CBL Carnegie standards

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Pamela S. Chally, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

At a recent meeting discussing the Carnegie standards for community engaged research, the LARGE discrepancy between the CBA’s interpretation of scholarship and what is put forth for consideration for P&T committees by CCBL regarding community engaged research was discussed.  The UFF President noted that, if a faculty member were to not be promoted and/or receive tenure due to a perceived lack of scholarship despite engaging in high quality and quantity community-engaged scholarship as defined by Carnegie, this would not be a grievable incident. Is this true? If it is, what can be done? And isn’t exploitative of the university to seek out Carnegie status, say they value community-engaged scholarship of this nature, and then not give credit to community scholars for their work?

Response from the Floor by Provost Chally

Provost Chally stated that she knew that the contract stated that community based research and teaching will be considered, recognized, and valued. To her, that meant that it will be considered as part of the tenure and promotion decision.

Data Analytics Recent Announcement

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David Fenner, Faculty Association President

The recent announcement of an internal search for a Vice President of Data Analytics made me look up the definition of Analytics on the web. It says that it is “the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. It relies on the simultaneous application of statistics, computer programming and operations research to quantify performance”. In that definition, the word statistics comes first because statisticians are professionally trained to interpret and communicate data.  The previous administration had enlisted statistics professors to help precisely because the data analytics people came short in that. This year BOG Performance Metrics indicate that effort paid off with 10 points increase in the score over the year before. Why doesn’t the position announcement underscore the importance of a PhD statistician?

President Szymanski’s response copied from his report. 

The Vice President for Analytics search is ongoing. Finalists will be interviewed during the second week of October. The President addressed an anonymous question about whether or not candidates could or should have a PhD in statistics. The President stated that while that was one acceptable degree, there were finalists with other backgrounds as well.

Research Productivity at UNF

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David S. Szymanski, UNF President

Under the past administration research productivity at UNF dropped precipitously. As revealed by the Faculty Union, revenues from grants and contracts – a key indicator of research – dropped from 28% of revenues to 6% of revenues leaving UNF ranked last among all other Florida schools. This decline has affected research productivity and also resulted in the loss of tens of millions of dollars in annual revenues that could have supported faculty, students, and staff. Remarkably, according to a Times Union story, this was part of an “intentional” strategy on the part of the past administration. The new president and the BOT have rightfully chosen to put UNF back on track. UNF’s current president is quoted as saying he expects to “grow UNF’s research offerings and reputation.” Moreover, the Board of Trustee’s (BOT) new strategic plan calls for UNF to “attract, support, and reward talented faculty and staff who promote student success through research, inquiry, the creative process, and the application of knowledge.” As a long-standing research oriented member of the faculty, I applaud the new president’s and BOT’s recognition of the importance and role of research at a major university like UNF. Question to the President: going forward what plans does the president have to “grow UNF’s research offerings” and its “research” reputation. Many current administrators, wedded to the past, have shown little initiative to grow UNF’s research offerings and to increase UNF’s research reputation. Question to the BOT: Going forward, what plans does the BOT have to “attract, support, and reward talented faculty and staff who promote student success through research, inquiry, the creative process, and the application of knowledge.” Under the BOT, faculty salaries necessary to attract research oriented faculty to UNF have fallen to the lowest level in the state.

Response from the Floor by President Szymanski

We have taken the first step in the Leadership Awards. These awards will be provided to faculty who are excellent in teaching and in their research efforts.

Improving UNF’s Decline in Grant/Contract Revenue

January 11, 2018

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: Radha Pyati, President Faculty Association

The UNF Faculty Association recently published a “Scholarship Statement” describing that research was a “necessary and integral component of our academic lives and identities.” However UNF financial statements report that revenues from “Grants and Contracts” have dropped more than 50% in the last 10 years and are now lower than any time since 2002, despite warnings by the Society of Research Administrators in 2012 that support for research at UNF contrasted markedly with UNF’s “sister institutions”. Revenues from grants and contracts at almost all of the other SUS institutions exceed UNFs. What steps are being taken by the administration to reverse UNF’s decline? What plans do the deans have to support research? What more can the UNF Faculty Association do to insure that research remains an “integral component of our academic lives and identities”?

 

 

General Counsel Risk Tolerance

January 12, 2017

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: Karen Stone, Vice President, General Counsel

The level of risk tolerance that UNF’s General Counsel’s office routinely functions at is much lower than at our sister universities or even R1 universities. This seemingly absolute intolerance for any risk whatsoever may protect UNF, but it results in research progress being seriously hampered as months go by waiting for a contract for acquisition of necessary material to be finalized. Why can we not come up to the level of risk tolerated by universities whose faculty’s research is not imperiled by abnormally long wait times?

Response: 

Thank you for bringing this concern to my attention. We try our best to provide timely and effective assistance to all of our clients and if the current process for contract review is not meeting the needs of our research faculty then this is something that needs to be addressed. I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with any faculty or academic administrators with this concern to better understand what has occurred and more importantly to determine if steps can be taken to improve client service in this area. Please email me at kstone@unf.edu or call me at 904-620-1002 so that we can meet to discuss this issue.

 

Issues at ORSP and IRB

January 12, 2017

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: John Kantner, Assistant Vice President , ORSP & Dean of the Graduate School

The sluggish pace at which ORSP’s Research Integrity division and the IRB process research protocols existed with former director Dr. Ebong and continues to this day. This has become for many of us a serious hindrance to advancing our research agendas. When should we expect a real change in the speed at which IRB completes this work, and how do you plan to clear the backlog of review requests in an expeditious manner?

Response: 

I appreciate the Faculty Association providing me an opportunity to respond to the inquiry regarding the challenges that the UNF community has had in getting human subjects research protocols approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) in a timely manner.

First, it’s important to acknowledge the factors that drive human subjects research compliance. UNF is obligated to the federal regulations encoded in the US Department of Health and Human Services 45 CFR 46—generally known as the “Common Rule.” These require that we maintain an independent IRB with operating procedures that locally govern human subjects research but that carry the weight of federal regulation. To ensure that the university is in compliance, the IRB’s records and the human subjects research activities of the university are subject to federal audit.

UNF traditionally maintained a strongly compliant—some might say overly conservative—set of operating procedures. This included oversight responsibilities that in some ways went beyond what was required by regulation, but that at the time were considered to be in the best interests of the institution and the conduct of ethical research. Another component of the operating procedures was heavy reliance on well-trained staff to advise and support the IRB members. This combination of expansive oversight and intensive staff involvement was neither scalable nor resilient, and this became painfully apparent as UNF’s research portfolio grew.

In 2013, the IRB, then under the chairship of Krista Paulsen and more recently Jennifer Wesely, launched an extensive review and reworking of many sections of its operating procedures, with an eye to streamlining protocol processing and approval. The chairs and IRB members spearheaded numerous important changes, the results of which had significant impact: while in late 2013, it took almost 40 days on average for exempt approval, by early 2016, that was down to around 10 days, close to the national benchmark for IRB turnaround on exempt protocols.

Unfortunately, Spring 2016 saw a perfect storm that set progress back significantly. First, the one staff member fully dedicated to supporting the IRB left in the midst of a UNF hiring freeze. At the same time, multiple noncompliance cases were reported that by regulation required staff investigation. And this occurred right when new research- and practice-based graduate programs were launching. The result, as everyone knows, was that the IRB’s operations virtually ground to a halt and a sizable backlog built up.

I want to make it clear that I take responsibility for the resulting crisis. The IRB chair, committee members, and staff have worked incredibly hard to process protocols and expedite changes to the operating procedures within the regulatory limits. But I’m responsible for the staffing, and I had knowingly accepted the risk of such a crisis by deploying ORSP resources for other purposes. I had also intentionally postponed implementing important procedural changes designed to expedite processing of non-exempt protocols, because long-anticipated federal regulatory changes were thought to be imminent and would need to be integrated into our systems; I didn’t want to keep making procedural changes at the risk of causing confusion and further slowing processing. Unfortunately, the feds kept postponing changing the Common Rule, and those are currently in limbo during the transition of leadership in Washington DC.

The good news is that when the crisis hit, we quickly moved forward to replace departing staff, implement the postponed procedural changes, and triage the substantial backlog. As a result, the timeline for securing approval of human subjects research through the IRB has improved dramatically over the past two months. As we enter 2017, the new procedures are in place, the backlog is almost clear, and the turnaround on complete and compliant protocols is measured in days—not weeks and months. I apologize for my strategic missteps in 2016 that contributed to the major slowdown, but I’m confident that it will be much, much faster in 2017 to get IRB approval for human subjects research at UNF.

Sabbatical at UNF

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Jay Coleman, Associate Provost

I would like to see a breakdowns by college/unit for those awarded half-year, full pay sabbaticals. Although I have been at UNF for many years, I have never taken a sabbatical, and have been turned down for the half-year, full pay sabbatical (many faculty cannot afford the full year, half-pay sabbatical). I would also like to know if there will be an increase in the number of half-year, full pay sabbaticals as the number of faculty has increased steadily. Obviously, the odds have been skewed against the faculty with so few sabbaticals and so many more faculty competing for them than in years past.

Response from Associate Provost, Jay Coleman, Academic Affairs:

Chip,

In response to the first request raised at Faculty Association regarding sabbaticals, please find attached a grid that presents the breakdown by college/department of the number of sabbatical applications vs. the number of sabbatical awards (half-year/full pay) for the 2015-16 year.

In response to the second request, the number of sabbaticals is dictated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (article 24), and is designed to increase as the number of eligible faculty increases:

Each year, the University Administration will make available at least one (1) sabbatical at full-pay for one (1) semester for each forty (40) eligible faculty members, subject to the conditions set forth below. The University Administration may, with the approval of the local UFF Chapter, provide sabbaticals that are equivalent to the one (1) semester, full-pay, sabbaticals.

The number of eligible faculty members is determined by first having our Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) perform a query based on in-unit status and number of years at UNF (6).  We then subtract those faculty members who have received sabbaticals in the previous five years (recipients must have six years of continuous service at UNF to be eligible to apply again). The result is divided by 40 and rounded to the closest integer.

This past year there were 209 eligible faculty, and we awarded five sabbaticals.  In the couple years prior, the number of eligible faculty was 182 and 190, both of which also yielded five awarded sabbaticals using the process above.

With best regards,

Jay Coleman​

 

2015-16 Sabbatical Applications

College

Department

Number of Years

 at UNF

Year of Previous Sabbatical

Awarded

 
CCEC Computing

16

2008

COAS Art and Design

7

N/A

COAS History

7

N/A

COAS Philosophy & Religious Studies

14

2009

CCB Marketing &Logistics

11

N/A

Not Awarded

 
BCH Public Health

14.2

N/A

BCH Public Health

15

N/A

CCB Accounting & Finance

12

N/A

COAS Sociology & Anthropology

20

2006

COAS Chemistry

5

N/A

COAS Communication

7

N/A

COAS Communication

9

N/A

COAS Mathematics & Statistics

16

N/A

COAS Physics

17.5

2005