AU REPORT |
Family Fun Day scheduled
Rane joins AU Board
Program targets community youths
For Auburn ROTC units, a sure sign of spring is the annual President's Day parade, when the Army, Air Force and Navy/Marine units march in review for the AU president and other dignitaries. This year's parade on May 13 was one of the last major activities of the units leading up to the June 11 commissioning ceremony.
Budget request includes proposal for pay raises
A 2 percent across-the-board salary/wage increase and a 3 percent pool for merit and equity increases are part of salary guidelines the administration is scheduled to propose to the AU Board of Trustees on June 7.
The trustees will meet at 9 a.m. at the AU Conference Center.
If approved by the board, the guidelines will form the framework for planning the university's budget for the 1999-2000 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. The proposed guidelines are based on recommendations from the Budget Advisory Committee, an 18-member panel of faculty, staff, administrative and student representatives.
The amount of the AU budget, including pay raises, will depend in part on the Alabama Legislature increasing state funding to Auburn by approximately 5.7 percent as recommended by Gov. Don Siegelman as part of his education budget. The state education budget is on schedule for passage by the end of the legislative session on June 9.
The administration's proposed budget guidelines would allocate 2 percent salary or wage increases for all faculty and staff. Funding is also recommended for a 3 percent increase in the salary and wage base for merit and equity raises.
The university's budget guidelines closely follow planning priorities approved in January by the Board of Trustees. The priorities are based on recommendations of the 21st Century Commission and a board-created review committee in 1998.
Highest budget priorities for new revenues were designated as salaries/wages and benefits, along with reducing deferred maintenance. In addition, departmental budgets are to receive increases, and 5 percent of internal funding reallocations is slated to bolster academic areas identified as areas capable of competing for greater national prominence over the next five years. The expected state appropriation would add almost $7 million to Auburn's main campus budget. The increase in state funding is resulting in a smaller tuition increase request than in recent years.
The Board of Trustees will be asked to approve a tuition increase of 4.3 percent, $40 per quarter for in-state students which would be the smallest percentage increase requested in eight years.
In another proposal related to student fees, the administration is scheduled to take to the board a Student Government Association request for fee increases to pay for a new union building.
If approved, student fees would go up $5 per quarter starting next fall and
each year would increase $7.50 per semester following the conversion.
Fee increases would eventually drop to $5 per semester every five years.
The SGA-requested increase follows a referendum in which 78 percent of the student voters supported construction of a building to replace Foy. If approved, the fee increase would support a bond issue for a building costing from $20 million to $30 million.
The Alabama Senate confirmed Gov. Don Siegelman's appointment of James
W. Rane of Abbeville to the AU Board of Trustees on May 20.
Rane, president and CEO of
Great Southern Wood Preserving, Inc., is widely
known in the Southeast for the "Think Yellow" theme of the company's
humorous television commercials.
Rane, who was appointed to the seat formerly held by John Denson of
Opelika, is the fourth person appointed to the AU board in recent weeks.
Byron Franklin of Hoover was named to the board, and Jimmy
Samford of Opelika and Bobby Lowder of Montgomery were reappointed by
the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
The governor has two remaining positions to fill. Those seats have been
held by Bessie Mae Holloway of Prichard and James Tatum of Huntsville.
Since the early 1970s, Rane has built Great Southern Wood from a single
facility in Abbeville to include plants in Mobile and Muscle Shoals in
Alabama; Conyers, Ga.; and Sumter County, Fla. Great Southern Wood has
been ranked by Building Products Digest as the third largest manufacturer
of pressure-treated lumber in the world.
Rane has made the company's chief product, the "Osmose" line of pressure
treated lumber, a prominent name in the region through humorous
television ads involving himself and football coaches at SEC and ACC
institutions in the Southeast.
Seen frequently with Auburn coaches on the commercials, Rane also
participates in activities of AU's College of Business, where he has been a
visiting executive-in-residence and serves on the Business Advisory
State Senate confirms Rane's appointment to AU Board
Rane is a 1968 graduate in business administration from Auburn and holds a degree from Cumberland Law School of Samford University. He has also successfully completed the owner/management program of the Harvard Business School.
Spirit of Excellence
Spirit of Excellence awards are presented monthly by the university to AU staff and administrative/professional employees who have excelled in their positions. Recipients for April were, from left, Larry Smith of Facilities, Sonja Payne of Telecommunications, Carl Ross of Foy Union and Robert Byrd of Telecommunications.
The Alabama Senate confirmed Gov. Don Siegelman's appointment of James W. Rane of Abbeville to the AU Board of Trustees on May 20.
Rane, president and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving, Inc., is widely known in the Southeast for the "Think Yellow" theme of the company's humorous television commercials.
Rane, who was appointed to the seat formerly held by John Denson of Opelika, is the fourth person appointed to the AU board in recent weeks. Earlier, Byron Franklin of Hoover was named to the board, and Jimmy Samford of Opelika and Bobby Lowder of Montgomery were reappointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
The governor has two remaining positions to fill. Those seats have been
held by Bessie Mae Holloway of Prichard and James Tatum of Huntsville.
Since the early 1970s, Rane has built Great Southern Wood from a single facility in Abbeville to include plants in Mobile and Muscle Shoals in Alabama; Conyers, Ga.; and Sumter County, Fla. Great Southern Wood has been ranked by Building Products Digest as the third largest manufacturer of pressure-treated lumber in the world.
Rane has made the company's chief product, the "Osmose" line of pressure treated lumber, a prominent name in the region through humorous television ads involving himself and football coaches at SEC and ACC institutions in the Southeast.
Seen frequently with Auburn coaches on the commercials, Rane also participates in activities of AU's College of Business, where he has been a visiting executive-in-residence and serves on the Business Advisory Council.
Family Fun Day set for June 3
AU employees and their families are invited to join in an afternoon of fun and entertainment at the university's third annual Family Fun Day on Thursday, June 3. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., adults and children alike can win prizes, play games, listen to music and participate in other activities.
The activities will be along Biggio Drive south of Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. Biggio Drive will be closed to traffic for the event.
"Family Fun Day has proven an effective way for us to bring the University employees and their families together for an afternoon of fun, food and fellowship," said Albert Snipes, manager of employee relations for AU's Department of Human Resources and chairman of the Fun Day organizing committee.
"It's an opportunity for employees to get to know each other in a casual setting and have a little fun in the process. "We hope all Auburn employees will attend and bring their families this year."
Snipes said every AU employee should soon receive a card, which includes more information about the event and a mailing label required to claim door prizes. Snipes urges all AU offices to make sure the cards are distributed to the employees and remind the employees to bring their cards to the event.
Approximately 4,000 people attended Family Fun Day in each of its first two years, Snipes said. "We've had a good time the last two years," Snipes said. "It takes a lot of effort to plan this thing, but it's been worth the effort."
College-experience program reaches out to community
The Auburn Athletic Department is creating a new summer camp that will seek to put economically disadvantaged 10- to 16-year-olds from Auburn, Opelika and Loachapoka on a path toward college.
Unlike traditional summer camps that focus on either athletic or academic interests, the Youth Sports Program will give up to 200 local youths a mix of those experiences and more.
The university is working with schools in the two cities and Loachapoka to reach youths from economically disadvantaged families with the message that they can and should attend college, says Virgil Starks, associate athletic director for student support services.
In addition to team-building sports activities and exposure to higher education, the local teens and pre-teens will learn how to develop life skills necessary to move through the education system, said Starks.
"These are bright youngsters who may have been brought up to believe that college is not in their future," he said. "This program is an attempt to change their thinking about college. We want to show them the opportunities that are available and help them start preparing for those opportunities."
Youths chosen for the program will attend half-day sessions five days per week from July 1-Aug. 6. The sessions will be a mixture of basic skills and teamwork training in various sports and instruction in career planning and personal development.
Participants will learn about health, nutrition, self-esteem and related subjects they will need for success in life as well as in college, said Stacy Danley, assistant athletic director for external affairs, who is organizing the program with Starks.
The youths will also learn about how they can fit into academic programs at Auburn and how those programs can prepare them for various careers, said Danley.
Also, he added, they will learn about student services and programs to help students succeed academically.
"Many of these kids probably have never set foot on campus, yet they have lived in the Auburn area all their lives," said Danley. "They have potential that is going unrealized. We want to teach them to aspire toward college while they are young enough to do something about it. Whether they choose Auburn or another college, we want them to develop the skills, confidence and work habits to go for higher education."
Starks said the experience is designed to make college seem real for the youngsters and not just something for others.
The program is funded with a $47,000 grant from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Starks credited AU President William Muse, Athletic Director David Housel and James C. Brown, former executive director for minority advancement, with gaining Auburn's entry into the National Youth Sports Program.
For additional information about AU's Youth Sports Program, contact Starks or Danley at 844-4750.
AU presents award to Project Uplift leader
Auburn has presented its highest service award for humanitarian leadership to Tom Westmoreland, founder and currently support services coordinator for Project Uplift.
The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award has been presented annually to two students and another individual at Auburn since 1951, when it was established at a handful of Southern universities by the New York Southern Society -- since renamed the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation -- as a "permanent reminder of the noblest human qualities." The award was named for the society's first president, a prominent humanitarian of his day.
Westmoreland, founder of Project Uplift in Lee County, is Auburn University's 1999 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner in the nonstudent category.
Westmoreland served as coordinator for Project Uplift from its inception until last year, when he decided to step down. He currently serves as support services coordinator, helping to screen patients and volunteers.
Established in 1973, Project Uplift's main goal is to help children develop
constructive, happy lives so that the delinquency rate in our county will
decrease. Since its opening, nearly 4,000 volunteers and children have
participated in the program and it currently serves about 600 children.
Project Uplift is governed by the Lee County Youth Development Center's board of directors. Major support comes from a local ad valorem tax, the cities of Opelika and Auburn, the Lee County United Way and contributions.
AU's Department of Psychology provides in-kind services and office space to the volunteer program through the Psychological Services Center.
Other Sullivan awards were given this year to two female AU students and one male student. They are: Sara Hazlett, a junior microbiology major from Birmingham; Brandi Bell, a senior communications major from Columbus, Ga.; and Orville Cave, a materials engineering major and Naval ROTC student from Little Rock, Ark.
Algernon Sydney Sullivan was a prominent New York lawyer in the 1800s and the first president of that city's Southern Society. After his death in 1887, the Society sought to honor him and, in 1925, the first Sullivan awards were presented at Peabody College in Nashville. After the New York Southern Society closed its doors, the awards were continued by the Sullivan Foundation and grew to include more and more institutions throughout the South. Auburn has been recognizing Sullivan Award winners since 1951.
Maya Angelou to speak at Auburn
Maya Angelou, hailed by literary critics as one of the great voices of contemporary literature, will speak at Auburn University on Wednesday, May 26.
The poet, historian, author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director will speak at 7 p.m. at the Student Activities Center auditorium. Angelou's lecture is sponsored by the University Program Council.
Doors for the free, public event will open at 6:30 p.m. for AU students with student identification and 6:45 p.m. for the public.
The Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University since 1981, Angelou has published 11 best-selling books and numerous poems, feature essays, plays, screenplays, magazine articles and a children's book, earning her Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominations. Her latest book is Even The Stars Look Lonesome.
Much of Angelou's writing stresses the themes of courage, perseverance, self acceptance and realization of a person's full potential. Her best-selling autobiographical account of her youth, I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings, won critical acclaim in 1970 and was a two-hour TV special on CBS.
Her career includes such highlights as being only the second poet in the U.S. to have the honor of writing and reciting original work at a presidential inauguration. She recited from "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Clinton in 1993.
Last year, Angelou made her directorial debut with the motion picture
"Down in the Delta" by Miramax Films. She has written and produced
several prize-winning documentaries, including "Afro-Americans in the
Arts," a PBS special for which she received the Golden Eagle Award. She
was also nominated for an Emmy Award for her acting in "Roots," and for
her screenplay "Georgia, Georgia," the first by a black woman to be filmed.
In theatre, she produced, directed and starred in "Cabaret for Freedom" in collaboration with Godfrey Cambridge at New York's Village Gate; starred in Genet's "The Blacks at St Mark's Playhouse"; and adapted "Sophocles Ajax," which premiered in Los Angeles in 1974.
AU Singers to present annual spring show
The University Singers will present their annual spring show May 30-June 1 at Telfair Peet Theatre. On Sunday, May 30, the singers will perform at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. The May 31 and June 1 shows will be held at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for the Spring Show are $7 and can be reserved by calling 844 4194, or can be purchased at 113 Goodwin Hall.
The 32-member show choir and 10 instrumentalists are under the direction of Thomas R. Smith, professor of music and director of choral activities at AU. This year's show will feature a variety of choral entertainment for all ages. From the music of Broadway to the sounds of the 1920s, the show is complete with staging and choreography.
Authors to discuss efforts to rescue Jews from Hitler
Two authors of a book on non-Jews who aided Holocaust victims will give a public talk on the "Rescue of Jews During the Holocaust" on Wednesday, May 26, at 7:30 p.m., in the Beth Shalom Temple, 134 Cary Drive in Auburn.
In their presentation, Gay Block and Malka Drucker will describe the rescues, define the rescuer and address the phenomenon of altruistic behavior.
The public presentation is part of a two-day appearance in which Block and Drucker also will speak to history students at Auburn University on May 26-27.
The two authors interviewed -- and Block photographed -- more than 100 rescuers, non-Jews who saved the lives of Jews in Europe in the late 1930s and '40s, during Adolf Hitler's extermination campaign. Those interviews led to the authors' landmark work, Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust, which has become a book and a traveling exhibit.
The exhibit has been seen in more than 30 sites in the U.S. and abroad, including the Museum of Modern Art in 1992.
Block and Drucker will give their presentation to Associate Professor Michael Melancon's world history class on Wednesday, May 26, at 3 p.m. in 2370 Haley Center. They will talk to Assistant Professor Stephane Gerson's honors history class on Thursday, May 27, at 9 a.m. in 3106 Haley Center.
Head of the class
AU Police Officer Howard Cobb recently finished at the top of his class in the state police academy. Cobb had the highest composite score for the 12-week program at the Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center at Selma. The rigorous academy training is a requirement for all new police officers in Alabama.
Computer thefts prompt warning from AU Police
AU Police are advising faculty, staff and students to secure their electronic equipment in the wake of recent thefts on campus.
Multimedia equipment valued at $20,000 was reported stolen from classrooms in Lowder Business Building on May 5. Missing were projectors and VCR's, and security personnel found a projector on the floor after spotting someone leaving the building shortly before the burglary was discovered.
A few days earlier, a projector valued at $4,500 was stolen from another room in the Lowder Building.
Those thefts followed an attempted burglary on April 18, when a
professor frightened off someone trying to steal a laptop computer and
projector from Tichenor Hall, according to campus police.
AUPD Detective Tara McCallum said all three incidents point to the need for faculty and staff to lock up their computers and other electronic equipment when leaving an area unattended.
"Rooms need to be secured, including classrooms that have electronic equipment in them," she said. "The theft problem is serious and the potential is even greater."
While classrooms containing electronic equipment present the most obvious temptation to thieves, offices left unattended are also vulnerable, she said. While the latest theft happened at night, McCallum said thieves will strike during the day if an opportunity presents itself.
The AUPD is
asking that anyone with any information on these thefts to
call the police department or contact the department over the Internet.
The AUPD maintains a Silent Witness page on the World Wide Web. This program, which is encrypted to protect the anonymity of users, enables anyone to report a crime or suspicious activity on campus without fear of the user's identity being discovered.
Research discovery improves airbag safety, performance
An Auburn researcher has been granted a patent for developing a microchip that will improve automobile airbag safety and performance, while reducing the space needed to house the device. The component, designed by Associate Professor Thomas Baginski of the Department of Electrical Engineering, can replace the electrical circuitry currently used in automobiles to activate an airbag upon impact.
"This electro-explosive device will be used in future automobiles to save space within the wiring panels," Baginski said. "The device tells the airbag when to open, but other circuitry, coding, decoding, vehicle safety checks -- and many other features -- can also be designed into this microchip."
In the past, this kind of added intelligence would have required a complex wiring system, he said. But the new microchip simplifies manufacturing because the added features can be programmed into the chip once it has been installed in the vehicle.
The new microchip is not only more convenient for manufacturers, it also is safer.
Engineers taking lead role in satellite research
Auburn engineering researchers have a lead role in a project that could improve global communication technology by extending the life of satellites.
Yasser Gowayed, an associate professor in the Department of Textile Engineering, heads AU's participation in the NASA project to develop a new energy source for satellites.
"The problem starts with energy," said Gowayed. "Currently, satellites are
run from batteries that extract solar energy from the sun."
These batteries power the satellite during periods out of the sunlight, and then absorb solar energy to recharge themselves during the light periods. While the battery is recharging, the satellite is being run by solar energy.
"The problem with these batteries is that their life extends only five to seven years, and they are expensive and heavy," Gowayed said.
Gowayed leads a research group that has developed a new energy source based on the idea of flywheels. This application as an energy source may someday replace the battery in NASA's satellites.
The flywheels serve as solar-powered generators. Solar power rotates the
flywheels at high speeds to create kinetic energy that is transformed into
electrical energy to run the satellites, Gowayed said. As the flywheels'
kinetic energy is used by the satellite, the rotation slows. However, once
the flywheels recharge, their rotation speeds back up, which starts the
process all over again -- eliminating the need for batteries.
Other members of the research team include George Flowers, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; Faissal Hady, a visiting professor to Textile Engineering; and three graduate students.
From left, Tom Shumpert of the Electrical Engineering faculty assists engineering students Hillard Smithers and Kenneth Lee. Schumpert and the students are participating in the College of Engineering's Minority Engineering Program.
Grant aids minority tutoring program
Auburn's Minority Engineering Program has received a $90,000 grant from BellSouth Telecommunications.
"This grant has in large part been awarded to the Minority Engineering Program to continue our retention efforts," said Dennis Weatherby, who directs the program within the College of Engineering. Weatherby noted that the gift represents a continuation of corporate support for the program that began with grants from Texas Instruments and Exxon Corporation.
The program was initiated in 1996 to increase recruitment and enhance retention of minority engineering students, Weatherby explained. Grade point averages for the program's students are on par with those of white pre-engineering classmates, Weatherby said, with the former at 2.62 and the latter at 2.56.
"Funding of this kind is essential in offering our students the kind of support that is generally unavailable at the university level due to cumulative years of lean budgets," said Larry Benefield, interim dean of engineering.
The MEP program relies on a comprehensive mentoring program and a structured learning environment outside of the classroom to assist minority freshmen students in making a successful transition to the Auburn Engineering culture, Weatherby noted. "This funding will, in part, help continue the mentoring and tutoring program over the next three years. In addition to the BellSouth grant, the program has also received funding from the Amoco Foundation and Thermal Components Co. of Montgomery for the current academic year."
Mentor program gets backing of provost
Provost William Walker has stated his support of funding for the mentor
program of the Office of Minority Advancement in the 1999-2000 budget.
Supporters of the mentoring program previously had publicly expressed concerns that the program would be cut in next year's budget, but Walker said he is, instead, recommending additional funds with which the Office of Minority Advancement will be able to continue the program.
Johnny Green, interim director of the Office of Minority Advancement, said the assurance enables the office to recruit and train mentors for fall quarter. The mentors will help African-American students become acclimated to the campus and assist as needed with development of academic skills and involvement in campus activities.
The mentoring program is part of the university's effort to improve retention of minority students by helping the students have a smoother transition to campus life.
Boyd takes AU fisheries expertise around the world
Claude Boyd's distinctly Southern accent is straight out of rural northern Mississippi. His demeanor and dress intimate an agrarian background. And his travel schedule ... Well, that's another story entirely.
The AU professor of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture has recently been to Brazil and Mexico. His calendar is dotted with frequent forays to places like Thailand, Ecuador and Tanzania. He apologizes for interrupting an interview to take a call from Luxembourg.
Claude Boyd is no Austin Powers. Internationally known, yes. But his mission is no mystery. He's helping fish and shrimp farmers feed the world.
Primarily, Boyd works with groups ranging from catfish producers in Alabama and Mississippi to shrimp farmers in Malaysia to help ensure that aquaculture operations protect the environment and, as a result, preserve their own viability.
"Aquaculture is in a position to play a big role in feeding the growing population in the future," Boyd said. "The harvest of the capture fisheries (oceans, rivers and lakes) has really leveled off recently, but with aquaculture, total harvests have continued to increase. We're going to need that additional food that aquaculture provides with the continuing population growth.
"I work mainly with water quality, advising these groups on what they can do to protect against adverse impacts."
Boyd's work and word are so respected that he serves as chair of the technical committee of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, a nonpolitical organization with worldwide membership whose mission is "to further environmentally responsible aquaculture to meet world food needs" and provide "technical information and standards of good practice for the aquaculture industry."
AU awards research grants to undergraduates
The AU Undergraduate Research Fellowship program has announced five year-round research fellows and two summer fellows along with their respective mentors.
The three-year pilot program matches qualified undergraduate students with faculty mentors and provides them with hands-on research experience
Valarie Bennett of Auburn; Jennifer Bisnette of Longview, Texas; Steven Gray of Thomasville, Ala.; Julie Nash of Tampa, Fla; and Ivy Samuels of Coral Springs, Fla. are participants in the year-round program. David Binet of Daphne, Ala.; and Cryhelle Schouest of Houma, La., and are the summer research fellows.
Bennett, a senior in geology, is researching new ways to clean up ground water. She is mentored by James Saunders, a professor in the Department of Geology.
Bisnette, a junior in zoology and pre-med, is being mentored by Robert
Locy, director of AU's Department of Botany and Microbiology.
Gray, a senior majoring in molecular biology, is mentored by Bruce Smith, an assistant professor at the Scott-Ritchey Research Center.
Nash, a junior in molecular biology, is mentored by Cynthia Morton, an assistant professor in the Botany and Microbiology.
Samuels, a sophomore majoring in molecular biology, is mentored by Marie Wooten, an associate professor in the Department of Zoology and Wildlife Sciences and coordinator of the program.
Early childhood program set for this summer
The College of Education's Department of Curriculum and Teaching will offer an Early Childhood Summer Enrichment Program this summer for children aged 4-8.
The six-week program will run from July 6-Aug. 12, from 8 a.m.-noon, Monday-Thursday of each week, in Haley Center. The fee is $20 per week, per child. For registration information, contact Ashley W. Harvard at 844-6747.
Smith elected to regional post
Melvin K. Smith, Program Advisor II with Career Development Services, has been elected director of colleges of the Southeastern Association for Employment in Education (SAEE).
As director of colleges, Smith serves as Legislative Committee co chairperson along with Kathleen Turner of Broward County Schools, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Smith is also chairperson of the Exhibitor and Sponsor Committee for the 15th anniversary conference in Atlanta, Ga., set for January.
Smith continues to serve on the "Connect to the Alabama Circuit" committee, a group of 23 Alabama colleges and universities professionals that plan and host Graduate and Professional School Week. He previously chaired this committee for three consecutive years and was one of the founders of the group.
Vinson receives national recognition for work with band
Johnnie Vinson, professor of music and director of Bands at AU, was recently presented the Citation of Excellence certificate by the National Band Association.
Vinson, past president of the Alabama Music Educators Association, was given the award during the recent Alabama All-State Band Festival held on the AU campus.
The award is designed to recognize people who have, through years of dedicated service, made a positive mark on the lives of those involved in music education.
Program seeks nominations of professors
Do You Know an A+ Professor? Nominate him or her for the 1999 U.S. Professors of the Year program before the June 11 deadline.
Directed by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and presented by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the program awards outstanding professors' contributions to teaching and learning. National winners, named in each Carnegie classification category, receive $5,000 and a paid trip to Washington, D.C. in October to attend the awards presentation at the USA Today headquarters. Winners are also selected in each state and the District of Columbia. Those winners receive a certificate and media recognition.
For information contact CASE's Malia Brown at (202) 478-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive information by fax, call (800) 341-2594 and request document 740 at the prompt.
BC/BS representative visits scheduled
AU's Blue Cross/Blue Shield representative will be on campus on June 15, July 13 and Aug. 10 from 10 a.m.-noon in the Payroll and Benefits Office at Ingram 212 to answer questions from AU faculty and staff about health insurance coverage and other Blue Cross/Blue Shield benefits. In a departure from recent practice, the June visit is on the third Tuesday of the month rather than the second. No appointment is necessary.
Library schedules diversity activity
The AU Libraries Diversity Committee will host a program by Debra Armstrong-Wright, Executive Director of the Affirmative Action -- Equal Employment Opportunity Office, at 3:30-5 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, in the auditorium of Draughon Library.
Recycling schedule posted
The AU Recycling Trailer will be at the following locations in coming weeks: Business Building, through May 28; Veterinary Medicine, May 31-June 4; Agricultural Engineering, June 7-11; and Haley Center Concourse, June 14-18.
Women's Hall seeks nominations
The Alabama Women's Hall of Honor is seeking nominations for women to be inducted in this year's ceremony. The Hall of Honor is located at Judson College and recognizes the contributions of outstanding women leaders to the state. To obtain nomination forms, go to the organization's web site
Auburn GLBC schedules
The Auburn Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Caucus, a faculty/staff organization working to make the AU campus a better place for GLBC employees and students, will meet at 5 p.m. on June 4, June 25, July 30, and Aug. 20 in Haley 2011. Meetings are open to anyone committed to the goals of the organization. For more information, contact Becky Liddle at email@example.com or at 826-3073.
Test scanning for final exams
AU's computer scanning service at Tichenor 120 will be available during spring quarter finals to assist faculty in grading final exams. The service will be available from 7:45-11:45 a.m. and 12:45-4:45 p.m. Friday, June 4, and Monday-Wednesday, June 7-9, and on Saturday, June 5, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For further information, contact Bruce Holt at 844-9904.
The AU Patent Policy: An Unimplemented Dinosaur
By David Bransby, Alumni Professor, Department of Agronomy and Soils
In March this year our patent policy had its 25th birthday. Yes, it's a whole quarter of a century old! However, the sad thing is that during this time, except for a single technical amendment, the policy has not been revised or updated in any way. So, in essence, we have a policy that is 25 years out of date. Furthermore, it contains vague, contradictory language and has not been properly implemented in either a general or specific context.
I mentioned this to a colleague recently, and she could not believe it,
"...because it is in the Faculty Handbook that is posted on the web, and
updated regularly." The fact is that only a summary of the policy is in the
Handbook. The full policy is posted elsewhere on the web and states
explicitly that it was approved the 15th day of March, 1974 by then AU
President Harry M. Philpott.
Actually, it is clear that the original document was typed with an antiquated typewriter! Obviously, just posting it on the web does not update the policy: it is still 25 years old and hopelessly out of date. Furthermore, the version of the policy in the Handbook is so different from the full policy that it is difficult to recognize it as a summary, and it is dangerous to use it, even as a guide.
The importance of the patent process and a sound, properly implemented patent policy is reflected partly in the royalties that can be generated by effective comprehensive universities. According to a "Fact File" published by the Chronicle of Higher Education in February, 1997, in the previous fiscal year the University of California, Stanford and Columbia universities were way out in front with 57, 39 and 34 million dollars, respectively. Closer to home, patents at Florida State $9.8 million, the University of Florida, $5.6 million, and Clemson, $4.4 million. So how does AU stack up? Not very well -- $85,304. While I am sure we have improved since this time, obviously, that would not be hard to do.
For those who are not familiar with the patent process and our current status in this regard, it is likely that the following questions would come to mind. 1) Can a patent policy really become dated? 2) How should and does our university view patents? 3) In what ways could a policy not be implemented? In the rest of this article I will try to provide some answers.
All policies change with time, and especially with changes in administration. When these changes take place it is critically important to document them, otherwise the policy which the administration wishes to implement becomes incompatible with that which is written down. The result is administrative chaos and vulnerability from a legal standpoint. Unfortunately, this is where we seem to be at this time with our patent policy: the administration has changed several times over the last 25 years, but the documented patent policy has not. Apparently, this has led to the current administration trying to implement a policy that exists in the minds of some administrator(s), but which differs substantially from the written policy.
How do these policies differ? Because one of them is only in the minds of people, it is hard to really tell, so one is left guessing. Even the one that is documented is difficult to interpret. However, it is still abundantly clear from the language used in it that the general attitude of the administration at that time (1974) was to encourage faculty to patent, but to allow them every opportunity to gain personally from their patent. For example, the policy states that "...projects conducted by students and faculty or employees as a part of formal instruction or thesis projects are considered personal research and outside the scope of official duties and responsibilities and programming..." and unless the university has invested substantial in the work, the invention may be "...disposed of and handled by the inventors as they desire." this is in line with our current copyright policy which allows faculty to receive all royalties from books and other published works, even if university faciliti8es and time were used in their development. In contrast, current implementation of our patent policy seems to be more in line with the approach of private companies: maximize economic returns for the university.
As implied earlier, a university may take an academic view of patenting, in which faculty are encouraged to pursue patents and allowed maximum personal benefit from such patents, or it may take the approach of private industry, which is to maximize economic returns for the company or institution. Ideally, the choice of exactly what policy is developed should result from negotiation between the faculty and administration. Of course it is entirely reasonable to expect the university and employees to share in the proceeds from a patent according to the level of participation and investment of the parties. However, if a policy is developed along the lines of those typically used by private companies, then, at a minimum, it should involve the following: )a payment of competitive salaries to its employees, b) a signed and witnessed contract executed by faculty when they initiate employment, which commits them to compliance with the policy, and c) at the time of initial employment, training for all faculty on how to pursue, protect and commercialize patents. AU has not implemented any of these fundamental requirements, implying that the more liberal academic view is the one that prevails.
Another strong indication of our university's documented view of patenting is the location of the patent policy summary in the Faculty Handbook. It does not appear in chapter 3, Faculty Personnel Policies and Procedures, but rather, it is located in chapter 7, University Policies Related to Extramural Activity of Faculty, along with the private consulting and copyright policies. Again, the implication here is that developing patents, like private consulting and developing copyrighted material, is not considered to be a formal part of our duties, but instead it is an extramural activity which we are free to pursue as we wish. However, can one believe that this is really the view that is in the minds of our current administrators?
There are several ways in which our patent policy has not been implemented. First, the document states that "this policy shall be published in the Faculty Handbook....and the Tiger Cub..." The requirement for publication of the policy in the tiger Cub was presumably to facilitate accessability for graduate students, many of whom are entirely capable of developing patents. However, the policy has not been published in the tiger Cub for many years, and only a confusing summary appears in the Faculty Handbook. The document also states that "The policy shall be referenced in initial employment papers of faculty and other employees of Auburn University..." yet this requirement seems to have been totally ignored by our administration.
In another section of the policy it is stated that "This policy shall exist between Auburn University and all faculty, other employees and students of the University. This relation between the parties shall arise as a part of the employment contract between the University and its faculty and employees and shall constitute a condition of enrollment for all students and, prior to the use of any University facilities which might result in an invention or discovery, the individuals will execute a signed and witnessed agreement to this policy." This statement refers clearly to employment contracts. Yet, I have been told repeatedly that only the President and the football coach have employment contracts. Furthermore, on the very first page of our Faculty Handbook it states explicitly that "This handbook is not a contract." So what faculty employment contract is being referred to here?
Much more serious is the fact that I have not been able to identify a single employee (faculty or staff) or student that has signed the witnessed agreement referenced in this statement. Clearly, if almost any dispute were handled by a skillful lawyer, failure of our administration to implement this section of the policy could mean that the university has no right to any patent, regardless of the circumstances under which the patent was developed, or the amount of money invested in it. While most of us faculty, staff and students are honest and fair minded enough to not take advantage of this situation, failure to implement the policy properly could potentially lead to huge economic loss for our institution.
In summary, the patent policy is a critically important element of a
comprehensive university. Ours at AU is in a state of serious disarray and
mismanagement, and it is totally irresponsible to allow this to continue.
Unfortunately, this is not just an opinion, it is hard fact. Therefore, it is
time for those of us faculty who conduct research which relates to this
policy to take the lead, be responsible, and insist that the administration,
with our help, correct this unacceptable negligence, because such action
is in the best interest of our institution and the entire university
Cathy Kruse, office administrator, MBA Programs
This week's Unsung Hero is Cathy Kruse, office administrator with MBA Programs in the College of Business. She has been with that college for 12 years. She was asked:
What do you do in your current job? "Provide administrative support services and information to faculty and graduate students."
What is the most rewarding part of your job? "Working with and getting to know the students in our programs. Everyone in the office encourages the students to be a real part of the program and I really enjoy having them come by and keep me up to date about how they are doing."
What is the most challenging part of your job? "Finding time to get all the paperwork involved in running the MBA office completed."
If you were not doing this job, what would you most like to do?
"Several friends and I have always talked about having our own business
where we would perform numerous services for busy working people --
keeping the client's calendar, sending cards for different occasions,
shopping for gifts and groceries, planning menus, picking up and dropping
off children, walking/feeding pets. I've always thought that I would enjoy
doing something like that."
What makes Auburn special? "Auburn is special to me because everyone here has always been so good to me. The people I've worked with have all been friendly and helpful. I have made many good friends here."
What was your first impression of Auburn University? "My first impression of Auburn University came from my father. He worked here in Auburn although we lived in Valley. My dad was a huge Auburn football fan and as a young child I would sit and listen to AU football games with him. He would tell me stories of working in Auburn and meeting and talking with students and professors and how much he enjoyed the people here. We always brought our pets to the small animal clinic and I was always impressed with the help we received there."
How has that impression changed? "My first impression of AU was a good one and that hasn't changed. I've been able to confirm for myself that my Dad was correct about the people here being friendly and interesting."
What words best describe Auburn as a work environment, learning environment or just a place to be? "I did not enter the work force until 12 years ago after moving back to this area. My job here at the College of Business was my first job. I found the work environment to be wonderful. All the other secretaries here were very helpful and supportive. My son and daughter in-law both received their bachelor's degrees here and both had positive experiences with professors and other students, so I would say that the learning environment is good too."
What do you like to do when not at work? "I enjoy entertaining friends and cooking for them when I have the time. I love to read and I enjoy flower gardening."
What person or persons do you most admire and why? "My father.
He taught me to make the best of every situation and to look for the good
in every circumstance. He taught me most by example not lectures. He
enjoyed life and people and loved learning. He always made time for me
and my brothers and later in life for our children. He made everyone feel
special. He was constantly called on to help others and he always did so
cheerfully and promptly and never complained about not having the time
to help. He helped everyone he knew."
Editor: Roy Summerford. Contributing editors: Bob Lowry, Janet McCoy and David Granger. University Relations Executive Director: Pete Pepinsky. The AU Report is the faculty/staff newsletter of Auburn University and is published by the Office of University Relations at Auburn University. Direct correspondence to AU Report, 23 Samford Hall, Auburn University, Ala. 36849-5109. Telephone 334/844-9999.Electronic mail: firstname.lastname@example.org