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Governance Minutes Archive

October 9, 1991

                                    Minutes

                            COMMISSION ON RESEARCH

                                October 9, 1991

                                206 Sandy Hall

                                   3:30 p.m.

 

 

  MEMBERS PRESENT:  T. Brandon, C. Burger, M. Denbow, E. Henneke, P. Knox, M.

                    Lambur, R. Olin, R. Rich, P. Scanlon, E. Stout, J.

                    Wightman, T. Wildman

 

  MEMBERS ABSENT:   V. Bonomo, J. Cowles, G. Hooper, J. Lee, R. Lytton, A.

                    Swiger, V. Wall

 

  INVITED GUESTS:   T. Hurd, K. Heidbreder, D. Shelton, J. Tank, J. Viers

 

 

 

  1.  ANNOUNCEMENTS.  Dr. Stout provided updates on the following topics for

      the membership.  1) National Science Foundation Budget.  The Senate-

      House Conference Committee reported an 11% overall increase in the Na-

      tional Science Foundation budget.  2) CORETECH initiative for graduate

      traineeships.  The Conference Committee recommends $23M.  3) The USDA

      budget has $1,021,000 for the Biotech building.  We now have approxi-

      mately 2M of the 9M required to construct the building.  4) The Office

      of Management and Budget on October 3 published the revised rules on

      indirect costs in the Federal Register.  There is an administrative cap

      at 26%.  The administrative portion of our rate is 26.3% so if we lose

      anything it will not be much.  In relation to building and equipment

      use, annually, the institution must certify that an equivalent amount

      of funds from indirect cost recoveries have been spent in acquisition

      of space, renovation of space or purchase of equipment.  We must cer-

      tify annually that indirect cost recoveries from federal sources have

      not been used to support research efforts by private industry or for-

      eign governments.  We will have to certify annually that no indirect

      cost recoveries have been spent for unallowable categories.  Congress

      has not yet acted on two pending bills that could impose further re-

      strictions.

 

  2.  APPROVAL OF AGENDA.  Dr. Henneke motioned approval of agenda.  It was

      seconded.  Agenda was approved.

 

  3.  MINUTES OF SEPTEMBER 25.  Dr. Burger motioned approval of minutes.  Dr.

      Henneke seconded.  Minutes were approved.

 

  4.  CONFLICT OF INTEREST.  Dr. Stout provided copies of the amendment to

      the law approved by the 1991 General Assembly and copies of our proce-

      dures for compliance with the Virginia State and Local Government Con-

      flict of Interest Act.  Dr. Stout introduced Ms. Kay Heidbreder, the

      Associate General Counsel.  Dr. Stout provided an overview of the

      changes that were made to the document as a result of the discussion at

      the previous meetings of the Commission.  Dr. Rich stated that he did

      not see provisions for what happens if a conflict of interest develops

      during the term of a contract.  All of this seems to be developing to-

      ward a pre-existing conflict of interest.  Ms. Heidbreder responded

      that the law does not really look at it in that sense.  She stated she

      would argue that the same procedures would have to be followed.  The

      employee would have to take the initiative at that point and disclose

      that interest.  She stated that it may be wise to draft something spe-

      cifically in the policy.  Dr. Stout stated that we add a sentence say-

      ing that if an employee gains a personal interest during the life of

      the contract it is the employee's responsibility to disclose.  Dr.

      Lambur suggested that maybe it would be the responsibility of the prin-

      cipal investigator to inform employees and advise them of the disclo-

      sure rather than identify.  Maybe inform them is better.  Dr. Rich

      stated that he wondered along those lines how realistic it is to say

      the department head is responsible for assuring the condition.  He

      asked whether realistically are the department heads going to know

      these things.  Ms. Heidbreder responded that the department head should

      make sure that the contract isn't interfering with the employee's work.

      Dr. Olin stated that it was not clear to him what happens if a conflict

      develops after the contract is signed.  Dr. Stout responded that the

      employee must disclose the newly acquired personal interest or be in

      violation of the law.  If the disclosure is not endorsed through the

      usual process, then either the employee must dispose of his/her per-

      sonal interest, or the University may terminate the contract, or the

      employee remains in violation of the law.  Mr. Hurd stated that we may

      not be able to cancel the contract.  There may be some contractual

      grounds to take it to court.  Ms. Heidbreder stated the employee is

      then in violation of the conflict of interest act and there isn't any

      exception under the act for pre-existing contracts.  The full range of

      penalties that exist under the act could be imposed on the employee.

      Dr. Stout stated that we need to add a sentence that speaks to con-

      flicts which develop after the contract is signed.  Dr. Stout stated

      that maybe by next meeting we would have a clean draft for the member-

      ship to consider for approval.

 

  5.  SPECIAL RESEARCH TUITION, DR. HENNEKE.  Dr. Henneke provided a resol-

      ution and supporting information to the membership.  The resolution

      stated, "The Commission on Research requests the appropriate governing

      body of Virginia Tech study our current graduate fee structure relative

      to the other major research university in Virginia (UVA).  The purpose

      of the study is to determine how Virginia Tech can reduce graduate stu-

      dent fees for those students who have completed their graduate course

      work and are registered for research credit hours only.  A report of

      all findings and recommendations should be made to the University Coun-

      cil."  Dr. Henneke pointed out some significant differences between the

      two institutions.  There is the difference in-state tuition between VPI

      and UVA.  The really significant difference is students doing research.

      Right now our students at VPI who have completed all their graduate

      courses but still have to sign up for 9 hours of thesis or dissertation

      hours in order to maintain their status have to pay $1,889, whereas at

      UVA the approved fee structure for such students is $489.  Then there

      is also some difference in students performing research during the sum-

      mer session.  At VPI they would pay $542 a summer term and UVA they

      would pay $337.  He felt that there is a significant difference in the

      structure of the fees charged to graduate students at VPI and UVA.  Dr.

      Henneke presented the resolution as a motion.  Dr. Wightman seconded.

      Dr. Wightman stated we have lost a lot of ground.  What has taken 10 to

      20 years to build, we have lost in a matter of months.  He felt that

      our graduate students need help.  Dr. Henneke referred back to a ques-

      tion asked at last Commission meeting about whether the $489 that UVA

      charges per semester was supplemented from other funds.  His informa-

      tion is that it is not.  Mr. Shelton stated that his understanding is

      that UVA has put in a full tuition waiver program for all graduate stu-

      dents.  Mr. Hurd stated that he thought that was just graduate research

      assistants.  Mr. Shelton stated that he would check this point.  Dr.

      Scanlon stated that he felt that it was now time to look at a low in-

      put, low output system so that we are not pricing ourselves out of the

      research funding market.  From the standpoint of the Research Commis-

      sion we need to look at being competitive in the research area.  Dr.

      Stout stated that one way to get at Dr. Scanlon's concern is for the

      Commission on Graduate Studies and the Commission on Research to ap-

      point a joint committee to study this issue.  Dr. Stout stated that

      there is a statewide budget initiative supported by the presidents of

      all the colleges and universities and by the State Council.  One of

      them is graduate financial assistance.  Dr. Stout called for a vote of

      sending the resolution to the Commission on Graduate Studies.  Motion

      approved.

 

  6.  ADJOURNMENT.  Meeting adjourned at 4:25PM.

 

  ERS/php

 

 

 

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