In his opening remarks at the Sam Nunn Policy Forum, held on campus
April 57, President Bill Chace cut straight to the point of
the three-day event rather nicely.
The issues to be explored will increasingly define the American
university. They will not go away, Chace said Saturday, April
6, in WHSCAB auditorium.
With that comment, Chace brought into perspective the importance
of the forums subject matter, Commercialization of the
What followed was a thoughtful, engaging and often surprising collection
of presentations and panel discussions that began unraveling the
increasingly tangled web of American higher education and commercial
Nowhere was this tie more apparent than in the numbers presented
by Sheldon Krimsky, professor of urban environmental policy at Tufts
University. In his Saturday afternoon address, Reforming Research
Ethics in the Age of Multivested Science, he stated that he
found that close to one third (31 percent) of the nearly 2,000 university
faculty members he surveyed were involved in commercial activities.
Krimsky also said that research and development money provided
to university by industry, in many cases, has increased remarkably.
From 1992 to 1999, Krimsky said, industry-provided R&D funds
rose by 280 percent at Duke University. However, that figure is
tiny when compared to some other schools over the same time period,
like the University of California-San Francisco (491 percent increase)
or the University of Texas-Austin (725 percent). Emorys increase
(4.4 percent, hospitals not included) is microscopic in comparison.
With figures like Krimskys in mind, the gathered academics
and administrators sought some answers to the question of what to
do about the academys increasingly close relationship to industry.
Fridays Presidents Dinner featured a speech by Emmy Award-winning
NBC News chief health and science correspondent Robert Bazell.
Saturday was a marathon of 12 presentations in WHSCAB. They began
with welcoming announcements by Emory administrators Chace, interim
Provost Woody Hunter and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs
Michael Johns, as well as former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, who now
has lent his name to six such policy forums.
Wrapping up the forum on Sunday were three panel discussions held
at the Emory Conference Center. While most of Saturdays speeches
were by university administrators and professors from around the
country, the panels featured a mix of graduate students from Georgia
institutions along with professionals and academics.
In her Saturday-morning keynote speech, The Role of Commercialization
on Tenure and Promotion Decisions: Conflicting Goals/Conflicting
Values, Karen Holbrook, senior vice president for academic
affairs and provost at the University of Georgia, said that while
universities have no problems with their faculty members commercial
venturesand in some cases encourage themthose activities
rarely have any effect on who is promoted or who receives tenure.
New institutional goals collide with traditional academic
values; this sends conflicting messages to faculty, she said.
We need to reorganize with an expanded set of requirements.
Those requirements, Holbrook said, should include recognizing faculty
for public service; not ignoring the commercial efforts of junior,
untenured faculty; and balancing the difficult tasks of teaching,
research and entrepreneurship. The consequences of a lack of change
will be that a lot of young faculty will leave the academy if their
opportunity for advancement is restricted.
The number of young faculty will continue to decrease if
we tell them that they will not be rewarded for commercial activities,
Following Holbrook were a wide variety of presentations that outlined
the academys ties with commercial ventures from multiple perspectives.
Several of the speeches dealt with commercialization in biomedical
areas, including a presentation by Johns, Care, Commerce and
Conflict in the Academic Health Center, that wrapped up Saturdays
Other presentations wandered in different directions. Murray Sperber,
a professor of English and American studies at Indiana University,
spoke on College Sports Inc.: How Big Time Athletic Departments
Run Interference for College Inc.
Not only did Sperber discuss how many universities sign contracts
with shoe companies, which then supply athletes with gear and coaches
with tidy sums of money, but he explained that college athletics
and money have been tied together since the beginning.
Sperber told of the first intercollegiate athletic event, a boat
race between Harvard and Yale in the 1840s. It was organized by
a railroad magnate and featured several athletes who did not even
attend the schools they raced for.
So it was commercial, Sperber said, And they were
cheating. That statement was met with knowing laughter from
The Nunn Forum is cosponsored by Emory, the University of Georgia
and Georgia Tech, and the host school rotates each year. The forum
is designed to foster informed discussion of issues critical not
just to higher education, but to the nation as a whole. A total
of 175 people registered to attend this latest offering.
The subject matter and presenters of the 2002 forum were organized
by a steering committee led by Donald Stein, Asa G. Candler Professor
of Psychology, Neurology and Emergency Medicine. Stein moderated
the Saturday presentations as well.
Presentations will be archived on the web at www.emory.edu/PROVOST/SamNunnForum.