Minutes - Sep 21, 2007

Date of Meeting: 

Friday, September 21, 2007


Dickson, Fan, Flatté, Folsom, Grassian, Hynes, Hesli, Johnson, Jung, Kirby, Knosp, Malanson, Mason, O’Hara, Reardon, Ricketts, Semel, Sharpe, Snetselaar


Subramanian, Leddy, Cummins

Professor Vicki Hesli asked people to introduce themselves and to give a brief description of issues that they would like the Research Council to address this year.  These included the following (organized by topic area):

  1. Grant Writing Incentives
    1. Incentives for grant writing: Recognition for grant writing, including support for those who write, but may not be successful. More substantial rewards for successful grant writers, including some of the indirect costs funds being returned to PI. 
    2. Role of grant writing in promotion and salary decisions
  2. Funds for graduate students
    1. Problem of inadequate funding for graduate students to maintain a minimally sized graduate education program
    2. Disappearance of research assistantships in the humanities/arts (need to discuss this with the Dean of the Graduate College).
    3. Inadequate funding for research assistantships
  3. Need to revitalize the research enterprise
    1. Need for internal funding opportunities for faculty members, including funding for travel
    2. Major research initiatives and bringing broader faculty involvement into deciding what those initiatives should be
  4. Ethical Conduct of Research
    1. Consideration of a training/certification program for faculty and graduate students on responsible/ethical conduct of research
    2. Scientific misconduct and reporting mechanisms; how can graduate students whistle blow?
    3. Revisit rules for research on human subjects
  5. Need for a center for digital humanity and arts research (UI being one of the few that do not already have this)
    1. Greater understanding of research, digital studio arts
  6. Need for research funding for undergraduates
    1. Undergrad involvement in hospital research (barriers including the recent implementation of background checks)
  7. Consideration of a research track
    1. Improved opportunities for staff researchers to submit grants as PIs
  8. Royalty revenues from patents/licenses as seed money for research
  9. Need for better communication within the research community

How would we proceed on some of these areas?

  • Digital humanities—there are many successful models
  • How much could be put into grant writing support now?
  • What do other universities do in using indirect costs or salary savings when salaries are covered by grants
  • How do other universities reward grant writing for the successful or unsuccessful?
  • Research funding for grad/research assistantships

General Comments from President Mason

President Mason feels that research at Iowa is generally healthy but wants to look at ways to grow, even though we are healthy.  There are various ways to grow and she will be exploring those options.  President Mason then addressed various areas that were of interest to the faculty.  She focussed on some of the areas that had been expressed in the earlier introductions.

Using indirects as incentive for faculty (10-15%) as is done at other institutions providing important “gap” money.

President Mason felt that some indirect could be returned as it sends a positive message to faculty.  The exact methodology for how this could occur would have to be examined.

Emphasis on economic development in Iowa.

Graduate education and research assistants (decrease) and effect on future research.  

The concern of a decreasing number of students becoming research assistants and how the “pipeline” for future research might be affected was discussed with President Mason.

Research misconduct and ethics.  This is an important issue at any institution.  There is a need for education and a method for insuring compliance, including required education for new faculty and students, and there should be adequate protection for whistle blowers. 

Research Track for Faculty

President Mason reported on the success of this at other institutions and indicated that this would not be in competition with the tenure faculty track. Such a track helps to diversify the overall portfolio of the university.

President Sally Mason also reiterated that for a research university to thrive, we must diversify our portfolio, be it in research, human resources, or any other area and to always remember we are a research university.

Vice President for Research Meredith Hay then asked for updates on current activities

Associate Vice President Thomas Sharpe noted that the Research Foundation is now located in its new area in the Old Capital Center.  The Foundation continues to work on initiatives that encourage entrepreneurs and to encourage start up businesses.  These include Grow Iowa Values Funds as well as funds from Battelle.  They are also working on a marketing plan for the Research Park and Bioventures Research as well as working with private companies on workforce efforts.

Associate Vice President Jay Semel indicated he has been working with Hichwa and others to develop the new Office of Research Development.  The purpose of the office is to assist faculty.  This office has looked at the IFI program and updated the focus to indicate that the funds should help develop pilot studies into full grant submissions.  The support for book subventions has been increased to help publish more books, art catalogs, etc.  He has been working with Ann Ricketts, Director of Research Development, to increase the number of foundation contacts.

Director of the Office of Research Development Ann Ricketts reported that the AGEP (Alliance for Graduate Education for the Professioriate) Grant would be going in for a renewal.  She indicated that this grant also serves as a feeder for the ADVANCE grant that will be submitted.  She is also working to increase foundation relationships.  She indicated that we had also recently hosted an NSF program officer, Regalbuto.

Discussion of the new Research Faculty Track was lead by Professor Mike O’Hara and Associate Provost Susan Johnson.

Draft documents of the proposed Research Track that were discussed at the Faculty Council retreat were provided to the Council.  This proposal remains under discussion.  Various members of the Research Council expressed their views on this issue.  Members were encouraged to read over the policy and forward any comments. 

Susan Johnson mentioned that growth can help fund the research track and that central funds would not necessarily be required for start-up costs.  In addition, the number of people affected by the introduction of a research track may not as large as some people have suggested. The proposed policy sets a limit on what portion of faculty in a unit may be on a research track.

Note was made that wording about “post-docs” needs to be modified in the current proposal, as it implies that post-docs are students. Further consideration also needs to be given to payment scales, wording about PIs and co-PIs and terms of appointment (grant cycle effect).

Mike O’Hara expressed concern that the research track will undermine the tenure track.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.