Council on Research

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Campus Center – Terrace Lounge 9:30 – 11:30


Members present: E. Brière, N. Carroll, D. Lewis, V. Idone, L. Videka, , M. Stessin, , S. Wood, L. Schell, R. Sanders, J. Castracane. Absent: W. Weller, R. Perez, I Davidson, E. Dorch, C. Frye, L. Bilello, K. Sekiya

Also attending: Alex Brownstein, Business Development Officer, for Center for Functional Genomics

Peter Bloniarz, Dean, Information Science & Technology & Associate Provost

Theresa Walker, Asst. Vice President for Research and Staff Support for the

Committee on Centers, Institutes and Specialized Laboratories; and,

David Wagner, Sociology Professor and Chair of the IRB Policy Review Committee

The meeting was called to order at 9:35 am by Vince Idone, Chair.

IT Commons Presentation – Peter Bloniarz

Peter explained that the IT Commons grew out of the University’s commitment to invest in interdisciplinary research while at the same time creating a critical mass on campus that can provide technological assistance and support for research activities. This multidisciplinary program is characterized by synergy, external funding, development of partnerships and curriculum. The Deans and departments will invest in faculty hires with matching funds for the hires from the Provost. It is anticipated that 25-35 faculty, who are interested in interdisciplinary research in areas related to information technology, will be hired over the next five years. The number (25-35) was based on historical hires with strong information technology focus. Faculty "homes" are spread across the campus and the departments help support the technology.

The program is entirely voluntary on the part of the deans and departments.

The Provost Advisory Committee Report and the Dean’s Council Resolution are documents that might help in understanding the rationale and the development of the program. Peter will make them available for distribution to the Council members.

There were several questions and concerns expressed by Council members as noted below:

Response: This is a work in progress that will be accomplished over time, but the University wants to hire clusters with hallmarks or focus on interdisciplinarity. Several committees have been established to review various aspects of the IT program. One committee is currently taking an inventory of research relevant to technology that is being conducted on campus. This information, once compiled and assessed, will help determine the needs that should be addressed.

Response: The basic premise of the program is to try to get departments to work together.

Response: We are relying very heavily on input from the Deans; we do not want to create an IT Commons in and of itself, we want to work with the departments. Part of motivation is how well faculty have prepared the alumni technologically.

Response: The focus will be on generating external resources to help with this. This is a task that requires the attention of more than one person. As an aside note, Fall, 2005, a new college will be created to include computer science, information technology and some centers. IT Commons will be separate.

Response: We are well aware of this and are not looking for equal distribution among departments. The Wisconsin Model is being used as a guide to help address this issue.

Response: Tenure/promotion policies from other universities are being collected and reviewed. However, UAlbany’s joint appointments and hiring guidelines will remain intact for now. One model under consideration is to have representatives from all disciplines act as a proxy for the department, but for now, UAlbany will address this through the mentoring program. When the person is hired, they are informed about tenure in their home department, support from IT Commons, etc.

Response: Conversations are held with the faculty to explain that the department makes the decision.


Approval of November 17, 2004 Minutes

Minutes approved.

Interim Vice President for Research Report

The search has been launched for the Associate Vice President for Research position. Nominations should be forwarded to the Interim Vice President.

The Vice President is working with the President and URPAC on state budget reduction scenarios ranging from growth to 2.75% reduction.

The Vice President will be convening a small working group to help with transitional points at the East Campus especially with regards to the perceived disjuncture between academic programs and facilities.

Mark Dale assumes the role of interim director of the Northeast Regional Forensics Institute, effective January 1, 2005. A search to fill the position permanently will begin soon. Al Millis, Chair of the Biological Sciences department, will chair the search committee

The Vice President reiterated that IT Commons is an institutional priority; as noted, technology is discussed throughout the Mission Review II document.

Other IT Commons questions and concerns raised by the membership included: How will the plan bolster research? How will we maintain integrity and build foundational infrastructure within the disciplines? What happens when one department is ranked and another is not? What happens when the perceived natural alliance for interdisciplinary initiatives does not occur?

There were several unresolved issues; therefore, the Council will continue the IT discussion at the next meeting.

FRAP – A Review Committee

In Ian Davidson’s absence, a written report was submitted indicating the committee’s recommendation to fund 16 out of the 23 applicants (one conditionally). It was noted that the number of proposals were down compared to prior years. The Vice President assured everyone that any excess funds would definitely be used for faculty research.

Larry Schell noted that the Council must vote on the committee’s recommendation, and also reminded membership of the decision made at the last meeting to compare CAS FRAP A rankings and the FRAP A Review Committee rankings. Council agreed that the vote on the committee’s recommendation could be completed by e-mail, but the discussion regarding CAS/FRAP-A committee review results should be held at the next meeting. Jim Castracane noted that seniority was not a factor as was assumed. He also noted that the CAS committee chair was also a member of the FRAP A Review committee, and she seemed satisfied with both committees’ results

Conference/Journal Support

Eloise Brière, committee chair, reported that there were five applicants for conference support awards. The committee decided to award the top four $2,250 each and the fifth one $1,500 because of concerns about the budget. The Council unanimously accepted the recommendations, which will be forwarded to the Vice President for Research.

Eloise raised an issue related to applicants who have historically sought conference support for annual conferences directly from the Vice President for Research, but more recently were encouraged to apply through the conference support award program. The dichotomy is that the guidelines clearly state that "the conference support award should not be considered as a resource for continuing annual events". The committee recommended removal of the phrase from the guidelines.

The Council agreed with the committee’s recommendation, but also felt that the FRAP Evaluation Committee should perhaps review and evaluate the conference/journal award program as well.

Committee on Centers, Institutes and Laboratories

Michael Stessin, committee chair, reported that an organizational meeting was held. The committee agrees that all centers/institutes should be made aware of the review process. For large centers, the information required for the evaluation is currently a part of their annual reports. On the other hand, the smaller centers/institutes are not typically completing annual reports, and therefore may need to gather information from University sources to complete the review process.

IRB Policy

Dave Wagner, committee chair, reported that the committee completed discussion of the recommendation to encourage PIs to attend IRB sessions at which their protocol is being discussed, if a full review required.

The ad hoc committee is working on recommendations to include channels by which policies are sent to the permanent committee.

The two outstanding issues are 1) collaborative research involving multiple institutions, and 2) international research (may need to obtain input from both RF and State legal counsel). Once these issues are resolved, the ad hoc committee will be dissolved. However, most of the ad hoc committee members have expressed an interest in continuing if so appointed.

Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics – Alex Brownstein

As a follow up to the application that was submitted requesting permanent center status, Alex gave a brief overview of the Center and explained its relationship to the Center for Functional Genomics. The Center for Functional Genomics (CFG) is one of the core scientific facilities (equipment, machinery, etc.) and Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Genomics is the programmatic initiative that will be using the facility.

A concern was raised regarding the impact of the infusion of so many young faculty, to which Alex replied that the Center is aware of and is looking to fill the gap by recruiting senior researchers.

In response to questions raised about the Center’s budget, Interim Vice President Videka interjected that the East Campus is privately owned by the University at Albany Foundation; therefore, the $22.5 million capital budget to construct the building that will house the Center and to provide infrastructure support is the Foundation’s responsibility but will certainly come, in large part, from renting the remainder of the laboratory building to commercial entities. She assured the membership that through a combination of special state appropriations that will underwrite some of the operations, and her working with the staff to identify and secure external support needed, the center will continue to be operationally sound.

Although there was strong support for the Center, we did not have a quorum, so it was decided to table the vote until the next meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 11:45.


Submitted by,

Janice E. Bogan

Staff Support for Council on Research