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First Annual Report of the Committee on Research
of the Manoa Faculty Senate

Highlights

Issue 1: Navy UARC
Issue 2: Classified Research
Issue 3: Flood Ombudsman
Issue 4: Funding for Independent Graduate Research
Issue 5: RTRF Funds
Issue 6: MOAs and Contracts
Summary

The Committee on Research (CoR) was formed in September of 2004. We first met on Sept 1, 2005, and elected Dr. Ward as its chairman. The CoR was immediately given several items to consider by the SEC and the Vice-President for Research (VPR), and we undertook at least two more. Rather than present these chronologically, we will discuss each item in turn, below.

The CoR met 8 times during the year, on Sept. 1, 2004, Oct. 1, 2004, Nov. 2004, Dec. 1, 2004, Jan. 12, 2004, Feb. 2, 2005, Mar. 2, 2005, and April 6, 2005. As of this writing, the CoR has one additional meeting planned on April 29, 2005.

The CoR also met with Dr. Jim Gaines, the VPR, on its meeting of Oct. 6, 2004, and with the Vice-Chancellor for Research (VCR), Dr. Gary Ostrander on March 2, 2005, shortly after his arrival. The purpose of these meetings was to introduce both administrators to the new committee, and to solicit their co-operation in developing and implementing research policies for UH Manoa. Both men readily agreed to this, and were happy that the Senate had formed the committee.

The issues on which we focused this year were:

Issue I: Navy UARC

The SEC presented this issue as the first order of business that it requested the CoR to examine upon its convergence. The problems that surrounded this proposed contract largely stemmed from the Chancellor's Office developing the contract proposal without faculty involvement. By Sept. 04, when the CoR first learned of the UARC, negotiations had already proceeded to the point where a final contract was expected in Dec. 04. The CoR attempted to educate itself by meeting first with Dr. Vassilis Syrmos, who was one of the major negotiators of the UARC. He explained to us that most of the money would be used to fund non-classified, publishable research. We raised major concern about fair competition for the funds within UH. We concluded that we could find no major objection to the UARC, but needed more information. We sent this conclusion in the form of a report to the SEC.

Issue 2: Classified Research

Dr. Gaines brought to our attention a proposal to change the Board of Reagents' policy on classified research. While the need for this change had nothing to do with the UARC directly (indeed, Dr. Gaines saw the need for this before he understood the UARC), it quickly became the focus for all criticism of the UARC. Two other committees had already undertaken to look at this issue, and the CoR decided that it would be unnecessarily redundant for us to independently examine this question. Instead, we proposed to the entire Senate the SEC appoint an ad hoc committee to examine this issue in depth. This is what happened, and eventually a resolution on classified research was presented by this ad hoc committee to the Senate and passed by an overwhelming majority.

Issue 3: Flood Ombudsman

On Oct 30, 2004, UH Manoa was devastated by a flash flood that affected more than 30 buildings on campus, and almost destroyed the library. Efforts to respond to this disaster were slow, and un-co-ordinated. Indeed, the November 2004 meeting of the CoR was postponed for two weeks because of this flood. The CoR submitted a proposal to establish a university wide ombudsman to co-ordinate all flood related activities to ensure that all faculty who were affected were identified and helped. The resolution was passed by the Faculty Senate in November of 2004, but the ombudsman was not named until March of 2005.

Issue 4: Funding for Independent Graduate Research

A proposal was given to the CoR by the SEC from a group of students who proposed developing a fund for graduate students to test independent ideas for research. The proposal was written in a Powerpoint form. The CoR invited the two authors Newt Chapin (grad student in PEPS) and Jeff McNeil (grad student in CIS) to present their proposal in more detail. The CoR found that the idea had some merit, even though some of the committee raised the issue that graduate students were supposed to do research under the direction of faculty. The students responded that there was some faculty involvement, but it was not clear how this was to occur. We asked that the students prepare a real proposal, with the details filled in, and one of our members, Dr. Norma Jean Stodden, agreed to work with these students on this proposal. They met once, but not again, and did not produce a written proposal.

Issue 5: RTRF Funds

The CoR undertook one major concern on its own, the issue of RTRF and how they are distributed and accounted for. Two years ago, UH Manoa was thrown into confusion when the Chancellor announced that he would be revising RTRF distribution. We wanted to ensure that a more consistent policy was developed for both the RTRF distribution and the accountability for its expenditure. We devoted one meeting to educating ourselves about the generation of RTRF funds, and how the money flows from indirect costs of federal funds to the RTRF funds. The two are closely related, but not identical and this make accountability difficult. In the end, we decided to focus on RTRF itself, and to assume for all practical purposes that (1) the RTRF is funded largely by grant indirect costs and (2) that the major principle of accountability for RTRF funds should be that they are used to build research infrastructure to support the work that brings them in. The CoR proposed a resolution that passed during the April meeting of the Faculty Senate.

Issue 6: MOAs and Contracts

The CoR also began an investigation of MOAs (memorandum of agreement) and contracts associate with research. This has been a constant problem at UH Manoa that CoR feels needs to be addressed. The CoR established this as an issue on Dec 1, 2004 and met with Chris Helm of the Office of the VPR at its Jan 12, 2005 meeting to discuss MOAs and contracts. One our members, Dr. Norma Jean Stodden, followed up with Mr. Helm, and it was acknowledged that problems in developing MOAa and contracts have resulted in many significant delays in grants and have resulted in losing some. The CoR concluded that this is an important issue to pursue in the next academic year.

Summary

The CoR spent much of its time defining itself and its role in supporting research at UH Manoa. We had a significant impact on research this year, and established the precedent that both the VCR and VPR would work closely with this committee in subsequent years. We established a precedent that the CoR establish a set of goals for each academic year at the first meeting in September, and meet with both the VPR and VCR early each academic year as part of this process.

The issues that we suggest the CoR highlight next year are:

  1. RTRF
  2. MOAs and Contracts
  3. Laboratory Animal Services (this was identified late in the year)
  4. Research Infrastructure
  5. ERA and electronic submission of grants to the NIH.

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