OFFICE OF VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH
The committee members include: Richard E. Kerber (Internal Medicine), Chair; Lori Bassler (Internal Medicine), Jackie Bickenbach (Anatomy and Cell Biology), Kathryn Brown (Pharmacology), Steve Collins (Electrical Computer Engineering), Anuja Dokras-Jagasia (Obstetrics-Gynecology), Michael Flatte (Physics and Astronomy), Hazel Kerr (Chemistry), Christine Pawley (Library and Informational Sciences), Mark Peterson (History), David Soll (Biological Sciences), Sarah Vigmostad (Biomedical Engineering), and Michelle Wichman (Biostatistics).
Members of the
committee interviewed a total of 53 individuals. Interviewees included
members of the
A set of standard questions to be used by the various committee members in their interviews was developed. The questions were as follows: 1) What is the nature of your interaction with the Office of the Vice President for Research? 2) What is the major strength of the OVPR? 3) What is the major weakness of the OVPR? 4) What changes should be made in the OVPR? 5) Should the office be restructured to reduce the number of administrators and/or units reporting directly to the OVPR? If so, how? 6) Should some of the office’s “allied units” be moved to other administrative units within the University? If so, which ones and where should they go? 7) How should the OVPR do more to encourage entrepreneurship? 8) How should the OVPR help increase funding opportunities for investigators? 9) How should the office increase service to the faculty?
These questions were developed to address concerns which had already been noted in the self-study. Not every question was asked at each interview, nor were the interviews restricted to these questions.
In addition to
these interviews, the committee received important assistance from Dr. Theodore
J. Cicero, Vice Chancellor of Research at
The committee also reviewed the thorough and informative self-study that was prepared by the staff of the Office of the Vice President for Research as called for in the University Operations Manual. That self-study was completed in 2004. A portion of the self-study consisted of comments solicited from the broader University community by E-mailing a Web-based survey to approximately 900 faculty and research-based or administrative staff in the spring of 2004. That survey received 450 responses (50% return rate). Since at the time our committee began its work this survey was only one year old, we decided to rely on the comments gained in the survey rather than repeating it, given the relatively short period of time that had elapsed since the survey had been completed. This decision was agreed to by Dr. Richard LeBlond, the Faculty Senate President.
The mission of the Office of the Vice President for Research is to provide academic and administrative leadership to the conduct of research, scholarship and creative activity at The University of Iowa by fostering, supporting and inspiring such activity, by overseeing its ethical and regulatory compliance, and by ensuring its dissemination and application in the public and private sectors (2004 Self Study).
The Office of the
Vice President for Research consists of the Vice President and 14 individuals
who report directly to the Vice President, either as Associate Vice Presidents
or as directors of various centers, divisions, and foundations. A number
of allied units also report to the Vice President for Research. An
organization chart of the Vice President for Research as of April 2006 is
provided in Appendix III. Three units have recently been removed from the
jurisdiction of the Vice President for Research and transferred to the Office
of the Provost: the
The main function of the office of the Office of the Vice President for Research is to oversee the University’s research activities and to provide support services and infrastructure for those activities. These activities are extensive. For example, the OVPR oversaw the distribution and use of $359.6 million in 2004-2005 ($249.7 million Federal, $109.9 million non-federal).
The 2004 Self-Study identified six areas of OVPR function: a) grant and contract administration, b) development, c) research policy development and oversight, d) regulatory compliance, e) technology transfer and economic development, f) infrastructure and other support. As further discussed in the 2004 Self-Study each of those areas perform various activities:
a) Grant and Contract Administration: the Division of Sponsored Programs and the Clinical Trials Office provide assistance to UI members who are seeking external financial support for various aspects of research (basic and applied, clinical trials, training and service activities).
b) Development: Development activities are
aimed at initiation or growth of scholarly, creative and research
programs. Notable in this category is the Arts and Humanities Initiative,
established as a separate budget line in 1988, providing seed money for a wide
range of competitively assessed faculty-initiated projects. Although this
initiative no longer has a budget line of its own, it has been funded at an
average level of approximately $313,000. Its seed money has contributed
importantly to scholarly, research and creative accomplishments in the liberal
arts. Development also involves the exploration of ideas with external
funding agencies. The Division of Sponsored Programs and the
c) Research Policy Development and Oversight involves three separate but related areas: governmental and sponsor policies, UI policies and oversight/enforcement. Governmental and sponsor policies result in legislation, regulation and other activities which have a major impact on the conduct of university based research. UI policies include intellectual property policies, policies on conflict of interest, authorship issues and databases.
d) Regulatory Compliance includes regulatory and technical support for UI research and scholarship which ensure that research activities are conducted in accordance with federal and University policies and procedures. The Senior Associate Counsel in the OVPR is the University’s integrity officer. The Health Protection Office provides technical and logistical support for safety procedures. The Human Subjects Office has a centralized review program within the OVPR for review of research protocols involving the use of humans in research. The University’s two Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are a component within the Human Research Protection Program/Human Subjects Office. The Human Subjects Office has also taken on the role of addressing health information portability and accountability (HIPAA) compliance. The Office of Animal Resources reviews research and teaching protocols using live vertebrate animals; the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee receives staff support from the Office of Animal Resources.
Transfer and Development attempts proactively to make technology available
for commercialization and deals with activities related to work force community
and business support. OVPR units are heavily involved in this area.
f) Infrastructure and Other Support includes physical research space, data management and electronic systems. Research Information Systems develops and maintains electronic grant management systems. Core Research Facilities include the Central Microscopy Research Facility, High Resolution Mass Spectroscopy, High Field Nuclear Resonance, Academic Technology – Research Services, and Large Scale Fermentation Facility.
For a more detailed discussion of each of these OVPR activities, the reader is referred to the 2004 Self-Study.
The next two sections of this report are derived from the numerous interviews the committee undertook with various members of the administration, deans and faculty, from our review of the self-study and the comments from the University community which were gathered in 2004. Since the committee felt that the review should concentrate on areas of weakness, concern and need for change, the first of these two sections, “Positive Aspects of the OVPR”, is by design brief.
III. POSITIVE ASPECTS OF THE OVPR
The OVPR was considered to be efficient, especially at matters involving compliance and regulatory issues. The Department of Sponsored Programs was commended for reasonably rapid processing of grant applications. The personnel of the office were considered to be hard working and generally efficient and knowledgeable. The open door policy pursued by the administrative officers and staff was widely acknowledged and appreciated by our interviewees. The new Vice President for Research, Dr. Meredith Hay, specifically stated that the major strength of the office was the quality and performance of the staff.
Numerous interviewees attributed the deficiencies and problems of the OVPR (see next section) to budget cuts and reversions to which the University has been subjected in the last several years, a situation which is largely beyond the University’s control.
IV. CRITICISMS AND WEAKNESSES OF THE OVPR
This section will list criticisms and areas of weakness that numerous interviewers identified. Where appropriate, specific suggestions for improvement are included.
The OVPR was widely considered to be not proactive but mostly reactive in
encouraging research. Numerous suggestions were offered to improve this
situation. The OVPR could bring together clusters of investigators who
might not be aware of each other’s common interest in order to collaborate on
large projects. The OVPR could identify projects which would be of
interest to funding agencies and for which there are particularly appropriate
groups of investigators at the
The organizational structure of the OVPR is diffuse, with too many centers and offices reporting directly to the OVPR, sometimes only for historical reasons. Our external reviewer, Dr. Cicero, suggested that a number of units presently reporting to the OVPR could be moved to other offices, specifically citing the Hygienic Laboratory (see his report) and, in our interview with him, the National Advanced Driving Simulator and the Museums.
The boundaries between the working responsibilities of the Provost, the Vice President for Research and the Senior Vice President and Treasurer should be clarified and formalized.
Interviewees encouraged the OVPR to provide more help with bridging funds and seed grants for new projects. Of note is that four internally funded programs targeted at the biological sciences, mathematics and physical sciences, social sciences and undergraduates have recently been established. The OVPR should establish and publicize hard funding goals for the next several years. Appropriate metrics for such goals might include new dollars raised and/or the percent of the faculty receiving support for research.
Visibility of the OVPR was a theme. Many faculty members felt that there was a general lack of knowledge and understanding of what the functions of the OVPR were. Vice President Hay has stated that a priority of hers is to increase visibility of the office, both on and outside the campus. We see here an opportunity also to increase public understanding of the substantive research and scholarship performed on this campus. One way to accomplish this might be to identify faculty members with successful educational and/or research programs, who would be willing to make presentations on their work to legislators, community groups, high schools, etc.
The OVPR has long played a leadership role among the UI’s peer institutions regarding the sustaining and promoting of scholarly and creative work in the arts and humanities. The fear was forcefully articulated to us that with the loss of dedicated funding, this role is eroding. The Office of Sponsored Programs was seen to put insufficient energy in assisting faculty in securing funding for projects in the arts and humanities. Several observers urged that the OVPR should act as an advocate for small units (e.g., the Center for the Book, UI museums).
The recent demands for focusing research on economic development and entrepreneurship were a major concern of many interviewees. Although all acknowledged the need for money to support the activities of the OVPR that need expansion, and recognized the importance of entrepreneurship and economic development, many expressed considerable fear that we are moving toward focus on service activities designed to support the economic goals of the state, but which do not advance the scholarly mission of the university. The expansion of knowledge should be our goal. Faculty appointments and promotion/tenure decisions should be based on scholarship and teaching, not entrepreneurship.
property was a common focus of discussion; a number of interviewees felt that
there should be more efforts by the OVPR to develop technology transfer and to
commercialize University findings. Connections between the Vice President for
Research office and the
a substantial increase in revenue in 2005, the Research Foundation was the
target of many complaints. The Research Foundation was considered to be
“woefully understaffed” especially compared to
interviewees complained that unwarranted distinctions were made among research
ideas based on the sponsorship of the ideas, i.e., that industry-supported
research was undervalued compared to NIH, NSF, NEA, NEH sponsorship – even if
the industry-sponsored research was investigator-initiated. It was stated
Many of those interviewed were deeply concerned about the
distribution and use of funding incentives which reflected levels of indirect
costs. This was one of the most intensely discussed issues; people had
· Other Concerns
Interviewees called upon the OVPR to show sensitivity to the needs of professional, scientific and merit staff by establishing more training and retraining programs, especially to fill the needs of new or open positions. Several interviewees suggested that ongoing programs to keep skill and knowledge up to date should also be provided. They expressed the wish that UI grants, now available to support staff when taking courses, be expanded and specifically directed to encourage research and scholarship.
A number of comments were directed at the Institutional Review Boards and particularly delays in processing and approving projects. It was noted that this situation has been alleviated somewhat in recent years. Time off or financial salary incentives were suggested as ways of encouraging additional faculty members to serve on the IRB and therefore speed processing grants. One dean suggested that multiple IRBs, specialized according to areas of research, should be created.
A related concern was the Animal Care and Use Committee. Concerns were expressed about inadequate faculty input into the policy and procedures of this Committee.
These recommendations are informed by the comments of the interviewees and of the external reviewer Dr. Theodore Cicero, with which we strongly agree. Dr. Cicero’s separate written report is provided in Appendix II.
· The OVPR should be an advocate for support from the state legislature for the University’s general fund, which supports research and scholarship across all disciplines.
· Understanding that the mission of the University is teaching, research and the advancement of scholarly and creative endeavor, be cautious about prioritizing the role of economic development and entrepreneurship; seek unrestricted funding from the state. Make it clear to the Governor and legislature that the University’s capacity to be an economic engine is not unlimited and in some cases is not consonant with the role and mechanisms of scholarship.
· The OVPR should be more proactive in encouraging research and scholarship, and specifically should try to identify “hot” areas and seek to bring together appropriate investigators to pursue these areas. Support for preliminary efforts could be provided with limited funds. Consider establishing a group which biannually would specifically meet for the purpose of identifying such areas. This might be a regular assigned function of the University Research Council.
· Make the University community more aware of what the OVPR does and how it can assist individual investigators, especially new ones, throughout the University.
· Begin an
open dialogue with the
· Sustain the Arts and Humanities Initiative, giving it a very high priority. Considering the limited funding available to the humanities (as compared with the sciences and medicine), an increase in the modest dollars already committed for this purpose is crucial for the ability of Arts and Humanities faculty to compete for sponsored funds. The University needs to be better situated to compete for major grants from private as well as public sources of support in the Arts and Humanities.
· We commend the recent restructuring of the OVPR to appoint an Associate Vice President for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and an Associate Vice President for the Biological, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences, who will act as strategic advisors to the OVPR. We urge that these advisors respond to the specific concerns articulated to us, identify and address imbalances between the potential funding sources for various disciplines, and position the University better to engage federal and private sources of support.
· Establish more infrastructure support for research grant submissions; establish a core office specifically to advise and assist with the mechanics of research grant development. This was a major recommendation of our external reviewer Dr. Cicero, and we strongly agree.
· Formalize the relationships between the Provost, the Vice President for Research and the Senior Vice President and Treasurer.
· Assign the Research Council specific tasks so it does not only function as an ad hoc advisory body. It could act as a peer review body for the Provost’s Faculty Scholar Awards. As noted earlier, it could be asked to regularly identify areas of research particularly likely to be fundable, and to bring together UI investigators interested in such research.
INTERVIEWEES OF THE COMMITTEE TO REVIEW THE OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH
UI CENTRAL OFFICERS/DEANS
Michael Hogan Executive Vice President and Provost
Douglas True Senior Vice President and Treasurer
Nancy Baker University Librarian
& Chris Squier Associate Dean, Research
Linda Maxson Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Michael Apicella Microbiology Professor
Tom Boggess Physics & Astronomy Professor
Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs,
Kevin Campbell Physiology & Biophysics Professor
Sonya Franklin Chemistry Professor
Johna Leddy Chemistry Professor
Geoffrey McLennan Internal Medicine Professor
Jeff Murray Pediatrics Professor
George Neumann Economics Professor, Chair of 1994 OVPR Review Committee
Mark Sidel College of Law Professor
Jack Stapleton Internal Medicine Professor
Audra Haddy Staff, Grant Accounting
Randy Jordison Staff, Internal Medicine
Michael Cohen Faculty Senate Secretary
Steve McGuire Faculty Senate
Katherine Tachau Faculty Senate Past President
Cheryl Reardon Staff Council
Charles Eastham Staff Council
Mark Arnold Director, Optical Science and Engineering
Beverly Davidson Director, Gene Therapy Vector Core
John Nelson Past Director, Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry
Lauren Rabinovitz Director, Division of Interdisciplinary Programs
Stephen Vlastos Past Director, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies
FACULTY/STAFF OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH
Meredith Hay Vice President for Research
William Decker Senior Associate Vice President
Derek Willard Associate Vice President for Research and Special Assistant to the President for Governmental Relations
David Wynes Associate Vice President
Francois Abboud Associate Vice President
Christine Brus Director, Women in Science and Engineering
Holly Carver Director, UI Press
L. D. Chen Director, National Advanced Driving Simulator
Mary Gilchrist Director, University Hygienic Lab
Christopher Merrill Director, International Writing Program
Kenneth Moore Director, Central Microscopy
Elizabeth Pauls Director, Office of the State Archaeologist
Twila Reighley Assistant Vice President – Division of Sponsored Programs
Jack Rosazza Past Director, Center for Biocatalysis & Bioprocessing
Site Visit Report
Review of the Research Administration Structure
Theodore J. Cicero, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Research,
In the fall of 2005, the
I. Current Vice President for Research
Meredith Hay is the new Vice President for Research, having
come from the
II. Detailed Comments and Recommendations
I believe, overall, the office functions well and the job seems to get done. There is, however, a great deal of concern that has been expressed that falls into the following general categories:
(A) Organizational Structure of the Research Office
There seem to be an awful lot of direct reports to the Vice President for Research (VPR), and this will undoubtedly, in my estimation, lead to a diffusion of effort. Indeed, there are many centers and other laboratories, such as the University Hygienic Laboratory, which report to the Vice President for Research for reasons that are unknown. It is probably unfair to the center’s long-term interests to be so far down the “food chain” and not have unfettered access to the VPR. In this connection, it is not reasonable to expect the VPR to have sufficient time and energy to provide oversight and mentorship to so many reports. Although I believe there are too many direct reports, I believe paradoxically it would be important to add a direct report to Dr. Hay who would then have these offices report to them (if reporting to the Research Office was still viewed to be important).
(B) Budget and Changing Climate
There is a strongly held view that the recent state budget, which emphasizes commercialization of research as a budget line of $4,000,000[*], will affect the campus research community in an entirely negative way. Specifically, there are very serious and surprisingly widespread concerns in the following areas:
(1) That the efforts of a research office that already appears to have limited resources, and does not always necessarily meet the needs of the faculty, will be diluted by efforts to commercialize research and technology transfer. I share this view, and there needs to be a concerted effort to manage expectations of the state legislature (see below) and to make sure the Research Office concentrates on its main mission.
(2) There is a concern that the entire atmosphere, both collegial and academic, will suffer as a result of this emphasis on commercialization as opposed to the fundamental precepts of universities, which is to conduct and carry out objective basic research without any concern about its implications for commercial outlets.
(3) There were fears expressed that the tenure process might also be influenced by the emphasis on commercialization; that is, the traditional benchmarks for promotion and tenure will be expanded to include, or replaced by, success at technology transfer. On the other hand, there seemed to be a general view that commercialization, for those faculty members who are interested in it, does need to be beefed up, but this should not be over-emphasized.
In this connection, there is a view that the University did not properly sell its mission to the State (“sold-out”), and rather accepted the $4,000,000* for commercialization based on just the dollars alone without considering its implications and standing fast for unrestricted funding. Whether or not this view is correct, it appears to me that the Vice President for Research and the University need to manage expectations of both the faculty and state legislature. By this I mean, most universities across the country are being looked upon by their state legislatures to be the source of ideas and knowledge that will form the basis of companies and therefore rescue the state’s economy, driving it in the direction of an information-based technology. This is simply not feasible and it needs to be emphasized to the legislature what, indeed, technology transfer in a university can do or should not do. My concern and worry, of course, is that the University will not deliver in a timely fashion on upgrading the economy as was suggested, and this will, in the long run, hurt the University’s funding by the legislature. The faculty’s concerns raised above have been very inadequately addressed and this is, or should be, a major and immediate concern of the VPR’s office.
(C) Discretionary Funds
Another major concern is that the limited discretionary
funds within the research office are, in fact, mishandled and there may be some
bias in the system which favors one department or school over others in the
institution. Clearly, what needs to occur here is that the review process
for these applications be changed in such a way that the process is viewed as
fairer and less political. This comment came mainly from non-Medical
School faculty, but occurred at other levels who felt that they were treated
less well because of the “800 pound gorilla” in the
(D) Research Council
Somewhat related to the above, there is a Research Council
which reports directly to the Vice President for Research, but no one seems to
be exactly clear on the nature of its overall functions. It is also
striking that, as one looks at the membership of the Research Council, there is
only a single voting member from the
(E) Bridge, Gap Funding and Special Projects
There were a number of concerns raised about bridge or GAP funding. Many departments believe that they get very little help from the Research Office or their schools. Moreover, there is a view that Dr. Hay’s recent decision to meet their financial needs by expecting a third from the department, a third from the school and a third from the office of the Vice President for Research represents a huge financial burden for many schools and departments, one that they have no ability to meet. They believe this new policy effectively means that they get very little real help from the Vice President for Research’s office and that this decision was made too hastily with no input from the stake-holders.
(F) Grants Administration
A number of the departments indicated that they had no expertise at all with grants administration and grants processing. Specifically, very few of the non-medical schools and their departments seemed to have any mechanism available to help faculty in the preparation of applications, preparing their budgets, or insuring compliance with various federal statutes. They believe that the central unit is not very helpful in setting up the grant and that going to them for help and assistance was always viewed with disdain by the central unit, because it too felt it was understaffed. Clearly there needs to be a mechanism developed by which departments can avail themselves of some grant’s administrators who can help them prepare grants. It is, I think, a terrible waste of time and effort for faculty members to have to do the science as well as handle all the administrative aspects of their grants.
My suggestion would be, as we have done at
Finally, I believe it is important that the administration better involve the faculty in decision making and listening to their concerns. I heard a number of concerns raised at the various interviews where the faculty basically felt as if they were disenfranchised about the developments within the University, such as the emphasis on commercialization, bridge funding and things of this sort. Furthermore, they feel there are no mechanisms in place for them to express their viewpoints, and there was a very clear view that the administration was insensitive to their needs. Clearly, this needs to be corrected.
Despite the somewhat negative tone of the preceding
analysis, which is inherent in this type of review, there are significant
strengths at the
VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH ORGANIZATIONAL CHART
[*] Clarification by The University of Iowa: The University of Iowa received $1,925,000 Grow Iowa Values Fund (GIVF) new funds. The funds need to be matched dollar for dollar by University funds; the total is $3,850,000 including the match component.