UCAR University Relations Committee Meeting
21-22 April 2004
Ames, Iowa


The University Relations Committee met at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa on 21-22 April 2004.

Committee members present were:

John Merrill, University of Rhode Island (Chairman)
Kerry Cook, Cornell University
Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, University of Minnesota
Jim Hansen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
David Karoly, University of Oklahoma
Arlene Laing, University of South Florida
Michael Morgan, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ken Pickering, University of Maryland
Gene Takle, Iowa State University
Sepideh Yalda, Millersville University of Pennsylvania

UCAR Trustee Liaison:

Len Pietrafesa, North Carolina State University

UCAR/NCAR resource people:

Mary Barth, Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division
Ginger Caldwell, Scientific Computing Division
Joanne Graham, Unidata


Cliff Jacobs, Head, UCAR & Lower-Atmosphere Facilities Oversight Section

Others present for all or part of the meeting were:

Richard Anthes, President, UCAR
Jack Fellows, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Director of UOP
Susan Friberg, Administrator, UCAR
Tim Killeen, Director, NCAR
Susan Warner, Executive Asst., UCAR


1. Welcome Remarks

Chairman John Merrill convened the meeting. Gene Takle welcomed the committee to Iowa State University. The agenda was reviewed and approved by the committee.

2. Opening Remarks

UCAR President Rick Anthes announced URC member Arlene Laing’s joint appointment to NCAR’s MMM division and the COMET program, and consequently her resignation from this committee. He then reviewed the main items on the agenda and pointed out that a generous amount of time has been set aside for discussion.

3. October 2003 Meeting Notes

Merrill reviewed the draft notes from the October 2003 meeting. The committee approved the notes with no changes.

4. Review of UOP Non-Core and NCAR Non-NSF Proposals

Merrill, in the absence of Subcommittee Chair Stephen Monismith, gave the Subcommittee’s report. Thirteen proposals, from the 32 proposals submitted during the six-month period July through December 2003, were examined by the subcommittee (Monismith, Kerry Cook, Everette Joseph, and ex-officio Merrill). Merrill reported that the reviewed proposals adhered to the guidelines and recommended approval of the report; approval of the committee was received.

Merrill then asked for approval to raise the threshold of reviewed proposals from $50K to $100K. He explained that during this past review, on a trial basis, only proposals above $100K were examined. It was pointed out that only 11% of proposals fell into the range $50K-$100K, a relatively small number. The committee unanimously approved to raise the threshold from $50K to $100K.

5. NSF Report

Cliff Jacobs, Head of ATM’s UCAR & Lower-Atmosphere Facilities Oversight Section, reported on the NSF budgets—level funding in FY04 and a modest, if any, increase expected for FY05 and most likely beyond.

Jacobs reviewed NSF’s policy and history on the competition of management for FFRDCs (Federally Funded Research and Development Center). FFRDCs, set up in the early 1970s, were organized as independent entities, working in the public interest and operating as long-term strategic partners with their sponsoring government agencies. An FFRDC since the early 1970s, NCAR has been managed by UCAR since its founding in 1960. Jacobs pointed out that there are currently 20 plus FFRDCs, of which five are NSF-sponsored centers, and that they are managed by various entities—private companies, universities, and consortiums. Jacobs also explained that the NSF policy is to hold an the open competition for management of its centers, thus they will compete the cooperative agreement in the next review cycle of the management of NCAR.

6. BASC Study and Recompetition

Anthes reported that in May 2003, the National Science Board (NSB) awarded management of NCAR to UCAR and recommended NSF initiate a strategic review of mechanisms most appropriate to move the nation’s science and educational goals forward; this recommendation resulted in the upcoming BASC (NAS Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate) study.

In preparation for the BASC study and for the upcoming NSF reviews of NCAR and UCAR, a three-day President’s Council Retreat was organized in late November 2003 to seriously examine the strengths and weaknesses of UCAR and NCAR, and to how best prepare for upcoming scientific and organizational changes. In response to the discussions at the Retreat, Anthes reported that NCAR’s reorganization is underway.

In talking about the competition of NCAR’s management, Anthes said that the Board, the Members, and the URC would be involved in the preparation work and that, most importantly, we need to capitalize on our strengths, and to address issues directly.

7. NCAR Reorganization

NCAR Director Tim Killeen explained that the impetus for the reorganization came from the last management review and subsequent conversations. He reported that the goal is to improve collaboration and interdisciplinary research by creating "leaky" divisional boundaries, and to carry out current science thrusts more effectively. He presented the diagram of the five laboratories, and explained the role of the five laboratory leaders who will be appointed Associate Directors, and the thematic organization under each of the labs.

Killeen then discussed new university collaborative activities at NCAR: the Undergraduate Leadership Workshop, the revitalization of the Graduate Fellowship Program, UCAR/NCAR Junior Faculty Forums, a centralized visitor program, among others. He also added that the majority of NCAR’s peer reviewed publications are co-authored with university and federal laboratory colleagues, and are not single-authored papers.

In describing the next steps of the reorganization, Killeen said that it would be a phased-in approach, going slowly without making it disruptive. In the discussion that followed, questions were asked about the new Institute for the Study of Society and the Environment (ISSE)—a broader program than that of ESIG (Environmental and Social Impacts Group). David Karoly commented that communication was rather limited on NCAR’s reorganization and that university members had little involvement in this restructuring. Killeen said that hopefully more opportunities for university participation will develop from this reorganization, including broader service on advisory committees. In this vein, Sepi Yalda suggested that URC liaisons become active members of these advisory committees. Killeen pointed out that these advisory committees are being upgraded and opportunities should be available soon.

8. Level of Effort Allocation Study

Anthes reviewed the Level of Effort Allocation Study, an analysis showing how NCAR and UOP contribute to research, facilities, education and outreach, and other categories. Metrics were developed to measure such areas as scientific productivity and quality, administrative efficiency, and diversity. Anthes then summarized the results by presenting two matrices—the first containing percentages of total effort given by NCAR staff to education & outreach, community facilities, community support, and research and development; and the second, percentages of effort allocated to visitors, technology transfer and collaboration. In review, Anthes said that he thought the exercise useful and credible—with a plus or minus 5% error factor. Jacobs also thought that this exercise was extremely useful and added that it will serve as a metric for the reorganization. In the discussion that followed, Merrill suggested adding another category to the metric— writing reviews and letters and serving on panels, which consumes a huge amount of time for university faculty. Other differences between universities and a national center were examined, i.e. teaching and advising is a large part of faculty’s time while low for NCAR scientist.  

9. Panel Discussion

A very stimulating panel of Iowa State faculty, moderated by Catherine Kling (Department of Economics), discussed biogeosciences as a basis for policy-making relating to managed landscapes.

10. Members’ Meeting Agenda

The committee discussed the draft agenda of the Members’ meeting that was provided in the meeting materials. In discussing the theme of the meeting—recompetition, the NCAR reorganization, and the future of NCAR/UCAR and university partnership—the committee agreed on the importance of having informed participants and of motivating the Members to play an active role in these issues. Suggestions were to set up email discussions prior to the meeting; a Dear Colleague letter apprising the community of changes; and/or a web-based meeting to address the community’s questions and concerns.

After noting that the URC is the primary interface between the Members and the corporation, Merrill stated his concern of having panels too specialized or too distant for the majority of the Members. Another concern of the Members is a potentially Boulder-centric theme of the Members’ meeting. As an alternative Merrill suggested inviting university faculty to talk about their collaboration with NCAR. He stressed that a topic and a mechanism needs to be found that would engage the largest number of participants.

Takle asked how to get Members to take ownership of NCAR’s reorganization; Killeen responded he foresees broader university involvement in the new initiatives once NCAR itself has had a chance to re-balance and settle in with the new structure.

At this point, Merrill summarized the comments on the Members’ agenda: 1) it is too early in the cooperative agreement cycle to get too deeply engaged in addressing the competition, 2) there is strong interest in having materials and discussions on the reorganization before the meeting, and 3) we need to provide more of a science connection.

After the committee questioned if broad topics such as biogeosciences would be of interest to the Members, it was pointed out that the younger faculty are more interested in broader scientific issues than would have been the case 20 years ago, and also that it is the responsibility of scientists to think of all fields, not just their own areas of expertise.

Anthes expressed surprise that the universities are interested in the reorganization. Jim Hansen replied that the community has heard NCAR scientists express concerns with the reorganization, thereby arousing the community’s interest. Members have expressed concern that science at NCAR not be de-emphasized. Kerry Cook said that universities have broader interdisciplinary projects than NCAR and suggested NCAR have short-term collaborative visitors from the universities. Discussion followed on the difficulties faced by early career faculty when working in an interdisciplinary environment, and in taking on even more responsibilities. Hansen pointed out that the tenure process discourages young faculty to pursue different research than their main topic of research. Also Michael Morgan stated that young faculty are looking to be lead PI on a proposal and not just one of many PIs on collaborative proposals.

Merrill turned the discussion back to the Members’ agenda. Killeen said that he liked the idea of having UCAR-mediated interactions with the Members’ before their October meeting, and Merrill proposed either a cyber seminar or an exchange of emails, under the auspices of the URC. In considering agenda topics, Anthes said that "the role of a national center" as a subject for panel discussion was timely in view of the upcoming BASC study. He also suggested that a report on the competition issue from NSF’s viewpoint and putting it in the context of the FFRDC structure would be of interest to the Members. Morgan brought up the importance of finding engaging panelists and also suggested that a science component relating to biogeosciences be included in the Member’s agenda. Other suggestions included having poster sessions or exhibits on "new opportunities" and have these presentations available to the Members during their breakfast, lunch, and breaks.

The meeting recessed for a reception held at the Reiman Gardens on the Iowa State campus.

THURSDAY, 22 April

10. Members’ Meeting Agenda (cont’d)

In recapping yesterday’s discussion of the Members’ meeting agenda, Merrill said that Jacobs’ report on recompetition and FFDRCs would be replacing Killeen’s report on reorganization. The panel, with the topic of The Role of a National Center, would be moderated by Merrill and would consist of Tim Killeen, an NCAR scientist, a URC member, an Academic Affiliate member, and possibly another. Covered in this panel discussion would be the reorganization and the resulting new opportunities, and emerging scientific needs. A plenary discussion would follow.

Killeen suggested that posters on each NCAR scientific initiative and on the reorganization be available during the afternoon break. Morgan suggested the posters be up before the meeting convenes and proposed some of the posters be sent out to the Members as powerpoints, requesting their comments.

Format of the panel along with make-up and number of panel members was discussed; it was decided that Anthes and Merrill would fine-tune it at a later date.

In discussing the second day of the agenda, Karoly proposed adding a report on the International Affiliates Program; the committee agreed and Karoly was appointed to present the report.

Yalda suggested that the role and purpose of the URC should be emphasized in the URC Report to the Members; Merrill agreed.

Deliberation then continued on the Members’ agenda item, "Strategic Plans for Community Observational and Computational Facilities." The committee was comfortable with the suggested format of this discussion item and agreed with Killeen’s suggestion that Unidata be included in this discussion.

Merrill concluded the discussion by saying that in the near future a draft agenda would be sent out to the URC for their comments. Anthes thanked the committee for their thoughtful and valuable input.

11. Liaison Reports

Michael Morgan, liaison to Scientific Computing Division (SCD), reported on the SCD Advisory Panel meeting held on April 1. Three key topics were discussed: 1) the increasing security issues and the issuance of crypto cards to university users that allow them to bypass firewalls, 2) options in modifying the current computing infrastructure because of the need for more space than what is available on the Mesa, and 3) a new collaborative program with CU students.

Jim Hansen, liaison to Climate and Global Dynamics Division (CGD), reported on his discussions with the staff, of which the main topic was NCAR’s reorganization. Some of the staff expressed concern with the process of the reorganization, and how the new structure might effect their science. It was announced that Maurice Blackmon would be stepping down as CGD Director and that in the interim Jim Hurrell would be appointed Acting Director.

Ken Pickering, liaison to Atmospheric Chemistry Division (ACD), reported on his meeting with ACD Director Danny McKenna. Pickering reviewed ACD’s new initiatives, modeling activities, and current university interactions. He briefed the URC on ACD’s new building, slated for groundbreaking in late summer of 2004. In conclusion, he asked the committee how these liaison reports could be communicated to Member universities and suggested possibly placing the reports on an UCAR web page.

12. Faculty Fellowship Report

Tim Killeen reported that this program, which would invite university faculty for short-term visits to NCAR to develop associations and collaboration with NCAR scientists, has been funded for FY05 as an $150K per year increment to the Advanced Study Program (ASP). After Killeen asked the URC to become directly involved in this program, the following questions arose: pre-tenure faculty only, minimum time for visits, UCAR member universities only? Killeen responded that no policies have been written as of yet, and therefore time limitation on visits have not been defined. After further discussion, it was agreed that this program would be exclusive to pre-tenure faculty and that while it would not be exclusive to UCAR universities, preference would be given to UCAR Member and Affiliate institutions.

The other part of the program, NCAR scientists visiting universities, was also discussed. Rick Anthes pointed out that the invitations would need to come from the universities and suggested the URC promote this. He added that full support of up to one year would be given to the NCAR scientists.

In discussing the selection of university faculty to participate in this program, the committee proposed a selection committee consisting of some URC members, some NCAR and UCAR staff, and the ASP director an ex-officio member.

It was agreed that a short outline of this program would be written by ASP and then reviewed by the URC at their Fall meeting.

13. Climate@Home

Jim Hansen reported on this project which aims to use massive ensembles of complex coupled climate models to help quantify the uncertainty associated with projections of climate change. These massive ensembles will be generated through public participation. Jacobs commented that this proposal, submitted to NSF’s Information Technology Research (ITR), has all the important components—education, real science, university involvement, CSSM. He added that this proposal couldn’t have happened without NCAR.

14. Open Discussion

Options on teaching instrumentation to university students were discussed—possible workshops, virtual or real, publish a manual on the internet were some options proposed. Also discussed was the importance of GPS observations and the need for more involvement in this activity from US universities.

The committee adjourned at 11:45am.

~ End of Notes ~

General Schedule & Contact Info. NCAR Van Schedule

This page updated 2004-10-22 11:28 -07 by Michelle Flores
Contact: Susan Warner (303) 497-1655; swarner@ucar.edu