YSU committee recommends strategies to urban research transition

By Denise Dick



Faculty at Youngstown State University want more focus on research as part of the university’s transition to an urban research institution.

The urban research transition subcommittee established as part of YSU’s 2020 strategic plan presented a report with recommendations to enhance research to Ikram Khawaja, provost and vice president for academic affairs. The Academic Senate endorsed that plan in April.

Chet Cooper, president of the Academic Senate and a biology professor, said the recommendations follow best practices implemented at other universities.

Rachael Pohle-Krauza, chairwoman of the subcommittee, and an associate professor of human ecology, said the report recommends ways to reduce barriers to research or scholarly activity.

“Our ideas are meant to promote research productivity by establishing best practices and processes that enhance support for scholarly endeavors by attenuating current and impending barriers,” the subcommittee’s report says.

The committee identified several issues to address.

One is a need for standardized intra-university forms and submission processes.

Pohle-Krauza said grant applications can be complicated.

“You can’t expect people who don’t have experience with grant applications to know what they’re doing,” she said.

Forms should be easy to locate and downloadable, the report recommends, and include the capability for electronic signature rather than requiring traditional method of paper and ink.

“A need for a University environment which acknowledges the need for scholarly mentorship, and supports its vital contribution to quality scholarship and funding procurement”also is identified as an issue in the report.

There is a need, it says, to develop an infrastructure “where collaborative opportunities among researchers, students, and the community are identified, prioritized, and disseminated so that interested and qualified parties are aware in a timely manner.”

It emphasizes the need for mentorship.

Within several YSU colleges, a research-intensive PhD isn’t required for employment

Such faculty may not have the background or experience to develop and conduct independent research and it’s not been a condition of their tenure, promotion or continued employment.

“Therefore, it is vital that the University promote and unequivocally support collaborations that link more experienced researchers with those who are at the beginning of a research career, in order to increase both the amount and quality of research activity,” the report said.

“This arrangement creates an optimal synergism whereby the more experienced faculty member gains breadth and personnel, while the less-experienced obtains mentorship, resulting in an increased likelihood of future research opportunities and grants for both parties.”

Khawaja said that some of the recommendations in the report pertain to the faculty contract and may be considered in the upcoming negotiations. Those that don’t will be implemented as the university is able.

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