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of these issues:
Commerce, philanthropy, and the culture of
should be more creative in thinking about how we reward people for
what they've done."
Rich Rothenberg, Professor
of Family and Preventive Medicine
I'm going to accept [the Sloan Foundation's] money in good faith,
I have to minimally carry out their agenda."
Bradd Shore, Professor
License income, patents, start-ups, and research expenditures for
a selection of eleven institutions
sees the money?
Emory's recently revised intellectual property ownership policy
Rothenberg was one of three
leaders of last springs Gustafson Faculty Seminar on Scholarship,
Entrepreneurship, and the Corporatization of the Academy.
What theme in the seminar was most compelling to you?
(RR): The analogy wasnt made exactly,
but the medical-technology-university complex, as it were, is in
many ways very similar to football teams. Football, a dominant sport
in universities, becomes the tail that wags the dogit has
enormous power in universities because it is such a money-maker.
Something similar is brewing now for scientists, technicians, engineers,
and others involved in products that may have enormous payoff. The
risks are very high and the probability of reward is extremely low,
but that reward can be enormous. If people do win the payoff, then
what they have on their hands is a football team: a group with great
power in the university, one that is essentially connected to the
university for reasons involving prestige but is freely functioning,
free-standing, and making a tremendous amount of money.
did you approach the financial forces that shape the culture of
Emorys soulwhere it is, what it is, and how it
manifests itselfis very difficult to pin down because it is
such a changing environment right now. With the choices its
made, Emory is now committed to growth, to expansion, to trying
to fulfill a promise of greatness over the next years. And that
means relationships within the university are going to be formed
by that kind of commitment, rather than growing organically. Ultimately,
it will have an enormous influence on what happens. Its a
more soul-less route to gomore controlled and directed. Certainly
that route has an impact on how people view their place in the university,
how connected people are to this place. The faster the rate of growth,
the more corporate the model, the less connected people are. Because
just as in corporations, if you get a better job, you move elsewhere.
There is a sense of discontent and insecurity, and a sense that
things are changing rapidly and its not quite clear why, in
spite of the fact that there are really wonderful people around,
including many in the upper-level administration. These are superb
people who know what theyre doing and are good at what they
do. So its not because of quality. It has something to do
more with organizational zeitgeist and the spirit that this kind
of growth engenders.
discussions did you have in the seminars about control of data and
We talked about this a great deal, how fundamentally injurious it
is to scientific enterprise. It really is a question of maturity.
We are immature as a society and particularly as universities in
our ability to deal with this rise in entrepreneurship. We get people
who blast out from the starting blocks and are making huge amounts
of money, and they have to be reined back in in some way. Frequently
they just leave and form a private company. It is fairly chaotic,
and somehow we have to learn to handle it with a bit more order
and dignity. I say it that way because people become very undignified
in the kind of fights that go on over whos going to get what
and where the royalties go. I have a feeling that people didnt
start in this business with avarice, but the sudden realization
that you can get millions of dollars out of something you invented
does change hearts and minds.
Do you think these issues
should affect tenure and promotion decisions?
Theyre a part of the decisions now, although subrosa.
If you have not written many papers but have sixteen patents, all
of which are making a lot of money, I think the university would
probably be most interested in your getting tenure. It may be a
good idea to make this more transparent, to make it something people
We should be more creative in
thinking about how we reward people for what theyve done.
For some, I think that inventing something that makes a lot of money
is a creative act. Its not a bad thing in and of itself. In
fact, theres something good about it. What becomes bad is
some of the ramifications, the economic spinoffs, the cultural or
social effects that accrue that can be injurious to other people.
Corporatization changes the mentality of the university.