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Challenges, opportunities define past year

Now that the summer semester has begun I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the progress and achievements we’ve had over the past year.

This also seems like a good time to offer our congratulations to the MSU baseball team for achieving a berth in the NCAA tournament and to congratulate our Athletic Director Scott Stricklin for all the excitement he has helped to generate surrounding the MSU athletic program. I’m convinced that a strong and successful athletic program contributes to so many other areas at the university, including enrollments and research funding.

Efforts appreciated
I want you all to know how much I appreciate your research efforts over the past year. I understand that this has been a very unusual year filled with challenges that you have been able to effectively address.

Not the least of these is the early retirement program made necessary to address financial exigencies. Many of you saw your teaching loads increase in order to fill the gaps created as your colleagues retired and before new faculty could be hired to replace them. I know that this placed a heavy burden on our research program and impacted the time available to craft proposals and to manage your current research. I am very appreciative of the extra effort that you gave to help us through this period and to maintain our competitive research program.

Especially in light of the changes in funding on Capitol Hill, it is heartening to see the number of competitive proposal submission increase as you continue to leverage our expertise into these competitive arenas.

New initiatives
During this past year we put in place some new initiatives to try to help facilitate and strengthen our research program. We created and funded a new cross-college research program that provided interdisciplinary groups of researchers with $2000 seed grants. This resulted in 32 research groups being supported with participation from faculty representing all colleges at MSU to include the Meridian campus. We have high expectations for these groups and early progress reports show that proposals are being crafted and submitted by these groups.

We also subscribed to what we believe to be a very useful Research Development and Grant Writing Newsletter that comes to us monthly and is distributed to all colleges for use by the faculty. I have personally found this to be a valuable document and I believe that our new faculty will also find it very helpful. If you are not receiving this newsletter, please let Dr. Teresa Gammill in my office know. We would also appreciate any feedback on the newsletter that you might be willing to offer.

Our faculty research support program was revised in 2010 and has resulted in funding support for over 100 faculty members — primarily cost sharing their research related travel and research initiation needs. We intend to continue this program into 2011-2012. More than $130,000 was committed to this initiative during FY2011.

Our strong research and outreach programs continue to help fuel the state's economy by assisting existing industry, participating in major industry recruitment efforts, and creating high tech companies and jobs. We have also developed a user-friendly system to guide stakeholders to appropriate research centers and units on campus to support economic development at local and state levels.

Also, to increase efficiency and effectiveness in our technology commercialization area, we merged the Entrepreneurship Center and the Office of Technology Commercialization. The unit is housed in the recently completed Industry Partners building in the expanding Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. Dr. Mel Ray has led our economic development program and is our focal point for industrial queries within the Office of Research and Economic Development.

We have revised our faculty leadership program this year by expanding it and exposing all participants to MSU senior leadership throughout the year. Dr. Ray Vaughn, Associate Vice President for Research, leads this program on behalf of ORED. We anticipate having 15 participants during academic year 2011-2012 and enhancing the program by implementing suggestions received by this year’s participants.

We also revised the manner in which we compute startup funding so that our offer letters could be more competitive. We now include the “value” of the entire startup package in the offer letter instead of just the discretionary dollars that are being offered. My rationale for doing this is to allow prospective faculty to see that there is a significant value associated with course release, teaching or research assistants, and equipment above and beyond the hard dollar amounts we commit from this office. I think that this helps us to establish a stronger case for a new hire looking at MSU and comparing our offer with other schools.

Stakeholder feedback critical
I commissioned several ad hoc committees to make recommendations to me for improvements in the way we operate with the Office of Research and Economic Development. These committees have provided an invaluable service to the university, and have allowed us to make improvements in the office and modify processes we employ in a fully transparent way. The committees have looked at ORED strategic investment, economic development organization, equipment investments, regulatory compliance and other areas.

I find that getting committee recommendations followed by stakeholder comments is an excellent way to implement continuous improvement in this office. I have already implemented a number of the recommendations from these committees, and we are in the process of implementing others. Along those lines — I want you to know that I welcome individual faculty comments on anything associated with ORED and that you are welcome to send those comments directly to me.

In closing, let me assure you that your efforts on behalf of MSU are truly appreciated and recognized by the administration as a whole and my office is no exception to that. I want to be transparent in all that we do, and I look forward to the upcoming academic year. Please let me know how I or my office can help you in any way.

Best wishes for a successful and productive summer.

— David Shaw
Vice President for Research and Economic Development


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 3, 2011 1:57 PM.

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