Baylor > Arts & Sciences > About The College > Strategic Plan > Theme 2: Becoming a Nationally Recognized Research Institution

Theme-2

As stated in Pro Futuris, Baylor aspires to national recognition as a Carnegie Research University with "very high research activity" (RU/VH), and for a ranking in the upper quintiles of Academic Analytics, in the upper quartiles of the National Research Council, and in the top 50 of U.S. News & World Report (refer to Appendix 2A). An academic institution recognized with such distinction accrues many benefits: the value of a Baylor degree increases, the best and brightest students and faculty wish to join us, and benefactors vie to contribute to a grand vision having a national and international impact. Baylor is well positioned to stand with only a handful of major research universities that have high national ranking and a dynamic religious identity.

All academic disciplines in Arts & Sciences must contribute to Baylor's goals in terms of research and grant productivity. Conducting cutting-edge research allows faculty members to remain current in their discipline, create new knowledge, increase research opportunities for students, bring results of their research into the classroom, and disseminate this information to the wider academic community. Further, the Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM disciplines must work to increase research across disciplines, especially in light of Baylor's distinctive mission, to engage in meaningful holistic inquiry.

If, however, Baylor is to reach its goal in the Carnegie Research University rankings, the STEM disciplines must make significant new contributions to research productivity, especially considering the large financial investments made to these areas. The principal goals for STEM are to (1) increase Ph.D. graduation rates by a factor of two to three over current levels; (2) increase external grant funding received from competitive sources by a factor of at least six; (3) substantially increase numbers of publications in peer reviewed literature; and (4) significantly increase staffing over current levels to provide instrumentation support and number of post-doctoral fellows supported by faculty through external funding. Tables 2.1 and 2.2 demonstrate the great importance of each of these factors in determining institutional status in Carnegie rankings. Appendix 2B presents the first five-year plan from STEM in Arts & Sciences for increasing proposal submissions and research expenditures.

Table 2.1. Principal Components Analysis (PCA) Loadings for the 2010 Carnegie Classifications Data File.

The tables show the two indices of research activity -- aggregate and per-capita -- based on the data analysis. The variables indicate measures of research activity for the institutions in the dataset.

Table 2.1

Table 2.2. Comparison of Baylor University to Aspirant Institutions for the Carnegie Classification.

Baylor University compared to three institutions in the Carnegie Classification RU/VH group that have full-time faculty count between 600 and 1100 but without medical schools (based on the 2010 Carnegie Classification Data File).

Table 2.2 (resized)

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Act of Determination 1 -- Developing Top-Tier Tenure and Promotion Guidelines

For Baylor to accomplish the transformation to RU/VH status in the Carnegie classification, Arts & Sciences departments will expect their tenure-track faculty to achieve top-tier research performance standards for tenure and promotion. We recognize that grant and publication expectations vary by disciplines and even by sub-disciplines. However, if Arts & Sciences is to increase research activity, all departments must contribute at levels above those currently achieved.

Appendix 2C lists tenure expectations during the typical six-year tenure-track probationary period. In addition, Arts & Sciences will hold candidates seeking promotion to Full Professor to the same standards as top-tier programs.

Action Steps:

  • By Fall 2014 departments wishing to improve the likelihood of receiving new and replacement faculty lines, particularly in the STEM fields, should provide a strategic plan to the Dean that includes revisions of departmental tenure and promotion guidelines that are consistent with those listed in Appendix 2C.

  • Department chairs will assess progress in grant expenditures in relation to release time and research space allocation for both tenure-track and tenured faculty and will provide an annual report to the Dean by no later than May each year, beginning in 2015.

  • By Summer 2015 the Dean, working with the Council of Chairs, will establish protocols for assessing progress toward promotion to Full Professor.

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Act of Determination 2 -- Increasing Research and Creative Activities in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Many departments in the Humanities and Social Sciences attained strategic success during the decade of Vision 2012. Our successful pursuit of Carnegie research aspirations requires continued, and increased, contributions across all programs in Arts & Sciences. We recognize that the potential for external funding tends to be greater in STEM fields than in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Even so, the Humanities and Social Sciences should make every effort to attract external funding to support doctoral students. Consequently, we will strive to support disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences to enable them to contribute to the University’s Carnegie rankings.

In the next decade, the Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as STEM, should continue to broaden and strengthen Baylor’s research and teaching contributions in areas related to health sciences and other inquiry directed toward improving the human condition in the context of Baylor’s Christian commitments (refer to Theme 4). Arts & Sciences acknowledges that Humanities and Social Science departments will require some strategic hires and routine replacement of existing faculty and associated space needs to continue expanding research productivity. Departments will explore ways to engage in interdisciplinary research to increase productivity and to leverage resources across departments for greater efficiency.

Action Steps:

  • By Fall 2014 the Dean will appoint a committee of representative department chairs from the Humanities and Social Sciences to encourage those departments with graduate programs to submit plans for increasing research activities, including in such plans hiring practices and the number of graduate students successfully completing the program in a timely fashion. These discussions will be based on best practices regarding start-up needs, space needs, infrastructural support, and release time for faculty to conduct research at Carnegie RU/VH levels.

  • By Spring 2015 the Dean, with guidance from the Humanities and Social Sciences committee, will develop a master space plan.

  • By Spring 2015 departments in the Humanities and Social Sciences will assess the possibility of establishing a Center for Baptist Studies.

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Act of Determination 3 -- Improving Doctoral Productivity in Arts & Sciences STEM Departments

To make significant contributions toward the University's goal of achieving Carnegie RU/VH status, doctoral graduation rates must increase across all departments, particularly those in the STEM fields in Arts & Sciences (refer to Table 2.1). Recruitment, retention, and graduation of a high-quality pool of doctoral students will be essential for each department.

Action Steps:

  • By Spring 2015 the Dean, in consultation with department chairs, will develop a plan to meet the goal of 80 doctoral graduates per year within 10 years. Departments will work toward a goal of contributing one or more doctoral lines through extramural research grants for every two lines committed by the Graduate School.

  • By Spring 2015 each department will submit to the Dean's Office a plan to utilize effectively the resources that are provided by the Graduate School for doctoral recruitment.

  • Departments with doctoral programs will provide an annual assessment in May of tenured and tenure-track faculty, noting progress toward sufficient grant support for increased doctoral lines.

  • Departments will strongly encourage all Ph.D. candidates to have at least one peer reviewed publication prior to graduation.

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Act of Determination 4 -- Acquiring New Faculty in Arts & Sciences STEM Departments

As faculty retire and are replaced, and as new faculty lines are added, Arts & Sciences departments will plan strategically by identifying areas for specialization that pertain to Baylor’s mission and vision and by focusing resources for competitiveness in external grant support and research productivity. Because Pro Futuris identifies the health sciences as central to the future of Baylor, some lines vacated by retirements in these departments will be reconfigured. Hiring in research clusters is one approach that will enable productive research in the health sciences and other fields. Such a strategy should consider joint appointments with the School of Engineering and Computer Science and with medical schools, such as the Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor Scott & White Health (refer to Theme 4).

We project the need for at least 40 faculty lines, many with an emphasis on health, in the sciences during the coming decade with levels of research productivity commensurate with Carnegie RU/VH expectations (refer to Appendix 2D).

Action Steps:

  • By Fall 2014 the Dean, in consultation with department chairs in the Arts & Sciences STEM fields, will determine best practices regarding start-up needs, space needs, infrastructural support, and release time for new faculty to conduct research at Carnegie RU/VH levels.

  • By Spring 2015 the Dean will form a taskforce to study different space plans for growth in Arts & Sciences STEM for new and replacement faculty hires considering the following options (refer to Theme 4 -- AOD 1):

    • To convert space currently planned for future classrooms in the Baylor Sciences Building (BSB) into research space, allowing for approximately six to eight new research faculty in addition to the four positions yielded from retirements;

    • To move existing teaching classrooms, except the three auditoriums, out of the BSB and convert these areas into research space;

    • To move faculty whose research does not require specialized services (ventilation, gas, treated water, etc.) to the hub of the BSB into spaces now used as classrooms;

    • To construct a Clinical Health Sciences facility (refer to Theme 4).

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Act of Determination 5 -- Increasing Staff Support for Arts & Sciences STEM Departments

Staff members are essential to facilitating scholarly productivity of faculty members and students. Clerical and administrative staff assist the faculty by handling correspondence, grant proposals, and manuscripts; purchasing research supplies and essential materials; and managing routine personnel matters. Technical staff may supervise research centers in which they operate and maintain sophisticated equipment, process samples, and otherwise support investigators’ research. Alternatively, technical staff may be dedicated to a department or a particular investigator's laboratory. Funding models range from regular university employee status to short-term employment on an investigator's grant.

Universities with a substantial research enterprise, and therefore, with stronger research reputations, tend to have a relatively large number of technical staff and post-doctoral graduates per research faculty member. Brandeis University, mentioned as a peer institution for Baylor regarding technical staffing levels, has a staff-to-faculty ratio of 2.94. The ratio for Rice University is similar -- 2.86. Currently, Baylor’s staffing, for both research technical staff and post doctorates, needs to increase to facilitate the University's entry into Carnegie RU/VH status. Another factor affects Baylor’s staff-to-faculty ratio: presently, many of the staff who support research are not being counted in that role. Thus, our position in Carnegie rankings can improve through accurately reporting staff-to-faculty ratios.

Action Steps:

  • By Fall 2014 the Dean, with assistance from Human Resources and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, will develop an employee classification system that allows staff who support research to be counted and accurately reported to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other critical agencies.

  • By Spring 2015 the Dean will consult with department chairs to examine current staffing and to determine the potential additions of clerical and technical lines needed to support Carnegie RU/VH research.

  • By Summer 2015 the Dean will present to the Provost's Office hiring needs for staffing in the Arts & Sciences STEM fields.

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Act of Determination 6 -- Creating and Enhancing Research Centers in Arts & Sciences STEM

Centers represent essential resources for improved research and teaching as aspirational goals in Pro Futuris. Centers house specialized equipment that serves investigators from multiple research and teaching laboratories. Such equipment is usually too expensive for each user to support redundant instrumentation in multiple laboratories. The tasks of operation and maintenance of such sophisticated equipment are time intensive and generally require considerable technical skill. Thus, staffing of a center includes one or more highly skilled technicians.

Study of current and anticipated research indicates that establishing new centers will be more effective than supporting several independent laboratories with redundant equipment. Operation of centers should be supported, in part, by extramural grants (via recharge income). Donor support through fundraising initiatives is essential for helping replace aging equipment in existing centers and for establishing new centers. The recently conducted inventory and assessment of centers housed in Arts & Sciences and robust annual reporting requirements will assist the Dean and chairs in justifying continued University funding of these research centers.

Action Steps:

  • By Fall 2014 the Dean will determine current levels of activity, productivity, and financial support by requesting that each center director develop and submit an annual report.

  • By Spring 2015 the Dean, in consultation with the department chairs, will identify centers that are inactive and determine how best to reallocate those resources, identify new capabilities that existing centers will need to better serve faculty and student research and instruction, assess a possible user-fee structure, and identify new centers needed to facilitate faculty and student research.

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Act of Determination 7 -- Planning for Masters Programs

Masters programs contribute to the University’s mission by educating graduate students in several critical areas, as well as by enhancing the doctoral enrollment in other disciplines. In non-STEM disciplines relatively little external funding currently exists for graduate programs. Thus, if a non-STEM department supports a Ph.D. program, that department's master’s program, in most cases, should be a constituent part of the Ph.D. Terminal MA and MS degrees will be awarded only to those who leave the program before completing the Ph.D. However, some masters programs are important for generating revenue through teaching and/or supporting the University’s enrollment goals, including retention and timely graduation (refer to Appendix 2E). Furthermore, the MFA, rather than the Ph.D., is considered the terminal degree in the fine arts fields and is considered more demanding than the MA in those fields.

Action Step:

  • By Spring 2015 the Dean will request that all departments with masters programs provide a self-assessment for future decisions on the various pathways these programs may take for sustainability. Appendix 2F lists criteria to consider in these program evaluations.