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FAS Council Hears Proposal to Dissolve Committee on Human Subject Research

Faculty Meeting
Faculty enter University Hall for their monthly faculty meeting on a rainy Tuesday afternoon in spring 2018.
The Faculty Council heard a proposal to dissolve a Faculty of Arts and Sciences committee overseeing the use of human subjects in research and received updates on unionization and initiatives at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at its biweekly meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Associate Dean for Research Administration Patrick W. Fitzgerald presented the proposal to dissolve the Standing Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research. The Council—FAS’s highest governing body—voted to pass a similar proposal in February, eliminating the Council on Asian Studies, another FAS standing committee. The February proposal claimed the Asia Center already carried out many of the Asian Studies Council’s duties.

Fitzgerald used similar reasoning to advocate for the dissolution of the Use of Human Subjects Committee. He argued a larger University-wide committee, which reviews research projects involving human subjects across most of the schools including FAS, already performs many of the functions of that FAS standing committee.

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Council member David L. Howell said the recent proposals to eliminate outdated FAS standing committees are likely part of an effort by FAS to clear away “bureaucratic clutter.”

“I gather it's something they've been trying to do for the past few years. They don't want to eliminate committees that are doing important work that isn't replicated elsewhere, but the ones that have become obsolete,” Howell said.

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Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean-elect Emma Dench also spoke to the Council about the unionization vote slated to be held April 17 and 18; that vote will determine whether graduates students can form a union in order to collectively bargain with the University. She reminded Council members that professors are allowed to express their opinions on the issue but should be careful not to say anything that might pressure graduate students to vote a certain way.

The Council also listened to Dean of SEAS Francis J. Doyle III present about current SEAS efforts to create new programs and collaborate with other schools within the University. Doyle spoke about a new Masters program in Design Engineering that will graduate its first class this semester, as well as a new joint program with the Business School, among other initiatives.

“I think in general, he wanted to say that SEAS, because it is the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is very interested in thinking of—of course—new technologies, but also new techniques to serve the greater community through practical problem solving,” Howell said.

The Council will hold its next meeting, slated to be the last one for the semester, on Wednesday, April 25.

—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at angela.fu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.

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