Minutes - Dec 18, 2008

Date of Meeting: 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Council members present:

Jordan Cohen, John Doershuk, Michael Flatt', Vicki Hesli, Erin Irish, Anita Jung, Robert Kirby, Johna Leddy, Cheryl Reardon, Catherine Ringen, Paul Romitti, Linda Snetselaar, Ramaswamy Subramanian, Michael Wichman


Sally Mason, President; Richard Hichwa, Associate Vice President; Ann Ricketts, Director, Research Development; Jay Semel, Associate Vice President; Derek Willard, Associate Vice President

Professor Michael Flatt' called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m.

Minutes from the November meeting were approved unanimously.  Discussion of the recent staff retreat will be delayed until the January meeting.

Agenda Item 1: Update on EPSCoR (Jordan Cohen)

The State of Iowa has become eligible for EPSCoR. EPSCoR's mission is to provide significant funding for infrastructure and technology in order to strongly enhance the state's level of competitiveness in the grants submission process. The program is intended to stimulate intra-state collaborations between institutions and ultimately enhance funding in the sciences.  The program should be viewed as an opportunity to advance the Institution's goal to increase research funding in the physical sciences.

Total program funding is six million per year for five years. Two million per year must come from the state in the form of cost-shared funds, a portion of which may be in-kind hiring. Due to the current economic situation, it is unclear whether the state would be in a position to contribute matching funds for EPSCoR in addition to those already promised.

Agenda Item 2: Conflict of Interest (Jordan Cohen)

UI Healthcare is in the preliminary stages of looking at significant changes in their Conflict of Interest policy, specifically in regard to activity-disclosure requirements. Transparency is key. The focus will be on full disclosure of personal/financial conflictual activities.

The UI Healthcare policy is not expected to affect the policy that governs research, as it will likely be broader. It is feasible that Conflict of Interest policies may at some point be extended to the entire University (i.e. consulting).

Agenda Item 3: Update on Implementation Group - Grant Development (Cohen and Hichwa)

The Implementation Group (TIG) has been hired on a short-term basis to assist faculty with the development of more competitive applications generally in the physical sciences. They have an extremely successful track record. The University's research goals for these types of consulting firms (such as TIG) are to receive an IGERT award, increase funding of large center grants (STCs), and support individual PIs.

TIG has relationships with key individuals who have scientific, scholarly, and creative backgrounds, many of whom are previous NSF, NIH, DOE, DARPA, and NASA employees. These individuals have the connections to effectively introduce University researchers to federal agencies. TIG individuals have previewed proposals being submitted by the College of Engineering with positive feedback from UI personnel. TIG turnaround has been quick.  TIG has added value to both the science component and also the administrative elements of the grant.

Agenda Item 4: Update on IP Audit (Cohen and Reardon)

Cheryl Reardon provided an update on the recently completed Patent Policy audit. The audit was intended to analyze the Institution's compliance and internal controls.  The audit resulted in four recommendations that must be completed by October 2010.  These include:

  1. Review the governance structure of the Research Foundation,
  2. Review patent policy and consulting agreements,
  3. Develop an Education process related to the Patent Policy, and
  4. Appoint a Patent advisory group

Agenda Item 5: President Sally Mason

President Mason responded to questions regarding the University budget in light of the flood, state revenue shortfalls, etc.  She stressed that the University would remain focused on its core academic mission of serving students, its research mission, and the mission of the UIHC, despite the current economic situation. The University will exercise caution but not restraint moving forward and will remain competitive with its peers, who are facing the same economic situation. President Mason credited record student enrollment and tuition dollars for allowing the University to be in this position today.

President Mason discussed the modified F&A policy/incentives and RA support levels. She noted that there is no widely-accepted model for dealing with the distribution of F&A. It is important to keep in mind the real intent of indirect costs, the institutional costs to support research, as well as the extent to which the institution is well-served to find incentives for researchers. President Mason mentioned the recent change in accounting for the F&A returned to Deans of Colleges as an example of instituting research incentives. She also described her intention to review in a few years how Colleges used these funds to create research incentives. Council members discussed the idea of forming a review committee of faculty members to discuss RA support levels.

President Mason suggested that questions from the Council regarding block grant allocations to Departments for support of graduate students be directed to the Provost, to whom she has delegated responsibility for this topic.

The meeting was adjourned by Michael Flatt' at 12:06