University News

Faculty hear about new research site, endorse master’s program

Faculty members also discuss performing arts expansion, ‘professor of the practice’ title

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A new online database of the University’s scholars and their research is now open for faculty members to edit and will be publicly launched May 1, said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 at a faculty meeting Tuesday.

Faculty members and administrators also discussed the University’s recently announced plans for the performing arts, a new faculty title of “professor of the practice,” a proposal to create a Master of Science program in population medicine and the clarification of emeritus faculty members’ professional privileges.

The new database, Researchers@Brown, will replace the Directory of Research and Researchers at Brown, a website developed in the 1990s. The site aims to make the University’s scholars “more visible to the outside world and people on campus,” Schlissel told The Herald.

The DRR-B is archaic, and modern computers will soon be incompatible with the interface, Schlissel said. The new website is “more organized and searchable.”

On May 1, the University will shut down the DRR-B to external sources, and faculty members are encouraged to modify their profiles on the new website during the trial period between now and May 1, Schlissel said at the meeting.

The University purchased the software for the new website — VIVO — two years ago and transferred the data from the old database to the new one, Schlissel told The Herald.

The new database’s homepage features a slideshow of new books written by faculty members, Schlissel said at the meeting.

President Christina Paxson told faculty members attending the forum about the new strategic planning initiative to expand performing arts on campus. Administrators have acknowledged a lack of performance space on campus, she said. The University has hired AMS Planning and Research, a consulting firm, to help identify and establish ventures for the performing arts, The Herald reported last week.

The University recently formed a committee comprising faculty members and students in the Departments of Music and Theater Arts and Performance Studies to examine changes to the performing arts, Paxson said. Faculty members on the committee include Joseph Rovan, professor of music, Erik Ehn, TAPS professor and department chair, and Matthew McGarrell, senior lecturer in music and director of bands, she added.

Paxson also presented the Faculty Service Awards to Lundy Braun, professor of medical science and Africana studies, Tom Doeppner, associate professor of computer science, and Harold Roth P’17, professor of religious studies and director of the Contemplative Studies Initiative.

The faculty passed a motion endorsing the creation of a new Master of Science program in population medicine, which would have to be approved by the Corporation.

The proposed four-year, dual-degree program has a wider reach than a Master of Science, and would aim to train physicians who work with patients in diverse ways, said Assistant Professor of Family Medicine Paul George and Professor and Chair of Family Medicine Jeffrey Borkan.

Graduates of the proposed program would receive a Master of Science and a doctorate of medicine, Borkan and George said.

Faculty members discussed two additional motions, led by Iris Bahar, professor of engineering and chair of the Faculty Executive Committee.

A motion to amend the Faculty Rules and Regulations was passed unanimously to change the current membership of the Committee on Faculty Equity and Diversity to include the dean of the School of Public Health. The position is currently held by Terrie Wetle.

A motion to recommend amending the Handbook for Academic Administration to include all privileges of emeritus faculty was also discussed, but was postponed for further review. Several faculty members suggested making sure that certain privileges for emeritus faculty, including the exemption of library fines and complimentary access to athletic facilities, were listed in the handbook.

One faculty member expressed concerns that the Committee on Faculty Retirement had not appropriately reviewed the proposed carifications. Paxson suggested Bahar pass the proposal through the committee in time for the next faculty meeting April 1.

Attendees  discussed the Faculty Executive Committee’s suggestion to adopt a new title of “professor of the practice” at the University. The title is designated for “practitioners whose qualifications come through professional experience rather than scholarly credentials,” Bahar said.

The proposed title is meant to replace the “clinical faculty” title installed in 2005, which is “frequently confused with the clinical title used in the Division of Biology and Medicine,” Bahar said.

Faculty members hired under the proposed new title will not have voting rights and will not be eligible for sabbatical leaves, Bahar said. These positions are also not eligible for tenure, and if the faculty member eventually receives a tenure-track position, the period as professor of the practice will not be counted as part of the probationary period for tenure-track faculty, she added.

Some faculty members expressed various concerns about the title, citing the fact that some peer institutions use the term exclusively in foreign language departments.

Schlissel updated the faculty on the newly instituted doctoral student fellowships, which are meant to “attract the very best graduate students” to the University. The program has accepted six and declined eight applicants so far, he said.

The program frees up resources, which can be used to increase stipends or research funding at the departments’ discretions, Schlissel added.

During the faculty meeting, Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice Vincent Mor also led a memorial minute for Albert Wessen, professor emeritus of community medicine and sociology, who died last month.

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