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Governance Minutes Archive

November 14, 1990

                                    Minutes

                            COMMISSION ON RESEARCH

                               November 14, 1990

                                206 Sandy Hall

                                   3:30 p.m.

 

 

  MEMBERS PRESENT:  V. Bonomo, G. E. Bunce, D. M. Denbow, E. G. Henneke, P.

                    L. Knox, R. Lytton, J. Randolph, M. G. Squires, R. R.

                    Frahm (for H. Stoevener), E. R. Stout, W. L. Stutzman, V.

                    Wall, J. Wightman, T. Wildman

 

  MEMBERS ABSENT:   W. L. Flowers, G. R. Hooper, J. C. Lee, P. Scanlon, L. A.

                    Swiger

 

  INVITED GUESTS:   Dean Eyman, Ted Kohn, Tom Hurd

 

 

 

  1.  Dean Eyman, Waste Policy Institute. Dr. Eyman reviewed the activities

      of the Waste Policy Institute. It is a university affiliated

      corporation which has been in business for 13 months. The Waste Policy

      Institute is located on South Main Street on an interim basis. It will

      be located in the Corporate Research Center at some time in the future.

      The Institute has established offices in Germantown, Maryland with

      close proximity to the Department of Energy headquarters. There are 11

      employees at the present time with planned expansion. Dr. Eyman stated

      that he has asked Dr. David Conn to help him establish a research

      interest database for Virginia Tech. They are in the process of doing

      that.

 

      In terms of funding the Institute is operating on a grant from the

      Department of Energy at $2 million per year for 3 more years. The

      Department of Energy reorganized last year to consolidate all the waste

      management activities under one assistant secretary. The Waste Policy

      Institute operates under the assistant secretary for the Office of

      Technology Development. The Institute is working with them in the areas

      of R & D, administration, testing evaluation, an education program, and

      technology integration. We are in the process of setting up technical

      peer review panels for technical review of unsolicited proposals.

 

      Dr. Eyman stated that they had done a small amount of work for the

      private sector. This includes Lockheed, General Dynamics, Chem-Nuclear

      & Environmental Services, Babcock-Wilcox and several small companies.

 

      It is anticipated between the Department of Energy and the Department

      of Defense that environmental remediation of $250 billion will be

      required.  Generally speaking about 10% of the budget allocations from

      the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy is the level of

      funding anticipated for technology development. Dr. Eyman's goals are

      to continue to expand this type of effort and next year try to develop

      opportunities that interface with the faculty of Virginia Tech. There

      is a lot of room for research in areas that are not classically science

      and engineering oriented. They are being cautious in terms of

      developing and maintaining the reputation of a non-aligned third party

      affiliated with the university and keep themselves clean in terms of

      organizational conflicts of interest.

 

      Dr. Eyman distributed brochures on the Waste Policy Institute. Dr.

      Bunce asked the nature of the link between Virginia Tech and the Waste

      Policy Institute. Dr. Eyman stated that the critical aspect of the

      affiliation between the university and WPI was that federal agencies

      have difficulty agreeing to critical mass size groups that they can

      draw on for support.  Conventionally, universities are not interested

      in doing support services work, but are more interested in research

      areas. The agencies have tried to go to the private sector and have had

      a lot of difficulty. It is profitable for the Institute to stay

      affiliated with Virginia Tech. The value added that the Institute can

      bring to the association is that with federal agencies, understaffed as

      they are today, conventionally when they want help they will want help

      in a given area with a very broad range of activities. The Waste Policy

      Institute is billing itself as having the ability to get to the

      resources of the university, the expertise needed in consulting

      arrangements, etc. The Institute can provide the bridges for the

      faculty to have early signals on what is coming out on research. They

      are hoping to build bridges in Blacksburg with the private sector. Dr.

      Bunce summed up Dr. Eymans' comments that the Institute is acting as an

      independent group who can tap into the resources of Virginia Tech and

      other universities as the needs and opportunities arise.

 

      Dr. Randolph asked about working arrangements, specifically consulting

      arrangements and sponsored projects within the university structure.

      Dr. Eyman stated that he plans both types of arrangements. He mentioned

      that one graduate student had been funded through Sponsored Programs

      this past semester and that he has been working closely with Sponsored

      Programs.

 

  2.  Announcements. Dr. Stout updated the Commission on the budget. We are

      to develop contingency plans that are due on Monday, November 19. They

      are to reflect an additional 2.5% in FY91 and a 5% reduction in the

      FY92 budget beginning in July. Dr. Bunce questioned the rumor that the

      Secretary of Education had found some money in the Education office in

      Richmond. Dr. Stout stated that there are attempts in Richmond to try

      to find ways to soften both the 2.5 and 5%. Dr. Stout also stated that

      furloughs had been discussed at the last budget meeting. Dr. Stout

      stated that if the 2.5% actually comes we will have seen about a 13%

      reduction in the FY91 budget. Dr. Bunce pointed out that this is not a

      non-tax situation but that it is a selective tax situation on the

      Universities, some of which is being passed on to students in the form

      of higher tuition.

 

  3.  Adoption of Agenda. Agenda was adopted with the changes that were made

      in the order.

 

  4.  Minutes of October 24, 1990. Dr. Wightman requested two corrections in

      the Minutes regarding the discussion of the University Plan. Minutes

      were approved with the changes to the misquotes of Dr. Wightman.

 

  5.  Revised Intellectual Property Policy. Dr. Stout stated that the

      original intellectual property policy was adopted back in 1986. For the

      past year or so, primarily with Ted Kohn's leadership, the Intellectual

      Property Committee set about to revise the policy to streamline the

      operational procedures. Dr. Stout asked Ted Kohn to lead the Commission

      through the proposed changes. Mr. Kohn stated that the reason for the

      revisions is that things have changed in this area. VTIP is much more

      involved and CIT has an involvement. The distinctions between the types

      of intellectual properties has evolved. The proposed changes are in

      three principal areas. Under the present policy basically the only

      responsibility the Intellectual Property Committee has is to determine

      ownership. The new policy gives the committee a larger role in

      evaluating the merits of properties assigned to VTIP. The committee

      would:  determine ownership (subgroup of 3 people); act as a

      coordinating body for evaluation of the technical and economic merit of

      proposals; and provide guidance to VTIP as well as to CIT. The

      committee would act as a mediator in intellectual property disputes.

      Criteria for ownership (section 4A) has been changed. It makes a

      distinction between traditional works of scholarship and the results of

      research.

 

      Dr. Bunce asked that suppose you write a textbook and develop a

      software program that is marketable.  It could be sold as an add-on to

      the textbook. There is an intellectual property in the form of software

      that can accompany it and facilitate the use of the textbook. It seemed

      to him that the textbook could be the sole property of the author and

      that the software would have to be marketed through the ownership of

      the university. Mr. Kohn responded that those cases would have to be on

      an ad hoc basis. Dr. Stout stated that in that particular case it is

      dependent upon whether the software had utility separate from its use

      as part of the textbook. If it could only be used as part of the

      textbook then it is part of the textbook.

 

      Dr. Wall asked whether it makes any difference if it was developed

      outside on his own time. Mr. Kohn stated that if it was in his area of

      expertise then it does not make any difference. Mr. Kohn stated that if

      it was in his area of expertise then it is probably university owned.

      Dr.  Wall stated that it should be on an individual basis. The burden

      of proof lies on the faculty member to convince the committee that the

      faculty member has indeed done it on his own. Dr. Bonomo stated that

      unless the university pays the faculty members for 100 percent of his

      time that the university should not expect 100 percent of the results

      of his time. Dr.  Wall stated that this was an area that should be

      looked into. Mr. Kohn said that the policy is intended to set some

      general guidelines.

 

      Dr. Bonomo asked the question of suppose you are aware of something

      that is developed with university resources and then you see in the

      paper that a private organization is going to be licensing it. They do

      not mention Virginia Tech at all and they are also aware that this

      project is generating a tremendous amount of data and it would be

      useful to research. If you ask whether you have access to that data you

      are told it is not university property.  It is privately owned. Under

      such circumstances how would he know whether the university has an

      interest in the data. If so, would he as a faculty member have access

      to these programs and use them in his research. Mr. Kohn responded that

      all of our licenses include the right of the university to use the

      resources for its research. Mr. Kohn stated that the Intellectual

      Property Committee needs:  1) give access, 2) allow publication after a

      reasonable period of time, and 3) ownership will remain with the

      university. Dr. Bonomo questioned whether these disclosures are

      regularly announced. Are they available to the university community at

      large? Dr. Stout questioned whether it would be possible to publish a

      list of disclosures that are pending in Spectrum. Mr. Kohn agreed that

      it would probably be a good idea with some time delay.

 

      Dr. Stout stated that if the Commission approves, the revised policy

      will go to University Council for approval. Dr. Stout asked for a

      motion to approve. Dr. Stutzman stated he had severe reservations on

      the issue of university ownership. Dr. Wightman stated that perhaps

      involvement of a larger group of faculty may be in order. Dr. Stutzman

      suggested replacing "and" with the word "or" in the sentence  - THUS

      UNLESS THERE IS CONVINCING AND EXPLICIT EVIDENCE THAT THE SUBJECT OF

      THE IP FALLS OUTSIDE THE AREA OF EXPERTISE FOR WHICH THE ORIGINATOR HAS

      BEEN ENGAGED BY THE UNIVERSITY (E.G. A PROFESSOR OF LITERATURE DEVELOPS

      A FOOTBALL COMPUTER GAME) AND THAT THE IP WAS DEVELOPED WITHOUT THE USE

                                ___

      OF UNIVERSITY RESOURCES AND/OR FACILITIES (WHICH MAY INCLUDE BUT IS NOT

      LIMITED TO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:  USE OF EQUIPMENT, LAB OR OFFICE

      SPACE, UNIVERSITY TIME OF ORIGINATOR AND/OR PERSONNEL UNDER HIS/HER

      CONTROL, FUNDS SUPPLIED BY THE UNIVERSITY AND/OR BY OUTSIDE ENTITIES,

      FUNDS ORIGINATING FROM SPONSORED RESEARCH PROJECTS AND/OR DONATIONS TO

      UNIVERSITY/AFFILIATED COMPANIES, ETC.)  OWNERSHIP OF THE IP RESTS WITH

      THE UNIVERSITY AND THE ORIGINATOR(S) ARE OBLIGED TO SIGN THE

      APPROPRIATE LEGAL ASSIGNMENT DOCUMENTS UPON REQUEST. Dr. Randolph

      stated that he felt the suggestion of replacing "and" with "or" was a

      good one mainly because on appeal there is no way that you would win

      the way it is written. Dr. Wall stated that faculty probably use the

      university and claim it as their own more than the other way around. It

      is the principal here. Ten years from now it will be interpreted as it

      is written down. You have to look at how it is written and how it can

      be interpreted. Dr. Randolph stated that the burden of proof is still

      on the faculty with the change. Dr. Stout stated that any changes will

      have to be taken back to the Legal Counsel and the Intellectual

      Property Committee. Dr. Stout asked for adoption of the amendment to

      the original motion. The original motion being that the policy be

      approved and the amendment being substitution of the word "or" for

      "and". Motion passed.

 

  6.  Adjournment.  Meeting adjourned at 4:55PM.

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