Minutes - May 7, 2010

Date of Meeting: 

Friday, May 7, 2010

2:00pm – 201 Gilmore Hall

Council Members present:

Jordan Cohen, John Doershuk, Carin Green, Anita Jung, Robert Kirby, Johna Leddy, George Malanson, Cheryl Reardon, Catherine Ringen, Paul Romitti, Linda Snetselaar, Michael Wichman


President Sally Mason, Richard Hichwa, Ann Ricketts, Jay Semel, Jim Walker

Agenda Item 1: Guest President Sally Mason

President Mason applauded the UI research enterprise for a record-setting year in FY09, including over $53 million in awarded and committed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. The Council discussed a series of topics with her, including the vitality of research universities, sustainability, impact on Iowans, and undergraduate research.

Q: What are your impressions of the research vitality at the federal level based on your recent Association of American Universities (AAU) meeting?

A: (President Mason) The AAU and The Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU) are working to open the national conversation about vitality of research universities for the future, and the value of these communities to the world. America is leading the world in terms of the research universities. Yet, real frustration exists due to the volatility in the states and their respective budgets.  The University of Iowa has found effective ways to manage the budget crisis, but we face limited options to replace what is being eliminated from state funding. Only ten percent of our operating budget is from state appropriations.  

The universities that are effectively managing their enterprises are diversifying revenue streams. At The University of Iowa, the Foundation, Residence Halls, and Athletics are all self-supporting. We are always looking for new good ways to recover indirect costs of the research mission.

At the federal level, the Obama administration has been very supportive. One example is the National Science Foundation budget, which has grown disproportionately. As the federal budget begins to tighten up, discretionary spending will become a point of contention.  At this stage, President Obama is holding firm in commitment to research funding, although this may not be sustainable in the long term.

Q: What is your view of the sustainability of the research enterprise at The University of Iowa?

A: We are as competitive as we’ve ever been and maybe more so. We have new facilities, and faculty members are finding external funding. Our record numbers are a tribute to the creativity and innovation of the faculty. We need to grow the faculty, which I think has to be our top priority going forward. This is how we will sustain and grow the research enterprise.

Q: How is research at the University of Iowa impacting Iowans and thus influencing our legislators? 

A: The University of Iowa has a great economic impact on the state. A report on the UI’s impact on Iowans is forthcoming.

Universities not only drive innovation, but play a large role in building an economy that can sustain the world. A bill recently passed the legislature that creates the Iowa Innovation Council. The Council is a group of volunteer private business leaders who will work to help ensure Iowa is competitive in the global business economy.

Agenda Item 2: Survey Results and Potential Future Survey Topics

Chair Linda Snetselaar updated the Council on the status of the Programs, Centers, and Institutes Survey. Roughly half of individuals who received the survey responded.

Linda Snetselaar suggested sending a second-round survey to drill down on some of the results.

Agenda Item 3: Future Research Council Topics  

  1. Center & Institutes:
    • Develop language to distinguish between University centers and Collegiate centers.
    • Analyze the diversity of the research centers. How many centers are reaching out across campus and to what areas of campus?
    • Develop some criteria for formation and evaluation
    • How many were approved from Regents?
  2. Indirect cost rates
  3. Responsible conduct of research training
  4. What responsibility, if any, does the University have for supporting research where there are few external sources of funding (humanities research)?
  5. Longer meetings (1.5 hours)
  6. Creative ways to assist the University as it moves forward 

Minutes from the March 31 and April 14 meetings were approved.

Meeting adjourned at 3:06