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2025 Visionary Plan

Innovation and Inspiration Campaign

If you have questions or comments about K-State 2025, please send an email to 2025@k-state.edu.

Feedback for Theme 1: Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities, and Discovery

Thematic Goal
Create a culture of excellence that results in flourishing, sustainable, and widely recognized research, scholarly and creative activities, and discovery in a variety of disciplines and endeavors that benefit society as a whole.

What is missing that should be added?
What activities or outcomes are no longer needed?
General suggestions and comments

What is missing that should be added?

Although we do say we will "upgrading our information technology", obtaining a grant management system isn't very well represented in the activities and seems to be completely missing from the outcomes.
K-State badly needs a university wide grant management system.   Right now we use a combination of home-grown systems and outdated databases, which are cumbersome and inefficient.
Enhanced support structure for administration of received awards and contracts.
Additional focus on sponsored project infrastructure - enhance dedicated resources to identify funding opportunities, facilitate research development, help process contracts (including NDAs, etc).
Infrastructure building to support RSCAD is missing from this Strategic Action Plan. The administrative offices under the VPR require funding to hire staff to accommodate the increased workload, to increase pay to attract and keep qualified individuals in these positions, and especially to address the need for a global, electronic grant management system for the routing of proposal and award documentation. I do not see this listed anywhere in the Strategic Action Plan for this Theme 1.   While this is the first Theme I am reviewing as a part of this survey, I do not see which other Theme this initiative could possibly be nested under and covered in the text I am about to read.   Therefore, I am addressing it here.   If this is addressed by another Action Plan, I apologize for the inclusion of my comment here.
Increased emphasis on infrastructure (e.g. equipment, remodeling research space) to support RSCAD activities. A reminder that these are IN ADDITION TO, not in place of traditional RSCAD activities. The enhance existing" gets lost in #2 behind the idea of "establish new"."
What is the concern for faculty once they are hired?
1. Although there is a vague reference to "compensation" to retain faculty, without explicit commitment to increasing faculty salaries across the board, there is likely to be faculty skepticism about the sincerity behind 2025. I would think an honest statement might go something like: we are not deluded about the fact that unless the current budgetary crises are not resolved, probability of success re: 2025 is 0. 2. Re: number 9 on the list, this objective could be clarified. For example, as an R1 university, isn't it already the case that tenure lines are allocated with an expectation of significant research?
Number 9 needs more detail as to how we propose to do this and of import should also be retaining existing research oriented faculty and incentivizing them to go after grants. This all appears to be missing and if you don't have this I don't think a lot of the rest of these goals are even feasible. KSU should review what other successful research-focused institutions are doing and pick best practices that fit its goals.
Better funding and tuition aids for Undergraduate Students in Research. The fact that our university is one of the few in the nation who put an emphasis on Undergraduate Research is incredible, but there has to be better support for these students who are doing incredible things as Undergraduates.
The Prairie Studies Initiative is an excellent example of a truly interdisciplinary collaboration that should get additional support and credit for bringing together extremely different areas of scholarship.
Balance. As faculty move further from the natural sciences their teaching loads increase. Resources need to be devoted to balancing the teaching requirements across campus, thereby increasing sch and providing important opportunities for research. Interestingly, while overhead for big science projects is big, so are costs. Many universities have recognized that the return on the dollar is higher for funded projects that don't require massive infrastructure expenses. That is, disciplines that don't need expensive labs end up putting a higher percentage of their SRO into available funds for the university. Expensive and big labs have expensive and big costs. While dollar amounts for awards further from the natural sciences are smaller, so too are the overhead costs. The NET result is what matters, not the bottom line of the award. 2025 should review literature on this and develop initiatives to promote these low-cost, high-return, forms of funding.
When I read the RSCAD plan a few years ago the university's supercomputing resources were not explicitly mentioned, and I haven't seen any discussion that would recognize the impact that Beocat has on the research programs. There is no real budget for the supercomputing center, and hardware is purchased mostly when individual professors request grant money or use startup funds to buy compute nodes. A strong supercomputing facility is necessary for K-State to move toward its 2025 goals of increasing the research capabilities of the university, and can contribute to attracting and retaining professors and graduate students. I would strongly suggest formalizing these goals in the RSCAD plan, providing a consistent budget for the supercomputing program, and designing a plan to grow the computing capabilities through 2025.
I'll be honest. This plan is a bit ridiculous in light of the actual resources made available to k-state faculty. We are having our travel budgets excised due to the budget cuts, which, in turn, means that I have less access and connections to the larger research worlds of which my work is a part, and which also means that I am not co-authoring grants that I have in the past. Adding more money on the admin end does nothing to change that work and makes it much harder to undertake. Also, what do you actually mean by diversify tenure-line faculty here? As a trans person, I count myself among those diverse faculty supported here, except that LGBT* does not apparently count towards diversity.
Some measures of research productivity other than external funding (e.g., article/chapter/book publications)
Are achieving rankings helping or hurting our mission?

What activities or outcomes are no longer needed?

Hiring more research focused faculty.
I am not sure what other campus buildings are required to increase RSCAD but I feel that the implementation of more costly renovations may be a step in the wrong direction. I believe that some of the construction costs for these original initiatives (while very impressively executed) have caused real problems in assessing the actual needs of growing this program. K-State needs to be an attractive campus for top talent, yes. But we will not be able to retain anyone if there are not administrative systems in place to assist them. We need to provide more access to tools that will help faculty ease away from the administrative burdens associated with applying for a grant or for protocol approval through URCO, etc. Being a champion of infrastructure building does not put anyone on a podium holding a pair of giant scissors, but it does keep things moving in the right direction at these early stages of the 2025 Strategic Plan. Buildings can be built later. Let's fix the real problems.
Agree that the National Academies of Science metric is relatively narrow in scope, on a very small scale of measurement, and somewhat arbitrary.
The long term outcome for National Academy members does not seem to be a major priority. National recognition or other awards may be a more meaningful metric for the university.
Rankings are not the end in itself.
I don't even know what is meant by 14 so perhaps drop that.   11 is in dire need as the library is presently cutting journals. 11 should be stronger than assess, rather it should be address the need.

General suggestions and comments

Overall this is an excellent goal. We are engaged in generating the knowledge and practice that is taught in our classrooms. Unfortunately, while we use the terms creative activity and discovery, there remains little recognition of this scholarship. Research (i.e., quantitative, hypothesis-driven work) is the all encompassing term which does not recognize the other forms of scholarship. We have few UDPs from the humanities and none that are engage in creative or design scholarship. No further changes to suggest
Research needs to continue to be forefront in the university's mission. Facilitating interdisciplinary research is extremely important. We can do that through grant funding, teaching assistants, and additional opportunities to know what other people are doing. The main hurdle at this point is the lack of time for getting to know what's happening in other departments.
RSCAD is a critical element for the university.
This whole area has provided really great support for me as a faculty member in a discipline that gets very little research funding. I've been able to point to this part of the plan and gain extra resources (my time, which is quite valuable) for my scholarship. Thank you.
As the state's monetary supply dwindles, one may need to reconsider priorities.
Is 2025 really helping faculty morale?
Most, if not all of the stated outcomes are predicated on MONEY>>>>>>>   Get off your high horses and recognize that this was a flim flam game played by Shultz the master rain maker who is now duping people in WA with this same game.... Hmmmm.   I wonder who the comparative universities are that UW is aspiring to emulate????
Our financial situation will prohibit us from meeting our grand ideas in RSCAD. This is a fact. If we do not begin to recognize this fact, we will lose the quality educational programs that have been built over generations and are the lifeblood of the university's economic stability. I am not against active researchers/scholars as educators, but if we maintain our RSCAD goals as defined, we will end up short-changing UG education and that will be economically destabilizing over the long term.
More honesty and less public relations ploys please!   Especially when it comes to the following reality: 2025 is not possible without major increases in funding and major transformation of research expectations (on this point, why would a faculty with the ability to meet top 50 standards come to KSU if there is a lofty ideal for which practicalities are not being addressed?).
Vpr office needs to find way to support better startups or we can't attract strong researchers
It isn't that anything listed isn't important, but what has happened is that in an attempt to focus on some of these topics (e.g. undergraduate RSCAD) has caused tunnel vision in some colleges and units resulting in the exclusion of traditional RSCAD activities that are the foundation of RSCAD. This has hurt the foundation of RSCAD and refocused resources away from successful programs and activities (part of #2 is "enhance existing major nationally and internationally recognized research programs or centers) to new programs without thought for how that impacts those existing programs.
Improving infrastructure of research areas needs to be a high priority. Many of the goals cannot be carried out without that achieved.
Now we need to focus on hiring excellent teachers.
Specifically, we need an office or attorney/support staff dedicated to international issues to make sure we adhere to foreign regulations.   No one at KSU has the international expertise to help with questions as they come up (does anyone understand VAT taxes to be able to report on them effectively? just one example). We need a streamlined research administration system that helps us move data from proposal to post-award to financial systems (accounting and effort compliance) and technical progress reporting.
Perhaps either drop NAS metric, or shift to more general measure of number of faculty who are fellows in national/international professional societies
These are very important things and doable with minimum or no money expense.
See comment in grad student section re: tuition waivers. Great in theory, but not a good plan in place to keep it from falling back to faculty to cover.
Modify #11 to improve library collections funding to support high priority RSCAD disciplines."
Encourage stronger collaboration between unclassified professionals and academic departments, especially in regards to grant funding and national/international research
This plan fails to build in the absolutely necessary ways that research from minority communities is tangibly important to university work. Put simply, we don't just need to contribute to building knowledge, we need to re-shape it! And we need to do so by addressing how the knowledges from marginalized peoples/communities/scholars not only feed into the larger goal of a top research university, but also how those knowledges challenge the accepted truths of those spaces!
Improve research opportunities for non-tenure track faculty, many of the non-tenure track faculty have PhDs and they have potential to contribute to the university 2025 mission, particularly allowing non-tenure track faculty to compete for university grants, such as FDA and USRG, Professional development opportunities (FDA) can have a great influence on the performance of non-tenure track faculty. With the current limitations for non-tenure track faculty, although the university has invested in them (by hiring them) but there is no support for non-tenure track faculty to improve their professional skills.
Additionally, there is wide variation regarding tenure and promotion in terms of collaboration on articles. Numerous authors in much of the sciences is not seen as a negative yet it is in much of the social sciences and humanities. For those scholars in the social sciences and humanities who do collaborative work every effort needs to be made to reward that work by not discounting multiple-authored articles. Ex. 9 authors equals 1/9 of a publication. If the goal is 10 pubs over a six year period, a scholar would need 90 nine-authored publications. This is a standard that many natural science scholars cannot attain, yet it is precisely the standard faced by many social scientists. This is a huge disincentive for the very necessary collaboration across fields.