RESEARCH COUNCIL MINUTES
February 24, 1997
Attendees: Bill Blass, Chair, Jim Adcock, David Bemis, Ham Bozdogan, Chris Cox, Mike Devine,
David Dobbs, Dorothy Habel, Robin Hardin, Zoe Hoyle, Kim Jensen, Mike Keene, Dennie Ruth
Kelley, Ron Maples, Kula Misra, Ben Oliver, Kerry Richardson, John Schultz, Ken Walker, Jodie
Wehr, Gail White and Dhyana Ziegler.
NOTE: The next Research Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 31, 1997 at 3:30
p.m. in the 8th Floor Board Room, Andy Holt Tower.
Comments by Bill Blass: Blass introduced two representatives of the GSA, Robin Hardin and Kerry
Richardson, as full-fledged members of the Research Council.
Comments by Mike Devine: Devine announced that the transfer of authority and responsibility of
research contracts has now been delegated to the Office of Research. Contracts will now be signed by
Devine. In the event that he is unavailable, Ray Hamilton and Chancellor Snyder also will have
signature authority. Foreign contracts require approval by a Vice President. A UT attorney will be
available for consultation on problem contracts. Walker stated that the amount for contracts for
outside analyses has been increased to $1,000/day or $12,000/year; only a purchase order is required
for these contracts.
Devine announced that the Chancellor will hold a convocation on planning and budgeting on March 4
at 3:30 p.m. in the Alumni Gym. An announcement will be sent to all deans, directors, and department
heads. Devine encouraged RC members to attend.
Comments by Ken Walker: Walker stated that the Controller's Office and the Office of Research
meet monthly with the procurement staff at LMES. They are currently working on the electronic
submission of contracts. For now, this means they will work on a process via e-mail. Blass
questioned the security of electronic signatures. Adcock suggested an intranet in which the principals
(sans PI's) were connected. Such transmittals would be relatively secure. It would be the
department's authorizing agent who would interact with the PI's. This would require a "server" and
software to accomplish but would be secure and reliable and would transmit "authorization signatures"
with the documents. Maples stated that there is an electronic approval system being developed by the
Treasurer's Office for travel, which is 95% complete.
Comments by James Adcock: Adcock announced that computer hardware order request forms can
be obtained from the CAS homepage. Adcock stated that UT can obtain computers at a mail order
price less $25-$75. Oliver inquired about purchasing personal computers through CAS. Personal
computers may be ordered through the UT Computer store. Adcock commented on two other agenda
items: 1) the establishment of creating an enduring account for equipment renewal and 2) UT's
commitment to excellence in education. He commented that science departments are in terrible shape
when trying to replace equipment. There is no money in budgets to replace costly equipment.
Charging a user fee was discussed as a way to collect money to be used for equipment replacement. A
service center could be created but a user fee would have to be applied to all users which would make
this very costly for departments. Federal regulations state that you cannot charge federal grants a user
fee unless you charge the same amount to everyone. Ken Walker was previously involved in
discussions concerning amortization of equipment and will contact Ray Hamilton to renew these
discussions. He will report back to the RC at the next meeting.
Adcock stated all faculty must have access to computers and the Internet in order to excel and for
UTK to maintain its status as the "flagship" university. Compared to Iowa, where every single school
in the state is connected to the Internet, UTK is falling behind.
Annual Report: Walker announced that there were many additions (including tables on expenditures
and indirect cost recoveries, invention and creation disclosures, and patents) to the Office of Research
Annual Report. Devine stated that they aware of some errors in this year's report. Table 2 resulted in
zeros being entered for some entities when departments merged into one (only the newly named
department received the credit). Also, some department heads reported that our figures do not match
their figures. The annual report shows data from July 1, 1995 through June 30, 1996, if the actual
award is made before or after this period it will have shown up in last year's report or will show in
next year's report. Sometimes the Office of Research is not notified of an award and the books have
already been closed. Walker stated that an addendum is being planned to correct a few actual errors.
Devine questioned whether Figure 9 concerning tenure-track faculty proposals and award was
reflective of reality. Some faculty may have funding for 3-years and as a result may not submit a
proposal during those years. The way the data is currently extracted, it appears that these faculty are
not bringing in any funding. It is conceivable to obtain more reflective data but with the current
database system it is extremely difficult to do. A task force has been appointed to look at the
possibility of replacing the Sponsored Programs Database. Currently, information in the SP Database
is downloaded as a mirror image every night and is accessible via the WWW. Blass suggested that OR
contact Mike Leuze (JICS); he has done some work using web browser to access legacy databases.
Any comments concerning this report should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FIS discussion: Jensen distributed (via e-mail) a proposal for policy regarding release of information
from the FIS. Outlined are three different options: 1) permission to release all information; 2) no
permission to release any information; and 3) permission to release some information (either by a
preselected list of categories or by flags for suppression by category). Two issues that need to be
discussed are: 1) database security and 2) how much flexibility is given to faculty on choosing
categories. Blass felt that enough options needed to be presented in order to pass the Faculty Senate.
It was noted that the Science Alliance uses the FIS for their award program and each of these faculty
are already listed in the Community of Sciences database (a database accessible by the public).
Adcock commented that he forwarded the FIS proposal to faculty in his department. The main
concern was database security and that faculty would not participate unless this could be guaranteed.
Likewise, Kelly forwarded the proposal to her department. Faculty wanted to know the value of the
FIS, who will enter the information, and who will maintain the data. Walker suggested that a
committee be formed to look into the security aspect of the database. Further discussion on the FIS
proposal was put on the agenda for the next meeting.
Adjournment: 5:12 p.m.