Faculty Research Awards v. UMRP

10/8/2013: There was a bit of a kerfuffle over these last year – Espy tried to prevent people from using these for summer support, then backed down. The announcement for this year’s program is here. Can be used for summer stipends, but you’ve got to pay the OPE rate too. Up to 20 awards at up to $5,500 each. That works out to a total of $110,000, tops. A rather astonishingly small amount of money.

Last year our comparison was to the $200K or so we paid Provost Jim Bean for his sabbatical. Latest word on Bean is that he still isn’t teaching, but is on the LCB dole as the Associate Dean of Integrated Programs. Sounds important – so important that he’s not even mentioned on the LCB website.

So for this year, lets compare that $5,500 to the $90,000 per hire that UO’s Under-represented Minority Recruitment program is willing to give departments, if they hire a minority:

Underrepresented Minority Recruitment Program 

The Underrepresented Minority Recruitment Program (UMRP) encourages departments to hire underrepresented minority faculty in tenure-related faculty appointments by providing supplemental funds to the department through its school or college following the successful tenure-related appointment of a new colleague from an under-represented group. Funds, in the amount of up to $90,000 total will be provided to the school or college in support of the hiring department or program and its faculty. …

Easy money, and you’ve got up to a year to declare that you’re in a “protected class”:

Self identification as a member of one of the following federally defined underrepresented protected classes: American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino. While a department may not presume of a candidate his or her possible membership in one of the federally defined classes, a newly hired faculty member who has not otherwise done so may self-declare his/her status at any time and, as a result, the department may prepare and submit a plan up to one year after initial appointment. …

10/16/2012: And see the comments for reactions to the RIGE office’s plans to celebrate their “Wall to  University Research”.

10/15/2012: I wonder if her office was going to explain this to the potential applicants for these grants? The email I got certainly didn’t make it clear – but then that would have involved admitting to a mistake. And UO administrators never make mistakes. But at least Espy fixed one. 

The new policy is here. It again allows summer pay, as had been done for many years prior (though apparently not last year). It also removes the phrase that prioritized GTF-included projects, and the bit about prioritizing proposals with matching funds, apparently added this year.


Funds may be used as budgeted for allowable costs necessary to conduct the stated research project, consistent with all rules and policies, for travel, equipment, supplies, contractual services, core/shared user facility use, graduate or undergraduate student effort, or as a summer award (i.e., paid as a stipend in the summer term).  Funds may NOT be requested or used 1) to replace or fund faculty salary, 2) as stipend during the academic year, 3) for instructional release/course buyouts, or 4) for construction or facility renovation.


Funds may be used as budgeted for allowable costs necessary to conduct the stated research project, consistent with university and state rules, for travel, equipment, supplies, contractual services, core/shared user facility use, and graduate or undergraduate student effort.  Funds may NOT be requested 1) to replace or fund faculty salary or stipend, 2) for instructional release/course buyouts, or 3) for construction or facility renovation.

Note that the rules for research support are very different if you are an administrator. Interim Provost Jim Bean’s sabbatical contract promised him 9 months of regular pay and 3+ months of summer salary, at 60% of his $322,140 administrative pay. But my understanding is that he actually completed his research early, enabling him to collect the full rate plus beamer stipend over the summer.

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36 Responses to Faculty Research Awards v. UMRP

  1. Bat Girl says:

    Is Espy also behind the ‘Celebrate Oregon Research’ breakfast email that faculty received this a.m. or did Stormshak and Phillips come up with that all by themselves?

    As someone with a ph.d. and a long research record I am just plain insulted by the idea that we should come to breakfast and ‘tack up’ the front page of a journal article on a ‘University Research Wall’ and that doing so will somehow foster research excellence. This is like something a well-meaning high school student would come up with, and hardly an appropriate product from folks who are supposed to be facilitating research at a research university and being paid handsomely to do so (yes…Stormshak and Phillips are being paid plenty more than average TTF).

    Come on people…if you are going to be this lame, please don’t do it in such a public way. We should all be asking seriously why we are paying administrators to come up with this kind of crap. And who knew that we had 2 more associate vice presidents…

    I don’t know if others had such a visceral reaction, bu I was just about ready to quit when I read that email this morning.

    • Anonymous says:

      Would it make you feel better if UOMatters emails them the front page of the Huron report?

    • Bat Girl says:


    • Anonymous says:

      The research wall should also include all of the IRB applications that are waiting for approval.

    • uomatters says:

      Congrats for submitting the comment of the week!

      Stop by for your free UO Matters mug, or let me know if you’d prefer a $10 credit towards the Huron public records request.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please clarify who wins the comment of the week. Is it the original poster (bat girl), the anonymous post about the Huron report, or the anonymous post about the backlog of IRB applications?

    • Bat Girl says:

      I think this may be like getting a Nobel Prize that is shared three ways. If only we were splitting 8 million Krona in prize money…

    • uomatters says:

      Hmm. The startup and spreadsheet comments below are pretty good too. And the “Wall to Research” – respect, dude. I’m going to have to pass this decision off to my advisory committee. We hope to have a response within 45 days.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The research wall should also include the fact there are no startup funds from Espy to support research.

    • Anonymous says:

      A literal wall to research!

    • Anonymous says:

      The wall should also include a spreadsheet that accounts for all of the time wasted by faculty committees charged with reviewing $5,000 research proposals.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog like this

      no shit sherlock!

    • Anonymous says:

      methinks the Dog is showing his age. while I agree with the sentiment, I was getting gold stars on my forehead last time it was actually in vogue

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is all such a distraction. I’ve got to get to the Science Fair.

    • uomatters says:

      I love the Science Fair. I volunteer at the Science Fair. Don’t dis the Science Fair on my blog!

    • Anonymous says:

      So, it’s true about you not being an economics professor! Because we all know that’s not a science.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Maybe Espy’s office should also give out ribbons to people who publish or win grants. You can bulk order those from school supply stores pretty cheap. Though admittedly, stapling to a bulletin board is about as cheap as it gets.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ooooo…Blue ribbons for pubs in A-list journals. Red ribbons for pubs in B-list journals. (Unless you are Canadian, in which case apparently, the colors should be reversed.)

      And…a special gold star for NSF grant recipients!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Vice-Provost Espy, Tear down this wall!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Bringing things back – let’s give her office credit for correcting a mistake with the summer research grants, shall we? It’s RESPONSIVE! Yes, it could have been accompanied by a clarifying ‘in response to comments, we have revised….’ but at least it’s a good step.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Agreed–though it did take a full-court admin+faculty press to make it happen.

    • Anonymous says:

      So Espy listens when there is a full court press. Here are two ideas: (1) She should dump the “Celebrate Oregon Research” research event and (2) she should ask Stormshak and Phillips to focus on more important tasks. If they don’t have enough to do, then get down to the IRB office and help out by working on reducing the IRB application backlog.

  8. Anonymous says:

    [sheepishly] I thought the wall sounded kind of fun…

  9. Anonymous says:

    sounds like the group of kids with nothing to put on the wall….so it must be a stooopid waste of time…

  10. Anonymous says:

    We’re a research university. Everyone has something to put on the wall.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Very naive assumption that it is.

  12. Jealous says:

    Frohnmayer and Bean got $500k for their sabbaticals, enough for a science start-up. Presumably they’ll get a wall panel each to list their research accomplishments, with or without gold stars and ribbons.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Dog Says

    At the level of $5500 why bother to call it Faculty “Research” Awards; probably it should be named
    Faculty “Subsistence” Award – $5500 doesn’t even cover 1 term for a grad student.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It’s not $5500. With OPE deducted, it’s around $3700 and some change. Since the “Award” requires 8 consecutive weeks of work, that’s an “Award” that is the equivalent of $1850+ a month–before taxes and other deductions. Consider it the honor of being paid about $11.57+ an hour. Since Oregon minimum wage rises to $9.10 an hour in 2014, we may soon see a little movement on this.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Embarrassing… again.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t anyone else disturbed by the tone of this post? Namely, that funding to recruit underrepresented minority faculty is “easy”—therefore suggesting its not well deserved. Why not promote the need for more research funding for faculty generally instead of insulting and diminishing UMRP faculty? This kind of stuff is why I read only read UO Matters vary rarely and come away disturbed about the tenor of these kinds of attacks. And no, I am not a UMRP faculty member—but I support my colleagues who struggle with the campus climate here.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The awards are almost 20 times higher if you self-identify as a minority? I’m disturbed by the idea that this is legal. I thought there was some law about equal pay for equal work.

  18. Oryx says:

    To anon. above: No, the Faculty Research Awards and the Underrepresented Minority Recruitment Program are completely different things.

    To Anon 2X above and UOM: I agree. I don’t see the relevance of bringing up the UMRP in this post, or the complaining about it. At least in the sciences, URM candidates for faculty positions are rare, and hence are hard to hire due to competition — every university tries rabidly to make offers to and hire high-flying URM candidates. One would think that an economist would argue that, given this low supply, we should expect the cost of hiring URM faculty to be higher, and so we should put real money into this as opposed to, for example, holding inane workshops on diversity. This (providing real money) is what the UMRP does. I’m sure it’s probably exploited by some admins, and maybe some departments, but it’s overall a good thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is no evidence of the good you speak of.

      More to the point. Around these parts, we like to appeal to markets only when justifying administrators’ salaries. For others, minority or otherwise, we just talk about the green paycheck and drool over the goats we’ve been promised.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Agreed, no objection here, but it must also be acknowledged that there is a different kind of price to pay for disparities that are not based on merit or achievement. Without some redress, some equity, there is an erosion of confidence in the overall fairness of the system. This is also true of disparities that go well beyond what is necessary to recruit from underrepresented groups. I hope we can agree that it is possible to point this out while at the same time recognizing that market realities must be faced and that something like the UMRP is an effective way to do this.