds?

Should different expectation be developed for collegiate units to ensure that all faculty are working to garner external funds?  Should summer fellowship programs be developed to enable faculty to apply for funding?  Should more emphasis be placed on grant writing workshops?

Vice President Hay 

Overall, this was a useful discussion and will be continued after Vice President Hay arrives on campus.  One suggestion was that she visit with faculty in academic departments, as well as attend collegiate-level meetings such as the CLAS small group DEO meetings.

Transition of departments into and out of the VP for Research organization 

Sidel invited Decker to discuss the transition of departments into and out of the VP for Research organization. Hogan, Decker and Skorton have agreed that the UI Press, International Writing Program, and Women in Science and Engineering will move under the Office of the Provost.  The Natural Museum of History and Old Capitol, currently under Student Services, will move under the VP for Research organization.  The reporting lines of other units will be discussed in the upcoming year. 

Chief Information Officer (CIO) 

Sidel distributed the interview schedule for the Chief Information Officer (CIO).  Research Council has been invited to interview the four candidates who will be on campus in late April.  Decker encouraged all members to attend these interview sessions. 

Richard Valentine and Peter Hansen highlighted issues in a letter sent to Mark Sidel on March 31, 2005, from The University of Iowa chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).  Kevin Ward, Associate Director of Human Resources, and John Keller, Dean of the Graduate College, were also present for this discussion.  The core issue outlined in this letter related to decisions that impact faculty research programs.  For example, the recent COGS contract negotiations will impact research budgets due to the increased costs and the requirement to pay additional support for tuition stipends.   When these types of policies are developed, faculty members are asked to rebudget research funds to cover the new expenses.  The AAUP believes this should be an issue for Research Council.  Research Council could help by advocating for a central fund to help cover these types of additional costs or advocating for a faculty representative on committees that make these decisions.  Sidel and Decker will follow up with Twila Reighley, Director of the Division of Sponsored Programs, to determine the magnitude of the problem.  This discussion will continue at the next Research Council meeting.

Sidel announced that the April 28th (10:00 to 11:30 AM) meeting is cancelled.  The next Research Council meeting will be May 10th (10:00-11:30 AM).

Meeting adjourned at 11:30 AM.