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Science & Technology Commission
Meeting Minutes
February 29, 2000


Attendees: Anita Jones (chair), John Bean, Ian Harrison, John Herr, Erik Hewlett, George Hornberger, Stephanie Johnson, Tom MacAvoy, Dick Merrill, John O’Connell, Karen Parshall, Kevin Sullivan. Ex officio: Pace Moore, Jeffrey Plank, Tim Sigmon, Dick Sundberg, Haydn Wadley. Staff: Amy Cronin, Charles Feigenoff, Brian Moriarty, Tammy Herring, Fariss Samarrai.

Meeting Summary

Tom Skalak and John Bean presented a progress report on their investigation into the University’s unfair advantages. The Commission heard and discussed a straw man proposal on reorganization presented by Hadyn Wadley


Unfair Advantages

  1. Skalak and Bean defined two basic categories of advantages: those linked to characteristics of UVa (low barriers between schools and small size) and those within science and engineering areas (established areas of excellence, areas where UVa has a "lead" on the competition, particular intellectual themes where we are well-positioned).
  2. Skalak and Bean indicated that their information on University advantages will be obtained from interviews with deans and selected faculty, from the strategic plans of the schools, and via input from associate deans.
  3. Bean emphasized that it may be useful to identify unfair advantages in conjunction with focus areas that are off the beaten path and which cross disciplines. This approach would help the University to become a leader in an emerging area and would help create tools that are usable across disciplines.


Straw Man Reorganization Proposal

  1. Haydn Wadley presented a straw man proposal outlining a strategic reorganization of the sciences and engineering within the University. According to Wadley’s criteria, reorganization would be useful if it increased the visibility of the sciences and engineering at the University, allowed the university to make better use of its resources, promoted research that had a positive impact on society, led to further collaborative research, furthered progress at the interstices of the fields and resulted in new educational opportunities.
  2. Wadley’s proposed organizational measures aimed at fostering closer ties between students, faculty and researchers in A&S, SEAS and the Medical School. This would allow the University to pool its intellectual resources in new ways and would lead to an increase in the amount of collaborative efforts being undertaken.
  3. Wadley suggested that creating a new organizational structure could be a means for the University to attract talented faculty and students in engineering and the sciences. This organization would be coupled with a new institute for advanced research that would draw in experts from other institutions. In particular, it would present an opportunity to attract a marquee researcher to head this organization.

Discussion Topics

  • Unfair Advantages
  • Reorganization Proposal


Next Meeting
Tuesday, March 28, 2000, 7:30-9:00 a.m., Newcomb Hall Room 389

  • This meeting will be an open discussion on a first draft set of recommendations. Of key importance is the issue of selecting focus areas and the process by which we come to closure.
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