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Governance Minutes Archive

October 24, 1990

                                    Minutes

                            COMMISSION ON RESEARCH

                               October 24, 1990

                                206 Sandy Hall

                                   3:30 p.m.

 

 

  MEMBERS PRESENT:  D. M. Denbow, E. G. Henneke, G. R. Hooper, J. C. Lee, R.

                    Lytton, P. Scanlon, H. H. Stoevener, E. R. Stout, W. L.

                    Stutzman, V. Wall, J. Wightman, T. Wildman

 

  MEMBERS ABSENT:   V. Bonomo, G. E. Bunce, W. L. Flowers, P. L. Knox, J.

                    Randolph, M. G. Squires, L. A. Swiger

 

  INVITED GUESTS:   H. W. Swink, S. Trulove

 

 

 

  1.  SUBSTITUTES TO COMMISSION ON RESEARCH. Dr. Stout stated that there is

      no written policy for sending substitutes to the Commission. It was

      decided that if a member cannot attend a Commission meeting that he or

      she could ask someone in the represented constituency to attend.

 

  2.  APPROVAL OF AGENDA. Dr. Stout added two items to the agenda.

 

      1. The proposed revisions to the intellectual property policy. The

      Commission will discuss the revisions at their next meeting.

 

      2.  Report from the Committee on Interdisciplinary Research. The

      Commission will also discuss the report from the Committee on

      Interdisciplinary Research at the next meeting.

 

      Agenda was approved as presented.

 

  3.  MINUTES OF OCTOBER 10.

 

      Minutes were approved.

 

  4.  UNIVERSITY PLAN - FIRST DRAFT.

 

      Dr. Stout pointed out that the research part of the University Plan

      starts on page 9. Members of the Commission raised the following

      points.

 

      a.  Dr. Wightman stated that undergraduate education appears to be well

          perceived by the state but that graduate education is not. The

          dollars for support aren't there. Dr. Wightman is concerned that we

          are going to lose what we have gained over the years. He also said

          that Virginia taxpayers do not seem to realize the importance of

          graduate education.  Dr. Stout summarized Dr. Wightman's comments

          by saying that the general public, the legislature and many of the

          higher education officials in Richmond don't understand or

          appreciate research and graduate education and what it means to the

          state.

 

      b.  Dr. Wall pointed out that on page 2-3, they keep talking about

          Virginia Tech being a dynamic institution, complex and

          comprehensive. In no place is it mentioned that Virginia Tech is

          this because of research and the graduate programs that have helped

          move it along. You do see this in terms of service and

          undergraduate programs. She stated that there are other places that

          this could be added rather than just in the individual sections.

 

      c.  Dr. Scanlon stated that the document doesn't challenge anyone and

          doesn't give anyone a sense of ownership. He also stated that it

          was very bothersome that graduate education and research was not

          supported nor understood. Dr. Scanlon stated it was a document of

          bland statements and that it was not exciting to anyone. Dr. Stout

          stated that somewhere in the bullets the point ought to be made

          that we produce 40% of the Ph.D.s in the state of Virginia.

          Numerical data would help make the point that we are the largest

          research institution in the state of Virginia as measured by

          dollars. Dr. Scanlon pointed out that the average U.S.  senator

          reads nothing but bullets and on the other hand bullets are very

          educational but that they are easy to take out of context. Dr.

          Scanlon stated that scholarship for its own is a very integral part

          of being able to teach and that you get criticized for teaching 6

          or 8 hours a week.  There's a lot of scholarship that goes into

          that 6 or 8 hours. That is the educational job we have and he is

          frustrated by how it should be done. He stated that maybe we should

          have some creative paragraph to get that point across.

 

      d.  Dr. Henneke pointed out in the third bullet, page 4 in the second

          and third sentences that he did not like the choice of adjectives.

          He did not like the word "spartan".  Dr. Henneke said that that

          word raised all kinds of bad connotations in his mind.  He also did

          not like the word humanistic.  He stated that the word "humanistic"

          means a lot of different things to a lot of different people within

          the university.  Taken outside the university he felt that it has a

          very negative connotation in the minds of state people. With

          reference to the word spartan he stated that that word describes

          where we have been.  He stated we don't want to denigrate where the

          university has been for many years of its lifetime and turned out a

          great number of alumni who have fond feelings for the university.

          He mentioned that the alumni might get upset with such terms.

 

      e.  Dr. Wightman stated he didn't like "lowest ranking staff member"

          which is in the middle of the next bullet.

 

      f.  Dr. Stutzman stated that he saw the document as giving more credit

          to administration and affirmative action than research. There

          doesn't seem to be a sense of balance.

 

      g.  On page 6 Dr. Wightman thought there were 2 places that needed

          help.  The partial sentence - even though operating budgets and

          personnel allocations have not been all we would like - just hangs

          out there. Dr.  Wightman felt that operating budgets have been

          level for the last 10 years. Dr. Wightman also stated that indirect

          cost recoveries generated are being used to support activities that

          should be supported by the state. Dr. Stout agreed that since the

          budget reductions in 1981-82, operating budgets have been

          essentially flat. Dr. Denbow stated that research dollars are being

          used to fund basic necessities of the department, phones, copy

          machines, etc. He also felt that research money was being used to

          run the teaching missions of departments. We don't have the

          resources to run the basic departmental unit now. He felt that idea

          should be reflected in the document.

 

      h.  Dr. Wightman questioned the lack of attention to classroom

          improvements. He stated he thought that there was a campus-wide

          effort to improve the inadequate teaching facilities.

 

      i.  Dr. Wall stated that on page 9, fourth bullet under the objectives

          that it appears that creative expression and artistic performance

          are relegated to second class status. Those areas are important to

          a large number of faculty and are areas on our campus that we

          should promote.

 

      j.  Dr. Scanlon stated we should articulate the value of research and

          graduate education and to articulate the role of graduate

          assistants in the attainment of the research mission. He said that

          those are two of the things that are lacking in state policy right

          now. People seem to not realize that the graduate students are the

          work force in the research lab.

 

      k.  Dr. Scanlon and Dr. Wall stated that an introduction to each item

          be added. Dr. Wall stated that all we have are general items saying

          who contributed and how it developed, nothing explaining it. Dr.

          Stout agreed saying that a short paragraph fitting the context of

          the goal and objective would make a lot of sense.

 

      l.  Dr. Scanlon stated that we were moving from being a state-supported

          university to being a state-assisted university. Dr. Hooper stated

          that there is some sentiment that research is somehow disconnected

          from the university and therefore both he and Dr. Stout have

          constantly to remind individuals that it is not. We shouldn't

          expect our grant sponsors to fund everything. Dr. Hooper said that

          those in leadership positions in the state don't have an

          understanding. He stated that some sentiment reflecting the

          Commission's view on this should be stated strongly. The Graduate

          Commission will probably have the same response.

 

      m.  Dr. Stoevener mentioned that perhaps you could argue that society

          has decided that universities have a separate mission in research.

          Society is willing to lay out money for research. He stated that

          society has valued research more highly and that is why we have

          more money in research to be able to subsidize our other

          operations. He said that his unit is supporting three secretaries

          now that were previously state-supported.  Research is growing much

          more rapidly than any other aspect of the university. He said that

          that is not reflected in the plan.

 

      n.  Dr. Scanlon stated that part of the worry is that we are becoming

          very uncompetitive in key components of our research ability

          specifically related to graduate students. He said that he would

          like to see something to reverse this trend. He stated that every

          time stipends go up, fees go up which makes it harder to be

          competitive in the research work place.

 

      o.  Dr. Stoevener mentioned that on page 9 on the fourth bullet that he

          felt something in the structure of a sponsored program that comes

          out most pronounced in the international area and that relates to

          the uncertainties which individual researchers and departments have

          about salary savings being returned when people put their own time

          into international projects. He stated that perhaps something

          should be put in the plan about providing proper incentives to

          individual faculty and departments to exploit fully the

          opportunities that exist through sponsored programs. Dr. Stout

          asked if that should come under the research section or under the

          international programs section. Dr.  Stoevener responded that he

          felt it should go under the research section.  Dr. Stoevener said

          that we feel reluctant to justify the participation of our faculty

          in international projects unless there is a return of resources to

          the department to hire behind a faculty who is on an international

          project. Dr. Scanlon stated that the lack of salary savings back to

          the department hampers individual faculty in some types of

          research.  If you pay yourself on a project, you essentially

          penalize your colleagues by you getting free time and the released

          salary not going back to the department.  It may change the scope

          of what some people might aspire to do in some circumstances. Dr.

          Stout stated that in small departments which already have heavy

          teaching loads where a faculty member wanted to join in an

          international effort, there was no assurance that the department

          was going to receive any of the salary savings back.  They could

          not cover the teaching load without him.

 

      p.  Dr. Stout stated that one minor point is the second objective under

          research which refers to non-funded research. He stated that it is

          departmentally funded research and not non-funded research. The

          funding comes from somewhere.

 

  5.  MISSION STATEMENT.

 

      Dr. Stout gave an overview of the Mission statement. We do have a

      mission defined in the statutes of Virginia as quoted in the first

      paragraph. The next four paragraphs describe how we attempt to fulfill

      that legislative mission. The mission and goals of the Research

      Division will be future agenda items.

 

  6.  REPORT FROM THE INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH COMMITTEE.

 

      Dr. Stout distributed the document entitled Policies and Procedures for

      Interdisciplinary Research Centers. The Interdisciplinary Committee

      consists of Warren Stutzman, Ed Henneke, Herb Stoevener and Jim

      Wightman.  Dr. Stout said that they approached the idea to bring a

      little bit of order out of the process of creating interdisciplinary

      research centers, governance and review. We did not want the

      bureaucracy to get in the way of innovative ideas. The document is

      basically drafted in the form of questions or points to be addressed

      without saying how they should be addressed. There should be some

      rationale of why a center should be created, who is involved, and what

      the opportunities are. Dr. Stout stated that they were addressing only

      those centers who have traditionally been known as university centers -

      those centers that cross college lines and are interdisciplinary. He

      stated he had met with the college deans and the Provost at the deans

      retreat. The deans emphasized the need for some mechanism to review on

      a regular basis the activities of center directors. Colleges and

      departments may want to use the same kind of format for College and

      Department Centers. At the next meeting he stated he wants to have an

      open discussion about any and all parts of it and that the committee

      will take those questions or concerns back to review.

 

      Dr. Wightman informed the Commission of the U.S. News and World

      Report's article on Virginia Tech's ranking in the top quarter of the

      other universities - The Best of the Rest. He stated that it was an

      alphabetical listing and that we were not last.

 

  7.  ADJOURNMENT.  Meeting adjourned at 4:30PM.

 

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