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Officials not worried about cap standards

BY MEGAN SANCHEZ | DECEMBER 10, 2013 5:00 AM

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When 300 people made their way through the University of Iowa Museum of Art and admired the artwork that took Anita Jung years to complete, she said, she could see all her hard work pay off. But before she could get there, she had to apply for a Career Development Award — more than once.

The UI professor in printmaking used her Career Development Award, formerly known as a sabbatical, to travel to India as well as to work on the Symposium of the Midwest Matrix.

The time away from class work is granted to various professors to allow them time to work on research or scholarly projects without the time commitment of teaching.

Last week at the state Board of Regents meeting, the regents approved 68 UI faculty members for Career Development Assignment for fiscal 2015.

Jung’s symposium was a project involving collaboration between the UI Museum of Art and the UI School of Art and Art History. Jung said she applied for an assignment once before but did not get it.

“You invest a lot of time, and you don’t know if you’re going to be able to follow through with [the project] or not, so that’s hard,” she said. “You apply for [the award], and you don’t even know if you are going to get it.”

In order to apply for the paid time away, professors need to have taught at the UI for 10-consecutive semesters as well as have a legitimate project proposal.

UI Professor of mechanical and industrial engineering Christoph Beckermann said that while the five-page proposal only took him one day to write, it took him longer to plan his project on a developing area of engineering called Integrated Computational Materials Engineering.

“[The application] took me, maybe a day, but I thought about it for a long time, before I started writing,” he said.

All the regent universities are allowed to send 3 percent of their eligible faculty per year on leave. In the past three years, Iowa State University has come much closer to the 3 percent cap than the UI.

Rob Schweers, Iowa State director of communications in the Provost’s Office, said that although ISU has gotten closer to reaching the cap in past years, he thinks the importance of Career Development Awards does not come from how many professors are leaving but the quality of the work they bring back and produce.

UI Associate Provost for Faculty Tom Rice said he agrees, because the UI chooses to accept only the best proposals, those that have the most promise for improvement of the professor and the university.

“[The awards] are valuable because they allow faculty to focus 100 percent of their work time on important projects of a semester,” he wrote in an email. “This concentrated effort pays big dividends. Important advances in research and teaching happen much faster when faculty can focus all of their efforts on their projects.”


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