Faculty Senate Discussion

RCM impact on academic and research missions at UF

Filed under RCM Impacts 2010-11 by jamisoma@ufl.edu on November 1, 2010 | No Comments

Dear Colleagues,

I appreciate the opportunity to share my perspective regarding the RCM impact on the academic and research missions of the University of Florida. My PURC colleagues and I have spoken at great length about this important issue, and they have asked me to incorporate their comments and concerns with mine in the ensuing paragraphs.

We are concerned that:

  • the RCM model rewards the production of student credit hours, while providing no incentive for research, especially unsponsored research;
  • the RCM model may remove incentives for faculty to engage in cross-collaborative research  as the system is not designed to reward such collaboration. Yet, multi-disciplinary research is precisely that which the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health hope to promote. We hope that adjustments will be made to provide incentives for interdisciplinary research and improve the probabilty of attraciting large, external grants and top research faculty.
  • the RCM model incents arbitrage in such that the financial reward for teaching a class can vary across colleges, even for the same class.
    • The situation with the department of Economics provides a case in point. For example, the RCM pays more per hour of undergraduate microeconomics taught in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences than it does for the identical hour taught in the Warrington College of Business Administration;
    • the RCM model may provide strong incentive for colleges to introduce large section courses that could result in weak faculty involvement. (There is some evidence that this strategy is already being utilitzed on campus.)
  • there could be a mismatch between the methods in which RCM is intended to collect overheads and that which is actually happening. For example, top administrators say that RCM is replacing some IDC charges. However, staff members say they have not received direction to that effect;
    • there are limited funds from which to pay the RCM overhead charges. It is our understanding that the RCM charges may not be paid out of 209 funds. This will leave departments funneling more funds into accounts, such as DCE, that charge a higher IDC rate and a higher RCM rate.
  • revenue received during the last fiscal year, and spent this fiscal year, could be double-taxed. For research grants with fixed amounts available for IDC, this could result in academic units having to subsidize grants.

It is our understanding that the RCM model will be expected to facilitate greater levels of success for those academic units that are able to create and seize opportunities. Yet, one consequence we envision that would impact the development of new programs, as well as the functionality, and could impact the quality of existing programs, is that the aforementioned may force units to recoup RCM expenses in ways that may lead to the very demise of existing programs and the abandonment of possible new ones.

If the university is to be recognized as a top tier public research university as President Machen envisions, it must not be seen as as an institute where only academicians, and especially teachers can achieve success, but everyone.

I welcome your questions, comments and response. Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss our concerns.

Best Regards,

Mark Jamison, Director, Public Utility Research Center

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