Program gives faculty time off to research

GW launched an experimental research program this year as part of an effort to snatch a Research I rating from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching when schools are evaluated in 2000.

The Research Released Time Program allows several professors to teach one fewer class each semester to give them more time to work on grant proposals. As part of the initiative, the University will hire part-time professors to substitute for professors working on research projects.

“The program would primarily allow new faculty to get their foot in the door,” said Sharon Lynch, associate professor in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development and chair of the Faculty Senate Committee on Research.

GW is a Research II university. GW technically meets the criteria to be considered a Research I university because it offers full baccalaureate and doctoral programs with 50 or more doctoral candidates enrolled and receives $40 million in federal grants.

But Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies Carol Sigelman said the criteria may change by the year 2000, when schools are next reviewed.

“We’re right on the verge of becoming a Research I university,” said physics Professor Barry Berman, former chair of the Faculty Senate Committee on Research. “A little over 100 universities are Research I and one-third of them are private.”

Although Berman said GW is trying to break into a select group that includes Ivy League schools, a few more substantial grants might push the University to the next level.

GW’s research and graduate studies program will match the funds each school offers to professors who are doing research, up to $2,000 per faculty member or two-thirds of the cost of a replacement instructor for one course. The University will choose whichever is lower, Sigelman said. Four faculty members from the Elliott School of International Affairs, School of Business and Public Management, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and GSEHD, and six from the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences will take part in the experimental Research Released Time Program during the 1998-’99 academic year.

The program, geared toward full-time faculty members, targets faculty who are not as familiar with the grant process and need more time to write proposals, Lynch said.

Proposal topics cover issues such as privatization in warfare, a highly rated science curriculum for diverse learners, and inter-group contact and racial attitudes in the inner city.

“More important than a Research I rating is that the program helps GW become more successful in bringing outside funding into the University,” Sigelman said.

Lynch said she believes GW will be rated as a top research institution by 2000, but it won’t be solely because of the Research Released Time Program. She said the University’s ongoing commitment to research would be a key factor.

“A Research I rating isn’t the primary reason for the program,” Lynch said. “But it would be nice.”

Administrators will monitor the progress of faculty in the new program to determine whether the program increased research and the quality of school programs, Sigelman said.

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