Research and Scholarship Committee, Minutes of April 14, 2005, 3:30-5:00
Present: Larry Bouchard, chair
Marcia Childress, ex officio as Chair of the Faculty Senate
Dave Hudson, Associate Vice President for Research, guest
Senate secretary Frances Peyton was away due to illness
(1) During the first part of the meeting Dave Hudson was present as guest of the committee. When the meeting came to order, Houston Wood raised the question of what impact the Patriot Act, the extension of which was shortly to be debated in Congress, was having on research in universities. Mr. Hudson gave a number of examples, including issues posed by common technologies not allowed for export, such as the Windows 2000 computer operating system-which implied that traveling with the program across borders might be a violation. Others discussed problems in recruiting graduate students from abroad and general issues of academic freedom. It was agreed that the Patriot Act would be an issue the committee and the Faculty Senate would have to explore in the near future.
(2) The principal item for discussion concerned a question, brought by Mr. Hudson at the previous meeting, as to whether the University of Virginia needed a formal policy concerning "conflicts of commitment" beyond what was entailed in the current practice of yearly faculty evaluations and in the established and well-understood conflict- of-interest policies. The University is not now under any pressure to create such a conflict-of-commitments policy as part of reaccreditation. Stanford University's conflict-of-commitment policy was available to the committee as a reference point only, not as a model under consideration.
Whereas "conflicts of interest" generally concern money, "conflicts of commitment" involve matters of time and institutional loyalty and tend to be much harder to define, quantify, and adjudicate. A wide-ranging discussion followed, resulting in the committee's advice that a general, "top-down" policy might well be counter-productive, even if such could be formulated. The committee agreed that existing policies and practices seem to be adequate for dealing with most of the conflicts contemplated. Mr. Hudson said that this was indeed a conclusion he had recognized as possible, and he expressed appreciation for the committee's reflection. Mr. Bouchard expressed great appreciation for the way Mr. Hudson had brought such issues to the committee for consideration and advice over the year, which enhanced the mission of the committee as a place of reflection and candid discussion between faculty and administration.
(3) Mr. Bouchard then asked the committee to reflect on its participation in overseeing the Harrison awards. The discussion began with the view that perhaps discussions of institutional policy governing research and scholarship such as had just taken place might be more appropriate work for the committee than overseeing a student awards program. While the committee felt that the work of reading and helping evaluate Harrison applications wais enjoyable and not particularly time-consuming, members did recognize the significant effort of the committee chair in coordinating the awards program with the Center for Undergraduate Excellence (CUE), which has administered the awards these last two years. This investment by the chair in the Harrison Awards can potentially limit other work the chair can accomplish on behalf of the committee. Committee members conceded that the Faculty Senate continuing to have a stake in the awards means that someone - either the Research and Scholarship Committee chair or the chair of a Harrison Awards subcommittee - will spend time on logistics and communication regarding the awards and their administration by CUE.
There was review of the history of the Harrison Awards, which began as a Senate initiative - indeed, the awards were originally known as Faculty Senate Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards - and which were intended to express and enhance the faculty's commitment to and abiding interest in undergraduate research. This review prompted the committee to reflect again upon whether the current combination of Senate oversight and CUE administration is possibly the most appropriate arrangement after all. Ms. Childress, Mr. Wood, and Mr. Bouchard will meet this spring with Vice Provost Milton Adams, to whom CUE now reports, to discuss the Harrison Awards and the respective roles and responsibilities of the Senate, CUE, and the Provost in this undergraduate research program. Next year's Research and Scholarship Committee would need to take up the matter from there.
With that, and with appreciation for the committee and its work, Mr. Bouchard adjourned what was assumed to be the last of this committee's meeting for 2004-2005.
Minutes by Larry D. Bouchard, 24 April 2005