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Research commission continues evaluation of research title issue

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 13 - November 17, 1994

The Commission on Research continued discussion at the November 9 meeting on a proposed research title series, refining the language of the proposal.

Tenure cannot be earned in any of the research faculty ranks, but whether research faculty service should be applicable toward tenure in the event a research faculty member is appointed to a tenure-track position continued to be discussed. The commission agreed that service is not applicable. It was pointed out that once a person is in a tenure-track position, the rules of that position apply.

Related to search procedures, Ernie Stout said a full search, meeting all EO/AA requirements, would be required to fill a research faculty position just as to fill a tenure-track position. If a research faculty member were appointed to a tenure-track position, it would be as a result of a search.

Language was also edited to make it clear that a faculty member in the research series may not do regularly scheduled teaching, but may direct graduate-student research consistent with department graduate policy, with the approval of the department head and dean of the graduate school. Joe Merola expressed a concern that because it is often stated that research faculty don't teach--although it is only regularly scheduled classes that they don't teach--that the perception of research as being separated from teaching will be deepened.

He also reported that the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies (CGSP) is concerned that there be a safety net for graduate students being supervised by a research professor, should that person leave. Rather than language in the document, he suggested departments could be directed to have a policy. "The CGSP could do that," Merola said.

Ray Reneau said, "There is no guarantee that any faculty member will be around throughout a students' academic career."

Merola also said CGSP members wondered if it is fair for research faculty members to compete for graduate students with faculty members who have duties in addition to research.

"This is happening anyway," said Hsiung Tze. "Students spend more time with a research person because that person has more time." Merola said there may not be enough graduate students to go around.

Len Peters said having a graduate student may improve retention of the research professor through a sense of obligation, while the funding that professor has may attract more students and keep them through the summer. "I think we will see groups of research faculty members, tenure (-track) faculty members, and students working together."

Stout added, "The only way for a potential research faculty member to get a foot in the door is if a regular faculty member brings them here. A Lone Ranger will be a rare event; for one thing, they won't have any place to work."

Anne McNabb said many concerns come from a misunderstanding of the department's role. She said the departments decide whether to use the titles, and control the circumstances.

The Commission on Research approved editing done at the last meeting: appointments and reappointments are made dependent on resources, and the university is not obligated to continue funding if there are insufficient funds from sponsored research; performance reviews are done annually by the same procedures as regular faculty; and salary adjustments are made annually, and parallel the most recent salary actions for general faculty.

In other business, the commission passed a motion for the chair to write a letter of endorsement to the provost encouraging the university to move forward on a competitive grant program through the Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching for faculty projects that involve undergraduate research.

John Eaton said the Graduate Student Assembly has agreed to invite undergraduate students to participate in the graduate poster session in the spring. The commission will have to determine how to pay for materials and awards, and find judges.