U.Va. Faculty Senate Weighs Access to Scholarly Articles

September 28, 2009

September 28, 2009 — The University of Virginia Faculty Senate discussed how to make scholarly articles more accessible when it met Wednesday in the Rotunda Dome Room.

Edmund Kitch, a law professor, and Brian Pusser, a professor at the Curry School of Education and chairman of the senate's Task Force on Scholarly Publication and Authors' Rights, presented a draft resolution on open access to scholarship with the intention that senators vote on it at their November meeting.

Under the proposed resolution, U.Va. faculty members would assign to the rector and Board of Visitors "a nonexclusive, irrevocable, non-commercial global license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of her or his scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, provided the articles are not sold for profit."

The policy would apply to all scholarly articles written by faculty members while at U.Va., except pieces that were written before the policy is adopted and remain under "incompatible" licensing agreements. All other articles would be turned over to the provost's office in electronic form and made generally available no sooner than 12 months after their journal publication.

"Scholarship is done for the benefit of mankind and it should be accessible to everyone," Kitch said.

There are many avenues for disseminating scholarly work, particularly with the Internet, he said. Authors should be aware of their rights, which they often sign away to the publisher. Because of this, he said, many authors have no right to post their material on the Internet.

Authors should be aware of the rights they have to their works, he said, and should specify, as an example, that they want the rights to revert to them when the material goes out of print.

"Raise questions with your publisher," he said.

Madelyn Wessel, special adviser to the University librarian and a member of the task force, said the current resolution is based on a similar policy at Harvard University.

She said there is great potential to put scholarly work on the Internet and also urged faculty authors to negotiate with their publishers.

One faculty member connected with a scholarly journal cautioned the senate about harming some scholarly journals that make their money through Internet downloads of their articles.

Wessel said the proposed resolution should not harm the journals. "There is a period of time in here when a journal can publish the article," she said.

Wessel urged the senators to share the resolution with their constituents before the November vote. If the resolution passes, it would be sent to the provost's office to work out the details of implementation.

In other business before the senate:

President John T. Casteen III updated the senate on the AccessUVa financial aid program and the state budget.

The need for student aid has increased because of the current economy. The University is facing state funding cuts and rising costs at a time when more students are experiencing greater need due to the recession.

"About one-third of the students are eligible for some level of Access funding," he said.

On the state budget, he said Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has cut more state funding to the University, but is providing some federal stimulus money to soften the impact. He expressed concern about what will happen when the stimulus money runs out.

Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, outlined Kaine's plan for a furlough on May 28, with state workers forfeiting a day's pay. Sandridge said there are many unanswered questions about it, including its impact on research grants, classes and operations such as the Medical Center, which operates 24 hours a day.

"You need to be patient," he said. "The governor set the date so late in the fiscal year because things may change. There are good reasons to believe the legislators may not agree with it, so the furlough is not a done deal."

The University has avoided layoffs by not filling vacancies and spreading work around. Sandridge noted that some departments cannot meet their budget targets without trimming their workforce, and their workers are being shifted within the University.

• The Campaign for the University of Virginia has reached $2 billion, two-thirds of its goal, Casteen reported. He added that it is the only major higher-education capital campaign that is still on track and that he has "not encountered resistance" to giving.

Executive Vice President and Provost Arthur Garson Jr. introduced Harry Harding, the new dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Harding said Garrett Hall is being renovated for the school, putting it at the center of the University. He said leadership is taught in many programs and the new school would draw from these sources as well as contribute to them.

Harding also said he will work with schools on joint appointments and that the school will have a distinctive core curriculum, a strong leadership component and focus on the challenges of public policy.

• Senate chair Ann Hamric, a nursing professor, updated the senators on the work of the Special Committee on the Nomination of a President, of which she is a member. She said that the committee, which comprises Board of Visitors members, alumni, faculty and students, is trying to balance a commitment to transparency with a need for confidentiality. She urged senators to contribute to the process.

"Faculty input has been substantial through the work of the Faculty Consultation Group," she said. "Your thoughts are valued."

The report from the consultation group is on the senate's Web site, and Hamric said faculty can continue to contribute ideas and comments there or via e-mail to presidentsearch@virginia.edu.

Following the meeting, a reception was held for Frances Peyton, longtime secretary for the senate, who recently retired.