RESEARCH COORDINATING COUNCIL

Memorandum 150

September 17, 2003

 

 

Members Present:          Curtis Anderson, Brian Attebery, Alok Bhushan, Phil Blick, Maureen Brandon, Linda Deck, Deb Easterly, Marcia Francis for Kay Flowers, Larry Ford, Dianne Horrocks, Edwin House (presiding), Skip Lohse, Neill Piland, Rod Seeley, Malcolm Shields, Jane Strickland for Al Strickland, Susan Swetnam, Brian Williams, Carmen Harris for Dan Wolfley

 

Members Absent/Excused:       Steve Byers, Kathy DiLorenzo, Frank Harmon, Richard Inouye, Subbaram Naidu, Thomas Windholz, Paul Zelus

 

Dr. House declared a quorum was present.   He informed members that the Research Coordinating Council is the committee that recommends policy for the institution.  Almost all policies relating to research have come through this body, where they were reviewed, then forwarded to the Faculty Senate for approval and on to the Deans’ Council.  These can be found in the Research Policies and Procedures Manual.  The second function of the committee is to receive reports from several research committees that have budgets to make awards for research activities.  We review and approve bylaws and guidelines for proposals for these committees and report that to the Faculty Senate.  The third function is to serve as an award committee each spring when this Council receives applications for release time to write proposals for external funding.

 

Dr. House said he has provided most of the agenda items for the past three years and encouraged Council members to bring forth issues of concern regarding research on the campus.  He said past issues of major concern that were brought to the Council often ended up as matters of policy.  A significant issue last year was the barriers and obstacles to research on the campus.  As this passes through the Faculty Senate and on to the Deans’ Council, these issues will, hopefully, be addressed in a substantive fashion.  Both Dr. House and Kay Flowers realized the copyright policy needed some changes and finally got resolution on that last year.

 

Dr. House asked everyone to introduce themselves and the unit they represent.

 

 I.   It was MSC (9y,0n) to approve Memorandum #149 with the addition of Neill Piland as present. 

 

II.     A.  Annual Report – This is required to be submitted to President Bowen and the Faculty Senate.  Dr. House thanked Deb Easterly for compiling it for him and said it was an accurate representation of what occurred during the year.  Dr. House said, for the first time in several years, there were insufficient good-quality proposals submitted to the University Research Committee.  Therefore, some of the funds were transferred to the Faculty Research Committee to make additional awards.  This is reflected in items 1 and 2 in reports from committees.  Attached to this report is the significant change negotiated last year with respect to copyrightable materials.  This will also result in changes to the Intellectual Properties Policy.  If

 

a Council member has one of the Intellectual Property manuals, this copyright change should be placed in the manual in the appropriate area.  This manual will probably be redone this year.

 

Also attached is the proposal for the Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering and the assets of that group of people that constituted the reason for proposing this.  The State Board of Education approved this Institute, so it is now an official institute of the University.

 

B.   Faculty Research Committee – Dr. Swetnam reported that the call was just sent out.  The committee has been conducting elections for replacements of members.  Leslie Devaud is the new Pharmacy representative, Engineering is still conducting its election, and Bob Picard from Business is taking the place of David Beard, who is on sabbatical.  For the first time in many years, FRC will have a College of Technology representative.  The bylaws allow for this and Dr. Marsh is in the process of conducting an election to fill this slot.  The committee has $70,000 to award this year. 

 

C. Graduate Student Research and Scholarship Committee – Dr. House reported he met with this committee and they elected their chair, vice chair, Graduate Council representative and the Research Coordinating Council representative.  The call for proposals for fall semester is out.  This committee will also be handling the ASISU scholarships and will be meeting fairly regularly throughout the semester.

 

D.     Undergraduate Research Committee – Maureen Brandon reported that the committee will begin meeting around the end of October.  The committee has $25,000 to award for research and travel awards and to fund the Undergraduate Research Symposium, which will take place on March 25 and 27, the same time as the Idaho Academy of Sciences meeting. 

 
E.   Federal Initiatives – Dr. Ford reported that the federal fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.  The appropriations for next year have not been done in time and the thirteen appropriations bills are in various stages.  In the Energy and Water bill, there is $3 million on the House side for the Idaho Accelerator Center and $1.5 million on the Senate side.  The House version of the bill is done; the Senate has yet to be passed. Congressman Simpson and Senator Craig are both on the conference subcommittee and said this could go to conference next week.  We hope for $3 million. 

 

Telehealth is in the Labor/Ed/HHS bill that typically goes through both committees to be earmarked at the end.  Right now ISU’s lobbying firm is fairly confident that we will get at least $1.5 million like last year.  It is not clear when the Telehealth request will go through.  There was a request from Congressman Simpson’s staff for more information on Dental Hygiene’s master’s program request.

 

The GIS Center has $1.5 million in the VA HUD bill on the House side.  That bill could go early next month or get tied up in the omnibus bill.

 

A news article that came out about a week ago about Pocatello hiring a lobbyist was very inaccurate.  With both Senator Craig and Congressman Simpson on the appropriations committee, the Congressional offices cooperate to get the maximum number of projects for Idaho funded.  Usually one makes the request, and then they work together in conference on that request.

 

Congressman Simpson has requested funds for the Performing Arts Center on the House side.  Senator Craig has $1.5 million for the Boise Aerospace Laboratory (a joint project with Boise State University).  We don’t know whether there will be funds for the virtual museum or the female offender database.  The Institute for Nuclear Science and Engineering will probably not receive an allocation because funds in the Energy and Water bill are very tight.  The Engineering request to support a robotics research project will not be funded.  This project had a competitor from the University of Idaho and, hence, was a lower priority with the Congressional delegation. The Pacific Rim Security Center may receive funds.  ISU is hoping for a total of $9 - $12 million.  The federal budget is tight but it is an election year and elected officials still have earmarks for their home state.  Dr. Ford has sent out a call for additional ideas for the next year’s list of projects to be considered in this process.

 

F.      University Research Committee – Dr. House referred to the minutes that were in Council members’ packets.  This committee is the only one that makes awards in anticipation of the next year’s budget.  They meet in the spring to make awards out of the next fiscal year’s anticipated budget.  The money that was transferred to the Faculty Research Committee was part of this anticipated budget.  Dr. House said there was a lean list of proposals for this committee this year.  Dr. House also informed the Council that a faculty member who planned on leaving the University after May 15 insisted on submitting a proposal.  Dr. House informed the Council that the University Research Committee bylaws and guidelines for proposals clearly state that a faculty member must be on contract with the University to receive funds.  Although this faculty member was on contract at the time of submission of the proposal, that individual would not have been on contract at the time that the funds became available.  Dr. House stated there had been cases in the past where a faculty member used part of their award, then chose to leave the University and wanted to take their award with them.  Internal grant funds are frozen as soon as the individual leaves the University.  Dr. House said that these funds are to support faculty here; a faculty member cannot take these funds with them to another institution.  Dr. House also stated that sometimes the category on a proposal is mislabeled, i.e. labeled as a proposal for equipment when it’s a discretionary proposal or labeled as a matching-fund proposal when it belongs in another category.  This committee has been generous and changed the category on a proposal for someone who did not label it correctly.  Other committees can be more stringent, usually because they have several competitive proposals.  They may disqualify a proposal for being labeled incorrectly.  Ms. Horrocks explained that the equipment category is to be used for equipment that will have a university-wide function or at least serve several departments.  Proposals for equipment to be used for a specific research project should be labeled as discretionary.

 

G.     Dr. Lawson awarded the three RTEF proposals that were recommended by RCC last spring.

 

H.     Other – The State Board of Education has a call out for proposals to create a research center and so far there has been interest from four different parties.  The preproposals have been reviewed, and those four parties will be hearing from that committee as to its recommendations. The State Board of Education expects an institution to review the preproposals so that only the best proposals will be submitted. 

 

 

 

III. Council Business

 

  1. In reviewing procedures of managing external funding, it became clear in the last few weeks that we had a hole in our system that we need to address.  In 1998 there was an objection by the campus community to the faculty time and effort report because it was said to be inaccurate and not useful and, therefore, was discontinued.  However, according to OMB Circular A-21, there must be a time and effort report for people who are paid by federal funding and the report must be submitted on a regular basis, at least every six months.  Most universities complete these reports at the end of each semester or quarter, depending on which system they use.

 

Deb Easterly helped develop a form, which was included in Council members’ packets.  This is a draft of what the Office of Research will be sending out and was distributed to the campus for feedback and suggestions for improvement. When the form is finalized, it will be sent to those who received external funds this past spring and/or summer to be completed. This form only applies to people receiving external funding.  One of the two areas where ISU could be vulnerable is that we currently do not have an accurate record of how research assistants spend their time. We give them a letter of appointment that states they will be working 19 hours per week, but we don’t have any document that verifies that they actually worked 19 hours per week. We need some kind of documentation where the principal investigator certifies that the research assistant worked that number of hours on the grant. We also don’t have a record for faculty members who are paid on a grant except during the time they are not on contract, when timecards are used.  If we don’t adequately document personnel time and effort on a grant and a federal agency decides to run an audit, that agency can demand their funds back.  Northwestern University had to give several hundred thousand dollars back because they did not meet that requirement properly.

 

Dr. House explained that the term “graduate research assistant” or “undergraduate research assistant” has a very specific meaning and applies only to those students who have been given an official letter of appointment, who have had a Personnel Recommendation (PR) form submitted for this appointment, who are paid by the University’s Payroll Office on the basis of that PR form, and who have had all paperwork run through the Office of Research.  Other students who are paid by timecard are “student hires”.  A Council member asked if this also applied to “undergraduate fellows” such as those on the BRIN grant.  Dr. House said if the “undergraduate fellows” are not paid by timecard, then they would also need to complete a time and effort report form.

 

Dr. House asked Council members to let him know if they have any suggestions for improvement or clarification of the form.

 

B.   Dr. House reported that supplementary income had been discussed in Dean’s Council on Tuesday of this week.  He used the example of a faculty member on a 9-month contract and explained that the federal government mandates that the only additional income allowed during that contract period is for incidental work where the faculty member acts as a consultant for another part of the University. The additional income cannot be paid at a higher rate than a faculty member is being paid from his/her base salary.  If a faculty member performs services outside of the contractual time period, such as during summer, Christmas break, or spring break, they may do so but cannot be paid at an hourly rate any higher than their hourly rate while on contract.  ISU uses the same criteria for all external funds.  However, this only applies if a faculty member wants to be paid through ISU’s Financial Services.  There is another mechanism through which faculty members may be paid and that is under the University’s Consulting Policy.  Dr. House said the Incidental Work Policy and the Consulting Policy are often confused and they are very different.

 

The Consulting Policy is very generous and states only two things in terms of limitations:

 

1.  A faculty member must present a written request to his or her supervisor stating the name and address of the organization or individual for whom the service is to be performed, nature of that service, duration of the consulting arrangement, amount of time anticipated and the time periods during which the service is expected to be performed.

 

2.  A faculty member must present a written list of any University facilities or equipment which will be used by the consultant (other than the faculty member’s office) and state provisions for appropriate reimbursement to the University for use of the facilities or equipment or present documentation of a waiver of such reimbursement by the Dean of the College.

 

There is nothing in the Consulting Policy limiting the time a faculty member can perform consulting nor any statement limiting the amount of money a faculty member can make as a consultant.         

 

The College of Business, since about 1975, has stated that their faculty may have 20% of the workweek for consulting purposes.  They have an official statement that their faculty may have one day out of five for consulting, which is why classes are not taught on Friday in that college.  Dr. House emphasized that this is not the official Consulting Policy for the University and that the Incidental Work Policy is not the same as the Consulting Policy.  Dr. House reminded the Council that the University’s Consulting Policy can be found on the web as part of the Research Policies and Procedures.

 

C.  President Bowen forwarded a letter to Dr. House that he had received from the President of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC).  Also enclosed was a report on ecoterrorism and animal rights terrorism.  Council member’s received a copy of these materials in their packets.  The concern is that there has been an increasing amount of vandalism related to animal research and agricultural biotechnology, such as genetic engineering.  Dr. House said the University has an obligation to educate its faculty regarding the vulnerability of any laboratory or other facility that might be doing that type of work.  He stated that ISU has been doing animal research for a long time and set up a fairly tight security system for the animal facility many years ago.  The incidents that ISU experienced occurred 10-15 years ago.  A group affiliated with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) destroyed $300,000-$400,000 worth of equipment and facilities in the University of Idaho’s brand new biotech building before it was finished being built.  Animal facilities at both Washington State University and Utah State University have been subjected to arson.  This is an example of ecoterrorism.  Those who are doing biological studies here should be aware that there are members of PETA in Pocatello.

 

D.  Dr. House invited Council members to let him know if they have ideas about issues the Council should be dealing with this year.  He said there would be a report regarding the Humanities/Social Science Research Committee at the next Council meeting.

 

The meeting adjourned at 4:00 p.m.