Baylor > Arts & Sciences > About The College > Strategic Plan > Appendices > Appendix 2 > Appendix 2B: A&S STEM Departments: Five-Year Plan to Increase Research Expenditures in the College of Arts & Sciences

Appendix 2


Appendix 2B

A&S STEM Departments: Five-Year Plan to Increase Research Expenditures in the College of Arts & Sciences

Stacy Atchley -- Chair, Department of Geology

Gregory Benesh -- Chair, Department of Physics

George Cobb -- Chair, Department of Environmental Science

Jaime Diaz-Granados -- Chair, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Robert Doyle -- Chair, Department of Biology

Patrick Farmer -- Chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Lance Littlejohn -- Chair, Department of Mathematics

Jack Tubbs -- Chair, Department of Statistical Science

Lee Nordt -- Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

Kenneth Wilkins -- Divisional Dean of Sciences, College of Arts & Sciences

Viola Osborn -- Director for Informational Analysis and Planning, College of Arts & Sciences

March 2014

Five-Year Plan to Increase Research Expenditures in the College of Arts & Sciences

Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Environmental Science, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology and Neuroscience, and Statistical Science

Pro Futuris articulates a bold vision that if successful will significantly elevate the academic standing of Baylor University among its peers both nationally and internationally. A key aspect of this vision is that Baylor will become a Carnegie "Very High Research" institution, an aspiration requiring a substantial increase in external granting, doctoral productivity and research staffing. These indicators place the primary burden of success or failure on the shoulders of the STEM departments in the College of Arts & Sciences (Arts & Sciences). Success will depend on maximizing productivity with current faculty and resources, but also on a significant increase in the number of new faculty lines and affiliated costs.

The Plan

As a first step to the implementation of Pro Futuris the University is establishing five-year goals, along with specific metrics intended to document progress toward these goals. In order to advance toward the goal of becoming a very high research institution, the University aims to increase external grant expenditures by $5 million per year within the next five years. In response, the strategic plan for Arts & Sciences directly addresses the Carnegie research goal by proposing that the faculty produce approximately $10 million annually in grant expenditures by 2024. Such a proposal assumes that at least 40 new faculty lines are in place in the eight STEM departments.

To what extent should the STEM departments in Arts & Sciences contribute to the University’s five-year goal of increasing grant expenditures by $5 M per year? The Dean and STEM departments recently convened to discuss the possible annual increase in grant expenditures within the next five years with current faculty and resources. Table 1 below displays the past five-years of external research proposals (i.e. grant submissions) in the aggregate for the eight STEM departments, for which 90 to 95 percent are annually submitted by STEM faculty. The drop in proposals during the past two years can be explained in part by the cycle in granting for faculty currently holding grants, an increase in collaborations among colleagues internally as co-Principal Investigators, and a decrease in grant funding opportunities from Federal agencies. However, the eight STEM departments propose that they will increase the annual number of grant proposals during the next five years by 85 to 99 (Table 2). Added to the 2013 total (126) this will increase the annual output to between 211 and 225.

The trend for external research expenditures during the past five years is flat according to the data presented in Table 1 (Note: 90 to 95 percent of research expenditures also originate from the eight STEM departments). As with submissions there are a number of reasons why this may be the case. Whereas the STEM departments bear responsibility to increase grant expenditures, it is also true that the number of tenure plus tenure-track faculty in the eight STEM departments has increased by only three since 2010 (3 percent increase). Compounding the slow growth in net faculty is that since 2010 student credit hours among these eight STEM departments has increased by 8 percent and the number of undergraduate majors by 6 percent. The increase in number of majors and student credit hours, if tracked since the opening of the science building in 2004, would be even higher. Also, there are a number of unfilled faculty lines, particularly in the Department of Biology, that have hindered scholarly productivity. Nonetheless, the aggregate projected increase in annual research expenditures within the next five years from these eight STEM departments range from $2.5 to $4.25 M (Table 2). Projecting granting success in the future is a complex issue with many contingencies, but the lofty goal is to achieve the $4 M mark on behalf of the University’s five-year goal. This would raise annual research expenditures for Arts & Sciences to between $7 and $8 M per year, more than doubling the amount generated in 2013 ($3.127 M). It should be noted that these dollar figures do not include research expenditures provided by the University that also count toward our Carnegie goals (i.e. start-up and facilities).

There are two other possibilities that may improve research proposals and expenditures during the next five years. It is expected that during this time approximately four new STEM faculty lines per year will be provided to the eight STEM departments. At least a few are expected to be mid-level to senior faculty hires that would afford a rapid infusion of additional grant funding within the five-year window. Faculty hired at the entry level during the next couple of years are less likely to contribute significantly to annual grant expenditures in this five-year time frame, because several years might be required for these faculty members to become established and successful securing grant awards. However, we would still expect these individuals to demonstrate success obtaining external grants as part of a successful tenure or promotion bid. Another possible factor in achieving our goal of increased grant expenditures is the potential contribution from faculty in the social sciences and humanities. During the past few years these departments have provided an average of 10 percent of the total research expenditures from Arts & Sciences. Strategies will be developed over the next five years to maximize the contributions from the humanities and social sciences.

The Process

During the next five years, the College of Arts & Sciences will initiate the following measures of accountability across the eight STEM departments to ensure success of the stated research goals:

  • (1) On the annual performance evaluations for research faculty the department chairs will emphasize the importance of submitting research proposals and will consistently measure progress in this area;
  • (2) On the annual performance evaluations for research faculty the department chairs will emphasize the importance of being awarded external grants and will measure progress in this area;
  • (3) Each quarter the department chairs will receive a report of research proposals and awards for the STEM departments in aggregate and by department to assist with managerial and strategic oversight;
  • (4) The eight STEM department chairs will form a committee as directed by the Arts & Sciences strategic plan (refer to Theme 2 -- AOD 4) to meet monthly to discuss these stated goals and to ensure that appropriate resources are being distributed to the departments for scholarly success (i.e. teaching loads, start-up funds, facilities, and support staff); and
  • (5) The Dean, in consultation with the STEM chairs, will produce an annual report that will be submitted to the Provost.

Conclusion

The STEM departments in the College of Arts & Sciences take very seriously the goals articulated in Pro Futuris during its first five-year phase of implementation, and wish to provide leadership for the University regarding research expenditures, doctoral productivity, and research staffing. We are confident that the Arts & Sciences departments can attain the specific target figures mentioned in this report and, with new faculty lines during the coming decade, that research expenditures will increase significantly. This will greatly enhance the reputation of the entire University as we make significant strides towards becoming the premier Christian research institution.

Table 1-Table 2 chart (resized)