Executive Council November 2016 Answer of the Month Faculty Responses


In recent times, Federal funding of faculty salaries was limited to 95%; 5% was mandated to come from non-Federal sources. One aspect of this requirement was that it provided a segment of support that could be applied to activities unrelated to a Federally-funded project, such as teaching, service, and writing new grant applications.

The limit on the proportion of faculty salary that can be supported by Federal funds has been lifted, and our Provost has asked the Senate to weigh in on whether UCSF should maintain a requirement of 5% non-Federal salary support, or eliminate this requirement.

For faculty who have been responsible for finding a non-Federal source of support, lifting the requirement may have advantages. For others, who believe that support provided for teaching, clinical work and/or university service is insufficient, elimination of the requirement for non-Federal support may be problematic.

What are your thoughts on the issue of eliminating or maintaining the requirement for at least 5% non-Federal salary support?


"I agree with the perspective that eliminating the requirement would be problematic. I have worked under two division chiefs at this point. The first made it our responsibility to find the non-federal funding; it was difficult for many in our division, which has no clinical revenue or other fairly reliable non-federal revenue. Our new division chief had the foresight to see the hardship this was causing and negotiated for a blanket 5% consistent support for all faculty in our division (I assume this comes back as a return on indirects which seems reasonable since we, as a rule and unlike other universities, do not see any return). Having a consistent, reliable source of support fro the 5% is important for many reasons. This support demonstrates the department/university's commitment to faculty and to teaching, service and grant writing functions, functions that are in fact considered for advancement and promotion, even for research faculty. Furthermore, many faculty find these functions to be important and satisfying parts of their jobs that make important contributions to campus life. Wouldn't it make much more sense to have "all boats rise" by making this a campuswide policy - supporting 5% of all full time faculty members' time (and more if such a program had an incentive structure!)? The alternative is to go back to 100% federal, which would signal devaluing of functions other than research. In making the program a campuswide one, the university would get back in effort and in goodwill much more than 5%. This investment would also come at at time when morale is low; it might even contribute to a reversal of the general feeling among faculty that administrative support is waning/has waned. (ie, the effect of "operational excellence" and the like)."

"I would very much appreciate having the 5% effort. Periodically at UCSF I have to certify my effort on grants. I am totally supported on grants other than this 5% effort. But I do work in various areas for the university, including my division. I attend meetings that have nothing to do with my research projects. Before the 5% was covered, I felt dishonest (and frankly, illegal) certifying that all my time was spent on these grants' work, when I knew that wasn't true. I felt that the university was forcing me to lie. It made me quite unhappy that UCSF was forcing me to be complicit on this. Having the 5% from the University has eliminated that. In addition, it means something to me symbolically that the university (my department) gives me at least 5% effort/hard money. Even this little bit of funding means to me that the University cares at least a little bit about me and my research. I wish, of course, that there was more hard money - I've been at the university for over 30 years, and have brought in millions of dollars. Receiving at least 5% effort means that the university has at least a bit of appreciation for my work. For these two reasons, I would like to retain the 5% effort."

"In principle, all those with faculty titles are expected (and judged for merits and promotions) to participate to some extent in all three (or four) aspects of university activities: scholarly work, teaching/mentoring, service and clinical, if appropriate. From an ethical standpoint then, how can one participate in non-Federally supported activities like university service or teaching if one's salary is 100% supported by Federally sponsored projects?"

"If departments are willing to continue to cover the 5% as needed for faculty that do not have non-Federal funding to cover it, than I support keeping the requirement in place. It is true that the support for University service is, for all intents and purposes, non-existent. It is disingenuous to have a faculty member supported at 100% by Federal funds and still require them to teach and do University service, even if at a low level. If departments are not willing to cover the 5% for those that need it, than yes, we should eliminate the requirement because rather than provide for additional support for faculty, it actually adds to the pressure they already feel to diversify their funding to support their various activities that ultimately benefit the university."

"UCSF should maintain a requirement of 5% "non-research grant" salary support for faculty that is paid for by the department of their primary appointment."

"There are pros and cons as already indicated in the question: Full federal grant support would imply that the faculty member will not be responsible for any teaching, service (committees, etc), or mentoring. This might seems OK for the faculty member as it allows 100% focus on the research effort, however it would directly impact his/her ability for advancement and promotion unless the guidelines were changes. 100% federal grant support might be problematic when the faculty member submits a new grant unless the current grant support includes one that is geared specifically to develop new research grant applications (eg K or P or R34 for a U01). Federal rules prohibit writing a grant application when being paid to perform other specific research activities (except as listed above)."

"I think it should be required and the university should help support it, such that faculty can engage in teaching and service activities that keep the university functioning well."

"I support lifting/eliminating the requirement."

"It is reasonable and should be expected that the university provide 5% support given the amount of non-grant related work that most of us do. Providing an unfunded mandate for each individual to find, however, adds additional burden."

"I am no longer at UCSF, but I believe that the 5% rule should be maintained."

"I had no idea that some faculty were 95% supported by federal funding. It is astonishing that some faculty receive so little support from UCSF -- only a 5% contribution to their salary! Not only should the requirement be kept, it should be increased, so that UCSF makes a more significant contribution towards the support of its faculty. Nearly everyone is engaged in (at the very least) a modicum of service, teaching, or administrative work that should be paid for by UCSF."

"I think eliminating the mandate provides the greatest flexibility to faculty and thus would be in support of this."

"In my opinion by lifting the requirement of 5% federal source provides more flexibility to salary options, in case faculty can not find it via teaching, service, or other non-federal funding source. I think keeping this limitation does not solve the problem of insufficient support. Besides, it's only 5%."

"I would be in favor of lifting the requirement unless the university commits to funding the 5% for all faculty. For many of us who raise our support through grants it is difficult to find non-Federal funds. While it would be wonderful to have 5% support to focus on service to the university or mentorship, that is often not supported financially."

"I am in the Clinical X series and I didn't know about this federal funding limit. I don't understand the impact of this on clinician-educators who cover their salaries through the clinical revenue that they generate."

"The 5% should definitely be maintained. Finding any source of funding in this day and age is hard enough, so having a bare minimum covered is critical to maintain."

"UCSF requires faculty to serve on committees and to teach so no one can work 100% on grants. So, I support the 95% grant support and not 100%."

"I think it should be eliminated and left up to each person/division. This is not a one size fits all situation. People should be compensated for what they do, be it 100% research, research + teaching or some other combination of activities. Those of us who spend 100% time conducting research should not have to chase additional funds to pay ourselves to do non-research work for the department, just to meet some arbitrary requirement. On the other hand, people who do teach, have non-research admin or other responsibilities should be compensated for those by the university."

"Maintain the requirement for 5% non-federal funding. As a University it is our duty as faculty to teach and provide service to the university and community. This should be supported in some minimal way."

"Please keep the 5% requirement. There are too many faculty entirely on "soft money" - whose salary is funded entirely from grants other than the 5% requirement. This means departments have no obligation to support their faculty at all if this were lifted. This is a profound problem, given that faculty are all required to do teaching and serbice and other university activities - and should be doing so!. 5% is already too low. Please maintain the 5% requirement for departmental support in place."

"Lifting the 5% requirement seems to give the most versatility to all faculty, which is especially important in this climate. To me, lifting the requirement does not send a message that teaching, service or other activities are de-valued - it only creates more optionality for faculty seeking to excel at their chosen path."

"It is very challenging for our small department to manage to piece together funding for the 5% of all our research faculty salaries that must be covered. Given that as predicted, we are being required to spend more and more each year for our (NOT better and better) centralized services, we very soon are going to reach a point where we simply cannot afford to have 100% research supported faculty any longer. This would be a loss to UCSF in multiple ways. So this would be a welcome move for our department. However, unlike many depts in the SOM, we have no capacity to generate clinical income and no deep pockets of reserves to support anyone. I think faculty need to be fairly treated. We don't require too much of our 100% grant supported faculty except being good faculty members and contributing a very modest amount of voluntary service to the dept in some form (their choice usually, although some do serve on committees). If there are significant required demands on their time above and beyond that then they should be paid for that."

"As an early-career faculty surviving in SF on the salary of NIH K-award, I vote to maintain the 5% requirement. Lifting does me no good as someone who needs to come up with the 5% myself, whereas senior faculty has the department of medicine to help with the 5%."

"This should be retained with the proviso that the Department/School/University provide that 5% in exchange for the services the faculty member provides. I am on of those fully supported by grants, virtually all Federal, and I would not be able to find non-Federal support (I have tried). My Department has picked up that 5% effort."

"I think we should keep the requirement. The University should be responsible for finding 5% support for other activities, since these are an inevitable part of faculty members' effort."

"Both sides have positive and negative effects. However have seen that when departments refuse to pay 5%, then faculty that could be fully funded by NIH are at risk of termination. As long as departments could be required to fund the 5% when faculty achieve 95% funding, then would be OK with keeping, since it helps those who want it for teaching. If unable to require departments to fund 5% then would support removal of the rule."

"UCSF should pay for for the 5% support for teaching/other administrative work. However, if UCSF will not provide that support, then the 5% rule should be lifted."

"The rule is not only for non-federal support, but includes all research. So the requirement is for 5% non-research funding. For research faculty, who are supported 100% on their research funds, the 95% rule is a burden. However, all faculty, including research faculty, are required to participate in the life of their department and university. If 5% non-research funding is required, then it should be paid by the Department. The current rule in the Controller's Office is that who pays the 5% non-research support is determined by the department. So the department can, and sometimes does, refuse to pay the 5%, and places the weight on the faculty member. If the university values its research faculty, then the department should be required to pay the 5% non-research funding. This permits faculty to participate in grantwriting and other activities that are not part of their current research funding. As a second choice, remove the 5% requirement, and place 100% self-funding requirement on the research faculty. This is an exploitative term of employment, but that is how it used to be."

"As an adjunct faculty member who has so far been able to maintain 100% support and who could self-support at 100% federal funding, I would favor giving faculty the option to self-support at 100% from federal funding. That said, it would be helpful if the university could take the funds saved and put them into a hardship fund for less fortunate faculty who could use the funding to remain funded during lean times. In other words, I do believe the university should display more salary commitment to its research faculty than it does at present, especially considering the current lean financial times and costs of living in the Bay Area. Thanks for your consideration of this suggestion."

"It should be eliminated. I do not see that it serves any value and adds admin costs."

"I think the 5% is appropriate to cover the various service and non-funded committments. If we require 100% coverage, it is possible that the adjunct/in-residence faculty become treated as 2nd class citizens since their sponsored research activities don't cover some of the commitments that apply regular (FTE) faculty. Moreover, a 100% approach will leave it up to departmental leadership, and there might be inequities how this will be applied across the campus."

"Get rid of the 5% mandated from non-Federal sources."

"My department does not offer any support to cover the 5% not covered by federal funds it is a challange for research-oriented faculty to find a souce to cover these 5% because teaching, service and even clinical activities at some extent are mostly on a volunteer basis in my department"

"I think it would be best to eliminate the requirement for at least 5% non-Federal salary support. It is very difficult for me to find such non-Federal money to cover this amount."

"I think faculty should be given a choice, particularly if it means that salaries can be supported by Federal funds. It provides an advantage to Dept budgets."

"We should maintain the requirement so that the University is compelled to support all faculty; especially given that all faculty are asked to perform non-grant related activities everyday (particularly administrative functions that used to be paid for by the University)."

"I think it should be maintained. All faculty have at least some non-grant related activity, and this should be accounted for."

"I believe that the 5% non federal salalrysupport is important and should be maintained and should come form the university."

"As long as there's tacit agreement from the federal government that faculty members who received 100% federal support are still required to participate in university activities (teaching, mentoring, service) as part of their jobs, I'm OK with eliminating the 5% set aside."

"Maintain the 5% requirement."

"I am in-residence faculty on 'soft' money. My department pays only 5% of my salary and my hunch is that this is done because of the 5% mandate. I have always felt that paying a lab head 5% of their salary and expecting them to raise the other 95% (plus of course the salaries of their whole lab, supplies, overhead, etc) was an exploitative and arguably unethical practice. To lose that last 5% of salary support would be the final indignity."

"Any faculty member who teaches needs to be paid for teaching from an appropriate source, ie not a research grant. Since all but some adjunct faculty must have formal teaching roles to advance, there must be some non-grant funding available to them. Since service is required of most faculty the same argument applies to them. Thus 5% seems low for such commitment. i support 10-20% non-grant funding for all faculty."

"eliminate the requirement."

"I think it should be higher - 10-15%! There is no way that only 5% would cover the amount of time required to do non-research related work at the institution. This will just create even more stress in the faculty asking them to cover all their salary all the time. Faculty need support, not more pressure."

"Strongly support eliminating the requirement, particularly for young faculty"

"Eliminate it. The example in your email describing how it could pose problems for those with insufficient support for current teaching/clinical/service activities IS REAL, but retaining the 5% 'mandate' is only a workaround solution to address the problem - we should tackle it directly instead."

"California and the UC should do all that it can to provide direct compensation for faculty time spent on teaching and other university service. However, this accounting change to eliminate the requirement for 5% non-federal support will benefit faculty. I am in favor."

"University's commitment to faculty that are teaching and doing service for the university has to be much more than 5%. University should increase the percentage of salary support provided."

"I think the requirement should be eliminated. It is hard enough to find sufficient funding, the 5% non-federal requirement just puts an extra burden on In-Residence Faculty who don't have any hard salary support through UCSF."

"Most faculty I know spend considerably more time and effort than 5% on activities such as teaching, service, and writing grant applications. They are doing this on paid research time. Eliminating the paltry 5% would be unfair to the research endeavor and force the faculty to direct even more time away from what they are being paid to do. Eliminating it would thereby shortchange the research funding agencies (the US taxpayers in most cases). If part of the faculty's responsibility is teaching and service, you can't ask the research funding agencies to pay for it. The University has to contribute, and it would not be inconsistent with their teaching mission, would it? So, if anything, the non-Federal salary support should be increased, not eliminated!"

"I think we should maintain at least 5% for non-grant related activities for the following reasons: 1) Auditing: If I am being asked to teach and perform service as a necessary element of my title series, the question becomes: Am I lying to funders about how I'm spending my time when I report the 'truth' reflected by the effort reporting system? In the current state it is already bordering on untrue, but can be justified given that there is 5% institutional support. 2) Recruiting and retaining talent: The 5% is already a laughably low for academic faculty when you compare UCSF against competing Universities. Given the recent low-morale issues associated with (office) space, diminishing benefits, the unabated rise of red-tape, why would people stay at UCSF once this last shred of institutional commitment to faculty is removed? I know I, for one, am constantly head-hunted by other universities and I suspect that the same is true for many UCSF faculty. 3) Community: If the goal is for UCSF to have a scholarly community, it would seem that you need to have core support for faculty to give them a reason to interact with each-other. Otherwise UCSF is simply a loose federation of independent consultants struggling to survive, with no reason (or time) to interact. If that is the model that UCSF is striving for then, sure--do away with 5%. But then understand that you have now built a shark pit, not a community and do not expect the faculty to provide any service."

"Maintain the requirement for at least 5% non-Federal salary support"

"The 5% requirement should be eliminated to provide faculty the flexibility they need to run a lab or other academic activities in the complex restriction-filled environment of UCSF."

"Should be eliminated."

"This ruling was enacted when I was on the faculty at Stanford. Stanford was required to chip in that 5%, and I saved 5% on my grants for the work that NIH funded me to do. I believe that was the intent to the federal ruling. I sometimes wonder if I am breaking the (NIH) law by teaching and doing university service on their dollar. Furthermore, these activities are required in my faculty series (In-Residence)."

"I think that UCSF should provide approximately 20% salary support to academic series faculty. The expectation of 100% salary support from grants is unrealistic and puts undo pressure on faculty."

"I would greatly prefer eliminating this 5% requirement. The University does not provide faculty with these extra funds anyway, so this rule just makes it harder for those of us engaged in research to support our salaries."

"Keep the 5% rule at UCSF."

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