Manoa Faculty Senate Committee on Research (COR)
Research Committee Meeting Minutes February 14, 2007, 2:30 pm, POST 601
Present: Patricia Donegan, Rosanne Harrigan (SEC Liaison), Michael Jones, Justin Levinson, Rodney Morales (recording secretary), Norma Jean Stodden. Roy Wilkens (Chair), Larry Zane.
Absent: David Duffy, Michael Garcia, Dore Minadotani.
The meeting was called to order at 1:36.
Chair Wilkens asked for comments on the project closeout procedures, then introduced the three guests: ORS Director Yaa-Yin Fong, ORS Deputy Director Kevin Hamaoka, and Ann Park, from the Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development (OTTED).
Dr. Fong discussed ORS staffing problems. She said ORS is way understaffed; people are leaving for personal reasons. Longtime members, she added, are looking for better opportunities, better pay and benefits.
Fong told the committee that ORS doesn't have merit increases. To get a 4% pay increase one would have to move to a new position; many are doing this. Essentially, she said, there are equity problems—most of the staff is earning less than market value; hurts morale.
Fong said that ORS is especially hurt when they lose accounting staff because the UH system of accounting is complicated; it takes six months for a new hire to become fully productive.
Despite all these problems, she added, everyone is working hard, doing double duty, Saturdays included. She said that they go by priority but, busy as they are, the staff is willing to take on special cases.
Fong also said that they are trying to be more creative with hiring; they are offering more options to new hires: flexible hours, part-time work. They are also working on using more graduate assistants in accounting, offering them tuition waivers and internships. She said they used to have Civil Service positions, but it's become difficult to recruit through Civil Service, due to its limited pool—only one applicant in three months.
Wilkens asked about the insertion into research contracts of troublesome clauses.
Jones cited a report from a poll of 20 universities. He said that in regards to clauses that restrict publication of sensitive but unclassified information, some universities accept them, some turn them down, while other negotiate some form of compromise.
Fong said ORS does not have a set policy; there is no formal process. Contracts are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Even classified research doesn't always have publication restrictions. The PI would have to sign a paper, waiving rights.
Wilkens said if there were such a clause, we would have to sign a waiver. Fong said that the federal government doesn't have a clear definition of classified, due to its sensitivity. Wilkens said that the clause is in the UARC contract as it was presented in 2005. Fong said they would have to sign a waiver. PIs have never disagreed to sign.
Deputy Director Hamaoka said that historically, PIs have been given the option of accepting/declining restrictions; PIs usually waive publication rights to get the funding.
Discussion continued regarding the 60-90 day restriction period. In response to Jones' question as to whether having a clear university policy would help or hinder, Hamaoka said it would be helpful to have guidelines, such as a set time period. Fong cautioned that they don't want time restriction to be the deal-breaker. Wilkens said the contract states, "No publication until you get approval." He went on to ask about the wording, whether it is stated as 60 days to review before publication. Fong said yes.
Wilkens said UARC would make this more of an issue. He added that he gets Department of Defense money and never has restrictions.
Jones asked about restrictions on foreign nationals.
Fong replied that ORS needs to be in compliance; some were prohibited. She mentioned that the ORS website has a definition of what a foreign national is, listed under Memos. [The definition: Foreign person means any natural person who is not a citizen of the United States unless that person has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S. under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.]
Discussion continued on restrictions in relation to foreign nationals. Comments were made regarding Department of Homeland Security regulations.
Ann Park, of OTTED, spoke regarding commercialization of the patents derived from research. She said that OTTED wants to know if the patented product has commercial value; they can help with getting patents. She added that in the last contract UHPA negotiated a very generous contract for researchers, the most generous in the U.S. [The UHPA contract states: The Faculty Member will receive a share of the net profits from the sale or exploitation of patents according to the following schedule: (a) for total net profit up to $100,000, the amount assigned to the Faculty Member shall be 2/3; (b) for total net profit above $100,000 up to $200,000, the amount assigned to the Faculty Member shall be 1/2; (c) for total net profit above $200,000 up to $300,000, the amount assigned to the Faculty Member shall be 5/12; and d) for total net profit above $300,000, the amount assigned to the Faculty Member shall be 1/3]
Levinson asked about licensed faculty startups. Park mentioned that there are technology brokerage firms. They expedite commercialization, and they do take a fee.
Park said OTTED's main objective is to do what faculty wants, but serve the university. OTTED has implemented a new policy: departments get one third of the profits from these patents—to encourage them in their efforts. Wilkens asked whether there is much proprietary research. Park answered yes, but not an overwhelming number.
Fong, Hamaoka, and Park left the meeting at this point.
Wilkens commented that it was hard to get finance people, with the salaries ORS offers. Larry Zane said that he was asked to not write any more grants, because there were no fiscal officers to deal with them. He said the system was taxed.
There was a brief discussion of merit increases, and then the discussion then turned to taro.
Wilkens said he had submitted written testimony to the legislature on the taro bill. He mentioned the negative effects of the bill. He said CTAHR would lose two-thirds of their work. Some discussion followed on the need for the two sides of the issue to get together.
Wilkens asked Morales and Levinson about the status of the "compromise" version of the Jones and Duffy classified/proprietary research policy drafts. They said the work was almost done. They would have the draft for the March meeting.
The committee turned its attention to Jones' resolution, which asks the administration to provide the same information to us that the University of Washington research council gets from PI's proposing classified research.
Harrigan said that the word "motion" is a better word than "resolution" to facilitate results. She said otherwise it gets "quagmired in the whereases."
There was more discussion about the feasibility of the process of pushing forth with this resolution/motion, especially considering the unresponsiveness of the administration. When asked what is the purpose of the Jones resolution. Jones said that if we're going to clarify UH policy, it's important to know what's going on. He said we need to craft a policy that the majority of faculty sees as acceptable. Without this information, he added, we get, "We've been doing this for 25 years; what's the big deal?"
Stodden said she didn't think this is the way to do it. Jones countered that the policy isn't clear. He added that perhaps the classified research that's being conducted now is acceptable, but we don't know. He mentioned there have been problems.
Wilkens said there should be openness first and foremost.
Harrigan said every time we ask for faculty input it takes so long. We already have to go through tons of committees. Now here's another one.
Wilkens offered to talk to Jim Gaines and tell him we were looking at the Washington model. He wondered if we could bypass the senate and get information from Gaines.
Wilkens reminded the committee that the March 14 meeting will be an hour later, from 2:30 to 4 p.m.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:16 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by,