Faculty Council Meets
Changes in research guidelines topped the agenda of the millennium's last full Faculty meeting on Tuesday.
Dean for Research and Information Technology Paul C. Martin, on behalf of the Standing Committee on Research Policy presented a new version of the University's in-house publication Guidelines for Research Projects Undertaken in Cooperation with Industry for a vote.
The guidelines, which were first passed in 1983, are meant to ensure that all research conducted by members of the Harvard community adheres to certain principles. The major change Martin presented will allow for greater flexibility in undertaking research.
Most notably, the new guidelines would allow "Harvard researchers to accept confidential information from sponsors if the acceptance and use of the information will not inhibit the exchange of information on the research conducted at Harvard or limit the ability of students to publish and discuss their research." This would be subject to approval by the Dean of the Faculty or a designee.
In the past, Martin said, there has been an attempt to divorce commercialization from academia that was really not feasible. Harvard, he said, has suffered from the policy that prohibited researchers from accepting confidential information.
Research is funneled to the National Bureau of Economic Research instead of to Harvard for precisely this reason.
After one question from the floor about what would prevent people in academia from "selling their body of knowledge to the highest bidder" the motion passed with only two people opposing.
The next motion came from Professor of Government Jeffry Freiden who proposed to increase the limit on the duration of post-doctoral appointments.
Currently, he said, a footnote in the rules states that two-year extensions can be granted to post-doctoral fellows in the life sciences. Freiden said that the Faculty should import the language of the footnote into the rules.
On related note, Friedan also proposed that a new category of research appointment, the Research Fellow, be established. These fellows would have principle investigator rights for the purpose of pursuing outside funds.
There was comment from the floor that perhaps this measure should extend to social science and humanity disciplines as well as some point in the future.
The motion passed with minor dissent.
Other items on the agenda included Dean Jeremy R. Knowles's report on compensation for assistant and associate professors.
Three years ago, he said, improvements for junior faculty were made, but after surveys taken this summer it was found that salaries were no longer competitive.
Knowles then told the council about a letter he wrote to associate and assistant professors that specified upcoming changes.
Starting salaries for new assistant professors will rise more than 12 percent next fall. Current salaries will be adjusted for junior faculty, and salaries for individual colleagues in especially competitive fields may be raised. Additionally, the $3,000 housing supplement will be raised to $5,000 and the salary step based on number of years at Harvard will be eliminated
"I am concerned that the grass on our side of the fence be as green as we can make it" Knowles said.
Also, Dean of Undergraduate Education William M. Todd III encouraged professors to make use of the new Undergraduate Council book-ordering project.
This spring, the Council will operate an internet site that will compare online book prices, much like the Flying Chickens site that made an appearance earlier this semester.
"We urge you to call up the Web site and enter your book orders," Todd said.