Board of Regents

Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee - June 2013

Minutes of the Research, Economic Development, & Innovation Committee
University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents
Wisconsin Room
June 6, 2013

Chairman Bradley convened the meeting of the Research, Economic Development, and Innovation (REDI) Committee at 1:15 pm. Regents Bradley, Higgins, Drew, Hribar, Pruitt, Walsh, and Whitburn were present.

a. Approval of the Minutes of the April 4, 2013 Meeting of the Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee

Chairman Bradley asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the April 4, 2013, REDI Committee meeting. Motion by Regent Drew, seconded by Regent Whitburn, to approve the minutes as presented. Motion carried unanimously.

b. Update on Undergraduate Research, Technology Transfer, and Commercialization Support for the UW System Comprehensive Campuses

Regent Tim Higgins provided a brief update on WiSys, which is the technology transfer entity authorized by the Board of Regents for all UW System institutions other than UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee. Regent Higgins highlighted revisions and additions to the WiSys board representation and advisory board composition.

Revised WiSys board representation:

  • WARF - two members (previously four members)
  • UW System - two (continuing)
  • Business Representatives - two comprehensive campus alumni
  • Sitting Chancellor - one, who will serve as Chair of the Advisory Committee (new)

Revised WiSys advisory board composition:

  • UW System Chancellors from Comprehensive Campuses - three
  • UW Extension Chancellor - one
  • UW System Associate Vice President for Economic Development (Brukardt) - one (new)
  • WEDC Representative - one (new)
  • UW System REDI Committee Regent - one (new)
  • Business/Industry Representatives - two

Regent Higgins discussed the funding commitments from the UW System, WARF, and WEDC for WiSys and noted that the UW System has agreed to allocate up to $1 million annually to WiSys for administration and project development. He also noted WEDC has committed to providing additional funding up to $500,000 per year to support projects that align with the state's economic development priority industries and industrial clusters. Upon the motion by Regent Higgins and the second of Regent Whitburn, the Committee unanimously approved Resolution I.4.b.

[Resolution I.4.b.]
That, upon recommendation of the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the UW System Board of Regents reaffirms its support of WiSys as the sole technology transfer mechanism for research, innovation, and technology transfer on UW System two-year and four-year comprehensive campuses, and of the further development of policies and practices that support and encourage faculty and undergraduate research, technology transfer, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Regents Higgins and Chairman Bradley thanked Dr. Maliyakal John for his work in building WiSys into a successful organization. WARF Managing Director Carl Gulbrandsen and WEDC Executive Director Reed Hall both commented on the success and benefits of WiSys and affirmed their support for the organization going forward.

c. Overview and Discussion of Potential Faculty Incentives and Rewards Related to Research, Economic Development, and Innovation

Chairman Bradley noted that at the February 7 meeting of the REDI Committee, Regent Mark Tyler agreed to lead an initiative to identify best practices and policies that might be implemented to further recognize, encourage, and reward faculty members who engage in activities related to research, economic development, and innovation. Regent Tyler was to present on this topic, but was unable to attend the meeting. Chairman Bradley shared Regent Tyler's thoughts on this topic in his absence.

Regent Tyler's thoughts focused on discussions he had with Associate Vice President David Brukardt, Senior Vice President Mark Nook, and Associate Vice President Kris Andrews, regarding incentives and/or rewards provided to faculty members for undergraduate research. This discussion led to a number of mutually agreed conclusions, including:

  • There are clear and compelling reasons to encourage the expansion of undergraduate research.
  • It seems reasonable that consideration for incentives and/or rewards is an appropriate way to encourage this expansion.
  • We recognize that this issue is complex, and we need to make certain that we agree on the outcomes that we expect to achieve.
  • That any consideration of incentives is focused clearly on leading to encouraging those outcomes.

Senior Vice President Mark Nook presented the opportunities and challenges to incentivizing, supporting, and encouraging undergraduate research. He focused primarily on best practices that are recognized for helping to foster faculty engagement in undergraduate research and for encouraging such activities at the departmental level. The best practices Nook identified fall under two categories of direct incentives and infrastructure support incentives.

Direct Incentives: "Make it More Rewarding"

  • Increasing salary and stipend funding to fairly compensate, reward, and incentivize faculty engaged in undergraduate research
  • Rethinking compensation constraints for faculty working and consulting with private sector partners
  • Removing certain salary limitations for faculty while on sabbatical and engaging in private sector research and consulting
  • Rethinking the 11-month salary cap which forces faculty to take one unpaid month per year, even if engaged in research projects
  • Revising contract salary constraints for faculty working on NSF and NIH projects
  • Including/enhancing the role undergraduate research plays in consideration for advancement, promotion, and tenure
  • Including supervising undergraduate research into faculty workload considerations
  • Encouraging post-doctorate fellows to help mentor and facilitate undergraduate research to help foster the next generations of researchers

Infrastructure Support Incentives: "Make it Easier"

  • Providing the scheduling flexibility for short-term appointments that faculty may take to do research and work temporarily with a private sector business
  • Creating systemwide and institutional rewards for undergraduate research that furthers innovation and economic development
  • Creating a fully supported Research and Sponsored Programs Office, including a Director of Research at the associate vice chancellor level to help researchers know and understand institutional, system, state, and federal policies and opportunities that support their research and innovation
  • Updating purchasing procedures for computers, software, lab equipment, etc. to make them more cost-effective and efficient
  • Enabling flexible teaching loads to accommodate the time demands for research and making allowances for sponsored research projects to "buy-out" teaching loads when needed
  • Providing research development funding to support faculty development of new grant proposals or for revisions to existing grant proposals for projects that include partnerships with area businesses/industries
  • Creating a research matching grant fund to support grant applications/projects that require a match
  • Providing funds to pay undergraduate researchers to attract and retain the best students into our research programs
  • Including researchers in the building/facilities operational and planning process, so that maintenance activities during summers and breaks don't interfere with research projects and lab equipment access and usability.

Associate Vice President Kris Andrews highlighted ways in which the UW System is becoming acknowledged as the leader in undergraduate research. She stated a grant from the National Science Foundation has helped UW institutions enhance their undergraduate research efforts, and that discussions and planning efforts for further initiatives supporting these efforts across UW System campus locations are continuing at a strong pace.

Chairman Bradley adjourned the meeting at 2:15 pm.