Past Present and Future of RPPC: An Update and Report
By Marina Angel, Professor of Law and Chair of RPPC
RPPC (the Faculty Senate Research Policies and Programs Committee) is cancelling its Fall 2011 Seed Money Application process. In the Fall of 2010, RPPC asked Dr. Kenneth Blank, Senior Vice President for Research, and Dr. Richard Englert, Interim Provost, to substantially increase our $75,000 per year Seed Money allocation for the entire University. This is the only Seed Money available to all faculty University wide. Seed Money, by definition, is meant to bring more money to Temple University by way of outside grants. RPPC is made up of prominent faculty researchers from throughout the University. Several of our members sit to evaluate multimillion dollar NIH grant requests.
Instead of substantially increasing our $75,000 allocation, Dr. Blank recently notified us that he was reducing it to $60,000. We were also told in the Fall of 2010 by Dr. Blank that each school or college has its own Seed Money.
We were promised a list of such Seed Money by school or college. We have not received it despite numerous requests. It seems that Deans do have research money, but many faculty do not know about it or how it is allocated. It seldom seems to be used as Seed Money. There needs to be transparency.
At the suggestion of the Faculty Senate Steering Committee, RPPC is preparing for discussions with the Administration for an increase to $250,000 for this academic year, with additional increases in future years. Research is one of the four major funding sources for universities together with tuition, state funding, and donations. Temple is massively deficient in both research and donations. According to the list of the Top 100 Institutions in Federal Dollars for Science, 2009, our peer schools, U of Pitt and Penn State, are 13th and 14th respectively. We do not appear on the list of Top 100.
When we determine how much money we will have to allocate for the 2011-12 academic year, there will be one application process available for faculty. It will conform to our normal Spring Semester deadlines.
2010-11 Report of the RPPC (prepared June 2011)
RPPC is composed of 10 Faculty members, 4 elected by the Faculty Senate and 6 appointed by the Faculty Senate Steering Committee. All are dedicated researchers and teachers from throughout the University, and several participate in deciding multi-million dollar NIH grants.
Originally RPPC was funded at only $50,000. Provost Lisa raised the amount to $75,000. This year we had only $75,000 to distribute university-wide for Seed Money grants which are meant to help researchers further developed materials and pilot studies suitable for submission to major grant authorities. At the same time that Provost Lisa gave us an additional $25,000, she established her own “Faculty” Committee to distribute Seed Money Grants of up to $50,000 per grant. Her grants continued for 2 years. When she left, her $50,000 grants per applicant were discontinued by the current Interim Provost. Some Administrators are supposed to be on RPPC, but they never participate.
RPPC is currently the only university-wide source of Seed Money. This academic year Interim Provost Richard Englert and Senior Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education Kenneth Blank told me that they were cutting RPPC back to the original $50,000. After discussion, they agreed to continue the $75,000 amount for 2010-2011 only. Given that this is the only source of Seed Money open to the entire University, and that, by definition, it aims to enable researchers to bring additional funds into the University, I have taken the position that we should be raised to the level of funding that Provost Lisa was distributing. I had earlier offered to add some administration appointees to RPPC.
RPPC’s full charge is “To develop policy on all matters related to research, and to review and ratify any proposed changes in policy and programs. The committee has responsibility and authority for presenting faculty interest on all matters involving University research policies and activities.”
The University has not consulted with RPPC in at least the past 5 years “on all matters related to research.” At our initiative this year, one of our members, Dennis Silage, a long time Temple professor and successful researcher, was supposed to meet bi-weekly with Dr. Blank. In fact, few meetings have occurred. At the start of the 2010-11 Academic Year, Dr. Blank promised to provide us with the amounts the deans of schools and colleges are providing for seed money. To date, we have not received this information. From reviewing 30 to 40 applications per year, we find that deans have subsidized many worthy “seed money” projects, but a substantial number of faculty were given “seed money” by their deans for activity that could not be labeled “seed money” projects. That money could be better allocated University-wide by RPPC. The University Administration does not seem to understand the value of including experienced and successful researchers in policy making on research programs. We hope this will change in the future.
Currently, RPPC’s sole function has been to be to distribute a total of $75,000 from the Faculty Senate Seed Money Fund (FSSMF) over the course of the academic year. This small amount provides funding to full-time faculty for scholarly and creative research activities and projects. The grants are expected to assist a few faculty members to attract external funding and recognition to Temple. We thank the eighteen faculty members who submitted proposals to us this Spring Semester. Temple has a wealth of talented and innovative faculty in its schools and colleges. We had to make hard choices, because our funding is so limited. The seven faculty members listed below received six grants, one was a joint interdisciplinary application. All were unanimously selected by RPPC to receive grant money to further their research efforts. We did not have enough money to fund all worthy applications.
Name Title of Project Department School Amount Awarded Nora Engel Insulators vs. Non-Coding RNAs in Regulation of
Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology School of Medicine $10,000 Shidong Li and
Seong G. Kong
Thermal Dosimetry Useful for Hypothermia Treatment Radiation Oncology and
Electrical and Computer Engineering
School of Medicine and
School of Engineering
$5,000 Megan Mullin Protecting the Nation’s Water Supplies: Mulit-level Governance and the Development of Water Infrastructure to Promote Public Health and Environmental Protection Political Science College of Liberal Arts $4,760 Shriram Pillapakkam Experimental and Computational Modeling of Non-Newtonian Behavior of Blood Flow in the Human Brain Mechanical Engineering School of Engineering $6,905 Jonathan B. Singer Parents’ Experience Seeking Help for Suicidal Youth: A Qualitative Study Social Work College of Health Professionals and Social Work $3,000 Ho-Lun Wong Novel Nanostructured Carrier for Extended siRNA-based Cancer Therapy Pharmaceutical Sciences School of Pharmacy $5,200