Division of Biology Programmatic Priorities:Implementation Plan

Due to the Dean, Arts and Sciences, May 1, 2006

From Brian S. Spooner, Ph.D. University Distinguished Professor and Director

 

The programmatic priorities of the Division of Biology, designed to increase our research productivity, recognition and impact, through dramatic increases in extramural funding, achievements, publications, presence and honors, can be met by increasing the amount of research time available to our tenured/tenure-track faculty to conduct research, publish papers, serve on research panels and editorial boards, initiate new research directions and collaborations, and write grant proposals for funding to support this increased research.

 

Since we already have a highly successful faculty, achieving in both instruction (~18,000 SCH, 650 majors, three undergraduate degrees, and numerous teaching award recognitions) and research ($10M per year in extramural funding, 6 active UDPs, ~70 graduate students, in 3 graduate degree, two Ph.D. and one M.S., programs, and numerous TE initiatives), how do we generate more faculty research time?Where does the time come from for the activities necessary to increase grant funding from an average of $10M/year to an average of $15M/year in a decade or less?

 

One approach would be to increase the number of tenure-track faculty in the Division by about 18.This approach would be successful.It would require phasing in the recruited faculty over a 5-7 year period, a base budget increase in salaries of ~ $1.5M (not including the accompanying FB costs), start-up costs at an estimated $6.3M, and the addition of new research space to accommodate these investigators (i.e., a building beyond the new building needs we currently have).The increases would be gradual, and not maximally realized until 2-3 years after the last new faculty additions.However, we would fully maintain all our current instructional activities, but they would be slowly diluted/faculty member by the new faculty additions, and the research productivity, with attendant increases in grant funding would be stable.We would agree to this approach, although we recognize that the resource requirements would likely doom this proposal.

 

The approach that we have selected for implementation of our programmatic priorities is one that increases research time for tenure-track faculty by decreasing their teaching time. We have formulated a tripartite approach, which, collectively, achieves the reduced teaching time commitment from the tenured/tenure track faculty that will allow the expansion in research time, necessary for the increased research achievement that we call for in our programmatic prioritization proposal. The components are, (1) we will reduce the number of courses that we offer in the Division, (2) we will encourage faculty teaching time buyouts, and (3) we will seek the addition of full-time regular instructor level positions to the Division.

 

Course reduction will be accomplished by careful analysis of all our offerings, followed by elimination or re-structuring of courses such that we (a) do not detract from the quality or size of our three undergraduate degree programs, (b) continue to allow vigorous graduate programs, and (c) maintain the quality of our service offerings.Courses will be eliminated where we have an alternative offering that meets the needs of that course, where we do not and will not have the faculty expertise the deliver a course, or where a substitute offered by another unit can be used.In some cases, courses will be offered on a reduced frequency.Some others may have to be added or offered more frequently, but the overall goal is a net reduction.

 

Teaching time buyouts, of up to 50% of a faculty memberís instructional commitment effort, will be offered to active tenured/tenure track faculty with have funding that allows them the resources to buyout time.In a typical case, of a faculty member who has a 50% research:50% teaching effort distribution, a buyout would require the PI to fund 20% of his/her academic year salary from grant resources, reducing his/her teaching to one course equivalent that academic year.The instructional budget dollars realized to the Division would be used to employ additional qualified temporary instructional faculty to teach classes.A particularly exciting approach will be the involvement of postdoctoral associates, partially appointed with these dollars, in teaching some upper division level courses, as well as introductory courses.Their training, and marketability, would be enhanced, and the faculty they work with would have some grant savings to expand their programs.

 

Addition of regular instructor positions to the Division will require the collaboration of the Dean of Arts and Sciences (and likely the higher administration) in the allocation of funding for these positions.The addition of funding for three new full-time equivalent (FTE) regular instructor level positions to the Division will require an estimated new $100,000-120,000 to our faculty budget (over the ~$170K in funds currently added yearly for temporary faculty).The new regular instructors employed with these funds will teach in a variety of our introductory classes, and, in some cases, in upper division classes, on a sustained basis, allowing reductions in the total teaching obligations of the tenured/tenure track faculty.

 

The shift from equal instructional and research commitments to increased research and decreased instructional commitments will be phased in with the following order.First, we will increase research and decrease teaching for all tenure-track, but not yet tenured, faculty.This will increase the amount of time available to seek and obtain extramural funding, establish research programs, generate peer-reviewed publications, expand and sustain funding, and become tenured.The goal will be to activate this phase in FY07.Second, as the program becomes full implemented, approximately 60-70% of the already tenured faculty will also sequentially acquire increased research time, with decreased instructional time.The decisions on already tenured faculty will be based on the existing record of funding and research success and the potential increases in funding.The collective increase in research success will be accompanied by a collective increase in funding success.The history of our faculty is consistent with our goal of a 50% funding increase, once the program is fully in place, converting our annual extramural funding average from a current terrific $10M per year to a spectacular $15M per year.