Minutes - Nov 12, 2009

Date of Meeting: 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

8:15-9:15 a.m.

Committee Work on Graduate Education/Research Enterprise

John Keller, Dean, Graduate College

Dean Keller gave an update on the status of the Task Force on Graduate Education: Selective Excellence, which is chaired by Sarah Larsen, Professor of Chemistry. The Task Force consists of 17 faculty from across disciplines, a student representative, a Dean representative, and two ex-officio members from the Office of the Provost.  The Task Force is charged with articulating a strategic vision and priorities for increased excellence in graduate education and to develop an implementation plan with metrics and timetable. Their primary task has been to assess all graduate programs in order to make recommendations about which should get enhanced investment, be supported at the current level, be downsized, or be phased-out.  The Task Force first met last April and is on target to have its final recommendations to the Provost by the end of the fall semester. In order to receive input on all graduate programs, the Task Force asked each graduate program to submit a 2-3 page strategic assessment describing their admissions process, outcomes and program characteristics. Data prepared for the NRC assessment plus data from the Admissions and Registrar’s Office data warehouses were distributed. Two open forums were held in October for campus-wide feedback, plus Professor Larsen and Dean Keller met with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty Assembly. The Task Force also has met with the collegiate deans to get their perspective on the graduate programs in their college.   A draft report will then be compiled. After receiving feedback from the campus, the process was changed to allow programs a chance to respond to the TF’s recommendations. Programs will be given about 30 days to respond before the report is finalized. The Task Force is concerned about how its recommendations will interact with those of the TF on Undergraduate Education and Success and the TF on Research and Creative Excellence.  

Cheryl Reardon

Cheryl Reardon reported on the Task Force on Research and Creative Excellence whose charge is to "articulate priorities for enhancing areas of excellence in research, scholarship and creative work at The University of Iowa and make recommendations on the broad interdisciplinary themes that will distinguish the University in the years ahead."  This Task Force has solicited feedback regarding possible areas of focus and infrastructure-related changes that would help make the broad interdisciplinary themes successful.  They have identified several research focus areas or clusters (e.g. expressive arts; sustainability/air quality; global health; aging/human development; communications sciences; biomedical translational sciences, etc).   Ms. Reardon encouraged members of the Research and Graduate Councils to forward comments or ideas to the Task Force.   

A question was asked about how the Provost plans to bring the reports/recommendations from the six task forces together to move forward. Although there has been some talk of the Provost forming an advisory committee, the Provost hasn’t announced his plans yet to the AP group or to the Collegiate Deans.

Re​sponsible Conduct of Research – Minnetta Gardinier, Associate Dean, Graduate College; Richard  Hichwa, Associate Vice President for Research

Training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR) will be required for federal funding from the National Science Foundation effective January 1, 2010. NIH already has this requirement for all T32 training grants and it is anticipated that other granting agencies will follow suit. The VP for Research Office is responsible to ensure that the University of Iowa is in regulatory compliance. The Graduate College is looking at RCR as part of its educational mission. As reported at the joint Research/Graduate Council meeting in October 2008, a RCR Task Force, chaired by Associate Dean Gardinier, was charged with the development of enhanced RCR training for graduate students and postdocs. That Task Force recommended that a course, to be called Principles of Scholarly Integrity, be developed and eventually required of all graduate students. During the fall 2009 orientation week, a 4-hour introductory session of that course was piloted to a group of 156 doctoral, master’s and special students (G9), along with 7 postdoctoral scholars.   Follow-up workshops were developed and have been scheduled during the fall and spring semesters. In addition to the introductory workshop, first year doctoral students in the pilot group will be required to attend 8 topical workshops (1.5 hrs ea; 2/semester for a total of 12 hours) and the master’s students will be required to attend 4 topical workshops. The G9 special students will also be required to attend 4 topical workshops for a total of 6 hours, and may be required to attend the introductory workshop depending on their previous research training (e.g., if a research scientist or clinical fellow).    This year, the course was only offered to students and postdocs on NSF and NIH T32 grants. It is anticipated that each year, the course will be offered to a larger group of students with it eventually required of all graduate students in the future. Next year Associate Dean Gardinier anticipates offering a parallel cycle to programs affected by the NSF guidelines plus another 18 programs not yet represented. This year, core faculty members from 20 programs are leading small group discussions for students from 28 programs.   Examples of discussion topics include authorship and peer review, sharing/ownership, conflict of interest, research misconduct, fostering relationships with mentors and colleagues, becoming an informed university scholar, protecting scholarly endeavors and investments, peer review, etc.    Gardinier indicated that any program with students enrolled in the course must identify a faculty member to participate as a small group leader. Gardinier noted that some departments offer their own course which is fine.   Faculty and students were surveyed

Since training will be required of all students (including undergraduates) funded on a NSF grant, Associate VP Hichwa suggested that web-based training be delivered through the ICON system. The University has to certify that the training is being done and the PI will be held accountable. He agreed that others, such as research assistants, should have the training, but at this time it is not required.   Iowa received permission to use web modules from the University of New Hampshire and the first will be available on or about January 1. Case-based studies are included. The benefit of a web-based system is that anyone can take it. Hichwa would encourage faculty to participate especially if their students are. A key point is having the PI reinforce the modules. In addition, the rules about compliance have changed so faculty would benefit from the training. There are approximately 5500 graduate students on campus, 5,000 undergraduates associated with research grants, and 300 postdoc scholars. The trajectory is to involve all students and faculty in this training in the future.  In response to a question about the cost of this training, Hichwa noted that since it is required, it must be provided regardless of cost. However, the web-based training will be free to participants. Costs will be covered from F&A which will mean less money in the VP for Research Office to invest in research. 

Next steps will be to contact all current NSF principle investigators and to meet with the Associate Deans for Research and with all Department Executive Officers (DEOs) to notify each of the this requirement. Every time a new NSF grant comes through Sponsored Programs, the PI also will be contacted.  It is anticipated that the training will be through the My Training component of the HR Self-Service site and populated into the individuals HR file for all paid staff. There is no similar thing in place yet for undergraduates using CITI.

The meeting adjourned at 9:15 a.m.