Grant policy would affect faculty time off

summer Sundial

A recently proposed policy revision would alter the way faculty who

hold large grants get time off to work on their projects.

The large grant policy allows faculty members who hold large grants

to receive three to six units of ‘?released teaching time,’ or time off,

to work on parts of their projects.

‘?The large grant policy, in essence, is an incentive policy for

faculty who achieve success, who write proposals, submit them and get

them funded,’ said Mack Johnson, associate vice president of Graduate

Studies, Research, and International Programs.

According to Johnson, there are two separate components associated

with large grants.

The first is ‘?direct costs’: money used to pay personnel, buy

supplies, pay for services, as well as to provide some traveling money

for the project director.

The second component of a grant is ‘?indirect costs’: money used for

university expenses. For example, the University Corporation processes

grants, thus creating a charge for that service. Indirect costs can

vary from project to project.

To be eligible for the release time, faculty members must generate a

certain amount of indirect costs as part of grant-related work.

According to Johnson, the proposed policy revision is aimed at

increasing the minimum amount of indirect costs a grant produces before

a professor obtains units of ‘?release time.’

Maria Elena Zavala, biology professor at CSUN, currently holds three

different types of large grants, each funded by the National Institute

of Health. The grants range from between $500,000 and $2.5 million per

year.

Zavala, who was given release time because of her grants, said

release time is crucial to getting the job done.

‘?The teaching load at CSUN is extraordinarily high, so this released

time allows me to spend more time with students, mentoring and training

them,’ Zavala said.

She said most faculty in the Science Department, along with their

students, spend most of their time in their offices and labs every

weekday, and sometimes on the weekends.

‘?If you don’t have the time to work on the grant you won’t satisfy,

usually a government agency, (the organization) that’s given you the

money,’ said Katherine Dabbour, a member of the CSUN Research and

Grants Committee and a university librarian.

Dabbour said when faculty members have four classes to teach, many

figure they will not be able to get any work done on the grant unless

they get time away from teaching.

Nancy Burstein, professor and chair of the Special Education

Department, holds two large grants, each funded by the Department of

Education, for approximately $200,000 to $750,000 per year for each.

Burstein said both of the grants are teacher-training grants that

support students.

Grants and projects are much more time consuming than one thinks

they are going to be, she said.

‘?The large grant policy has assisted enormously in helping to

support our activities,’ Burstein said.

Johnson said any substantial future change in the policy would be

discussed during the Fall 2005 semester.