April 19, 2016

We discussed how the Madison tenure policy evolved to the form that was approved at the Regent ‘s meeting on Thursday and Friday, April 7-8. There was some confusion on the exact contents of the document since it was not posted until the day before the Regents meeting (Wednesday, April 6), and therefore, the Madison faculty had not seen it at the time of their April 4 Faculty Senate meeting. There were edits made to the original policy passed last November at the Madison Faculty Senate, but the nature of those edits are not entirely clear. We will be interested to see if the Madison faculty endorses the tenure policy as it was presented at the Regents meeting.

Kyle Swanson joined us to discuss how the Carnegie Classification is calculated. This is the classification that has ranked us as a R1 (doctoral granting, research intensive) university. Briefly, there are seven metrics. Four are the number of doctorates granted in the humanities, social sciences, STEM, and other fields (i.e. business, health sciences, education, and architecture). The other three metrics are research expenditures in STEM, research expenditure in non-STEM, and the number of postdoctoral scholars. In light of this discussion, there were some clear policy actions that could be taken to help preserve R1 status during these times of severe budget cuts. These include:

  1. Invest in TA and RAs for doctoral students. The campus should determine a target for the number of doctoral students that will keep us in R1 status and make the proper investments in competitive salaries and positions to support this target. There is existing capacity for training doctoral students across campus, but anecdotally, we are losing students to other universities due to low stipends or the inability to guarantee funding for a 4 year period.
  2. Create preference for awarding TAs to qualified students in PhD programs, even if these students are placed across departmental of even school boundaries.
  3. Support new assistant professors who are establishing their careers by awarding funding for postdoctoral scholars.

The first point is one recommendation that has been made in many venues in strategic plans, research committee reports, as resolutions by the faculty senate, etc., so it remains unclear why it has not been given higher priority or been implemented, especially since the doctorates granted is a key factor in how we achieved R1 status. We all also highlighted how doctoral students enhance research and enhance undergraduate education.

We also discussed the RGI program and the need to examine the effectiveness and the historical record of who received funding, the return on the investment, and in what form UWM should continue to invest in this program. We were puzzled by lack of data available on this program (repeat awardees, rank of awardees, return on investment) given the amount of investment in RGI.