University of Pittsburgh

University Research Council

2002-2003 Activities Report



Provost Maher asked the Council to:

·         Continue to use the CRDF to help junior faculty develop self-sustaining research projects and senior faculty reorient their research portfolios.

·         Review the recommendations of its task force on the Copyright Policy of the University and fashion a document in collaboration with the General Counsel’s Office.

·         Determine how the University can better publicize its research capabilities and accomplishments.

He also requested that the Council:

·         Develop a proposal-writing workshop that draws upon expertise from a variety of local sources.

·         Explore how faculty at the University can take advantage of the change in research orientation at the Department of Energy.

·         Develop guidelines that encourage faculty in the social sciences to secure externally sponsored research.


Federal Agency Briefing Trip

The Council sponsored the annual federal agencies trip, which was held on March 23-24.  Thirty faculty members from social science departments at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University met with representatives of several federal agencies.  Notes from this year’s briefings have been compiled and are now available.

Central Research Development Fund (Small Grants Program)

Fifty-five proposals were submitted for this year’s competition.  Three subcommittees, one each for the Health Sciences, the Sciences and Engineering, and the Social Sciences and Humanities, reviewed the proposals.  The Health Sciences Subcommittee recommended that eight of 12 proposals be funded; the Sciences and Engineering Subcommittee recommended that nine of 22 proposals be funded; and the Social Sciences and Humanities Subcommittee recommended that 14 of 21 proposals be funded.  Thirty-one proposals eventually were funded from a budget of $368,124.

Proposal-Writing Workshops

The Council sponsored two grant-writing workshops.  The first workshop, which focused on the social sciences, was held on April 16.  Four representatives from social science departments discussed external funding opportunities, and a member of the English department discussed technical writing.  Approximately 25 people attended.  A workshop that addressed issues related to multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary grants was held on April 30.  Representatives from the University’s faculty, the NSF, and the NIH spoke.  Approximately 65 people from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Duquesne University attended.

Research Expertise

The Provost’s Office is encouraging members of the faculty to participate in the Community of Science database.  The database is a publicly accessible, searchable source of information that lists the expertise of numerous universities’ researchers.  Deans of the Provost-area schools are working with the Provost’s Office to complete this task.

Social Science Research

A Council subcommittee has interviewed administrators in relevant centers and schools as well as a nonscientific sample of social science faculty members.  The subcommittee also has collected data on external funding for social science departments at the University.  Members of the subcommittee will develop a survey that will be distributed to faculty members and department chairs.  Issues to be explored include administrative support, requisite training, and incentive structures.

Department of Energy

The new director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy, Raymond Orbach, is redirecting the research efforts of the Department.  He is encouraging more investment in basic research at the Department.  A Council subcommittee devised a plan to explore research opportunities at the Department.  The subcommittee suggested that members of the Council visit the Department in the fall.


Mike Crouch, Director of the Office of Research, reported on the activities of the Office in each meeting.  He frequently noted changes in federal research priorities that might interest the University’s faculty.  Programs at the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security and the National Institutes of Health were mentioned.  He also discussed relevant issues related to grants, contracts, and safety.  Other areas of interest included:


·         The Office of Research completed its FY 2001 report of sponsored research at the University.  Only a few copies of the report will be printed, but the document will be available on the web.

·         Individuals from Virginia Tech, the University of Chicago, Penn State University, and the University of North Carolina visited the University to assess the operations of the Office of Research.

·         The Office is adjusting to the new regulations associated with HIPPA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and with the Patriot Act. 


·         The Office of Research sponsored six teleconferences in the past year as part of its Continuing Education Series.

·         The Office of Research will hold several instructional seminars for research administrators in the social sciences and the humanities.


Copyright Policy

The copyright policy is being revised by a Council subcommittee and the Office of General Counsel.  The revised draft will be presented to the Council after the comments are incorporated into the policy.


Social Science Research

Dr. William Brustein, Director of the University Center for International Studies, discussed social science research at the University.  Faculty in the University’s social sciences programs often are not encouraged to seek external funding.  Faculty members at some universities (e.g., Big Ten schools) are expected to have won a major research grant prior to the award of tenure.  New faculty members at these schools often are assigned a mentor to help them learn about the funding process.  External funding would help social science programs at the University, since they heighten the visibility of academic programs and attract and support graduate students.

Technology Commercialization Alliance

Dan Bates from the Office of the Provost discussed the Technology Commercialization Alliance.  The Alliance is a multi-pronged effort, coordinated through the Office of the Provost, to help members of the University community commercialize inventions.  It is designed to close the gap between the creation of a new product and its introduction on the market.  To date, the commercialization process has been decentralized, with no clear focal point at the University; the Alliance should become a one-stop-shop for technology commercialization.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Elizabeth Baranger, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, discussed the ambiguous employment status of postdoctoral fellows at the University.  A standardized “postdoctoral fellow” employment category does not exist, so fellows are categorized haphazardly, with benefits varying by classification.  The Provost appointed a committee to address this issue.  The committee subsequently recommended that the University adhere to a three-category classification.  Postdoctoral fellows will be classified as Postdoctoral Associates, Postdoctoral Scholars, or Research Associates.  A standardized benefit package will be associated with each classification.  The new guidelines will enter effect September 1, 2003.



George Klinzing, Vice Provost for Research



Representing the


School of Dental Medicine

Mary Marazita

School of Engineering

Patrick Loughlin


Anne M. Robertson

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

German Barrionuevo


Irving J. Lowe


Frank Tabakin

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Phyllis Coontz

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

David M. Brienza

School of Information Sciences

David W. Tipper

School of Law

Mike Madison

School of Medicine

Steven H. Graham


Richard A. Steinman


Jack C. Yalowich

School of Nursing

Mary E. Kerr

School of Pharmacy

Raman Venkataramanan

Graduate School of Public Health

Roberta Ness

Office of the Provost

Steven Husted, FAS


John Prescott, KGSB


Evelyn Rawski, FAS

University of Pittsburgh at Bradford

Dr. Assad A. Panah

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Dr. John D. Beuthin

University Senate

Dr. Patricia W. Dowling, Medicine


Dr. Gene W. Gruver, FAS