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Research Policy Committee

Committee Chair
September 2004 - January 2005: Benjamin Kuipers
January 2005 - May 2005: Alexandra Loukas & John Hasenbein

The main objectives of the Research Policy Committee this academic year were to:
a) Examine graduate student stipends
b) Investigate the appropriateness of establishing a Clinical Center for Research
c) Continue work on modifying our proposal for a faculty research leave program

Graduate Student Stipends
Stemming from concerns raised by graduate student members of our committee, we investigated two issues related to graduate student stipends; 1) whether graduate students who were serving as half-time research assistants on faculty grants were receiving either partial tuition reimbursement or were not receiving tuition reimbursement at all; and 2) whether it was a common practice among faculty to hire graduate student research assistants for 19 hours rather than 20 hours per week to possibly avoid paying health insurance and other fringe benefits.

Preliminary research on this topic was conducted by meeting with Juan Sanchez, John Dollard, and Dorothea Adams. Discussions at this meeting centered around University required minimums and maximums for graduate student stipends. Although we were not able to address appropriately whether the graduate student stipends issues (see above) were of concern at UT, we agreed to continue our investigation by meeting with the Committee on Responsibilities, Rights, and Welfare of Graduate Academic Employees.

Our meeting with members of the “Graduate Academic Employees Welfare” confirmed interest by this committee in the two issues and a commitment to continuing the investigation. Our next step is to gather the data from the Office of Vice President for Research to determine the extent to which one or both of these issues should be given further consideration.

Clinical Center for Research
Given that some faculty on campus require medical oversight to conduct their research, the Health Research Network initiated discussion of establishing a possible Clinical Center for Research. This center would be available to faculty requiring oversight by medical professionals to conduct their research but would also be available to faculty requiring additional office or laboratory space to conduct their research.

To determine the role of our committee in this initiative, Dr. Sharon Brown, associate vice president for research, met with us to discuss the relevant issues. After discussing the issue with Dr. Brown, our committee agreed that the establishment of such a clinical center is an important initiative and has positive implications for the research productivity of our faculty. However, we also agreed that given the proposal was in the early stages of development, our role for the time being would be to support the development of this proposal.

Research Leave Program
Work on the faculty research leave program (formerly referred to as “sabbatical” program) was put on hold this academic year. Although we had several discussions around revising the proposal drafted by the Research Policy Committee during the 2003-04 academic year, our efforts were primarily centered around the graduate student stipend issue and the clinical center for research.

Alexander Loukas, chair