Tired of the same old stuff? Systemwide Strategic Plan for Research Listening Session

On March 5, 2024, a listening session was held to get faculty input on the direction of systemwide planning for investments in research and research support at WSU. Dr. Christen led the discussion and opened with a short presentation of WSU research metrics.

All faculty are encouraged to contribute to this plan by completing the form below to provide suggestions, feedback, current challenges, etc.

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As part of WSU’s systemwide strategic plan to increase research competitiveness and national standing, the Office of Research has formed a systemwide working group to assist in drafting a multiyear, systemwide plan to enhance WSU research competitiveness, including prioritized areas for internal investment and steps to strengthen, grow, and diversify research and creative activity. Give us your feedback below.

Kim Christen: My name is Kim Christen. I’m the Associate Vice President and Associate Vice Chancellor for Pullman for Research Advancement and Partnerships. And along with Mike Wolcott, who’s the interim VPR. We are running the systemwide strategic planning for research and this this session is, as it’s titled, a listening session.

Kim Christen: And so we are definitely here to listen to all of you, get your feedback and suggestions. But what I’m going to start with is just sort of an overview and some background materials. I promise I’m not going to kill you with slides and a lot of graphs and charts, but I do want to just make sure everybody kind of has some background information.

Kim Christen: So… And Will’s running the slides, sorry, we were having technical difficulties. So, Will is running the slides. So Will, do you want to go to the next slide?

Kim Christen: All right. So as I said, you know, the the systemwide strategic planning is run out of the president’s office. And that bullet point that we are under is Academic and Research Excellence. The objective set by the president is to increase research, competitiveness and national standing.

Kim Christen: And we will drop in the chat box. There’s a link to the whole strategic planning website. So you can see there’s there’s all kinds of areas with under there. We’re just focusing today on research and the portion that we’re driving. So over this last six months or so at the Office of Research, we’ve done several things to kind of get ready for this.

Kim Christen: And really the outcome of all of this is to draft a multiyear systemwide plan to enhance WSU research competitiveness, including prioritized areas for internal investment, steps to strengthen, grow and diversify research-active faculty and increase faculty-led collaborations and proposals across disciplines. So that is the goal, is to create this plan. So getting ready for that, we’ve done several things.

Kim Christen: We’ve gathered a lot of data on research, awards proposals and trends, trends by college, trends by funding agency, and we’re not going to show you all of those today, but I am going to give you some background and if you’d like to know more at any point, I’m happy to provide that today or at any other point. We’ve also surveyed all of the deans of all of the colleges we’ve worked with the associate deans for research, for all of the colleges, and we’ve surveyed all of the chancellors from all of the campuses.

Kim Christen: And we gathered that input, asking them questions about, you know, what do you see as the research strengths, What are the emerging areas? What are the biggest problem areas that you see that are impediments to research happening? So we’ll go over some of those today, the sort of challenges that we face as well. And then of course, we’re having this listening session and we’ve also created a working group that will assist with writing the plan and we’ll drop a link to that in the chat box as well.

Kim Christen: The Research Competitiveness Working Group is comprised of faculty and research administrators from all campuses and colleges, and we are recording this session today and we will provide the working group with a summary of that. But we’ll also there’s also a spot on the website for this session that allows you to add… to provide feedback. So if you don’t want to provide feedback directly today, if you feel like you want to think about it, you can also go to the website and provide feedback that way.

Kim Christen: So before I go any further, does anybody have any questions about any of that? If you do have a question while I’m talking, please feel free. You can totally butt in. This is informal. Okay, So we’ll go to the next slide then. So like I said, we’ve gathered a lot of data and these are the highlights and we and these are highlights and the of the trends that we’ve been seeing.

Kim Christen: So we’ve seen a steady decline in the number of proposals submitted. So the full number of proposals submitted across the board from WSU has steadily been decreasing. We saw a little bump this last year in ‘23, so that was good. But we’re still not up to where we had been five, six years ago. We also see that the total number of awards has been decreasing.

Kim Christen: We did see a slight uptick this year. So when we look at those numbers, no matter how many proposals we submit, we have a really good rate of getting awards. We have a… it hovers between 65, 66 and up to 70% depending on the year. But we do have a fairly steady rate based on the number of proposals that we put in.

Kim Christen: But those proposal numbers have been decreasing. The awards have been decreasing. However, despite that, the total value of awards has gone up every year and this is really explained by the increase. We see an increase in the average size of awards. So people are getting bigger awards. And we’ve also had a really big increase in large proposals, by which we mean proposals over $3 million that have been awarded.

Kim Christen: So so even though the proposals are going down, awards are going down, then the numbers of the total value is going up. However, this is not a sustainable model. And so that’s one of the reasons that brings us to this point, you know, and this need for this plan. Another trend that we’re seeing is the unique PIs participating in awards has decreased.

Kim Christen: This has followed the trend in the reduction of tenured and tenure track faculty across the system. So we’ve got we have fewer tenure and tenure track faculty, and so we have fewer unique PIs that are leading programs. And so this these are some of the trends that we’re looking at and the trends that we want to reverse and think about what are the strategies, what are the investments, what are the tactics that we can use to reverse some of these trends?

Kim Christen: Okay, sorry, and I can’t see the chat box while I have this open. So if there is something it’s not that it’s not sustainable to have larger awards, but we see the trend. We still need to get more investigators, more eyes, more faculty involved to get those proposal numbers back up. Simply relying on large awards only to drive the trend is isn’t is what’s not sustainable over the long term.

Kim Christen: Okay, next slide, Will. Along with those data, we also, I think many of you probably know and some of you may have participated in the COACHE survey. WSU is part of the… has participated in the COACHE survey. COACHE stands for Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. It’s a national research based initiative that’s designed to help better understand and initiate plans for improving the quality of work life for faculty.

Kim Christen: So it’s specifically focused on faculty. At WSU, we saw a pretty good rate. 1480 faculty members responded. This is about 48% of eligible from across all tracks career track and tenure track. What we can see and you can see here compared to our peers, we’re falling behind specifically in satisfaction related to research support. Now, this is a really big bucket and so a lot gets kind of put under that bucket.

Kim Christen: But the things that we see ranged from support for pre awards, support for post award, support for getting and keeping grad students, support for engaging undergraduates in your research, things like course buyouts that aren’t forthcoming. So there is a lot under this bucket. But what we did see overall, the trend that WSU: we don’t see a high satisfaction with research support and we see that, you know, WSU’s… falling behind our peers in that in those areas.

Kim Christen: Okay, next slide, Will. So when we met with the when we met with the Research Competitiveness Working Group and we gathered all this information, what we’ve come up with and this is isn’t… we want to hear from you today if you if you have other areas, that’s totally fine. The areas that we’ve sort of broken down into are research investments and things that have been suggested.

Kim Christen: This doesn’t mean that’s what we’re going to do, but the suggestions that we’ve heard thus far from the sessions that we have are internal competitions, some of you may have been around for a while. You remember the Grand Challenges and other such research competitions that are internal to WSU that provide kind of that seed and that spark, that result ultimately in extramural proposals going out.

Kim Christen: So various types of not just one type, but we’ve had suggestions for various types of competitions, whether they’re seed grants, whether they’re interdisciplinary around around research topics, whether it’s high risk, high reward. We’ve heard over and over that these should be faculty-led recruitment and retention is obviously something that comes up as we see those faculty numbers going down.

Kim Christen: The biggest stumbling blocks seem to be startup funds. We’ve had suggestions to do cluster hires and people have brought up, you know, how do we address the issues around the fatigue that many faculty feel that you’re already overworked and there aren’t enough resources? What can we do about that? So that kind of goes under that bucket of investments.

Kim Christen: There could be other things, and that’s why we want to hear from you today. The other bucket is infrastructure. So capital improvements, you know, buildings that are older, you know, don’t have the right the necessary equipment. Deferred maintenance is a big problem across the system, up to date equipment or the need for new equipment or new technology. And then the third bucket is support.

Kim Christen: So the support, whether that’s pre-award or post-award support. Some support is centralized. So we do support here, obviously out of the Office of Research and colleges and units have their own support. So are there other models that maybe we’re missing or we could augment? Shared service models, other programing that we can provide for faculty to support faculty in proposal development? Mentoring, research, mentoring around faculty to build up their research portfolios.

Kim Christen: So these are just ideas that, you know, that we’ve gathered thus far. So and that and that… And so what we want to do today is now kind of lead into the discussion portion of this listening session and I’m happy to answer more questions, but we would really like to hear from you also. I don’t know that we need the slides up any more,

Kim Christen: Will, but we can always go back to them. Funded and unfunded faculty. Oh, Michael, did you mean which.

Michael McDonell: Yeah, that the data with the figures, the COACHE survey data because I guess I was just thinking, you have gotten a lot of grant support or external funding. They may have one kind of a perception, whereas those of us who have a number of grants might have a very different perception, like face validity, like I really feel like WSU is like the most amazing place to submit grants such so easy to submit a grant here.

Michael McDonell: But wow, do we struggle on managing the grants in the post-award side of things! So I was kind of shocked with seeing that we’re below sort of peers on on that. So I wonder if that reflects just overall faculty opinion or faculty opinion that’s been broken down by funding status.

Kim Christen: I don’t they I don’t know with those data, we got those data from the Provost office. I can check. I don’t know if they broke. They did break them down by rank. So we do have assistant, associate, full. So we do have that.

Michael McDonell: Because I think overall that — and that’s great to hear — because I think overall that sort of these kind of discussions are hard to have because I don’t think from WSU that I need the same things as some of my junior colleagues need to be successful and to continue to write grants. I think that for… We need programs to help stimulate new research and support junior faculty, but we also need programs to help them sustain because the struggles we’re having amongst my team are we have so many people have been successful that now we’re overwhelming the amount of resources that are provided to us.

Michael McDonell: And so by growing the research infrastructure and the funding or the research funding without growing infrastructure, you know how it goes. They could just not sustainable plan.

Kim Christen: Right? Yeah, no, I completely agree. So, I mean, I don’t we can open it up to everybody. But Michael, if you wanted to talk even more about anything, any specific areas that you think we could address in this plan.

Michael McDonell: I mean, yeah, I’ll do that and then I’ll be quiet. I mean, to me, like, I moved here eight years ago, I was part of that larger IREACH recruitment. And, and, and we came from University of Washington, from the College of Medicine. And so I think like the overall larger team has probably gotten hundreds of millions of dollars of grants over the ten, eight years we’ve been here.

Michael McDonell: I’ve, you know, been able to bring in because of the amazing investments that the university’s made and, you know, tens of millions of dollars in funding. We’ve really grown the research infrastructure here. And and so, you know, like I see Deb’s on the call, working with Deb Cox to submit a grant is a breeze here. We get submitted at the last minute.

Michael McDonell: We get, you know, Deb Deb holds us to the, to the… to the rules and and but it’s just so great to submit grants here. I can’t imagine a better place. Other institutions you have to submit your grant you know a week ahead of the due date you have to you can’t make any changes. So submitting grants here is really a great thing.

Michael McDonell: But there’s fundamental problems at SPS that have been clear and have continued through, you know, through through the time I’ve been here that just make it burdensome, horribly burdensome on on researchers, especially the more grants you get, the more those kind of small issues, little things start to pile up and the more you think, what’s the point?

Michael McDonell: Why do I even try? And I think that there’s been a number of efforts to really improve things at SPS, and I know there’s been fits and starts and and things, but I think that’s that’s one thing that is a recurrent problem struggle for me. And then the other one is HR, and ability to just get grant funded positions through the system quickly to get them, get those hires in place.

Michael McDonell: And then, of course, we all have an issue around salary and pay. And I think that’s not just unique to research. Right. And then the last thing I just would say is another area that really has been outstanding growth has been the IRB. The IRB has changed so much since I’ve been here, and I hope that other people experience that.

Michael McDonell: Of course, we all get frustrated with the IRB, but for those of us who are doing human subjects research, I just, you know, the investments that the university’s made at IRB with the team there and expanding the workforces have also been really facilitating research.

Kim Christen: Okay, Thank you. That’s all very helpful. Jennifer, did…. Were you going to say something?

Jennifer Schwartz: No, I don’t. I don’t have much to add. I’m freezing up. Sorry. My office Internet is not great here, ironically. But that’s not the infrastructure I’m here to talk about. I agree with 100% with what Michael said. We had wonderful pre-award support.

Jennifer Schwartz: I think it was critical to the success of my current grant because of the advice that we got. So that’s sort of the positive story. The negative story is that it took my grant nearly a year to get going because of a lack of administrative support. And there’s been a lot of, I guess, going back and forth between CAS and SPS over who is who ought to offer those services.

Jennifer Schwartz: And I don’t care who does, just somebody should [laughter]. So there’s you know, I sometimes maybe feel caught in the middle of not, you know, being told, “go, go see SPS about that. Go see your department about that.” My department doesn’t have the expertise to help me get my federal grant off the ground. Right? I need more centralized resources so, yeah, where we’ve… I’ve really struggled and I don’t think I’m alone is in that post-award support of having just somebody who can help me administrate and file paperwork and has knows a bit more about the rules and the ins and outs of the system.

Jennifer Schwartz: Yeah. So yeah, I agree. Like IRB has gotten much quicker and so much better and routinized to help us get the work done. And I actually had good luck with HR And hiring. They were… It was slow and tedious, but I had great staff support who could help with that. So, really, like, we’ve been out of compliance now. I’ve never been out of compliance on a grant ever, ever in 20 years. And we were out of compliance because of basically lack of grant management support. So this I said it was. So I just wanted to echo what Mike, Michael. said.

Kim Christen: No, that’s great. And I think and we’ve heard different things and I don’t we’ve heard that across the board. So you’re echoing things you’ve already heard and some people want centralized. So like within an Office of Research, right, centralized. And other people want that at the college level or within their department. I don’t think it has to be an either or.

Kim Christen: I think that we can do both. And I think that there there could be a place for that because some colleges have more resources and have more people, you know, involved in that post-award space than other colleges. And when you drill down the colleges into units, then it also… then you also see massive disparities. So I think that I’m just echoing what both of you are saying.

Kim Christen: But perhaps one of the things that we need to work on in this plan is diversifying the research support. So there is support at a central level for people who don’t have it at the college or campus level. Does that sound like an accurate kind of representation of what you all are saying? I see somebody that’s thumbs up from there.

Michael McDonell: It makes sense, especially based on what Jennifer was saying. I think the main struggle that we have is, is… So I have a, we calculated this because we’re working on sustainability, but I have a staff that I pay about $500,000 a year or so. I have my own HR person. I have my own grants post- and pre-award grants management person.

Michael McDonell: We even have a graphic…. we have an office manager. We have all these other supports that in part were originally because the College of Medicine was so new and we didn’t want to overburden the college with, with sort of our research endeavors locally like at the college level. But what’s clear and I’ve talked to some of the other folks and other researchers in other colleges about this is that it doesn’t matter if I spend that $500,000 because still if, if, if SPS doesn’t submit my invoice, we still aren’t getting paid.

Michael McDonell: And we’ve had coming back to Jennifer’s point, you know, we have we had one contract with the state for, like, $700,000, I think. And they and they they emailed me the day before the grant year, the contract year was up, and they said, “Hey, you’ve never submitted an invoice. What’s that about?” And so that sounds like a one off thing, but we see it so much.

Michael McDonell: So I guess to me it’s those centralized resources really have to be efficient and work because it’s the going, the money going in and the money coming out. And again, it’s not related to, to your team or I mean, directly, right? It’s not it’s not like it’s not like Research Advancement or grant submission. It’s really on that post-award thing.

Michael McDonell: These other supportive units don’t function efficiently or sometimes don’t do do the work at all and do the work at all. And I’m not trying to throw any particular unit or person under the bus, but it’s just repeatedly challenging and challenging when the central services, which should be at the university — like SPS, it makes sense that this is at the university level — just don’t function and can’t handle the amount of work that they’re taking on.

Michael McDonell: And then I so I just get anxious whether it was the Drive to 25 or our plans, like a strategic plan, that we’re going to try to grow our research if we can’t support the research we’ve got.

Kim Christen: So no, I hear you. That’s so. Other people want to jump in on any of the other areas that we were looking at in terms of what kind of internal investments would you want to see in this plan that would help stimulate more faculty to be involved in the research enterprise? And I’m talking about the research enterprise broadly that includes creative activities, you know, all disciplines, all campuses.

Olusola Adesope: Hello Kim.

Kim Christen: Hi Sola.

Olusola Adesope: Good! I mean, thanks for pulling all of this together. And I also want to say thanks to the members of your team. I mean, what I hear as an associate dean for research, what I hear from faculty is that we have just got to find a way to stop the bleeding of, of persistent budget cuts. I mean, this is not rocket science.

Olusola Adesope: What you have here. It’s not going to happen if we continue to cut 5% every every year, regardless of how brilliant ideas we may all come up with if there’s no reinvestment in funding and, you know, the ability to have faculty come together and identify, “Yes, I like that.” Identify potential areas of possibilities for reinvestment. If there’s no money to reinvest, we are back to the same place.

Olusola Adesope: So I would say that what the message I’m getting consistently from faculty is that it’s I think we are reaching a point where by two, three years of this type of budget cuts might just crush everything. So what we have now is still commendable. I mean, I so right, it’s not sustainable. People are pulling the punching way beyond what it should to to keep the university research enterprise going.

Olusola Adesope: And I think it’s probably about time that we turn the corner and start putting… reinvesting back in research, research infrastructure, decaying research infrastructure. I hear that a lot from colleagues, from engineering and sciences. You know, that would just be my my point here, maybe something that you can take back to the senior leadership, that this is what faculty are saying.

Olusola Adesope: This is not just me saying it. This is what I’m hearing from many faculty around the university.

Kim Christen: Yes. You’re not alone in that. So I think we’re all we’re all hearing that, you know, this is all happening within we can’t divorce this what we’re creating this plan at the same time that, yes, there are budget cuts, potential or at least we’re all going through budget exercises. I would say that, you know, that we are tasked with putting together a plan that does aim to, you know, make strategic investments.

Kim Christen: So if and when the university is ready to make those strategic investments, we want the plan to already be there. So I’m not, I’m, I’m not making light of the current situation at all. I do think it’s an opportunity to put together a plan that says, you know, you know, we do need to make investments in research and here’s the areas, you know, the areas around developing faculty, the areas around increasing support for post-award.

Kim Christen: Right? And then how do we stimulate interdisciplinary teams to go for some of these large awards while also not leaving aside those small single grant awards? Because that adds… like like I said, we have a great percentage. You know, it’s when I looked at the numbers, it was pretty steady where we remain. So if we put in more proposals, we will get more.

Kim Christen: And that to me, the most disturbing part is losing the PIs. So I’ve been here almost 20 years and I’ve been a PI for… that whole time. I’m still getting grants even with even in this job that I’ve taken. And so that was disturbing to me as a faculty member to see. And I don’t know if it’s that people are worn out, they feel or, you know, they feel that the support is not there.

Kim Christen: But you know what are some things that we can do? I like what you put in the chat box, Michael. Pilot grants, mentorship grants. I was reading about a mentorship program that the University of Indiana has done for the last 20 years, and it’s something that I think was really valuable. They’ve worked with incoming faculty and with minoritized faculty or faculty who aren’t represented in the research enterprise, and they’re paired up with a mentor who’s, you know, someone who’s seasoned and has a research enterprise.

Kim Christen: And there’s some incentive for both. I think in the Indiana plan, the mentee would get $5,000 and the mentor, you know, is like 2,000 or something. So so the work is valued. But they had they had they had goals they had to meet. They had some you know, they had an outcome at the end. And it was they they saw a huge they’d seen a huge return on that investment over the last 20 years.

Kim Christen: And so that there are programs like that. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can we can look to…. I think mentorship is is a great idea. Let’s see. I’m going to just see what this chat is. Has there been any data collected as why PIs aren’t… No, unfortunately, the data is not great on those numbers because we have… we can we can break it down.

Kim Christen: The only sort of ways we can break down who the peers are are by their rank, so we can see if they’re assistant, associate, or full and we can look at their departments, but we don’t have other data that we can look to support that. That is something that we’re looking to change because it was so glaring by looking at this is so the question is, why is this happening?

Kim Christen: And and it was way before COVID. It started years before COVID. So it wasn’t, you know, that COVID hit. And we did see fatigue, of course, but it was prior to that. So I do think that there are some potentially cost neutral things we could put in or, you know, things that aren’t as big of a dollar item that we can to stimulate more research activity and more proposals from faculty.

Kim Christen: And the question is that… the questions that we, you know, are is this something that a system wide seed grant program system wide programs for research in targeted areas, or, or interdisciplinary areas? You know, those kinds of things have been suggested as good catalysts for bringing people together. I think paired with something like mentoring, then you see the long term rather than just a shot in the arm, you know, for a few years.

Kim Christen: So we’ve had you probably all aware of the cluster hires that have been happening through the Provost’s office for the last three, I think this is the fourth year now. So that has been something that’s been suggested. So one of the things we did with the deans survey and the chancellors was we asked them what are their research strengths, what are your emerging areas in your colleges, in your campus… on your campuses?

Kim Christen: And so there have been suggestions around crafting research competitions around some of those big bucket areas, and there are areas that cross colleges. So most of the ones that are listed are in five or six colleges. So it’s not targeting a specific college and saying, you know, that’s where we’re going to invest. But investing across colleges and sort of this interdisciplinary multidisciplinary work.

Kim Christen: So that is another suggestion that’s on the table.

Michael McDonell: Kim, I think the cluster hires have been fantastic, especially as they relate to DEI and like our goal of diversifying our workforce and our faculty. I think the one thing that’s come up because I led one of the recruitments for one and then I’ve also been involved in other ways has been sort of, you know, the the strategies where if we if we go after strategic areas like in this case diversity, equity, inclusion related areas, then we’re going to be competing against a lot of people who are a lot of universities are very focused on that issue.

Michael McDonell: And so a lot of the applicants I think we’ve gotten in that program have been outstanding, but they haven’t been necessarily a great fit for any one particular hire. Does that make sense?

Kim Christen: Yes. Yes.

Michael McDonell: So the feedback I gave Lisa and Lori Hill — would be now Doug Call — is could we like think of a slightly different approach where like we we maybe this would make more sense for like a cluster hire that’s more somatic in a different theme, like where we we did do a cluster hire but we didn’t specify or we didn’t have like recruitment for like one given to each department or each college.

Michael McDonell: I think it was more like we put out this cluster hire and then we got the best candidates and those were sort of those folks would be a good fit for that, you know, physics, let’s say, versus… Some of our recruitments, I think we’re sticking like chemistry professors in physics departments and you know what I mean? And like, that’s a literal example.

Michael McDonell: It’s not exactly what happened. But I at the long term retention of those people, when they’re when you take a job because it sounds like a good opportunity, but it ends up being a mismatch I guess is what I’m saying.

Kim Christen: Yeah, and definitely, I mean, there’s two things. There’s recruitment of new faculty, but there’s also needs to be a focus on retention of faculty because of I mean, look at the COACHE survey, right? But you don’t even have to look at that. You can talk to your peers and talk to other people. And so I understand what you’re saying, though.

Kim Christen: So the cluster hires are more focused on a theme they come in, right?

Michael McDonell: [crosstalk] the best academic home for them. So it does mean that instead of having like us to compete against Sociology, compete against… to try to get those five spots like could we try to find the best people and then try to match them and sell, you know, then we could sell that candidate on this really outstanding department so they can be part of this research initiative at the University, but also part of this really great academic home, because I think that’s that’s sort of what I realized in our work, because we have faculty in all kinds of different departments and on our team.

Michael McDonell: And and it really it’s like that balance of having a really strong research community, but also a really strong academic home seems like it’s a big deal. And I know and I went to grad school in Pullman, so I’ve never been a faculty member there, but I went to grad school, so I know it also takes, you know, we have these we have this wonderfully diverse, you know, geographic locations where there’s Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities, even Everett now, Vancouver like that might be a better match for certain people in terms of their, you know, interest in the position and then the retention, too.

Kim Christen: Yeah, And I think that’s a good idea because some of the areas that we’re looking at, like I just take one for example, because it crosses almost all colleges and campuses, was climate change environment sort of sustainability like that. We can look at nursing, we can look at engineering, we can look at College of Arts and Sci like there’s there’s so much of that.

Kim Christen: You can have a sociologist, you can have a physicist. And so the idea would be a cluster hire around that theme. And then they go get put, they, you know, then you make them match with the department after you get sort of your four or five best people.

Michael McDonell: Yeah, maybe for some ideas. I also know we have some really huge research strengths that are located in certain campuses and like, I don’t want to not also help build… continue to expand those but I also but that was something that’s the experience I’ve just had as part of the cluster hire program, which I also think is amazing and successful.

Michael McDonell: And, and we’ve already, the folks for the folks at the person that we hired and mentored is already getting grants, doing fantastic. So and I know a lot of the folks are do other folks are.

Kim Christen: So I do want to leave time for other folks. Does anybody else want to jump in on any suggestions or needs that you see or ways that you wish you had been supported in your research enterprise or things that you would like to see in this plan as we go forward?

Annie Wilhelm: I’ll share one thing and I’m new to WSU, so I want to preface it with that. But I came from another institution where I was there for ten years as a faculty member. So one big difference here and I’m in the Department of Math and Stats here is that we have we don’t have any research assistantships funded at the departmental level.

Annie Wilhelm: And I think sometimes having research assistantships supports you to get more grants and have bridge funding between projects. And without those, it’s hard to sort of build your trajectory of grant getting. So I don’t again, as a new person, I feel like one of the things that I’ve been wondering about is just how much there’s a lot of variation, I think, between departments and you.

Annie Wilhelm: You emphasize that between colleges, between, you know, locations, physical locations. And so I wonder I mean, it might not be true in other departments, but definitely in mine, that’s one area where if we had more of that research assistantships or, you know, internal postdocs where we could use those as bridges, I think that would be helpful.

Kim Christen: Yeah, that could potentially be because you’re right, there is there are differences across colleges, across units within colleges. I was in the College of Arts and Sciences, as you are, and there’s, you know, 14 units in there. So, you know, you’ve got everything from Art to Physics and they’re all going to be different. There could potentially be some centralized research assistantships that could be given out, that could be that… There are competitions like that.

Kim Christen: So you any department could apply for those. And that might be one way around a department having a shortage. Yeah, but that’s a good point. And thank you for that, Annie. Marion, you’re going to say something?

Marian Wilson: Yeah, I’ll second that. I think there is just inequity in who gets that kind of support and doesn’t get that kind of support.

Marian Wilson: And it can make a big difference, particularly for junior faculty. I did leave a comment and I have a question really because I want to understand better about the post-award contract situation, which to me has just been unbearable and unacceptable because if I get an award and then I can’t pay my people that are going to help me, how… why would I ever get another award?

Marian Wilson: It’s been really embarrassing at times, and so I don’t know what the process is, but to me that needs to be fixed.

Kim Christen: Yeah, I will say that that message has come across loud and clear. And even though Office of Research… SPS is not part of Office of Research, this plan is not specific to Office of Research. It’s looking at research across…

Kim Christen: So it would include what kind of improvements would we need to make in space? What kind of improvements do we need to make in HR? What kind of improvements? So I appreciate you adding to that, but that is definitely is… your frustration is, is felt elsewhere. So I know that doesn’t make you feel better. But it’s definitely the message has gotten across.

Kim Christen: So I appreciate it.

Marian Wilson: It actually does make me feel better because I didn’t know if I was being singled out. I was…

Kim Christen: No, you’re definitely not! [laughter] Okay. Is there someone else who had a comment?

Anthippy Petras: I don’t, I don’t mean to keep repeating what everybody else is saying, but so I also am at IREACH same channels as as Mike mentioned, I was at the UW for a very long time, then came to IREACH and for the large scale grants, you know, it’s one thing, but when we go for the smaller grants and often they have a short timeline that that issue of contract release. I work with… I’m the assistant director for the Northwest HERON, the practice based research network. And we do go for some of the smaller grants and then partner with rural tribal communities. And we can’t access those funds. We have built those relationships based on WSU’s, you know, medical school arrangements with clinics. And so we we do all this legwork with outreach and then we get them to sign on, write letters of intent, and then we can’t get them the funds and because it’s a smaller grant, there is a clock ticking and we have expectation for the funders what we’re going to do the clinics are ready to go.

Anthippy Petras: They say, you know, “we need to start this grant before Apple picking season,” or whatever it might be. I mean, we’re really working in rural community and then we can’t honor our role. So like, I’m facing that right now and trying to figure out like… We’ll, draft whatever you need, trying to work with where the money is stuck.

Anthippy Petras: And sometimes we’re talking about a really small amount of money that makes you want to just like, take it out of your own bank account, you know, a clinic to just get them started and reimbursed yourself, like your… So it’s a real thing and it’s it can compromise relationships with communities that then you can’t go back with a follow up grant to write the next grant.

Anthippy Petras: Or if you get a fellowship or a small grant, knowing if you have success, you can go back to your funders for the next step up or the next bump up. So I agree that IRB has been fabulous. One thing that’s, you know, great is you can actually pick up the phone and talk to them.

Anthippy Petras: Coming from, you know, 27 years at UW. The IRB was totally, you know, and unaccessible. And here you can make those changes. Hiring also on those small grants is a problem that when you have a shorter timeline or… IREACH is based in Seattle. So hiring in the city is a different experience when there’s more competition. And anyways, I’m sure there’s no easy fix and many universities are facing the same thing.

Anthippy Petras: But if we could get that post award worked on, it would help all of us.

Kim Christen: No, I appreciate it and all of your comments really help us build up this within the… are helping us build up the case for this in the proposal. So please don’t feel like you’re, you know just saying something someone already said it’s good to have the breadth and to hear all everything that is happening because we are taking all of these comments in and we are we are passing them all along.

Kim Christen: So I do really do appreciate it. And I as a researcher myself, I feel your pain. I have I have been there. That doesn’t make it doesn’t make it right. But I have been there and I know how frustrating it is. So and I I’m not going to speak for SPS. I do know that there have been changes implemented and they are working on it.

Kim Christen: But obviously these are not problems that have been solved yet. And so this might be something where we really need to ramp up that level of support and that might be the line that came to us in the plan that I keep focusing on is priority areas for internal investment. And this seems to be a priority. This I mean, we’re hearing it.

Kim Christen: You are you all aren’t, you know, singled out. We’re hearing it everywhere. So that could definitely be one of those priority areas. So definitely appreciate the thoughts. Thank you. So we do have another 5 minutes or so, if anybody. And if you don’t feel like you want to speak on camera, like I said, Will or Emily, can one of you drop in the chat box, the website?

Kim Christen: So the recording will be up and there’s, there will also be a link where you can leave more feedback. So I definitely want to make sure that you have an opportunity to have your voices heard. Okay, there. Will just dropped it in the chat box. And I will say, so the timeline for this is we are hoping to have a draft plan sort of middle of May and then we will need to submit the plan to the president’s office by the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30th.

Kim Christen: So we have the fiscal year and the calendar year and the academic year that we balance, at every moment it seems. All right, well, I’m going to hang out here for another few minutes if anybody has anything to say. Otherwise, if any… You can email me directly, you can put comments in the feedback suggestion box that Will put in the chat, or definitely just reach out, we’re happy to chat.

Kim Christen: Thank you all for coming. Thank you for your candidness. It really does help us and I really appreciate it.