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3.3.1.4 Research

The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses whether it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of the results in each of the following areas: Research, if appropriate to the mission of the institution.

Judgment of Compliance

PVAMU SACS Accreditation - Judgement Compliance

Narrative of Compliance

With the establishment of Prairie View as a branch of the agricultural experiment station through the Hatch Act of 1887 and as a land-grant college through the Morrill Act of 1890 as noted in Core Requirement 2.6, the institution was expected to conduct both basic and applied research. As a land grant institution, the University's mission statement specifically includes a research component: the University "is dedicated to excellence in teaching, research, and service…The University's research foci include extending knowledge in all disciplines offered and incorporating research-based experiences in both undergraduate and graduate students' academic development" [1]. The Mission, the Institutional Vision [2] and Core Values Statements [3] reflect the University's commitment to research. Included in the core value of Relevance, is a statement which indicates that the University "will extend the products of its research and service to address concerns and solve problems such as violence, abuse and misuse; drug and alcohol abuse; mental, physical, and psychological neglect; environmental injustice; and other forms of social dissonance that compromise the quality of life for the citizenry" [3].

In 2005, the University outlined and/or reaffirmed institution-wide goals and objectives. One of the goals was to "increase applied and basic research" [4]. Administrative leadership for increasing applied and basic research is within the Office for Research and Development. The mission of the Office is threefold: help identify and obtain resources (financial, human, and/or technical) to support the teaching, research and service components of Prairie View A&M University; provide executive leadership for research and development activities at the University; and work collaboratively with University personnel (faculty, staff, administrators) in identifying and prioritizing research, sponsored programs and development opportunities. This office works cooperatively with all University organizational units, particularly academic departments and research centers, to guide and support research and sponsored program activities [5].

The Office for Research and Development annually outlines its plan for providing administrative leadership and support for the institutional goal of increasing applied and basic research [6]. The success in goal achievement is directly related to the success of each organizational unit in identifying, planning, and implementing related goals. The Office conducts an annual review of its progress [7]. Since the major outcome is an increase in research funds, the Office also compiles an annual summary of research and sponsored program dollars acquired during the academic year [8] and periodically evaluates its combined awards for specific years [9]. It also stays abreast of research expenditures during the fiscal year [10]. In FY 2007, the University had earned $19,305,905 in Research and Sponsored Program awards.

Since an increase is desired each year, specific guides were developed to help organizational units enhance their efforts and have been disseminated via workshops and seminars with faculty, professional personnel, and students. For programs that already have funding, presentations focus on enhancing current activities by improving quality [11] [12] [13] [14]. Presentations are made to the University at the annual Faculty and Staff Conference [15] as well as at annual staff training meetings such as those conducted by the Cooperative Agricultural Research Center [16] [17]. To these improvement strategies the Office also included increased training for University constituencies regarding quality grant proposals. To this end, a new committee was formed in 2007 to strengthen research awareness. The University Committee on Research and Sponsored Programs (UCOR) also assists the Office to meet its goal [18]. In 2007, the UCOR was redefined and reactivated.  Specifically, the Committee is an advisory body to the Vice President for Research and Development.  The UCOR makes recommendations on the manner by which research and sponsored programs are initiated/developed, planned, implemented, and evaluated in order to support the primary teaching/learning function of the University.

In an effort to further support for the objectives of the Office, a Title III activity was submitted and approved to focus on Research Infrastructure Development and Enhancement.  The purpose of the activity is directly aligned with increasing the expertise and effectiveness of faculty and professional personnel in the acquisition of external funding to support research and scholarly activities as related to support for graduate student learning outcomes.  Greater coordination is expected between the Office of Research and Development, the Graduate School that provides administrative oversight and coordination for all graduate study, and the academic units offering graduate study at the University.  Six evaluation measures were identified for achievement over a five year period [19]. In 2008, the Office identified "lack of incentive" as one of the primary reasons individuals failed to achieve the research and scholarly production outcome expectation [20], and this activity will encourage more individuals to engage in quality research in the future.

Strategies for increasing research have been successful. As noted in the annual summary of research and sponsored program dollars report, by the end of FY 2008, the University had increased its awards amount by over $2 million to $21,501,397 [8]. As noted in the FY 2007 and FY 2008 summary reports, research awards were granted from federal sources such as the United States Department of Agriculture (over $9 million) and the National Endowment for the Humanities ($74,843), to state sources such as The Texas Education Agency's ($200,000) and the Texas Department of Health and Human Services ($20,547).

Program Level Research Outcomes
Research at Prairie View A&M University is disciplinary and program driven; therefore, the primary leaders in research are in academic programs where the work is initiated. Some units have initiated their own publication pipelines. Through an international partnership with the Technical University of Sofia in Bulgaria, the Department of Mathematics revived Applications and Applied Mathematics: An International Journal (AAM) in 2004 and releases two issues per year [21]. Additionally, some units respond directly to the mission's call to include students in research and may gauge success in areas by the number of student publications or presentations made. For example, to assess the extent to which the relatively small Chemistry undergraduate program was assisting students' critical thinking ability, the program used as two of its measures the percent of students in 2007-08 who had presented research at a national or regional conference or who had published in peer-reviewed journals. Eight of its students that year were successful in this endeavor [22] and the unit met its established target while simultaneously meeting Prairie View's mission of "incorporating research-based experiences in both undergraduate and graduate students' academic development." 

Many research outcomes are reported on annually to external funding agencies. The Cooperative Agricultural Research Center (CARC) is the organizational unit responsible for coordinating agricultural research within the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences. In a 2004 external review, the team made several recommendations, including increased collaboration and encouragement of additional peer-reviewed publications and grant proposals [23]. In its 2007 Annual Plan, CARC defined research targets, expected outcomes, and strategies for reaching established outcomes for its three programs: Food Systems, Animal Systems, and Plant and Environmental Systems [24]. In its 2007 Report, CARC reported on these programs. The Food Systems area expected no patent applications in 2007; however, research resulted in two applications [25]. The defined output measure related to research was an increase of 7% in peer reviewed publications, external funding, workshops, presentations, and graduate and undergraduate matriculation areas. The actual was 5%. The Plant and Environmental Systems expected a 5% increase in these same areas, and met its defined target for 2007. It also exceeded its target for direct adult and youth contacts set at 15 and 40 respectively, reaching 50 adults and 75 youth. CARC's plan of work for each year helps it to work towards its research outcomes [26], and it reports on its research progress yearly [27].

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's "Characteristics of Texas Public Doctoral Programs" [28] requirements include reporting faculty publications and grants, as well as doctoral student publications, for review by the board. It monitors programs in existence three years or more to ensure that faculty are offering rigorous programs and are continually engaged in research production.  In 2008, Prairie View A&M University sent Characteristic Reports for doctoral programs in Electrical Engineering [29] Educational Leadership [30], and Clinical Adolescent Psychology [31]. Any queries from the THECB are addressed within weeks of the original submission, and currently all reports have been accepted and approved. The follow-up report on Electrical Engineering specifically targeted the research area and reports documented 40 publications and the receipt of 19 grants and contracts [32]. The Doctoral Form: National Journal for Publishing and Mentoring Doctoral Student Research has been another method for increasing the amount of research and scholarship among graduate students [33].

Student Research
Prairie View A&M University students are active participants in research. Data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) in 2005 [34] and 2007 [35] show that between 23 and 29% of seniors said they had or planned to work on a research project with a faculty member outside of course or program requirements. Data from the 2008 NSSE show an increase over previous years' numbers to 44% of students surveyed saying that they planned to participate in research. 15% had already participated [36]. To support student involvement with research, the Office for Research and Development provides support for participation in the annual TAMUS Pathways Symposium. The Symposium is part of the System's Pathways to the Doctorate Program designed to enable the pursuit of a doctorate in a diverse, intellectually versatile and multidisciplinary environment to assure global impact. During the 2008 Symposium, thirty-four students from each level of study offered at PVAMU participated in the symposium – 19 undergraduates, 11 Master's and 4 doctoral students, Six of these students earned recognition for their research presentations [37].

Additionally, the Characteristic Reports described above include information on doctoral student research in the first three years of the programs. Electrical Engineering listed six student publications, two awards, and nine grants/contracts initiated with the involvement of Ph.D. students [29]. To receive the doctoral degree in that area, in fact, students are required to publish peer-reviewed journal articles. Educational Leadership reported 120 student publications [30], while Clinical Adolescent Psychology listed six publications and two awards, as well as 25 conference presentations [31]. These doctoral programs emphasize professionalization through scholarly research, and they owe their existence in large part to the Texas Priority Plan.

Priority Plan Outcomes
As mentioned in Core Requirement 2.5, in the late 1990s, a Committee on OCR Issues [38] was formed to address concerns expressed by the Office of Civil Rights after it conducted a two-year review of public higher education in Texas pursuant to Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  In March 1999, OCR officials reached a preliminary conclusion that disparities traceable to de jure segregation still existed at Prairie View A&M University and Texas Southern University, Texas' two historically Black public universities. Disparities were identified in the mission of the universities, the land grant status of Prairie View A&M University when compared to Texas A&M University, program duplication, facilities, funding and the racial identity of public universities in Texas.
        
In April 2000, the committee adopted recommendations that resulted in a "Priority Plan to Strengthen Higher Education at Prairie View A&M University and at Texas Southern University," issued in October 2000 [39] [40].  Specifically, "For Prairie View A&M University, the plan included key initiatives to improve the recruitment, retention and graduation of students; strengthen systems related to information technology and human resources to support the development of students, faculty, and staff; strengthen key academic programs (particularly nursing, engineering, educator preparation, architecture, and juvenile justice); add state-of-the-art buildings for key programs; complete building renovations; strengthen its institutional development office; create 12 endowed chairs for new and existing programs; add a merit scholarship program; amend the statutory mission statement to ensure that it includes no exclusionary language that discourages any Texan from taking advantage of the excellent educational opportunities afforded at Prairie View A&M University; and other important steps" [41].

For research, the Priority Plan reinforced its role at the University by stating that "part of Prairie View's mission is to help small and medium-sized communities grow and develop and to assist agricultural, business and industrial enterprises, both of which are implemented through various programs.  That part of its mission is the basis for Prairie View's current focus on research and action to support the crucial problems that America's cities face in the 21st century: An infrastructure in increasing disrepair, lack of accessible health care, problems with young people who disregard education and become involved too often in crime and, in an increasingly global community, the inability to distribute food in many cities throughout the world.  Prairie View A&M has a number of programs currently in place or in development to support these efforts" [42].

The Priority Plan covered six years of university development and included provisions for enhancing research and educational programs and noted the following:

  • the College of Nursing is a…strong program that will benefit from review of and improvements to its existing degree programs and a new, state-of-the-art equipped building. 
  • The College of Engineering supports Prairie Views' mission in assisting communities, agriculture, business and industrial enterprises to grow and develop…, both an MS and a PhD program in Electrical Engineering to serve as an academic mainstay for the college.  A renovated state-of-the-art building with appropriate equipment will provide a basis for generating research dollars and scholarship and will add to the quality of existing programs. 
  • Prairie View has trained thousands of public school teachers and administrators who serve our Texas public educational system.  A new PhD program in Educational Leadership [research based] will greatly enhance these efforts with its focus on urban educational problems. 
  • In the School of Architecture, a new state-of-the-art building will attract high quality faculty and students, support acquisition of research dollars, and create an environment that helps produce meaningful scholarship. 
  • In Juvenile Justice, a new PhD in Juvenile Forensic Psychology will provide more power to address this critical problem in our nation's cities.  A new building will increase the attractiveness and quality of this unique program, inviting quality faculty, research funds, students, public service, and scholarship. [43]

As a result of the aforementioned Priority Plan, it should be noted that research was highlighted as a priority for the development of programs and related facilities, and as shown above, doctoral students already are developing as academic scholars in keeping with Prairie View's mission.  In each instance, funding was allocated within disciplinary fields, and collectively, these programs contribute directly to the dollar value of sponsored research funds acquired by the University; these dollars serve as the primary variable in the institution's response to a key annual performance measures to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). These reports show that while federal and private research expenditures per FTE faculty member increased 8.8% between FY2005 and FY2007, the number of faculty holding external grants dropped almost 20% during the same time period [44]. Again, this reinforced to the Office of Research and Development the need to educate faculty in particular about the grant proposal process through their series of workshops and seminars. Nevertheless, major accomplishments have been made as a result of Priority Plan [45], and progress reports are posted on the University's website for review [46]. The progress reports also point to evidence of improvement, especially to the University's ability to conduct research in the coming years as new programs are implemented [47] [48] [49].

In 2008-2009, the President's Compact with the TAMUS indicated that "PVAMU must have faculty who understand their important role in the teaching and research areas, and above all, in mentoring and inspiring our students….[W]e are committed to increasing the level of relevant research and research-based scholarship…recruiting and hiring faculty with strong research agendas and providing the requisite support for those efforts" [50]. Funding was provided to support programs in several key areas through the Academic Development Initiative appropriated by the Texas Legislature in the biennial budget, which continued the efforts of the Priority Plan after its six-year term expired [51]. Also resulting from this Compact, each Dean, Department Head, and Director was charged with developing and implementing a plan that would foster the acquisition of funds to help support unmet priority needs. For instance, the doctoral program in Educational Leadership secured a Title III Grant for $35,000, which increased its external funding 14% for FY 2008 versus FY 2007, well over its target outcome of a 7% increase [52]. Furthermore, as discussed in Comprehensive Standard 3.7.3, during the annual budgeting process, funds are allocated to support faculty travel to professional conferences, which helps provide the requisite support for research efforts. Between FY 2004 and FY 2008, $3,026,906.34 was spent by the University to support travel, training and registration expenditures on instruction and research accounts for faculty. The amount spent has increased from $472,876 in 2004 to $651,317 in 2008.

As a final example worth noting, in 2001, an amendment to the Texas Education Code [53] authorized three new entities that included a focus on research:

  • Sec.  87.105 added additional mandates to The Center for the Study and Prevention of Juvenile Crime and Delinquency: to study female offenders, sex offenders, and minorities in the juvenile justice system. Housed in the College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology, the unit, known as the Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center, was created in HB1550 in 1997, has the authority to "conduct, coordinate, collect, and evaluate research in all areas relating to juvenile crime and delinquency." The Center received a grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Council in August 2000 for $202,262 for crime prevention in the Waller Independent School District; the grant was renewed and extended to Jones Elementary School [54]. In June 2009, the Center held a conference, "Youth Violence: Strategies for Prevention" [55].

 

  • Sec. 87.106 of the Code authorized the Texas Institute for Preservation of History and Culture, housed in the School of Architecture, and by its mission it is to "collect, preserve, study, and make available for research information, records, documents, artifacts, and other items relating to Texas history and culture and to the history and culture of the United States and the Americas as that history and culture relates to Texas."  Additionally, the institute may "establish and operate a museum, archives, automated systems for data access and retrieval, or similar facilities."  In summer 2008, the TIPHC unveiled the inaugural issue of its new peer-reviewed publication, the Journal of History and Culture, with a goal of releasing three issues per year [56].
  • Sec. 87.107 authorized the Center for Relationship Violence Prevention and Intervention with the authority to "conduct, coordinate, collect, and evaluate research in all areas relating to relationship violence; and in connection with its research and educational programs." While authorized, this Center is currently not operational due to funding.

 

Research is also conducted through research centers located in the Roy G. Perry College of Engineering. Two of the more prominent centers are the Center for Applied Radiation Research (CARR) [57] and the Center of Excellence for Communication Systems Technology Research (CECSTR) [58]. Each center has established goals for student involvement in research productivity.  The CECSTR has been instrumental in enhancing the research capabilities of students in the Department of Electrical Engineering.   Students are actively engaged with faculty on research project that correlate with their academic studies in the following areas:  Communication Systems and Signal Processing, Microelectronics, and Computer Engineering. During the 2007-2008 academic year, nine graduate students and ten undergraduate students were supported by CECSTR.  These research assistants work with  faculty on research projects that lead to twenty six journal papers, forty three conference papers, fifteen technical papers and fifteen proposals of which ten were awarded [59].  The CARR is dedicated to developing capabilities and techniques that will lead to a better, more fundamental understanding of space radiation effects on devices, materials and the human crew environment [60]. CARR has as one of its major goals the aim to perform research that enhances the technical expertise of the students, faculty and staff to the benefit of NASA and the national economic competitiveness. The following list highlights research publications and in every instance students researchers are included and denoted by ^ symbol [61]. CARR’s research production has been stellar.  Recent milestones have included:  Performed some of the first radiation experiments on carbon nanotube materials and nano-electronic devices; developed new technique to detect high energy neutrons; developed experimental protocol for high energy neutron shielding evaluation; developed new composites with simulated lunar and Martian regoliths, established MCMPX modeling for protons, neutron and gammas; evaluated data on Mars and Jupiter radiation environments. Between 2002 and 2006, proposals from CARR have been awarded $12.9 million and saw 173 scholarly publication of various kinds. The Center has also contributed to the academic growth of scientifically-talented students through the employment of undergraduate and graduate students. During this same period, CARR provided research-related employment to 68 undergraduate and graduate students [62]. In 2005, NASA had identified CARR as an exemplary model and had highlighted it in its Annual Performance Report to the White House Initiative Office on HBCUs [63].

Summary
The University [64] and its researchers [65] have achieved recognition and success [66] during the years since its last reaffirmation of accreditation visit. Many of the research programs in place at the University have been discussed above, but an overview is also given in the Office of Research and Development's presentation "Selected Research and Technology Transfer at Prairie View A&M University" [67]. As noted in Core Requirement 2.8, the University ranked 14th among the 36 Texas universities listed in the Higher Education Accountability System for research expenditures in FY 2007, and part of this success comes from its faculty and researchers who have accumulated 21 inventions since 1991 [68] Login Key[Restricted Access -- Must Have Internet Connection] [69] Login Key[Restricted Access -- Must Have Internet Connection]. While Prairie View A&M University still can improve in the area of research, planning and programs are in place, and outcomes are assessed to determine achievement and appropriate changes to improve results. Research remains driven by individuals within the disciplines, assisted by overall leadership, guidance, management and support from the Office for Research and Development.

Supporting Documentation and Links


Comprehensive Standards 3.3.1.5
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