Research team enacted

Faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences’ spring faculty meeting on Friday focused on how the college fits in with UH’s Tier One goal by adding a research committee.

“This is really about CLASS and making sure the faculty has a voice and a research policy in this college,” said John W. Roberts, CLASS dean, to an audience of 100 faculty members on April 8. “This is the first four-year university that I’ve been at that didn’t have a research committee.”

As a bylaw change, the college has added a research committee in order to advocate, encourage and assist in the research of liberal arts and social sciences professors, an objective that falls in line with UH being named a Tier One university by the Carnegie Foundation.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Maria Soliño on behalf of Chris Murray of the faculty college governance and advisory committee. “It’s a first step.”

According to Soliño, the purpose of the new committee is to assist faculty members to undertake new research projects and to offer support for ongoing projects.

“This committee took into account how diverse our college is,” said Soliño. “They are very concerned that different sorts of research are taken into account — whether it is a dance performance or publication of a book.”

The committee also organized current bylaws to streamline the evaluation process for projects. Even with these changes, CLASS faces challenges in financing the sought after research.

“It is equally important to find new sources of revenue to continue to sustain and enhance the quality of our programs, support our students and support faculty research,” Roberts said. “I want to emphasize the importance of external research funding. It’s important that the faculty continue to apply for smaller grants and fellowships.”

The changes could help CLASS due to recent cuts that have caused staff layoffs in business processing.

“It is important to understand the role that faculty plays in the financial health of the University and college,” Roberts said. “The college budget is not directly determined by the number of student credit hours that we generate but it is heavily influenced much by it. Such is the logic of the illogical university budgeting system.”

Asides from the layoffs, the budget strains will make it difficult to support a large number of adjunct professors.

“Some tenure track faculty will be asked to take teaching assignments,” Roberts said.

For students, cuts will be translated into shifting class times and sizes.

Even with the cutbacks, CLASS continues to expand. The college will be graduating its largest class to date in May and debut the department of comparative cultural studies, which includes anthropology, liberal studies and religious studies in the fall.

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