look at potential growth avenues for science and technology
2020 Science and Technology Planning Commission workshop
at the first session of the workshop were (left to right):
U.Va. President John T. Casteen III, U.Va. Engineering professor
and chair of the Virginia 2020 Science & Technology Commission
Anita Jones, Stanford University President Emeritus Donald
Kennedy and Virginia Tech President Paul Torgersen.
Virginia 2020 Science
and Technology Planning Commission conducted a workshop Sept.
23-25 on "Models for Advancing Academic Excellence,"
during which commission members discussed and evaluated several
outstanding programs at other institutions. The commission will
now begin to develop recommendations to improve science and technology
programs at the University.
participants included invited guests from U.Va.'s administration
and its science and technology departments, along with commission
members. Guest speakers from 12 universities gave presentations
and led lively discussions on routes U.Va. might consider for
creating excellence in selected areas of the natural and life
sciences and engineering.
the major themes that emerged were: the need to develop strategies
for attracting the best graduate students; ways to exploit advantages,
such as relationships with nearby universities and high technology
industries in Northern Virginia; how to become a leader in the
use of information technology for education processes; ways to
make better academic use of the research parks with an orientation
toward product creation; and developing better mechanisms for
enhancing and invigorating research. A major area of discussion
was the importance of creating multidisciplinary research opportunities
within and beyond the established departmental structure.
is a time of opportunity for science and technology at U.Va.,"
said commission chair Anita Jones, in her opening remarks. "Our
job is to listen, ask questions and evaluate what we learn as
we begin working toward recommendations for the University."
commission's ultimate goal is to develop strategies that will
advance the University in coming years as a national leader in
selected areas of the sciences and engineering.
the opening session of the workshop, U.Va. President John
T. Casteen III told the group that they are building from
a good research funding foundation. He said the commission should
recognize that space is a critical issue not easily solved, and
that a variety of sources of funding should be considered beyond
state funding, which has diminished over the years. Interdisciplinary
initiatives and joint initiatives with Virginia Tech and other
institutions are potential avenues of growth, he said. The University
must look beyond identifying possibilities, and instead identify
strategies for making difficult choices, he added.
Torgersen, president of Virginia Tech, said that his institution
is interested in potential collaborations with U.Va., and that
this may be a clear route for both institutions to leverage support
from the commonwealth and other funding sources.
commission determined that any eventual recommendations to the
University should share several common criteria. These include:
improving and shaping undergraduate and graduate education;
using the research parks;
aiding individual researchers as well as enhancing centers and
establishing a "critical mass" in focused areas;
to societal needs;
"salable" on multiple levels, such as to department
chairs, the public, government, the administration and industry;
external "stake holders";
being proactive in the funding climate while being flexible
to changing funding trends;
creating opportunities beyond core groups;
and developing new resources through intellectual property rights.
"While different universities followed very different plans,
we found some common attributes that characterized all of the
successful programs to advance science and technology at other
universities," Jones said. "Each had a focused strategy
and the resources to commence execution of that strategy. And
the university involved pursued the strategy intently over years."
commission's next step is to begin a dialogue with various members
of the University community and to hold meetings with external
constituents such as the Northern Virginia Economic Council. The
commission will continue to identify opportunities and themes
that cut across disciplines, Jones said. Members will look at
such actions as seed funding, land and research parks, additional
case studies and the development of a business plan. They will
also explore the University's advantages, such as high overall
Jones told the commission she would like a "first-cut"
draft of possible recommendations completed by the end of this
semester for discussion on Grounds.