SENATE OF THE FACULTY, August 22, 1997
The Senate of the Faculty met in the Moot Court Room of the Law School.
Present: D. Adler, B. Barrios, K. Beason,
N. Bercaw, A. Bomba, F. Coles, C. Cunningham, R. Dorsey, A. Elsherbeni,
W. Gardner, F. Gilbert, D. Graves, K. Green, F. Gu, A. Fisher-Wirth,
R. Haws, F. Laurenzo, F. Love, T. Marshall, C. Mullen, D. Nichols,
H. Owens, T. Ownby, T. J. Ray, W. Rayburn, J. Reidy, D. Schlenk,
E. Sisson, S. Skemp, M. Slattery, P. Temple, M. Tew, M. Van Boening,
John Watson, Judson Watson, R. Westmoreland, J. Winkle, E. Young-Minor
Absent: L. Blenman, D. Cheek, J. Cheek,
C. Dale, R. Gordon, L. Harper, J. Johnson, J. Mizenko, J. Payne,
L. Pittman*, S. Prasad, S. Schreiber*, N. Schroeder, W. Scott,
L. Smith, W. Staton, K. Wakefield, M. Wilder, J. Williamson*,
C. Wyandt, M. Vinson
* = Prior Notification of Absence Given,
(x) = number of absences this session
Chair Karen Green called the meeting to order at 2:05 PM and announced that this was a special meeting of the Senate to consider issues relating to the Office of Research (later denoted by OR). Several concerns had been expressed at the July meeting that lead to calling a special meeting:
Increased salary expenditures within the OR
Decline in the percentage of overhead dollars
Recommendations of the "Johnson report"
-Keep existing policy on overhead dollars
-Make the faculty fully informed about cutbacks
-Have faculty members increase efforts in pursuing outside funds
-The planning and budgeting process needs input from faculty and
administrators with demonstrated research expertise
-Assignment of a committee to continue this work
The need to support OR programs with
"hard" dollars from the General Fund.
The Chair distributed handouts which included information which had not been available at the July meeting. Regarding salaries, the OR has moved from 18.5 positions in 1994 to 20 positions in 1997. What appears to be a large increase in salary after 1994 is due to the fact that in 1994 there were several unfilled positions. Many of the current difficulties are due to a disparity between projected revenue and that actually received in FY 1996 ($1,275,000 projectd/$621,106 received) and FY1997 ($725,000 projected/estimated $550,000 received). The decline in overhead dollars from Project LEAP did not significantly affect the OR since it had received no revenue from this source for the last 2 years of the project.
The Chair introduced Dr. Michael Dingerson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the Graduate School.
Dr. Dingerson began by recounting his history with the OR. When he began ten-and-one-half years ago, UM received about 6.5 to 7 million dollars of external research funds per year and the OR had a staff of one professional plus one support person. Research efforts on campus were highly decentralized, but more and more requirements were forthcoming. Shortly afterward, the OR added 2 staff people and instituted the 55/45 split on overhead funds. Research support at UM reached a high of about 30 million dollars one year and was about 19 million dollars last year. Projected support for next year is in the 25 to 30 million dollar range. Research support has experienced steady growth.
The UM Office of Research is unique in that it is supported almost entirely with regenerated "indirect" funds. One difficulty this introduces is that the OR does not know until about a month after the end of the fiscal year what the revenues were for that year. Spending must often be based on projections, and the Accounting Office can freeze expenditures when they are unsure of the carryover into the next fiscal year.
Dr. Dingerson temporarily suspended some programs when the Accounting Office put a "lid" on expenditures due to an anticipated budget shortfall. Programs have been reinstituted because: the OR was able to freeze equipment purchases and delay other purchases; OR was able to bring forward 60 thousand dollars instead of the projected 30 thousand, and Chancellor Khayat and Mr. Deloach provided 20 thousand dollars; graduate student support was reduced, as was OR office travel; matching funds were deferred where possible and positions within the OR and graduate school were left unfilled.
Several factors contribute to make the true financial picture of the OR hard to determine. Funds are sometimes "traded" between OR and the Provost's Office, and this sometimes crosses fiscal year boundaries. Matching funds from the UPC and Board of Trustees fluctuates. And the OR's accounting system has been improved to provide a better picture.
This year the OR $500,000 operating budget has been put on a $450,000 diet,
and expenditures are being monitored quarterly. The fact that there are no LEAP dollars and no federal dollars for construction projects does not significantly affect the OR. To date, research support is up about one million dollars over last year.
Why change from the 55/45 overhead split? There are a number of factors, and no single factor with an aggregate effect that the "real" OR percentage has changed from about 41% to about 22%. Factors include programs that negotiated a reduced overhead percentage at the front end of the grant, such as LEAP, the National Center for Physical Acoustics, and the National Food Services Management Institute. RIPS has received $600,000 in building support. When the Biological Field Station (BFS) was established the BFS got 55% and the OR got 45%, but this was a clear disincentive to work with the BFS since the researcher received more by working independently. So the OR now sends overhead dollars associated with the BFS to the Department, the PI, etc.
Regarding travel within the Graduate
School Office, the travel is primarily by Mike Dingerson. UM is
the only campus where the OR and the Graduate School are combined
in one office. His philosophy is not to miss opportunities, and
this requires a lot of travel.
Following these remarks the floor was opened for questions. FS denotes a question or comment from the audience; MD denotes Mike Dingerson; GW denotes Provost Gerald Walton; KG denotes Karen Green; and ME denotes Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Maurice Eftink.
FS: Would the difficulties be resolved if the university funded the OR's operating expenses? MD: Chancellor Khayat wants to move the OR to a permanent budget basis. This is an expectation. GW: The problem is to find a source for the money. KG: How do other institutions handle this? MD: MSU has moved the OR to the base; USM combines funding sources with a substantial portion from indirect funds, but they handle lapsed salaries differently than UM. FS: In light of the desire for 100 doctorates, this would seem to be a wise move.
FS: If UM goes to 100+ doctorates, is there talk of increasing teaching assistantships? MD: We've recommended doctoral fellowships for the final year, but we don't have the additional funds. We don't know if 97 doctorates is a bubble or can be sustained. FS: The lack of funds is a sever problem. We can't compete for students capable of completing doctorates. FS: National stipends for graduate students in Chemical Engineering are around $17,000 per year.
FS: What is the 100 doctorate level? MD: 100 PhD degrees granted per fiscal year in certain fields qualifies an institution for Doctoral I category. The Board of Trustees may include this in the funding formula. MSU is a Doctoral I institution, USM can soon be.
FS: What is the timetable for moving the OR to the general fund? MD: I don't know.
FS: English has approximately 120 graduate students. The loss of travel support has hurt morale. It's a very competitive market and our graduate students have done a good job at conferences, even when the most they got was $100 of travel money. We are losing students because of this. MD: I agree. Student travel has been funded from non-recurring moneys and other sources. The OR has re-established graduate travel support with a $6,000 budget. The AGSB will soon get a separate budget and we will ask them to also support travel. A graduate student: Are you going to talk to the AGSB about funding travel? MD: The AGSB hasn't been funded yet. The OR never "took away" any money. We suspended a program which has now been reinstated with a $6,000 budget.
FS: You mentioned that some research units keep 100% of the indirect costs. Is this permanent? MD: No. GW: The NFSMI will keep indirect costs until the new building is built and furnished. Then they will revert to the formula. NCPA keeps the overhead but pays the expenses for the building--in general, this balances. KG: How does a front-end decision occur? GW: Usually from the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor working together. It's not come up since I've been in this office.
KG: A decision of the Provost. Is it reviewed by the UPC? (GW and MD did not know). KG: These seem to be big decisions. Do they go before the UPC? GW: They're made aware of the agreements, but I don't know the timetable. They may not participate in the decision. KG: How about the makeup of the UPC. There are two representatives chosen by the faculty senate. Where would the OR be represented? Should there be a representative of the OR? GW: I would hope that it's represented, but there's no special representative. KG: With MSU having a president for research, they are probably represented during these type decisions. Should that be the case here? GW: I don't know of any objection to such representation. If the faculty senate recommended it, I believe it would be given serious consideration.
FS: We have reorganized the administrative structure. Was a Vice President of Research considered? GW and ME: We were not on the reorganization team. Don't know.
FS: Is it fair to assume that graduate students and support for research will drive the budget allocations? GW: I've not been directed to change in that direction. I believe we'll do things over time, and am not sure about next year. ME: We are visiting departments as a fact-finding mission to determine the prospects of increasing the number of PhD graduates. I expect a committee to be formed to make recommendations.
FS: Who's producing the PhD's? MD: Education has the most (about 35). Psychology. It's not just PhD's but doctorates, including the EDD; but JD and PharmD degrees don't count.
FS: What are the prospects for increasing graduate assistantships? MD: We introduced one major change several years ago in the form of tuition waivers. Maurice Eftink is currently chairing a committee for an institution-wide look at graduate assistantships. We have looked at a two-priority system: 1) meeting the need for teaching assistants, and 2) meeting the goal of 100 doctorates per year. In recent years two different committees have begun looking at the issue and disbanded without making any recommendation.
FS: Are we looking at the efficiency of producing doctorates? All the way back to admissions? A more selective pool of graduate students might result in more graduates. Are we looking at the input to the system? ME: I hope to find from the departments if they think this is important. I believe this is better handled at the departmental level.
FS: Is there a way to predict doctorates for next year? ME: We are working with the Graduate School to set up a system to track students at various levels--how many have passed their comprehensive exam?, how many have a prospectus accepted?, etc.
FS: Doesn't the SREB require 100 doctorates for 3 consecutive years?
FS: Policies could change. Currently faculty don't get time to advise PhD students. There's no release time. Assistant professors can't be the head of a committee. MD: This policy has been controversial. It is determined by the Graduate Council.
FS: A tuition-free summer would speed progress. Even one summer. MD: The summer sessions must stand on their own financially. Graduate student: In English it's 2-2 all the way through. No English TA has received a PhD in 10 years, maybe 7 years. The schedule is for graduation in 5 years. (English TA's teach for several years, then complete their time as a TA before graduating. The expectation is that 2 to 4 English TA's will graduate this year.)
FS: In Accountancy, to attract students we need to do a better job of supporting faculty. Faculty who can compete nationally can place students and can attract students.
FS: I'm appalled at the second tier for research and graduate programs. No one knows why this structure is maintained. It's time to approach the Chancellor and do another study, if needed. KG: The executive committee meets with the Chancellor on September 5. We hope and expect some recommendations.
FS: What are the comparable research dollars at MSU? MD: About 40
million dollars. But subtract agriculture and they're about the same as UM at about 10 million dollars. There are differences that make comparisons difficult. The OR at MSU has an operating budget of about $700,000.
FS: Does a department or school benefit more by increasing the number of graduate than it does by increasing the number of undergraduate students? GW: Yes, to the degree that they use the formula. Dr. Layzell is not a proponent of the formula, but instead believes that an institution should receive their funding based on a number of factors, including funding for peer institutions.
FS: It's a worthy goal to build the Graduate School and OR into the structure of the university. How can the Senate of the Faculty be more effective advocates? GW: Make it clear that these are the opinions of the faculty. Set priorities, such as "if we get new dollars do this instead of that."
ME: Is this suitable for a First Friday Forum? "How do we go forward from the Johnson report." FS: It will be useful for more faculty to hear this. Some misinformation existed and still persists.
MD: Suspension of programs was not a political statement.
FS: How does this relate to Phi Beta Kappa? Can this be used for leverage? MD: This question has been brought up. The linkage is not clear. FS: Retention of faculty is a factor.
- The Senate adjourned at 3:40 PM. The next meeting of the Senate is Friday, October 14, 1994, at 2 PM, in Conner 123.
Submitted by Mark Tew, Secretary