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Peters invites commission to advise on issues

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 5 - September 22, 1994

Speaking to the Commission on Research Wednesday, Len Peters, vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School, suggested that the Commission on Research and the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies act in an advisory capacity "to help in the evaluation of policy, look at issues, be a sounding board, and an arena for debate of research and graduate-education issues."

He said he preferred the use of the commission in that role to appointment of a group. "It would mean spending a minimum amount of time on routine items so that you have more time for substantive issues such as where research and graduate education are going, what we should be doing differently, and seriously look at the future of research and graduate education."

Peters said that if the commission did not examine these issues, it might not be done in depth.

"I feel most research universities are looking at foggy horizons, and some of the debate could be valuable."

Issues he suggested the commissions address include the new National Science Foundation conflict-of-interest guidelines that have to be approved by the end of June, the advisability of examining the research title series, and the role of centers and institutes.

He said the NSF guidelines are not at variance with the university's current guidelines, "but I think it would be valuable to look at conflict of interest and conflict of commitment in the context of academic integrity."

Regarding research titles, Peters pointed out that some universities have the titles of research assistant professor, research associate professor, and research full professor. These faculty members do not have teaching responsibilities and are not tenure track. They augment research and graduate teaching programs. "Would such a series be beneficial to Virginia Tech? Would it duplicate what we are doing or complement what we currently have in place?"

He said there is a good program in place for review of the individual university centers, "but it is time to have serious discussion of what is the role of centers and institutes, in the abstract, in the academic structure. They can play a valuable role, and they can be points of friction," Peters said. "What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? Are we using them effectively? What are the friction points?"

Peters invited the commission members to a Saturday, Oct. 29, meeting to talk about "what we're doing in research and graduate education." There will be general discussion and specific sessions, including one on centers and institutes.