Realignment of research faculty administrative oversight
October 5, 2020
From: The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation
With the continual growth of research at Virginia Tech over the past several decades, all academic colleges and institutes are increasingly appointing research faculty. These appointments are vital to furthering the research mission of a land-grant university.
To better serve the professional and career development needs of research faculty, oversight has been realigned to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation (OVPRI). The transition was approved at the August Board of Visitors’ meeting and is reflected in Chapter 6 of the Faculty Handbook. Additional information on the strategic and transactional implications of this change will be forthcoming in the 2020-21 academic year.
The realignment to the Provost’s Office will provide research faculty with substantial career development opportunities and support resources that are currently provided to Teaching and Research, Collegiate, and Instructor faculty groups. The oversight change for research faculty as defined in Chapter 6 of the Faculty Handbook, includes all ranks, with the exception of the postdoctoral associate rank, which will remain under OVPRI.
Over the next year, a university team with representatives from the OVPRI, the Provost’s Office, and the Division of Human Resources will develop a transition workflow of research faculty actions. Regular communications on those processes will occur throughout the year.
Additionally, the research faculty ranks of project associate, senior project associate, and project director will be retired and no new recruitment efforts or promotion requests will be approved using those ranks. As part of this change, the transition team will partner with units to assess essential functions of current project faculty appointments and make recommendations to determine the appointment rank either in another research faculty rank or AP Faculty. Employees currently in a project faculty rank will not have their salary or benefits impacted.
In 2018, the OVPRI commissioned a Sibson Consulting study to provide insight into improving the administrative and strategic support as it relates to the organizational recruitment and retention of research faculty.
Study results indicated that benefits, including an enhanced sense of affiliation with disciplinary peers, increased networking opportunities, greater loyalty to the university, and better access to professional development opportunities and efforts as rationale for moving oversight of research faculty to the Provost’s Office, which is better poised to provide support as it has direct access to a wider range of resources for faculty. Notably, the Sibson study indicated that most peer institutions align administrative support for research professors to their respective college.