Minutes - Mar 31, 2010

Date of Meeting: 

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

3:00pm – 201 Gilmore Hall

Council members Present:

Laura Dallas, Carin Green, Kenneth Hubel, Robert Kirby, Johna Leddy, George Malanson, Yasar Onel, Cheryl Reardon, Catherine Ringen, Alberto Segre, Linda Snetselaar, Michael Wichman


Provost Wallace Loh, Frank Abboud, Richard Hichwa, Ann Ricketts, Jay Semel, Derek Willard

Agenda Item 1: Guest Provost Wallace Loh

The Council discussed a series of topics with the Provost, including the future of research at the UI, cluster hires, increasing student enrollments, and balancing faculty workload.

Q: What direction do you see the University moving in terms of initiatives related to research?

A: (Loh) Upcoming challenges include a decrease in ARRA funding, and the recent NIH announcement regarding funding faculty salaries. However, the overall research enterprise at the UI is thriving.

We have first-rate faculty and staff who are at the heart of the research enterprise. President Mason is committed to reinstating faculty lines lost years ago when a decision was made to raise faculty salaries to the middle point of the Big Ten. We are now looking the increased enrollments to allow us to reinstate these lines; we are projecting 300 more students next fall that the previous enrollment record. National and International recruitment is making this possible. Approximately 52% of the entering student body is from out of the state. 

The next cluster hire theme will be Aging in the Heartland. We hope that many disciplines will be able to participate. This cluster hire will build on existing strengths, including the Center on Aging. Additional cluster hires would be in the public humanities. Our hope is that each cluster will form a critical mass.

Q: Once cluster areas are determined, can units make proposals to participate?

A: Yes, we have already received proposals from faculty. There is a faculty review committee in place.

Q: Do you anticipate push back from the regents or legislature now that in-state students make up less than 50% of total enrollment in the UI?

A: We faced this question when the 40% barrier reached, and again when we cracked 50% barrier last year, and people have realized that things did not fall apart. In another 5-8 years, out-of-state students will make up more than 60%. The reality is that the student population in Iowa is declining – schools are closing. More international students who get Bachelor’s degrees in the State of Iowa stay in Iowa than “in-state” students. Iowa City is a strong draw for out-of-state or international students. Recruiting out-of-state and international students is important for the long term sustainability of the institution.

Q: Could you talk more about clusters? Is there going to be any change in the way research support is applied to these individuals? Will be they judged and promoted by their ability to work collectively?

A: We will gather an interdisciplinary coordinating committee for each cluster. Each cluster hire will be hired by a department, but a member of the cluster committee will be a part of the process. The responsibilities associated with the cluster will be detailed in the offer letter. The University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin have similar processes.

Q: How do you see these clusters interacting with the Mississippi Research Lab, State Hygienic Laboratory? How can these units engage with the clusters?

A: Jerry Schnoor is a leader of the interdisciplinary coordinating committee. He would be a good person to contact for this question.

Q: One of the activities of the council this year is to review centers throughout the University. How will centers come in to play with some of the ideas that you have indicated?

A: Ten to fifteen years from now this cluster on water sustainability may involve into an institute or department.  Over time they may institutionalize themselves.

Q: Could you discuss plans to address infrastructure needs for the newly announced cluster of Aging in the Heartland and also for public humanities? How will we increase board-certified geriatricians or patients in a clinic? Many Universities that have a public humanities component recognize a moral imperative to maintain their work in the at-risk school or neighborhood.

A: We may consider start-up funding and we may need the help of the colleges, departments, and OVPR to make this possible.

Q: Are there consequences of cluster hiring? Will this negatively impact other types of hiring?

A: We hire on average between 75 to 95 tenure track faculty per year. New lines are around 10%, vast majority of positions are already in colleges. We are not looking to redistribute the pie, but to generate new resources that did not previously exist.

Q: How do we balance the faculty workload with increasing class numbers, more first year seminars, learning community commitments, and an increasing demand to obtain external research support?

A: We need to continue to increase student enrollments. We also need to make the case for two institutional changes:

  1. Create a new college – University College. This will provide a small college experience in the midst of a large university. Every freshman will be in a living learning community (pre-health sciences, etc). Each student is a part of a 45 member group that takes classes together. This seeks to address the number one issue for student retention – community connection. We would like to hire more faculty in order to improve student success and reduce the attrition rate. We need to reward excellent teaching.

  2. Increase class sizes or number of classes, and implement changes in the ways that faculty work is rewarded and organized.

Q: What is the University doing regarding non-traditional students?

A: In the future we hope to have branch campuses around the state in the future. We are currently partnering with local community colleges. The College of Nursing is offering advanced degrees online. Their college is growing tremendously because they have embraced online education. We need to redesign degrees to combine programs that will reach more students. Faculty and areas of study are not eliminated, but redesigned.

Q: Can you discuss cyber infrastructure?

A: It is high on our agenda. The Research Council should meet with the E-Research Executive Committee.

Agenda Item 2: Minutes

Minutes from the January and February meetings were approved

Agenda Item 3: Update from the Centers subcommittee

The mass email was sent to DEOs in CLAS and Associate Deans for Research in all other colleges. Chair Linda Snetselaar has already received responses to the email.

“The Research Council is seeking to develop a University-wide inventory of Centers and Institutes.  The purpose is to identify areas wherein potential collaborations can be enhanced.  The Office of the Vice President for Research will create a web page that will provide a link to the individual centers. Please share with us – by return email - a list of Centers, Institutes or similar organizational units identified for research, scholarship and artistic creation led from your department, and the name of the responsible leader.”

The Council discussed selecting one center as a case-study. Suggestions included: Center for Aging and the UI Center for Human Rights