University of Pittsburgh

University Research Council (URC)

1999-2000 Activities Report



On November 19, 1999, Provost James Maher delivered his charge to Council.  He asked the URC to:

1.     Keep the Small Grants Program healthy.

2.     Enhance research through workshops.

3.     Nurture research through faculty mentoring.

4.     Encourage interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research.



Central Research Development Fund (CRDF)/Small Grants Program


The University Research Council and the Office of Research administer the Small Grants Program.  The primary goal of this annual program is to enhance opportunities for faculty, especially junior faculty, at the University of Pittsburgh to engage in high-quality research, scholarship, and creative endeavors.  Small Grants are intended to provide seed funding and support in areas where external funding is extremely limited.




Proposals received review from one of three subcommittees:  Science and Engineering, Health Sciences, or Social Sciences and Humanities.  Junior-level faculty proposals were generally given preference, except in the social sciences and humanities where funding sources are more limited.  The Science and Engineering subcommittee received a total of 16 proposals.  The Health Sciences subcommittee also received 16 proposals.  The Social Sciences and Humanities subcommittee received 15 proposals for a total of 47 submissions to the program.  Thirty-one of these were funded yielding a funding rate of 65.9%.


A total of almost $400,000 was award to promising projects this year.  Thirteen schools were represented in the distribution including UPB, UPG, and UPJ.  Individual awards ranged from $2,000 to the set maximum of $16,000.



In addition to its annual commission of the Small Grants Program, the URC worked to address specific items cited in the charge to the committee.  Several subcommittees were formed in response to the Provost’s directive.





Interdisciplinary Initiatives:  Chair, Stephen Farber


This group discussed:

·         Development of a general model of proactive engagement

·         Identifying hot topic areas

·         Development of a position for hot topic areas

·         The advantage of a fully dedicated director to facilitate an initiative

·         Development of an inventory of successful centers and activities



Mentoring:  Chair, Kevin Ashley


This group recommended:

·         Development of a set of good practices, applicable across schools, that could be circulated to departments and schools

·         Development of a Web site listing of existing support services

·         Sending and e-mail to new faculty requesting feedback regarding the mentoring process (What is missing?)

·         Forming a set of FAQs as a result of the e-mail solicitation



Workshops:  Chair, Esther Gal-Or


Ideas for workshops include:

·         Development of center proposals

·         Revising proposals based on comments received

·         Getting familiar with the funding agencies

·         Greater involvement of department chairs in the research process

·         Sharing the experiences of key senior faculty


(See Attachment:  Subcommittee Reports)



Special Assignment


Revision of Policy 11-02-03 - Commercialization of Inventions through Independent Companies


URC reviewed the Entrepreneurial Oversight Committee’s suggested revisions to Policy 11-02-03.  As a result of the discussion regarding the proposed changes at the October 1999 meeting of URC, a subcommittee comprised of Drs. Mohammed Ataai, Mary Kerr, Russell Salter, and Jack Yalowich was assembled to consider the proposed revisions in more detail.  The subcommittee agreed with the revisions to Sections II.A.4 and II.C.3 but recommended that wording and intent of Section II.E. regarding board positions be retained.  At the March 23, 2000 meeting of Council, all but one member voted to approve the recommendations of the subcommittee.


This policy will most likely be reviewed again in the fall as a result of the new vigilance of NIH.



Information Sessions


This year, several visitors were invited to inform Council about what they do and how it impacts research.


Dee Jay Oshry and Thomas Crawford delivered a presentation on the function of the Office of Institutional Advancement and methods for obtaining and fostering foundation grants.


Caroline Correa and Mark Stofko delivered a presentation on the Office of Research Accounting and informed Council of an impending federal audit.


Jan Schaffner of the Office of Research reminded Council about the Community of Science database, urging them to participate and encourage their colleagues to join in the process.


Marty Cooper, an adjunct faculty member of the School of Engineering, relayed a model for industrial proposal writing.  Mr. Cooper is retired from Westinghouse and currently serves as a consultant on proposal preparation.


At each meeting of Council, Michael Crouch delivered regular reports on Office of Research activities and the national funding climate. 



1999-2000 URC Members


Kevin Ashley



Mohammad Ataai


Paula Baker


John Beuthin


Billy Day


Patricia Dowling

FAS/Molecular Genetics & Biochemistry

Amro El-Jaroudi


Akin Euba


Esther Gal-Or


Roger Hendrix

FAS/Biological Sciences

Steven Husted


Kenneth Jordan


Mary Kerr


Suzanne Lane


Irving Lowe

FAS/Physics & Astronomy

Paul Moore

Dental Medicine

Assad Panah


Russell Salter


Richard Steinman


Raman Venkataramanan


Jack Yalowich



Chair:          George E. Klinzing

Ex Officio:    Michael Crouch, Director, Office of Research

Observer:    Thalia Jones, Office of the Provost


Guests:       Marty Cooper

Caroline Correa, Research Accounting

Thomas Crawford, Institutional Advancement

Dee Jay Oshry, Institutional Advancement

Jan Schaffner, Office of Research

Mark Stofko, Research Accounting