III. Working Group Reports
Working Group on Research
and Scholarship
Introduction by Working Group Chair Moshe Vardi
Members of Working Group
Janet Braam, Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Keith Cooper, Computer Science
Michael Deem, Bioengineering
Mahmoud El-Gamal, Economics
Michael Emerson, Sociology
Richard Grandy, Philosophy
Randy Hulet, Physics
Steve Lewis, Baker Institute for Public Policy
Seiichi Matsuda, Chemistry
Vikas Mittal, Jones School
Jan E. Odegard, Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology
Fred Oswald, Psychology
Charge – Fall 2011
“The Senate Working Group on Research
and Scholarship will assess the processes
and structures currently existing on campus
designed to support and improve Rice's
research and scholarship efforts,
including strategy, support structures,
assessment, and coordination and planning
from the department level to the upper
administration level.”
Outline of Report
I.
II.
III.
IV.
Members and Charge of Working Group
Executive Summary
Background
Culture
Recommendation A1
Recommendation A2
Recommendation A3
Recommendation A4
V. Faculty
Recommendation B1
Recommendation B2
Recommendation B3
Recommendation B4
Outline, continued
VI. Research Funding
Recommendation C1
Recommendation C2
VII. Doctoral Programs
Recommendation D1
Recommendation D2
Recommendation D3
Recommendation D4
VIII. Undergraduate Research
Recommendation E1
Recommendation E2
IX. Schools
Recommendation F1
Outline, continued
X. Research Infrastructure
Recommendation G1
Recommendation G2
XI. Administrative Infrastructure
Recommendation H1
Recommendation H2
XII. Resources
Recommendation I1
Recommendation I2
XIII. Shared Governance
Recommendation J1
XIV. Summary
IV. Culture
Recommendation A1✪✪
Rice should develop a systematic process for an external quality review of
programs, departments, schools, and administrative offices.
a) The recently launched academic-review process is to be commended, but it is
yet to be fully systematized.
b) Reviews should be preceded by prior conversation on metrics and benchmarks,
semi-standardized self-study and review questions.
c) There should be a follow-up process to ensure that reviews are consequential.
For example, such a process may include unit response, review by school-wide
committee, decanal response, review by standing university committee, and
internal follow-up review.
d) The Senate should appoint a group to work with the administration to develop
a systematic academic review process. ✪✪
Responsibility: Provost, Vice Presidents, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs,
Dean of Graduate Studies, School Deans, and Senate.
IV. Culture
Recommendation A2
Rice should develop processes for establishing accountability of
academic units.
a) All academic administrators, from department chair
upwards, should submit annual reports, consisting of public and
private sections.
b) All academic administrators should receive timely and
constructive responses from higher-ups on their reports.
Responsibility: Provost, Vice Provosts, Senate, and Deans
IV. Culture
Recommendation A3
Rice should develop processes for major academic organizational decision making.
a) Although there is a process at Rice for starting new academic programs,
there is no process for terminating programs. (Comment: This process is
currently being formulated for graduate programs.) There is also no clear
process for decision making regarding academic unit reorganization such as
splitting or merging units (although a recent case example has taken place in
engineering). A clear process should not limit organizational flexibility, but
should provide a roadmap for consultation and decision making.
b) In practice, almost all proposed major academic organizational changes
encounter a significant level of opposition that makes it quite difficult to carry
out such changes. Framing proposed changes within a larger plan to improve
academic quality can help to generate buy-in by all constituents when change
is necessary.
c) School-based faculty advisory committees with distinguished
faculty/senate members could advise deans on major issues as part of a more
transparent decision-making process.
Responsibility: Provost, Senate, Deans
IV. Culture
Recommendation A4
Rice should rethink its budget process to allow for longer- term
planning, a broader strategic discussion of priorities and
tradeoffs, a closer alignment with strategic priorities, and
enhanced flexibility and incentives for academic units at all
levels.
Responsibility: President
V. Faculty
Recommendation B1
The Provost should appoint a full-time Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs (VPAA),
responsible for the ongoing stewardship of the faculty, including, for example, faculty
development and mentoring, compilation of data on the faculty (jointly with the Office
of Institutional Research), and coordination of nominations of faculty members for
various honors (see also Recommendation 2).
(Comment: This recommendation is the process of being implemented, as a
consequence of an earlier draft of this report.)
V. Faculty
Recommendation B2 ✪✪
The President and Senate should establish a new standing faculty
committee, Committee on Academic Affairs (replacing the current Faculty
Advisory Committee of the Office of Faculty Development), whose duties
may include:
a) Advise on the duties of the VPAA.
b) Serve as an advisory body for the VPAA.
c) Advise the administration and the Senate on non-research
faculty-related policies.
d) Provide faculty oversight of the academic external review
process.
e) Develop a faculty-data dashboard.
f) Develop guideline for a “faculty-career ladder,” including
service expectations, annual reports, and periodic
reviews.
V. Faculty
Recommendation B3✪✪
Developing high standards for promotion and tenure
is critical to the quality of the faculty at Rice.
a) Regular discussions on hiring, promotion, and tenure
standards should be held among the President,
Provost, deans, and chairs.
b) The President makes final decisions on promotion
and tenure. In borderline cases, the President should
lean towards denial.
c) The Senate should review Rice’s midterm-review
process for assistant professors to examine its
effectiveness.✪✪
V. Faculty
Recommendation B4
The President and the Provost, working with the Senate, should
develop a coherent plan for the size, distribution (by intellectual
area), and demographics of the faculty at 5, 10, and 20 years, as
well as a strategy to develop the resources needed to implement
that plan.
VI. Research Funding
Recommendation C1
Faculty productivity should become an institution-wide topic of
conversation.✪✪
a) Data on faculty productivity should be included in the public
part of departmental and school reports.
b) Deans and chairs should conduct regular conversations with
faculty on their productivity.
c) It is the job of deans to create a culture of faculty research
and grant productivity: to define expectations, provide resources
and incentives, offer encouragement, and create a climate of
positive peer pressure to encourage faculty to raise their own
profile and that of their discipline.
d) Rice should issue an annual research and scholarship report,
according to a template developed by the Research
Committee.✪✪
Responsibility: Deans, chairs, Vice Provost for Research, Senate
VI. Research Funding
Recommendation C2✪✪
The Vice Provost for Research (VPR) should strengthen the Office
for Research Development, to help identify opportunities, to help
faculty form competitive research teams, and to pursue large
strategic opportunities. See, for example,
http://research.utk.edu/proposal-support/researchdevelopment-team/.✪✪
a) The Research Committee should work with the VPR to
develop a proposal for a Rice Office of Research
Development.✪✪
b) The Research Committee should work with the VPR to create
incentives that will spur and reward faculty effort at creating
center-scale activities at Rice.✪✪
VII. Doctoral Programs
Recommendation D1
The Provost should appoint a full-time DGPS with overall
responsibility and accountability for oversight of graduate
programs and with the mission of pursuing vigorously Point 3 of
the V2C.
(Comment: There is a search underway for a full-time DGPS, as a
consequence of an earlier draft of this report.)
VII. Doctoral Programs
Recommendation D2
School deans should appoint associate deans for
graduate education and school-wide graduate
committees to provide school-level oversight of
graduate programs, as well as to discuss schoolwide priorities, tradeoffs, and best practices.
These associate deans should report not only to
their school deans, but also (via a “dotted line”)
to the DGPS.
VII. Doctoral Programs
Recommendation D3✪✪
The Senate should appoint a group (Graduate Council or an adhoc working group) to study further graduate governance at Rice.
The group should study graduate governance in peer institutions
(including the graduate-school issue) and recommend a
governance model for Rice that would clarify the relationships,
including funding authority, between the DGPS and school deans
and between school-level graduate committees and Graduate
Council.✪✪
VII. Doctoral Programs
Recommendation D4✪✪
The Senate should appoint a group (Graduate Council or an adhoc working group) to work with the new DGPS and develop an
implementation plan for Point 3 of the V2C, including the desired
(and feasible) level of investment by Rice, a more effective
recruiting of doctoral students, and ongoing quality assessment
of doctoral programs.✪✪
VIII. Undergraduate Research
Recommendation E1✪✪
The Senate should appoint a group (standing
committee or ad-hoc group) to compile an inventory of
all undergraduate research programs at Rice, study best
practices at peer institutions, and develop a proposal
for a comprehensive Rice program for undergraduate
research (including research internships). ✪✪This
proposal should include also a governance structure. In
analogy to our proposal for oversight of graduate
programs, the Working Group believes that the first
level of undergraduate-research oversight should reside
at the schools, via departmental undergraduate
research coordinators, school-wide undergraduate
research committees, and associate deans for
undergraduate education.
VIII. Undergraduate Research
Recommendation E2
The Provost should assign overall oversight
responsibility for undergraduate research to the
Dean of Undergraduates and charge him/her
with the task of working with school deans and
the Senate to create a well-resourced, highquality institutional undergraduate-research
program.
IX. Schools
Recommendation F1
The Provost and the School Deans, working with the
Senate, should develop school-by-school strategic plans
to strengthen the academic schools at Rice. The
planning process must include the definition of schoolspecific benchmarks and metrics that address the issue
of how to move departments to the next level. To this
end, the planning process should include a discussion
on the pros and cons of further investments in
departments and schools, and the pros and cons of
mergers and other types of restructuring between
departments or between schools.
X. Research Infrastructure
Recommendation G1
The Provost should appoint a Research Infrastructure Task Force
to conduct a survey of Rice’s current research infrastructure and
benchmark it against that of our peers. The Task Force should
also study alternative sustainable funding models and propose a
model that should be adopted by Rice.
X. Research Infrastructure
Recommendation G2
The Vice Provost for Research should issue an
annual report, which should include a report on
the status of Rice’s research infrastructure.
XI. Administrative Infrastructure
Recommendation H1
An expert external comprehensive analysis of Rice’s business
processes, administrative systems, and administrative staffing is
essential to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Rice’s
ongoing business. This analysis should be followed by an
implementation plan and subsequent periodic reviews.
Responsibility: President
XI. Administrative Infrastructure
Recommendation H2
Rice should develop a comprehensive data plan,
covering both administrative and academic data.
The Office of Institutional Research should
dually report to both the Vice President for
Finance and the Provost. The Vice Provost for IT
should appoint a Chief Data Officer, to support
the development and ongoing support of Rice’s
data plan.
Responsibility: President
XII. Resources
Recommendation I1✪✪
The Senate should appoint a group to work with the
administration to develop an inclusive process of need
assessment, based on best practices at peer institutions. The
processes must be informed by the strategic plans developed by
the schools.✪✪
XII. Resources
Recommendation I2
The President should launch a need-assessment
Task Force, led by the Provost, following the
process developed by the Senate.
XIII. Shared Governance
Recommendation J1✪✪
The Senate should form a group (ad-hoc or
standing committee) to study the incentive
system for faculty participation in shared
governance, survey best practices at peer
institutions, and develop a plan for recognizing
and rewarding shared-governance service at
Rice.✪✪
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III. Working Group Reports Working Group on Research and