Minutes - Feb 16, 2006

Date of Meeting: 

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Scott Bounds, Michael Chibnik, Jeffrey Denburg, Michael Flatte, Vicki Grassian, Byod Knosp, Johna Leddy, George Malanson, Michael Mackey, Cheryl Reardon, Alan Sener, Scott Stuart and Michael Wichman

Jo​hn Nelson, Director of the University Honor's Program 

presented new initiatives related to undergraduate research and the University Honors program.   

  • He highlighted the proposal for the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU).  This is a new initiative sponsored by the Graduate College, VP for Research (VPR), and Honors Program.  There are three primary goals of this proposal: to coordinate the Iowa Research Experiences for Undergraduates (IREU) and Undergraduate Scholar Assistant (USA) programs; to administer the VPR Excellence in Undergraduate Research awards; and to augment present opportunities for undergraduate research.
  • He announced an upcoming event entitled Research in the Capitol which will highlight Undergraduate research at Regent's institutions. 
  • He announced the upcoming Spring Undergraduate Research Forum on Saturday, April 1, 2006.

John Keller, Dean of the Graduate College

fielded questions from Research Council members. 

  • Some concerns have been raised related to the impact of Campaign to Organize Graduate Students (COGS) contract negotiations on grant/contract budgets.  These negotiations occur after the budget is determined and principal investigators (PIs) are required to rebudget to cover increased costs.  Are there any additional funds to help bridge the gap - short fall between COGS negotiated amounts and grant budget.   Keller indicated that no additional funds were identified and that in recent years, the growth has been on the tuition assistance side, not the salary side.  The other major advantage to the current practice is that The University of Iowa now has a tuition policy that allows PIs to charge grants this expense (assuming tuition is an allowable expense).
  • Malanson suggested that VPR and the Division of Sponsored Programs (DSP) create a website that would project upcoming tuition rates (similar to the fringe rate projections).  This would help principal investigators as they develop budgets for proposals.  Reardon will follow up with DSP and Central Human Resources. 
  • Malanson commented that departments have used the Graduate College Block Allocation to fund a research assistant for new faculty members.  With the decrease in the block allocation the University may need to identify other funding options.  In addition, the cut of the block allocation is impacting the research mission since some units use block allocation as a way to conduct research.  Research Council would like to review this with VP Hay at a future meeting.
  • Malanson asked Keller his opinion on the relative importance of research in the upcoming National Research Council (NRC) assessment process.  The Graduate College will be developing a task force to help address NRC assessment.  There is a new component in that assessment that incorporates student evaluations in select programs.  This will be a collaborative process and all departments will be consulted.  The tentative timeline is as follows: data collected during 2006, with summary reports back in 2007 and final rankings released in 2008.
  • Wichman asked if The University of Iowa is working toward a waiver of tuition.  Keller noted that every dollar of tuition is paid and that the Board of Regents does not allow tuition waivers.
  • Keller mentioned that he is working with Staff Council representatives to create a professional/applied master's program. 
  • Flatte asked for rationale on why the Graduate College was providing funds for undergraduate research (namely, the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates).  Keller noted that summer undergraduate programs are a successful recruiting tool for future graduate students.

Grassian reviewed the minutes from the meeting on January 19, 2006.  A few changes were recommended by Wichman and Grassian.  Motion to accept the minutes (with modifications) was made by Michael Chibnik and seconded by Johna Leddy.  Motion passed.

The regular Research Council meeting adjourned at 2:15 pm.  

The Internal Funding Initiative (IFI) grant subcommittee began their discussions.  Grassian noted that she has solicited feedback from the Associate Deans for Research and members of the individual proposal review committees.  Based on some of these comments, the subcommittee agreed to have further deliberations and discussion of the following issues;

  1. Allowable expenses on IFI grants.
  2. Role of IFI in obtaining external funding.
  3. Eligibility requirements for IFI.

Some suggested recommendations for changes to the review process to insure reviews are done as consistently and as fairly as possible.

It was also noted once again by Grassian that this subcommittee was discussing only the IREU, biological, physical and mathematical sciences and social sciences funding initiatives.