Today’s UC Meeting featured several visitors and discussions on topics that ranged from international pathways providers to extramural funding. In his chair’s report, John Reisel said that he met with the Chancellor who is putting together a group to advise him on campus vision particularly in regard to resource allocation. We eagerly await the acronym of this new ad-hoc committee.
The UC then had a lengthy discussion about INTO with the Provost, CIE’s Executive Director Sara Tully and Professor Larry Kuiper of the International Committee (a new Faculty standing committee). For those who are hearing about this for the first time, you are not alone. INTO is an organization, referred to as a “pathway” company, that partners with universities to recruit and manage international students. (Inside Higher Ed had an in-depth article on these programs in 2014). It is currently operating in eight universities in the United States including Oregon State and George Mason. While informal discussions started over a year ago, the process is now moving quickly along, and UWM representatives are trying to negotiate a proposal for a contract with INTO. That proposal would then need to make its way through shared governance on campus before it is presented to the Board of Regents. The details of the proposal, however, are still in the process of being hammered out. Many specific questions about the numbers could not be answered. Members of the UC raised several concerns including: the academic quality of the students coming into the program; creating specially tailored pathway programs for out-of-state tuition/international students and not for students from Milwaukee; the cost of the program; how this would work for grad programs; and a constricted timeline that does not give shared governance bodies the time they need to vet the proposal.
The Provost also reported that he has formed the committee for the L&S Dean search, which is comprised of 23 members. The Provost tried to split the L&S members evenly between divisions and did not list more than one member from a single department. Their first meeting is next week.
Kathy Miller Dillon, Assistant Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies, presented as the Academic Staff Committee representative. She said there was nothing new since last week’s Faculty Senate meeting, but she reiterated concerns about INTO and its impact on Academic Staff, and about the status of indefinite appointments, particularly given the lack of rolling horizons. You can view the ASC report on Instructional Academic Staff Appointments here.
We ended the meeting with a discussion about external grant funding and research assistant (RA) tuition with Mark Harris, Interim Vice Provost for Research, and Robin Van Harpen, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administrative Affairs. We were also joined by concerned faculty members Sandra McClellan, Margo Anderson, and Nadya Fouad. The current system punishes departments with externally funded research assistants because the tuition collected does not count for the department as tuition revenue, and because it goes into the central fund. While departments may be getting money back from that central pool, the flow of funds is not transparent. McClellan, Anderson, and Fouad argued that this process disincentivizes research, which is dangerous for a campus interested in maintaining R1 status and growing our overall research profile. It also compromises the academic mission of the university by pitting research and teaching interests against each other. Van Harpen said that this problem will not be fixed until we move into the new budget model in 2019. In the meantime, Fouad said that we are going to lose faculty who can write significant grants and bring in research dollars, and McClellan asked for the university to undertake a cohesive strategy to properly incentivize and prioritize research on this campus.