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6 Organization' Education' and Personnel The report of the Panel on Organization, Education, and Personnel (OEP) includes five sections. The first is a summary of the recommendations. The second describes a major recommendation directed toward the maintenance of scientific talent. The third is a report, with recommen- dations, on a variety of issues in the practice of astron- omy. The fourth is a portrait of astronomy, and the astronomers, during the 1970's: who are the astronomers what have they been doing; and how have they been doing it? The final section is an appendix giving details of the data accumulated and interpretive notes intended to justify statements and views expressed in the earlier sections. I. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS The recommendations of the Panel on Organization, Educa- tion, and Personnel are the following: A. Maintenance of Scientific Talent The anticipated sharp decline in the number of university undergraduates in the 1980's, coupled with an unusually small number of faculty retirements over the same period, will cause a temporary but very serious reduction in the 334
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335 number of assistant professors of astronomy that can be afforded by the universities. The fresh minds of young researchers are crucial to healthy progress in astronomi- cal research. The OEP Panel therefore recommends that urgent steps be taken toward maintaining the flow of excellent younger researchers into the university envi- ronment during the critical decade ahead. In particular, the Panel recommends that the Astronomy Division of the National Science Foundation initiate a program of "Astronomy Excellence Awards" to be awarded to individuals on the basis of an open national competition. Each award should be for one half of an assistant- professor-level position and contingent on commitment of matching funds in the form of one half of a full-time employee (FTE), for the same period by a recognized university. It is anticipated that status and qualifica- tions will be similar to those of regular faculty members at the host institutions and will include the improve- ments described below. The anticipated cost of this program, which we recommend as a new initiative, will be $500,000 to $1 million per year. It would generate an equal amount of matching funds from universities on a short-term basis and also, the Panel believes, lead to the establishment of new, long-term positions in astronomy. The Panel furthermore encourages universities to respond to the anticipated interim problem of declining enrollments and fewer retirements by implementing mechanisms that encourage early retirement of faculty, establishing "parallel track" positions of high prestige, implementing "rolling tenure" where feasible, and permitting non-tenure-track scientists with appropriate qualifications to be Principal Investigators on contracts and grants. B. Other Issues in the Practice of Astronomy 1. Personnel - a. Minorities. The Panel endorses the recommenda- tions made by the American Astronomical Society's Com- mittee on Ethnic Minorities to encourage young members of ethnic minorities to study astronomy. Past progress in this area has been inadequate. b. Women in Astronomy. The Panel endorses the report of the Committee on the Status of Women, accepted by the
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336 American Astronomical Society in 1980. Women are still far from achieving equal status in astronomy. c. Dual-Career Couples. The Panel recommends appro- priate modification of remaining nepotism rules, the granting of permission to scientists employed part-time to act as Principal Investigators on contracts and grants, and the liberalization of institutional policies governing shared jobs. 2. Education d. Public Communication. The Panel recognizes the need for astronomers to devote a suitable portion of their time to the communication of astronomical results to the general public, and encourages them to do so. Such efforts need to be recognized and encouraged also by department chairpersons and group leaders, funding agencies, academic institutions, and professional organizations as a necessary and beneficial scientific service activity. Training of Astronomers. The Panel recommends that the training of astronomers include the acquisition of skills in such specialized areas as electronics, elec- trooptical devices, mechanical systems, computer software, and systems engineering; these skills not only are rele- vant to the development of astronomical instrumentation but also make astronomy graduates more attractive to industry. There is a perception that astronomers who develop advanced astronomical instrumentation are some- times not adequately rewarded with respect to promotion and tenure. The Panel recommends that astronomy depart- ments take care to eliminate any such inequity. f. The Astronomical Community. Teachers at 2- and 4-year colleges, many of whom are not full-time astrono- mers, make a significant contribution to astronomy educa- tion in the United States. Amateur astronomers also con- tribute in substantial ways to the position astronomy holds in the national esteem. The Panel recommends that research astronomers make efforts to increase communica- tion with these additional members of the astronomical community, who contribute so much to the general health of the field. g. Small Telescopes. Small telescopes, many associ- ated with university departments, are an important resource for O.S. astronomy. Financial support for these telescopes (and associated instrumentation) should be
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337 awarded on the basis of scientific merit. In awarding funds, agencies should keep in mind the many diverse needs served by these facilities. 3. Organization h. Classified Data and Technology. The Panel recommends that both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation maintain a continuing awareness of the benefits that would accrue to astronomy from the use of certain data and technology that have been classified, inform the proper government agencies of such benefits, and estab- lish appropriate mechanisms by which the astronomical community can participate in the procedures for identifi - cation and declassification of such data and technology. i. Access to Foreign Space Missions on the Basis of Merit. The Panel recommends that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration work to promote competitive access to foreign scientific satellite missions and institute policies and budgetary mechanisms designed to encourage the flight of U.S. experiments on foreign satellites. j. Peer Review. The Panel calls attention to the Cole et al. (1977) study, which "yielded little evidence in support of the main criticisms that have been made of the peer-review system." The Panel supports any measures that can be taken to streamline proposal procedures but recognizes that increased accountability requirements are beyond the direct control of the astronomical community (e.g., Staats, 1979). The Panel also emphasizes the great importance of supporting projects whose results may lie far in the future and the particular need for dialogue between the proposer and referees when instrumental proposals are under review. Finally, the Panel notes the importance of attracting outstanding scientists to work within the federal funding agencies and of opportunities for temporary agency service under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act. The welfare of the entire astronomical community depends critically on the wisdom and foresight of scientific decisions made within federal agencies. k. Advice to the National Aeronautics Space Admini- stration and the National Science Foundation. The Panel recommends that the agency that funds a scientific mission should take particular care also to fund adequate analysis of all the meaningful data that flow from that mission.
Representative terms from entire chapter: