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3.3 Institutional Effectiveness

Comprehensive Standard:

3.3.1.4 The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of the results in each of the following areas: research within its mission, if appropriate. (Insitutional Effectiveness)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

As detailed in the report for Core Requirement 2.4, the Georgia Board of Regents previously classified the University of West Georgia as a State University with expectations that the Institution maintains specific core characteristics [1].  Included explicitly in these core characteristics is reference to the importance of research and creative work:

"a commitment to scholarly and creative work to enhance instructional effectiveness and to encourage faculty scholarly pursuits, and a commitment to applied research in selected areas of institutional strength and area need."

Note: The University System of Georgia adopted a new classification for institutions in August 2013. The University of West Georgia is now a Comprehensive University. Alignment with this new classification will begin in the Fall of 2013 [2]. This is discussed in the report for Core Requirement 2.5.

This attention to research, scholarly, and creative work is further noted in the Purpose Statement and Essential Activities of UWG Mission Statement [3].  As part of its identified Purpose, the University of West Georgia intends to provide "quality teaching, scholarly inquiry, creative endeavor, and service."  Among eight Essential Activities, the University includes "faculty-directed student research and professional activity," "faculty research, scholarship, and creative endeavors that promote knowledge, enhance professional development, contribute to quality instruction, and provide for significant student involvement and field based experience," and "systematic investigation of teaching and student learning that fosters innovation in teacher, professional, and pre-professional preparation."

As a State University, the University of West Georgia research mission is broadly defined and emphasizes applied research, a range of creative activities, and forms of scholarship that inform and improve teaching and learning in University programs.  Article IV, Section 1, Part A(4) of the University's Policies and Procedures stipulates the expectation for faculty to engage in research and creative activities:

"Faculty are expected to have an on-going research and professional development agenda, to share the agenda with their department chair, and to make progress annually in addressing the agenda" [4].

Support and monitoring of faculty research efforts and productivity have traditionally been the responsibility of the colleges.  However, in recent years, several steps have been taken to more broadly define, encourage, and support faculty research or creative activity at the University-level.  Notably, among these steps was the expansion and restructuring of the Office of Research and Sponsored Operations (the "operations" was changed to "Projects" and the creation of the Director position to oversee this work [5].  The first Director (who later became the Associate Vice President) of this operation was appointed in late 2011, with a charge that included formally identifying and tracking specific outcomes associated with research throughout the University.  The description of expectations that is included in the job posting [6] suggests that outcomes for the Office will emphasize activities that build faculty capacity in seeking external funding for their work, increase the amount of funding and total number of projects funded externally, and ensure compliance of faculty research with University, State, and federal guidelines.

The instruments used to measure progress toward ORSP goals and outcomes are:

  1. Increase total external dollars generated to support research/creative activity;
  2. Increase total external dollars requested to support research/creative activity;
  3. Increase total number of proposals submitted for external funding;
  4. Increase number of faculty preparing and submitting proposals for external funding;
  5. Expand support services provided to faculty to ensure capacity for engaging in externally-funded research and compliance with applicable federal and state guidelines.

Data on each of these measures are collected routinely by the Office of Research and Sponsored Operations and recorded internally and in UWG SACS Assessment System.

The following table presents the most recently available data on ORSP progress related to the established outcomes.  The table uses the 2008/2009 academic year as a baseline by which to compare progress toward outcomes.

Outcome

2008/09

2009/10

2010/11*

2011/12

1.

Total external dollars requested to support research/creative activity**

$4,106,966

$5,640,807

$4,649,012

$10,901,962.75

2.

Total external dollars awarded to support research/creative activity***

$1,647,530

$2,499,701

$2,915,331

$4,053,061

 

 

 

 

 

-    Total external dollars received****

$1,629,702

$1,873,337

$2,311,260

$3,284,102

-    Total external dollars expended*****

$1,944,277

$1,633,335

$2,246,549

$2,215,321

-    Total indirect costs recovered by UWG  (Revenue Recorded)

$58,473

$18,379

$25,953

$179,094

3.

Number of proposals submitted for external funding

55

46

79

64

4.

Number of faculty members submitting proposals for external funding

75

75

82

43

*Data for 2010/11 are estimated.
**Reflects total dollar amount of funds requested in proposals submitted during the year.
***Reflects total amount of new awards received in current year (e.g., for a $100,000 award that was awarded by the funder in FY11 but was to be used over two consecutive years, the amount included would be the total award of $100,000)
****Reflects total dollars received from external funding agencies for use in the current year (e.g., $50,000 of the total $100,000 was provided by the funder during the first FY of the two-year project).
*****Reflects total dollars expended on research/creative activity during the current fiscal year (e.g., of the $50,000 received from the funder for year one, the project only expended $42,315 and will carry over the balance for use in the second year).
******2011/12 was the first year data were collected on these factors.
 
The fifth outcome is supported by faculty programs. Thus, The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) offers regular and by-request educational programming for faculty pursuing external funding.  Programming in the past has included seminars on the theory of grant writing, grant classes tailored to the specific needs of individual colleges, and workshops on specific grant programs [7].  Programming in the upcoming academic year will feature seminars from Pre-award and Post-award services, and Compliance, and will continue to provide workshops on high-value grant programs, such as NSF CAREER and NIH R15 awards. ORSP regular programming will be announced on the updated ORSP website, the UWG Daily Report, and the newly created college-specific Google Groups "listservs", as faculty outreach remains a significant challenge.
 
In response to data provided and discussed above and the recent assessments conducted by the ORSP office, the department is instituting a number of new practices.  Previously, a significant portion of the grant proposals was authored by senior faculty members, including deans, associate deans, and Associate Vice Presidents.  The new training program targets rank and file faculty members, and in particular pre-tenure faculty. Outsourcing grant writing responsibilities from the administration to the faculty at large may result in a decreased success ratio, but will, ultimately, result in increased research activity and increased funding for sponsored projects. Moreover, grant writing skills will be developed and honed by individual faculty members, and an interest in grant writing will spread laterally within departments. 
 
ORSP continues to advocate for an additional hire in the post-award office to better support faculty who have been awarded grants and assist them in accurate, on-time, and complete expenditure of grant funds. Clearly, the number of faculty pursuing grant writing must be increased. To achieve this goal, ORSP is transitioning the grant writing classes the department offers from within individual colleges and making them available to all faculty and staff. Regarding incentives for grant writing, ORSP intends to initiate a grant writing institute for UWG faculty (summer 2014), funded by indirect costs the office receives, to keep faculty engaged in grant writing during off-contract months.
 
Outreach remains a significant challenge.  The Research Administration is attempting to raise awareness among the faculty for ORSP and for conducting research a variety of ways.  Early-round surveys indicate that most faculty prefer to receive information about grants and ORSP programming from an official, well-designed website. Thus, ORSP is updating the website to make clearer the program calendar, policies and procedures, and contact information. Faculty surveys have also indicated an interest in listservs and social media. In response to this interest, Google Groups listservs have been created for each college in order to disseminate information about grant opportunities and to tailor announcements to individual academic disciplines.  Facebook Pages have been created for ORSP [8] and for the Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Projects [9] to promote the office and an appreciation of research and faculty engaged in research. 
 
The office continues to work with the faculty in growing a research culture and improving practices.  This will be accomplished in three ways.  The AVP for Research and Sponsored Projects meets bi-weekly with the academic deans to discuss higher-order concerns, and the AVP has a goal of meeting with each department annually to discuss concerns and goals. These direct discussions with the academic leadership are critical for identifying and resolving persistent systemic impediments for growing research culture at UWG. ORSP has instituted an annual faculty satisfaction survey [10] to directly and anonymously poll the faculty about satisfaction with ORSP, attitudes towards grant writing and conducting sponsored projects, and suggestions for programming topics. Lastly, ORSP values faculty input and shared governance; thus, the department is convening a faculty advisory board consisting of a blend of senior and junior faculty.  Although the board may choose to develop its own bylaws, ORSP anticipates this group meeting in person once per semester for goal-setting discussions and to be available as needed in threaded group discussion in a private listserv.
 
ORSP will continue its practice of grant writing, but the grants the department targets will directly benefit sponsored projects at UWG.  One example is the NIH G11 "BRAD" grant "Biomedical/Biobehavioral Research Administration Development [11]. This grant will fund ORSP programming, faculty seed grants, software purchases, and additional hires within the Research Administration. One significant change ORSP is making this year, regardless of whether or not this BRAD award is selected for funding, is to purchase new grant searching software and to retire a current software product that is severely under-utilized by the faculty. Training - in seminar and in web-clip format - will be developed to encourage and assist the faculty in conducting grant searches.  This step was undertaken because early-round polling indicated that some faculty who were not able to identify external funding sources stopped looking.  Potential software purchases will be limited to software that has the ability to create individualized, automated grant searching bots.

Supporting Documentation: