Research & Grants Committee Report to Faculty Senate, 2009-2010

March 17, 2010                  

 

Special Charges:

          Discuss the existence of any special considerations in the review of Faculty Research Grants proposals to determine whether the current guidelines need updating. (e.g. It is often said that these grants are intended for new faculty.  Do these grants favor proposals from faculty in their first two years? ).

•      Review last year’s committee recommendations regarding a $5K stipend in lieu of the 1/9th of salary grant.

The Faculty Research and Grants Committee had a highly successful 2009-2010 year. The Committee reviewed an extraordinary number of grants this year, 37 in total or a 54 percent increase over the 2009-2010 funding year. The applications requested a total of  $366,087.55 while given an initial budget of $200,000. Fifty-seven percent (21)  of the grant applications were made by new faculty, in their first year at UW-L.

 

Ultimately, the Committee awarded full and partial grants to 28 proposals or 76 percent. Due to the large number of excellent proposals the Chair of the Committee requested additional funding from the Provost and was granted an additional $28,700. In all, $228,700 were allotted. As said, 21 new faculty members submitted proposals and 90 percent of those were funded. Five were sought from faculty of the CBA where 80 percent were funded. Of the CLS, five of five proposals were funded. Among the SAH, 10 of 11 were funded.

 

Issues for Guidelines for the Faculty Research and Grants Committee

This year the Committee continued with its prior method of reviewing all of the written proposals and then inviting all applicants to come in and give a 10-15 minute presentation on their proposal. As in prior years, the members of the Committee found this to be very helpful in understanding material that is outside of their field. However, the Committee recognized the large increase in workload, mainly due to the large number of new hired professors at UW-L and anticipates that this will be an issue for years to come. This Committee suggests that the guidelines for submitting proposals include specific language that explains that the Research and Grants Committee may or may not require faculty to present their research. Such language would allow all future committees to make their own decision as to whether or not such presentations are helpful and also allow the members to decide possibly based on number of proposals and the possible time commitment required. 

 

An additional change this year was the mentor program.  This was a highly successful program. Out of all of the proposals, seven benefitted from the help of mentors and 86 percent of those proposals were funded.

 

Given the large number of new faculty among those submitting grant proposals, the 2009-2010 Committee did explicitly favor proposals among faculty members in their first few years. We do not recommend that this be an explicit policy put forth by the Committee. The Committee discussed this issue extensively and believes that each year’s Committee needs to thoroughly discuss and explore all issues related to any given pool of proposals and be free to make decisions regarding any explicit biases toward particular faculty members in any given year.

 

This year, one issue that the members of the committee found important to consider was the inclusion of requests for money for undergraduate and graduate research help. This was an issue for two reasons. Firstly, proposals did not have a standard amount of dollars per hour that they were planning on paying for student research and there was not a standard amount of hours requested. What resulted was extremely uneven requests for student help, and a committee that was unsure of what was or should be necessary. Second, it is unclear as to whether or not the Faculty Research and grants committee should be explicitly encouraging undergraduate research mentorship.

 

Recommendations

 

Committee Review of Proposals

                Alter the language in the Call for Proposals in such a way that gives the Committee the right to decide about alternative methods for reviewing the grant proposals that includes not hearing an oral presentation from each proposer. This will give future committees flexibility in the case that there are many proposals.

 

“The Research and Grants Committee may or may not decide to hear oral proposals by each individual grant proposer. This will be decided on an annual basis by the incoming committee and announced at some point in the Fall semester after the proposals have been submitted.”

 

Student Help

                It is the Committee’s recommendation that there be a standard wage paid to students and a maximum amount of requestable hours for student help. Committee members assume that the standard minimum wage will be paid to students. If an additional wage is to be garnered, the narrative must explain. Second, while this is an excellent spillover benefit of faculty research, this is not an explicit goal of the faculty research grants. 

 

Stipend in Lieu of 1/9th of Salary

The Committee recommends that the annual stipend be increased by a cost of living adjustment to meet the rate of inflation on an annual basis.

 

“Three Awards in Five Years” Language Amendment

The Committee recommends that the language concerning the “three awards in five years” policy be amended to the following

“Researchers may be funded twice in a three (3) year period (as of the beginning of the academic year 2006-2007).”

 

Respectfully submitted by

Lisa A. Giddings

Chair, Research & Grants