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
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
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.