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Graduate School

Graduate Council


Minutes of

October 21st, 2008

MEMBERS PRESENT: Marcus Agustin, Chair, Rakesh Bharati, Wai Hsien Cheah, Laura Hanson, Christa Johnson, Craig Miner, Mariana Solares, G. Stacey Staples, Erin Timpe, Jianpeng Zhou

I. Announcements

There were no announcements.

II. Minutes of September 23rd, 2008

Erin Timpe made a motion to approve the minutes; Wai Cheah seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

III. Responsible Conduct in Research Training Update

Christa Johnson announced that the ERP was suspending the development of the RCR course because the National Science Foundation (NSF) has not determined the parameters of the requirements. Johnson commented that SIUE faculty and students are able to use the CITI program certification until the NSF implementation is announced.

IV. Continuing Business

A. Seed Definition

Marcus Agustin encouraged everyone to respond to his email regarding the definition of "seed."

B. Travel Awards and Funding for Co-presenters

Several members of the faculty, including Graduate Council Chair, Stephanie McAndrews, asked the Graduate School to re-think the process of awarding travel funds to faculty. Currently, the primary investigator (PI) is the only faculty member eligible for travel awards to conferences at which he or she presents a paper or conducts a poster session. One or more co-PIs are not eligible for funding for the same project at the same conference. In January 2008, the Graduate School's portion of the travel award increased from $600 to $800, and any faculty member who receives an internal grant is eligible to receive two travel awards in the same fiscal year. Those without internal grants are limited to one travel award per fiscal year.

Some suggestions have included awarding travel funds for all PIs involved in a paper or poster presentation, up to $800 each, or awarding $800 to each project and allowing the faculty members to split it. The funds are now processed differently than in the past. As of July 1, the funds are transferred directly to the department, which will provide supporting documentation for each faculty member's funded meeting on a quarterly basis. Otherwise the process for requesting travel funds has remained the same. Jianpeng Zhou suggested that the Graduate School distribute its travel money to each department without requiring anyone to submit a proposal, and later ask for an accounting of how it was used. Johnson pointed out that the Graduate School has always based its decisions based on faculty scholarship. Zhou's proposed method would not support that intention.

In FY 05, 186 faculty were funded for travel costing the Graduate School $103,788, in FY 06, 228 faculty were funded for 132,663, in FY 07, 229 faculty were funded for $129,529, and in FY 08, 238 faculty were funded at a cost of $160,043 to the Graduate School. The increase to $800 was in effect for only half of FY 08. At the current rate, the travel awards distributed in FY 09 are expected to increase significantly compared to those from previous years.

Johnson warned that the Graduate School may have to suspend travel awards later this fiscal year due to the tight financial situation in higher education in the state of Illinois.

Rakesh Bharati and Erin Timpe expressed support for leaving the travel policy as it is, to support only one faculty member for each project per trip. Bharati reminded those present that one of the intangible benefits of sending faculty members to present at national meetings was an opportunity to advertise SIUE. He stated his concern that faculty may be tempted to present their research findings at fewer national conferences and more regional conferences if multiple PIs for one project were funded for the same conference.

Erin Timpe made a motion that the Graduate School continue to fund only one presenter per project per meeting; Laura Hanson seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

C. Matching Funds for External Grants

Jim Zhou asked the Graduate School to consider setting aside a pool of money to provide matching funds for those external grant proposals that require matching funds from SIUE. He informed those present that faculty members have expressed a need for matching funds beyond indirect cost sharing.

Christa Johnson agreed that there is a clear need to provide matching funds in a form other than unrecovered Indirect Cost Recovery (often unallowable) or other methods such as released time to fulfill matching requirements. Johnson pointed out that, because the Graduate School does not have any unused funds, something would have to be given up to generate a pool of matching funds. Johnson asked what ERP would be willing to give up: funds from the STEP program or from travel? Zhou suggested that PIs could "borrow" matching funds, then return them plus a small percentage of additional money from recovered ICR from the funded award, thus growing the matching fund pool. The side effect of this procedure is that the ICR funds for Research and Development which are used for internal grants and travel awards would lose at least a portion of ICR funding from those types of funded proposals.

When asked how the matching fund should be launched, Rakesh Bharati remarked that the university "has to put in something." He added that soliciting contributions from industry could be packaged as providing a product for people who wish to donate to universities. Wai Cheah suggested that ERP conduct a needs assessment to evaluate how many proposals would benefit from a matching fund pool, and what the effects would be from taking funds away from other Graduate School internal faculty funding programs. It also needs to know whether and how many proposals have been denied due to a lack of matching funds. Johnson agreed that the ERP needs more information to make a decision. She also suggested that one idea could be to take $10,000 from the STEP program to launch a matching program.

Craig Miner asked how the ERP could collect data. Johnson suggested looking at agencies to evaluate their matching fund requirements, and other universities as well as examining our archives for historical external funding issues. She commented that NEH requires huge matching support. The ERP will collect more data on these issues.

D. New Investigator award requirement for unit-level cost sharing

After one year of offering the Vaughnie Lindsay New Investigator Award, the Graduate School decided to ask the units to share the cost, in part to show their support to new investigators. The guidelines require the deans to contribute a great deal of input to the proposal process. ERP suggested that the portion contributed by the units should be $2,500, 20% of the total ($12,500) awarded.

Laura Hanson made a motion that the Graduate School specify that the units contribute 20% of the funds for the Vaughnie Lindsay new Investigator Award; Wai Cheah seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

V. New Business

There was no new business.

VI. Adjournment

Craig Miner made a motion to adjourn; Rakesh Bharati seconded. The meeting adjourned at 1:33 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Stephen L. Hansen
Associate Provost for Research and
Dean, Graduate School

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