REPORT FROM THE SCIENCE TABLE
October 3, 2007
Alfred C. Weaver, email@example.com (scribe)
1. Report has too many priorities. It obscures the essential message: science funding is expensive but essential, and will take resolve, fortitude, and innovation to accomplish.
2. The WAG report suggests that bringing U.Va. science will be very expensive, on the order of $2B [I did not verify this statement; I don’t have that report; I am repeating what one person said]. Where is the plan to find money of this magnitude?
3. While U.Va. always ranks in the top slots for the university as a whole, if the science departments were ranked independently we would not be in the top 20.
4. The plan to invest in science needs a more focused strategy and metrics of success.
5. There is no discussion of why science is in the sad shape that it is in. What have we done wrong so that we can learn from our mistakes?
6. The BoV program to hire superstars is misguided. The institution can not purchase a reputation by “buying” an NAS/NAE member who did all his work at another place. This money would be better spent on hiring junior faculty with star potential.
7. The idea of centralized hiring is a bad one.
8. One participant reported that the BoV was likely to approve the release of $40M from the endowment. Wonderful, but how does that compare to the true need of $2B?
9. Not addressed in the report was the need for science infrastructure such as research instrumentation, technicians, building renovations, electric power, hoods, etc.
10. One member of a Commission subcommittee was told that buildings were explicitly off the table. But you can’t do science in a 1960s era building.
11. There are two apparent models of science funding: treat everything as worthy and pour money into everything, or pick winners and invest in them. The former strategy works if times are flush; when resources are scarce, as they appear to be, only the latter strategy is possible.
Science (Round 2) Dan Willingham
Priority--Infrastructure must come first to attract top faculty.
Thoughts on how to approach
-Which of our peers are doing better than we are, and can we learn from them?
-Tie the "public good" to science. . .cancer center, other things that the public care about.
-Consider investment in science projects that will bring more & new money, rather than in the endowment.
-Greater transparency to the faculty of what donors are interested in.
On Science – Emailed by Carol Mershon
Having read over the extremely helpful slides, I'm emailing with one chief reaction and set of thoughts for the breakout sessions. I wonder if there might be discussion of strengthening the social science departments as scientific disciplines and promoting collaboration both across the social sciences and between the social sciences and the natural sciences and math/statistics. Perhaps Charlie Holt, e.g., might pick up on such ideas. (I mention his name because I see that he is a member of one of the Committees and also because I hope that I'm not expressing parochialism as a political scientist!)
Diversity (2nd Session) – Teresa Culver
Need administrative structure that allows us to respond very quickly to
unique competitive hiring situations
Discussion of “Infrastructure” Group (Kevin Lee)
The issues are presented in order of discussion with no attempt to prioritize.
- Student Experience: Can students be better accommodated on grounds in order to more broadly integrate them into school and civic endeavors? The South Lawn project does not include new living space for students or faculty, even though this was a central purpose of the original lawn design. What can be done to bring students closer to grounds and integrate them, particularly in their 2nd through 4th years? There are a couple of examples of residential plans for students, but these are small in scale and do not address the larger needs of the college. This would also be an excellent opportunity to better integrate graduate students into the greater university community.
- Scientific Infrastructure: There are major problems with aging and/or inadequately equipped facilities housing key research programs. The example cited in detail was Jordan Hall where power, air, roofing, etc. create major disruptions in highly-funded research programs. This a major complaint of productive research faculty in multiple existing buildings. There is a feeling among some of these faculty members that the new building construction has siphoned away critical funds for maintaining an adequate research infrastructure for existing, funded laboratories.
It is noteworthy that two of the participants in the “infrastructure discussion group” indicated that building renovation and maintenance are a key priorities and that specific “funded” proposals for renovations and upgrades of scientific buildings are to be presented tomorrow (10/4/07) to the Board of Visitors. These proposals include addressing key issues in Jordan Hall.
- Communication between Administration, Schools, and Faculty: The preceding discussion raised a related issue concerning open communication and transparency of planning and priorities. For instance, a great deal of the aforementioned concern about the state of scientific infrastructure could have been assuaged, at least in part, by communicating the plans to prioritize upgrades in the scientific infrastructure. Better and more open lines of communication would be valuable.
- Business Plan for the University: A clear presentation and explanation of the business plan for the university would instill confidence. Mixed messages are being perceived by the faculty and broader community within the Commonwealth. Public statements about the UVA being “the first privately funded public university” are exciting, but may undercut the goal of obtaining adequate state funding. Based on public records, and reinforced by external advisory groups, the University of Virginia is among the lowest in terms of state funding per student. This is not a Commonwealth-wide problem because Virginia Tech receives substantially greater support than UVA. The Commission suggests implementation of a cross-grounds budget cut in order to create a fund for projects that would allocated centrally. Based on the comments of external advisors, the lack of adequate state support is not just a threat to new initiatives at UVA, but is a threat to maintaining current core areas of excellence. It is important to note that a member of the commission participating in the discussion disagreed with this assessment. This individual may be correct, but his viewpoint was not held by the advisory groups or the senate subcommittee examining section 5c of the commissions’ report. Perhaps a more detailed presentation of the business plan and how this plan relates to the grander goals presented in the other sections of the commissions’ report would clarify the issue.
- Budget Cut of 5% from the State: Some schools and departments appear better equipped to deal with this cut than others. James Hilton described a clear plan for cutting obsolete programs from his group, while others indicated that layoffs might be needed in key areas.
- Scientific Instrumentation: The possibility of increasing the institutional investment into scientific instrumentation was discussed. Some technologies will lend themselves more readily to centralization/consolidation. A further and more detailed discussion of specific core facilities and equipment, cost estimates, potential for interdisciplinary use, etc. will be needed on this topic.
October 3, 2007 Faculty Senate Work Session (Janet Herman)
“Faculty” Focus Group:
Brandt Allen, Darden, AllenB@virginia.edu
Ann Hamric, Nursing, firstname.lastname@example.org
Janet Herman, Environmental Sciences, A&S, email@example.com
Blaine Norum, Physics, A&S, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Pusser, Curry, email@example.com
Judith Reagan, Drama, A&S, and Teaching Resource Center firstname.lastname@example.org
Alf Weaver, Computer Science, SEAS, email@example.com
The report continues to seem very general, and we recognize that specific questions regarding funding for various initiatives are yet to be worked out. Still, we wonder if adequate consideration has been given to how Restructuring impacts UVA’s ability to interact with the State on issues impacting faculty, such as faculty salary.
We applaud the goals of improving faculty compensation and diversity, but we encourage a decoupling from benchmarks established within the context of our peer institutions to be replaced by a visionary articulation of what UVA in its own right strives to be.
With central concerns about funding and about UVA’s articulation of its future, we see an unequivocal need for faculty involvement in strategic planning and in development. By increasing faculty involvement in these areas, we achieve our overarching goal of actualizing faculty self-governance.
Faculty role in strategic planning
A permanent Office of Strategic Planning is essential, and the planners for the future must include the faculty. Existing planning activities in the President’s Office under consultation with Vice Presidents, etc., does not serve the faculty adequately. The faculty must be in the group doing the planning. Specifically, if there is to be a Planning Council of 12 people advising the President and the Provost, then 4 of those 12 people must be faculty. The faculty need formalized involvement in a permanent planning structure. Ad hoc faculty involvement is not adequate.
The faculty should have representation on the Board of Visitors. Whereas we are pleased to have a faculty member now sitting on an important BOV committee, we seek a seat on the Board itself.
The faculty should have greater and meaningful involvement in development. For instance, scientists would like to educate our fundraisers about what science is. We want one faculty member from each School to meet monthly with Bob Sweeney and his staff regarding development.
The Faculty Senate works successfully across institutional boundaries, and it should be the Senate that identifies the representatives to serve on the Planning Council, the BOV, and on the development committee. Given that these activities are so important, some award of release time for several of the faculty is warranted.
Faculty alignment with the three missions of university
A pernicious disconnect between what we say we will achieve as an institution – a Public university excelling in research, teaching, and service – and what faculty are rewarded for doing – research – leads to deep frustration among the faculty. It is time to develop a reward structure that includes both tenure and promotion decisions as well as levels of faculty remuneration consistent with achievements in all three areas of our stated mission. UVA needs reasonable incentive structures that recognize all three areas, and the faculty have to be involved in an ongoing discussion of that structure. We see relatively little recognition in the Commission report of the service that faculty provide. Of course it is nice for the report to say that UVA will do service in the local community, the state, and the world, but when faculty are actually penalized for doing that service, faculty are likely to develop deep frustrations or to leave UVA altogether. We require real action connected to item 4 on page 4 “inform and change P&T policy,” and the faculty must be involved in the discussions and implementation of that change. Service must be included in our system of tenure, promotion, titling, and remuneration.
Outright disagreement with a centralized hiring practice (page 6) was universally expressed. A proposal to make hiring decisions at the University (President’s) level instead of the School and Department levels was alarming to the faculty. Anticipating that such an approach would support a drift away from coherence of academic programs to a transient chase of ephemeral hot topics was soundly criticized. Although obstacles to interdisciplinary hiring do exist, we still don’t believe that we can hire faculty to be bridge builders. Rather, a ground-up expression of need from multiple departments can be worked out at the department level and carried to the Provost under the existing system. Regardless, the goal of faculty excellence mandates that the faculty be excellent in a discipline.
The specific plan to develop senior hires (page 7) was unanimously rejected, by scientists and non-scientists alike. The “star hire” approach is misguided. The benefit derived from “star hires” will never be what has been promised. We wish to grow from the bottom up with young, active, creative faculty within core disciplines. Further, the set-aside of overhead funds to support “star hires” is a fundamental mistake. Those overhead funds can be far better used in addressing critical academic needs. We object in principle and in practice to the central hiring of 10 Superstars with $20 million dollars that the BOV committed to the effort.
The endowment of professorships for early-career faculty is a positive step. Investing in our own young, active, and creative faculty at a critical time in their research career will reap a multitude of benefits. This approach is endorsed by the faculty.
Exceptional opportunities for developing excellence in teaching and research can be created out of new combinations of ideas and expertise. Especially in the arena of science and technology, we may realize some of our desired excellence from non-traditional interactions among existing groups. Faculty members are frustrated to the point of boiling over about hitting up against obstacles to genuine interdisciplinary interactions. Barriers to working across departmental and school divisions abound. The silos that we occupy continue to isolate us from one another and the creative generation of new ideas. At the Provost’s level, a permanent Working Group needs to be established to identify and remove obstacles to interdisciplinary interactions.
On Faculty – Emailed by Jennifer Harvey
Hi Ricardo- I have a couple of comments stemming from the [Faculty Recruitment, Retention and Welfare] survey results (esp. reading comments):
- Collegiality is overall good, but variable. Some depts/schools very low. Comments discuss poor leadership- as the Batten school is forming, it should be used to enhance leadership within UVa as well as those we send out
- Along the line of collegiality, general faculty clearly feel slighted. the University needs general faculty and needs to work on building the relationship in a positive fashion. Everyone has a job to do and deserves appropriate recognition when the job is well done.
- The concept of supporting primarily what UVa does best hurts morale. "Support for your dept" was widely variable in the survey. Comments talk about the Univ supporting a chosen few areas. Not to say that this may not be the best plan of action with limited resources, but emphasizing overall support and building up overall infrastructure will lead to better satisfaction and retention in the non-"prized" areas. (slide 10)
- Rail transportation to Richmond and DC woudl improve our ability to recruit faculty and esp women and minorities who have have difficulties with spousal placement and a sense of isolation. While it is not UVa's job to put in a rail line, we should discuss our perspective and support with local, regional and state politicians. (Slide 34)
- Tuition benefit cannot be emphasized enough if we are to compete in recruitment/retention- ranked highest priority for all ranks, gender, minority/non-minority faculty
- UVa needs to work on building a better partnership with the community. For example, we need bike paths and places to park bikes and improved bus transportation. Many comments on these topics in the survey. Again- not all on UVa's side, but other universities partner with community leadership to enhance the relationship between the two (look at Syracuse- the pres who is speaking here).
Graduate Students (1st Round) – Teresa Culver
Strongly support the report's message that we need more attention on
grads. This seems to have been a difficult message for administration to
absorb and needs to be stated as strongly as often as possible so that they
eventually see that all grad students aren't equivalent to law and business
Need consistent source for tuition supplements for national fellowships
With more undergraduates we need more TA support to allow faculty to
succeed at what is valued by University w/o degrading the student
More graduate support is also needed to expand the undergraduate research
experience, which almost always involves interaction with the graduate
Don't set financial goal for grads too low. One of presenters mentioned
20K stipends, which is already below the 12-m cost of living in Cville.
Goal should be a benched mark goal (relative to other programs or relative
to cost of living in Cville as determined by the financial aid office)
Great frustration that Massive growth in endowment hasn't translated
into tangible improvements for most units. In fact most colleges, dept and
faculty feel under enormous pressure (high student faculty ratios etc) to
meet basic role of university and student experience is eroding (bigger
classes, and/or can't get into courses they need, etc). Rushing into new
efforts while the core falters is disastrous.
Ask for Concrete Benchmarks/timelimes for planning document (how can one
measure efforts to address recommendations?) and Be sure to congratulate
selves when achievement are made
Many faculty feel that previous planning efforts achieved absolutely
nothing. This is probably not accurate but when items from 2020 happened,
Was this ever emphasized to the faculty participants?
Graduate Students (2nd Round) – Pam Norris
Notes from the second session which included the following participants: Anjeanette Roberts (Microbiology), Justin Thompson, Chip Tucker (English), Daniel Bluestone (Architectural History), Ann Hamric (Nursing), Roseanne Ford (Assoc VP for Research and Graduate Studies, Chemical Engineering), and Pam Norris (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)
The discussion began with a suggestion for a Graduate Jefferson Scholars Program. Roseanne pointed out the existence of this program, but noted that it is only available to select disciplines which have raised funds to endow positions.
It was noted that some sort of tuition differential should be available for students who come in with fellowships ---- it is very difficult to come up with a source for tuition support for students that are not receiving funding from the University.
To support diversity of our graduate students we need more support services and we need better advertising of the services that are available (such as CAELC).
We all noted that we often lose the best under-represented minority grad students to the very top institutions. It would be great if we had a good mechanism in place to follow these students over the course of their graduate studies so that we might be in a good position to recruit them as faculty upon graduation. (This would involve occasional correspondence from the University and perhaps even an invitation to come deliver a seminar mid-way through their grad career, to remind them how great Charlottesville and UVA are.)
We noted that many reports now have spelled out the importance of graduate student support but we still feel we really need to convince the administration that grad student support is absolutely KEY! (We need to identify a good mechanism for gathering the data that might help convey this message effectively.)
The current endowment plan includes a $200M fund for graduate student support but these funds will be dispersed because they will be raised and controlled by the schools. It was noted that more central funds were really required for this. This led to a discussion of the point that development continually says they cannot raise funds for graduate student support. We suggest that if fund raising for graduate student funding were a priority of the administration, then they could task the development officers to really study the possibilities and learn how other universities have succeeded at this. (They may consider studying how the Jefferson Scholars Program is successful at fund raising.)
This all leads up to our major recommendation: A team of interested and passionate faculty and the Assoc VP for Research and Graduate Studies need to meet with development officers to identify ways in which the UVA Graduate Student Experience can be packaged and effectively described for donors (we already have volunteers among the Senators at our table, and are sure that others can be easily recruited). Most of the UVA promotional materials focus on the undergraduate experience, we need to change this and put equal emphasis on the graduate experience. How can we use UVA’s founding “vision” to describe the Jefferson Graduate Experience? As just one example of a way in which we might package this so that donors would be responsive----A Graduate Academical Village. This would be a physical space with lodging for students (even those with families), shared facilities, visiting faculty, common lecture spaces, etc. Students would share their research activities at various stages, leading to interdisciplinary exchange and balancing the discipline-specific nature of graduate study. Lodging in these facilities could then be offered to our best students at prices identical to those when the University was founded. What a wonderful recruitment tool this would be, and it would also foster interdisciplinary work and intellectual growth. It would truly be following Jefferson’s vision.
Good report; thoughtful.
Some minor observations:
1. P. 10: Does the U really "rely" on J-Term, etc. to "build excellence"? That sounds odd to me. I had assumed that these programs were merely other options for students who sought non-local experiences, to work in small groups with faculty members, etc. The sense of this might be right, but it strikes me as oddly phrased. It's repeated on p. 24, so it's clearly something you've thought over carefully, but to the uninitiated eye, it looks odd.
2. P. 13: Arts and Sciences has a faculty development board, which might provide a model for a university-wide board.
3. P. 20: I would say "beginning" at 20 K per year (for 2008).
4. Any place to address the new pressures about publishing (on line, etc.) as opposed to the fetichized "first book by a university press"?
Facilitating Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Teaching and Research (both rounds)
Notes by Chip Tucker, with additions from Fred Damon and Michael Weber
Rationale: While departments are focused on disciplinary teaching and research, real-world problems such as Cancer and Sustainability inherently demand interdisciplinary investigation. University students need opportunities for problem-based learning as well as disciplinary learning.
Teaching responsibilities are determined at the department level. Failure to credit interdisciplinary teaching frequently obliges faculty to undertake interdisciplinary work as an overload in addition to departmental work.
Consider joint (interdisciplinary or interdepartmental) appointments of faculty and of graduate students. Precedents at UVa exist already for both practices; these should be studied and evaluated with a view to further implementation.
Construction of facilities (classrooms, offices, and laboratories) must be coordinated with strategic planning. Dedicated physical space is a proven facilitator for interdisciplinary studies.
Provision of resources (faculty lines, funds, space) directly to an interdisciplinary unit, from the Provost or a Dean, is a far more effective way to achieve interdisciplinary collegiality than requiring separate Departments to perform internal reallocations in order to work together.
Public – Notes by Lynda Phillips-Madson
Those in discussion at the “Public” table were: Tom Guterbock, faculty member in Sociology whose appointment is also in Survey Research at the Cooper/Miller Center, Pam Tucker, faculty member from Curry, Chris Ghaemmaghmi, an M.D. from Emergency Medicine, Dan Bluestone, Associate Professor of Architecture, and me, Lynda Phillips-Madson, Interim Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Later in the discussion both Richardo Padron and Tim Garson stopped by for some discussion. At the very end of the discussion, Laurie Casteen, assistant to Pat Lampkin, VP for Student Affairs, came to sit in at the table.
There is little discussion about the public service aspect of medicine.”
[Note to Lilli from lpm: I think that the comment quoted above is a naive misunderstanding of what the President was trying to do in motivating Curry faculty to take more responsibility for planning and implementing public service work in Va for the improvement of public elementary and secondary schools.]
Internationalizing the University – Notes by Anne Kinney
Faculty and students appreciate recent efforts to internationalize the University through programs like those in Shanghai, Valencia, Lyon, Morocco and several others. While some of these programs add peripheral experiences to the core undergraduate and graduate experience, we believe further development needs to be directed to core activities. The University should better support the faculty-designed study abroad programs and the foreign language departments. Some of these departments are understaffed and because of the success of their study-abroad programs must currently send away students who want to learn various over-subscribed languages (such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean) at both the introductory and advanced level. Enhancing existing programs and then gradually adding others is long overdue if we want to compete with peer institutions and send our students out into the world prepared with an education that will serve them well in a complex international arena, a globalized economy, and amidst rich with opportunities to explore the human experience from many different perspectives.
We recommend working with Development to raise funds to achieve these goals. Some of the specific areas for fund raising include:
· increasing faculty in departments that are currently turning away students who want to pursue foreign languages
· making study abroad opportunities available to all by offering students travel grants and increased funding for faculty foreign travel
· supporting our excellent U.Va. programs abroad by providing the faculty who run those programs better support (e.g., more support staff, office space, possibly course release for those who direct programs in the summer and teach during the academic year as well)
· offer undergraduate and graduate fellowships to students with serious interests in foreign languages and/or international studies
· encourage intellectual exchange by supporting more international conferences and faculty exchange at U.Va.