Monday, March 22, 2010

Family Care Proposal

On Thursday March 25, the Senate will vote on a proposal to create a program to provide information on family care issues to the campus community.  The estimated cost of this program is $80,000-$85,000.  This program only provides information, not actual family care.  Specifically it aims to provide "seminars on quality child care and elder care; professional consultations addressing family care needs, options, and resources; establishment of a family care website; and educational resources to facilitate informed child and elder care choices. "

UMD has been woefully behind its peer institutions in providing family care (child, elder) for its employees. This is a small step, perhaps in the right direction.    I would like to hear from you if you think this is money well-spent.

The full proposal can be read here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Senate 2010

Another year upon us and a full slate of Senate meetings this semester. The meetings are open to all members of the campus community. While only Senators may vote at the meetings, any member of the campus community can speak on an issue under consideration the Senate. You need only be introduced by a Senator. If there is an issue that you feel strongly enough to speak about, please let me know and will be happy to sponsor you.

 Senate Schedule for Spring 2010
February 3, 2010 (Wednesday)
March 3, 2010 (Wednesday)
March 25, 2010 (Thursday)
April 8, 2010 (Thursday)
April 22, 2010 (Thursday)
May 5, 2010 (Wednesday)

Senate Meetings are held from 3:30PM-5:15PM in 0200 Skinner Hall

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Progress on Senate Representation

After an initial setback, I'm happy to report some good news on expanding NTRF representation in the Senate.

Last month, I requested that the Senate Executive Committee ask the ERG committee (on which I sit) to examine NTRF apportionment, as their numbers have increased by 8% since 2004.  The SEC initially refused to even put it on their agenda, on the technicality that the NTRF Senate seat is not apportioned but a Single Member Constituency.   (Single Member Constituency seats are defined in Article 3.5  Senate Plan of Organization as a way to allow token representation of constituencies not explicitly called out in the Plan.   On the face of it, this seems like a reasonable accomodation; however it takes no account of changing demographics.).   I appealed the decision and got the SEC to put my request on the agenda for their  next meeting.   They met and discussed it -- then declined to forward it to the ERG for the reason that the NTRF are a Single Member Constituency!  (Their words were "current representation [is] aligned with the requirements set forth in the Senate's Plan of Organization",  but the meaning is the same).

However, another (and it turns out better) opportunity to press the issue came up recently.   The ERG was asked by the SEC to consider that part-time graduate students, who number 3,591 and have no representation, be made a Single Member Constituency.  The ERG endorsed such representation as it is clearly needed, but will also request to the SEC that, when the Plan of Organization undergoes its regular review next year, all Single Member Constituencies be re-evaluated  to provide them with proportional representation instead.   This is a better solution because it takes aim at the very idea of Single Member Constituencies, which in my view is a fundamentally unfair system.  It gives us allies across a wide range of campus populations.  A rising tide will lift all boats.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Senate to vote on Campus Climate Action Plan

As a signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Committment, the University has developed a Climate Action Plan for how it will "reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and foster additional education and research focused on climate change, energy, and sustainability."   This is a comprehensive and far-reaching plan to make the campus carbon neutral by 2050.

The Senate will vote on endorsement of the Action Plan  at its next meeting on 9/16/2009.   Seems like a good idea to me.  What do you think?

Friday, August 28, 2009


I have been associated with the UMCP for many years, receiving my PhD in Astronomy here in 1994, then joining the faculty in 1997.  I am currently an Associate Research Scientist in the Astronomy Department.

The Non-Tenured Research Faculty (NTRF) are a vital part of the University community.  In addition to bringing in funding to support our research programs, many NTRF  also supervise and fund students, serve on department and campus committees, some of us even teach classes.  Despite these activities, NTRF are sometimes the "forgotten cohort" of the University, whose input on shared governance of the campus may be overlooked.

It was only recently that I learned that the NTRF  had their own representation in the Campus Senate.   I imagine many other campus researchers didn't know this either.  There is a single senator to represent all Non-Tenured Research Faculty, elected to a one-year term for a maximum of three terms.    There was no NTRF senator in 2008; 2009-2010 is my first term.

I also serve on the Senate's Elections, Representation, and Governance (ERG) committee.  One of my goals for this term is
to get the ERG to review the NTRF representation and determine if we should have more than one senator.

The purpose of this blog is to keep NTRF apprised of Senate considerations and actions that affect them and, equally important, to hear from NTRF about issues that concern them.
 You can post feedback here on the blog, send me email (, or call me at x1520.   I look forward to hearing from you!

Senate and ERG Committee Schedules

The Senate meeting schedule for Fall 2009

September 16, 2009 (Wednesday)
October 14, 2009 (Wednesday)
November 12, 2009 (Thursday) 
December 10, 2009 (Thursday)

All Senate Meetings will be held from 3:30PM-5:15PM in 0106 Francis Scott Key Hall.  Senate meetings are open to all members of the campus community, but only Senators may actively participate and vote at the meetings.

The  Elections, Representation, and Governance committee schedule is here.

Who Are The Research Faculty?

One of the first questions I had after being elected (indeed, even before being elected) was "Who are the Non-Tenured Research Faculty?".

With some digging on the UMD website, I was able to discover what the various faculty titles were; they are described in  the Faculty Handbook.  Armed with this list,  I asked Kyland Howard,  Senior Research & Policy Analyst the at Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment, to tabulate the number of people holding each title.   The results are below.

  Research Faculty Headcount
Title Fall 2008  Spring 2009
Assoc Artist-In-Residence 2 3
Assoc Research Engineer 2 2
Assoc  Research Scholar 3 3
Assoc Research Scientist 43 40
Asst Research Engineer 1 2
Asst Research Scholar 3 3
Asst Research Scientist 105 113
Faculty Research Assistant 562 572
Research  Associate 417 462
Research Assoc Professor 12 12
Research Asst Professor 24 26
Research Professor 25 28
Research Professor Emeritus 0 2
Senior Artist-In Residence 1 1
Senior Research Engineer 5 5
Senior Research Scholar12 11
Senior Research Scientist 47 45
Total 1264 1330
 Note: did not find any Assistant Artist-in-Residence
Source: Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment

The results were a surprise to me.  My biased expectation was that the majority of NTRF were like me, Research Scientists.  In fact, Research Associates (aka post-docs) and Faculty Research Assistants make up 77% of the total.

Our views of campus life are probably as wide-ranging as our titles.   The best way for me to represent those views is to hear them from you.