Friday, March 14, 2014

A fake consultation on a pretend investigation

If you are curious to know how the Faculty Senate's "Resolution on the Markingson Case" was transformed into a call for bids on a Purchasing Services website ordinarily used for waste management contractors and office furniture suppliers, you can get some clues from the minutes of the February 20 meeting of the Faculty Consultative Committee.



Faculty Consultative Committee
Thursday, February 20, 2014
1:00 – 3:00
Room 238A Morrill Hall

Present:            Will Durfee (chair), Avner Ben-Ner, James Cloyd, Eva von Dassow, Jigna Desai, Janet Ericksen, Gary Gardner, Maria Gini, Tabitha Grier-Reed, Joseph Konstan, Alon McCormick, Karen Mesce, James Pacala, Ned Patterson, Paul Ranelli, Chris Uggen, Jean Wyman

Absent:            Linda Bearinger, Russell Luepker

Guests:             Provost Karen Hanson, Vice Provost Robert McMaster, Associate Dean Jennifer Windsor (CLA); Professor Susan Meyer Goldstein (chair, Faculty Academic Oversight Committee for Intercollegiate Athletics)

Other:              Emily Lawrence (Office of the President); Steven Hawks, Joseph Shultz (Office of the Provost)

[In these minutes:  (1) accreditation and assessment; (2) athletic policy revisions; (3) election of 2014-15 committee chair; (4) brief discussion of student learning outcomes and liberal education requirements; (5) approval of Faculty Senate docket; (6) update on review of clinical research practices]

6.         Update on the Review of Clinical Research Practices

            Professor Durfee provided an update on the response to the Senate resolution in December calling for a review of human subjects research clinical practices.  President Kaler wrote a charge letter to Vice President for Research Brian Herman asking that he take responsibility for the review.  The University has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a review of clinical practices, which follows from a decision the president made that the review must be by an independent panel.  In his role as chair of this Committee, along with Professor Gini as chair of the Senate Research Committee, he reviewed the language of the RFP, and they will both be involved in the selection of a contractor.

            The desired date of the report is about July 1; it was important to give the contractor sufficient time to do a good job, Professor Durfee said.  It would have been possible to set a September deadline, but the IRB system at the University is undergoing its accreditation review and the contractor report can be incorporated in that review.

            Professor Ranelli inquired who wrote the RFP.  Professor Durfee said it was based on the president's letter to Vice President Herman.  He and Professor Gini reviewed it.  Professor Gardner asked if the Committee could receive a copy.  Professor Durfee said it can be viewed on the web, but because he is part of the process and because formally through the bid process, the RFP must be viewed as a whole, he did not want to print out an excerpt for the Committee.  However, anyone can view the RFP at the University bid site, which is

            Professor Cloyd said the Faculty Senate had emphasized that the review panel must be independent, but the University is paying the contractor.  Professor Durfee observed that people do not do this work for free.  Some do, Professor Cloyd said, but asked if the RFP arrangement meets the spirit of what the Faculty Senate asked the president to do.

            Professor Durfee said the contractor is paid a fee for service, and there are several firms around the country that conduct independent assessments that are highly regarded.  Professor Konstan said this is similar to the question of how an organization gets an audit.  It would be possible to get the University's friends to do it for free, but that would not make it more independent. 

            Professor Durfee said it is his sense that both President Kaler and Vice President Herman are exceptionally serious about the independence of the review and understand that if it is not perceived as independent, the effort will not have been worth it.

            Professor Gardner asked who will be on the committee to evaluate the proposals.  Professor Durfee said that he and Professor Gini will be among the members.

            Professor Cloyd said he did not object to the process, only that he wants to be sure it is within the spirit of the resolution the Faculty Senate adopted.  Professor von Dassow reported that she had circulated President Kaler's letter to the members of the Faculty Senate who called for an independent review; in response, they wrote to Vice President Herman urging that any panel look not only at present practices but also at the history.

            Professor Durfee adjourned the meeting at 3:00.

                                                                        -- Gary Engstrand

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