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January 21, 1984 - Image 4

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Saturday, January 21, 1984

T

he Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Does sponsored research have
a place at the University?

Vol. XCIV-No. 92

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Pen pal program on target

SS OVIET AND American "noblemen"
such as Andrei Gromyko and
George Shultz may not have many nice
things to say to each other these days,
but that isn't stopping each nation's
'peasants' from doing their part to
warm relations between the super-
powers. Gromyko, Shultz, and their
respective governments could learn a
lot from an admirable pen pal program
matching Soviet and U.S. residents of
1,300 cities.
Instead of focusing on the political
differences between the two nations,
Ground Zero Pairing Project
organizers, including those in Ann Ar-
bor, want to give people on both sides
,an opportunity to know each other as
individuals. Ann Arbor is matched
with Baranovichi, a village 70 miles
from Minsk.
Despite the animosity between the
two political states, citizens reponse to
the cultural exchange program has
been good: More than 50 people atten-
ded the first Ground Zero meeting at
the Ann Arbor public library. Officials

in Baranovichi have expressed interest
in the program, although they have not
made a formal commitment.
The project is, as Ann Arbor Ground
Zero organizer Karen Sayer noted,
"something that is life-affirming.-
That's quite a bit different from the
"nobility's" diplomatic rhetoric which
seemingly pushes the Soviet Union and
United States toward armed conflict
with each passing encounter. With the
pen pal program, the American and
Soviet people might find they make
more progress toward peace and un-
derstanding than their governments
do.
Instead of deploying more missiles
to maintain some abstract theoretical
balance of terror, the kings of both
nations who claim they wish to resolve
U.S.-Soviet differences would be better
off taking a cue from Ground Zero. It's
time for the Soviet and U.S. leaders to
look across the negotiating table and
see another person, not an evil
ideology or menacing military force
bent on destroying the other state.

By Robert Honigman
first of a series
There is little doubt that spon-
sored research is the major
ingredient of a "great" research
university. Universities are
ranked by their graduate depar-
tments and the prominence and
fame of their faculty members.
Great research scientists bring
their prestige and research sup-
port to a university and guaran-
tee its success.
But the problem of sponsored
research is that it is really not
part of a university's educational
program. It is a separate profit
center or product line, and the
success of a "great" university is
really a reflection of its success
as a research enterprise, not as
an educational environment. In
fact, the research function of a.
"great" university impoverishes
and atrophies its educational
function. It drains enormous
resources away from the
educational side of a. university,
.and it distorts the function and
purpose of a university.
ALTHOUGH the fact is not well
known or publicly discussed,
sponsored research is heavily
subsidized by the educational
side of a university. One reason is
that a university consistently un-
dercharges its patrons for the
cost of sponsored research. For
every dollar actually spent on
sponsored research, a host
university must provide at least
60 cents of overhead or indirect
cost support. Sponsors on the
average pay only about 30 cents
of overhead support, leaving the
host university to supply the rest
out of its general funds.

At the University for example,
in 1980-81 some $81 million was
spent on direct* research
programs but only an additional
$23.8 million was allocatedfor in-
direct costs, a shortfall of about
$25 million (60 percent x $81
million equals $48.6 million)
which probably came out of the
University's general fund. In ad-
dition to this flat subsidy, there
are also untraceable allocations
to sponsored research, expenses
attributable to sponsored resear-
ch, but not billable.
These would be, for example,
time spent by research scientists
at meetings and conferences
related to their research careers;
time spent preparing proposals
for grants and contracts; extra

classes, high tuition, and fewer
courses.
A SECOND way in which spon-
sored research impoverishes the
educational side of a university is
through the system of. dual ap-
pointments. The system works
like this: research scientists are
placed in tenured faculty
positions earning perhaps $40,000
a year; but upon receiving a
research contract or grant they
are granted a leave of absencein
full or in part from their teaching
positions to work on the research
program. Since the contract is
temporary, no new faculty mem-
ber is hired to replace them. In-
stead, the vacant or partially
vacant faculty position's salary
allocation is. used to hire

'Each University student subsidizes
sponsored research... to the tune of
at least $1,000 apiece, which translates
into overcrowded classes, high tuition,.
and fewer courses.

teaching program. When the
grant or contract to do research
expires, the professor is rein-
stated to full pay on the teaching
payroll.
One might at least say that
graduate p pgrams benefit from
this system, but the benefit to
graduate students is gratuitous -
they are not the focus of the
system. When employment for
persons with graduate degrees is
slack and few students are at-
tracted into graduate programs,
standards are lowered and
graduate assistantship salaries
are raised to recruit anyone who
is available without regard for
the potential of the student. These
graduate students are just used
to fill up the teaching ranks and
relieve senior faculty members
of undergraduate teaching
duties. The really desirable
graduate students are always
given full scholarships and
research assistantships. It is a
system that impoverishes
education and uses people.
Keep in mind that we are
talking here about the mingling
of sponsored research with the
educational . programs of a
university, not about the
desirability of sponsored resear-
ch. Many great sponsored
research institutes and labs are
affiliated with great universities
and have mutually advantageous
exchanges which are -non-
exploitive and which do not im-
poverish the educational function
of the university. There is no need
to use students as pawns in a
research business.
Honigman is a Universit
graduate and an attorney in
Sterling Heights.

equipment, personnnel and space
allocated to researchers as a
means of attracting them to
campus; seed money for new
research; and so forth. It is likely.
that these unbillable expen-
ditures - an investment by the
University in its research
programs - account for another
$10-25 million taken out of the
general fund. That means that
each University student sub-
sidizes sponsored research out of
funds allocated by the state for
educational purposes to the tune
of at least $1,000 apiece, which
translates into overcrowded

graduate student teaching
assistants, who not only teach the
class of the missing professor,
but also the classes of several
other professors, relieving them
of undergraduate teaching duties
and giving them additional
graduate students to teach at the
same time.
In other words, the research
contract or grant is a bonanza for
the whole department which con-
tinues to draw down the' entire
salary of its missing
professoriate, and to present the,
salary of the missing professor to
the state as part of its budgeted

An apple for the teacher

WHEN SECRETARY of Education
Terrance Bell sang the virtues of
an education stressing basic skills such
as writing and mathematics and
criticized over-emphasizing computer
learning programs he reminded. us of,
the Crosby, Stills, and Nash tune,
"Teach Your Children Well." His ver-
sion sounds pretty good.
Within the last five years the com-
puter has grown from a mere novelty
in American schools to an often in-
tegral part of learning strategies. Un-
fortunately many of these strategies
have failed to use the computer as a
creative reinforcement of the student's
l-earning process. Bell described the
trend toward school purchase of com-
puters as "almost a fad." He noted,
E' "Most of the computer software we
have now is electronic page-turning""
and "it hasn't been designed to do a
A good job of interacting with the mind of
&- the student.."
F. Bell's evaluation points out the
misguided application of the computer
in our nation's schools. Administrators
impressed by flashy sales talk and
community pressure to "modernize"
M )s
b .
a 4
a"
4l j

often miss the point. The computer as
nothing more than a tool falls far short
of its potential as a challenging,
creative aspect of a child's learning.
Education is not the acquisition of
skills so much as it is the acquisition of
more sophisticated and effective.ways
of thinking. To be able to operate a
computer is certainly a desirable skill
in our society, but even more impor-
tant is an individual's ability to com-
municqte with other individuals..
Money spent on fancy tools is money
not being spent on the fundamentals of
education - fundamentals which
equip the individual with the ability to
constructively contribute to society.
Teaching our children well means
not being dazzled by the latest
technological innovation that might be
applicable to education. Back-to-
basics education might not be as fun or
as impressive to parents worried about
computer-illiterate children, but it
produces more well-rounded and adap-
table people. The latest popular tune
might be more popular, but "Reading,
'Riting, and 'Rithmatic" is the oldie
but goodie.

Stewart

BRILLIANT, HENRY!
-' OWb YOU EVER THINK
OF SUCH DEEP; ORIGINAL
SOLUTIONS?
/ u/
TH,
ENFORCE HUMAa
RnHTS (EXCEPTM
WHEN IT GETS IN THEf
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4

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

AA UP gives message for the future

To the Daily:
Your article headlined " 'U'
faculty group says it opposes
budget cut procedures" (Daily,
January 18) may, by its opening
sentence, erroneously convey
that our American Association of
University Professors is a
belated reprimand of the admin-
istration for last summer's
decision to cut the budgets of
three schools. It is not.
AAUP members,das your
quotations make evident, hold a

dissent. What can and did gain
such approval is a statement
which argues that normal faculty
governance should not be
abrogated in implementing the
cuts decided upon. This has to do
with the present and the future,
not the past.
I think that that stand was ap-
BLOOM COUNTY

proved because it is the
philosophy of the AAUP that
curricula and program design
are uniquely the responsibility of
the faculty. We believe that not
even the dire straits the AAUP
means by "financial exigency,"
let alone the University's present
reallocation, should override this
.

foundation principle of a univer-
sity.
-William Bardsalg
January 20
Birdsall, a professor ol
social work, is the president o]
the University's chapter of the
AA UP.
by Berke Breathed

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