BUFA Prioritizing Expansion of Research Capacity
Expanding Research Capacity is Key to Building a Better Brock
For Brock University to deliver on its strategic priority of expanding research capacity, the University must invest in its researchers. BUFA will convey this message to Brock’s Administration when collective bargaining gets underway formally later this month.
While Brock’s student population continues to grow, the number of faculty members has declined in recent years, leading to increased demands on individual professors to take on much more unscheduled teaching, primarily in the form of student supervisions. This increase in teaching responsibility has made it more difficult for faculty to focus on research, an equally important component of a traditional faculty member’s workload.
This is why BUFA is proposing that the University develop a mechanism for securing course release to recognize significant levels of research and creative activity or student supervisions and other forms of unscheduled teaching. Specifically, BUFA is seeking the establishment of a guaranteed bank of course releases that members can apply for and receive based on recommendations from Faculty Deans and approval from the University’s Provost.
At least two Faculties are already piloting similar course release competitions. It is time to expand and broaden these initiatives for the benefit of all members across the University. Recognizing and rewarding the contributions of Brock’s top researchers and unscheduled teaching workhorses through targeted course releases is key to helping the University significantly expand its research capacity.
BUFA is also seeking to increase the amounts the University allocates to internal research grant competitions. These strategically-important seed grants serve many functions, from helping faculty and professional librarians do preliminary work that helps to leverage larger external grants to helping researchers hire and train students as research assistants.
BUFA is also focused on ensuring that the University invests adequately in research-related professional expenses. For example, conference travel funds, for those presenting research findings to a wider scholarly audience, have recently been cut in some Faculties, thus undermining Brock researchers’ levels of research dissemination, especially internationally.
Finally, BUFA is asking the University to consider ways to facilitate the declaration of certain research-related costs as legitimate employment costs for tax purposes. Such declarations could help ease the burden on individual faculty or professional librarians who incur research costs that are not covered by the University or an external granting agency.
Research-related investments are key to building a better Brock. Investing in the expansion of research capacity is an investment in Brock’s students, Brock’s academic staff, and Brock’s reputation as a comprehensive research-intensive university.