Last month the four subcommittees of the Research Commission worked
to help the University most effectively invest in its future. After
completing information matrices for quantitative areas of the research
university, the committee on defining research gathered narratives
of Emorys various research cultures through faculty interviews.
These interviews will eventually produce a composite faculty narrative
representing research at Emory.
The committee on cultivating researchers has focused on the recruitment
and retention of faculty. Preliminary data have revealed striking
divisions among different research cultures that tend to produce
differing internal expectations about research practices. From information
gathered via faculty hearings and a web survey of department chairs,
the committee has identified at least three different cultures at
Emory, and these differences occupy one of the central issues of
the committees recommendation. Other concerns include the
Universitys current standings, its constraints for growth
and goals for future development.
The committee on infrastructure has evaluated information gathered
from faculty hearings, in-depth interviews and meetings with the
Institutional Review Board and the Information Technology Division.
Currently, they are focusing on internal support, human subjects,
faculty appointments and graduate education. This committee has
developed a questionnaire evaluating the perception of tenure-track
positions, the expenditure of hard money and soft money, and the
opportunity to buy out of courses.
Finally, the committee on ethics and research continues to trace
the effects of Emorys rapid growth, which has led to new interest
in several areas: how different cultures on campus understand intellectual
integrity; how research has shaped the University; and how leaders
best decide to allocate resources.
To gather this information, the committee has listened to groups
of faculty as well as to individuals. Subcommittee leader Jim Fowler
said he learned that faculty need assistance in teaching ethics
as well as personal training, and he has proposed the University
implement standard procedures for dealing with complaints and preserving
Research commission chairs Claire Sterk and David Carr have recognized
the call from University leaders for bold and concrete recommendations.
Interim Provost Woody Hunter, for example, has followed closely
the commissions work and is impressed with how deeply committed
its members have become.
Additionally, Susan Frost, vice president for strategic development,
has noted that even in this time of fiscal restraint, the
question before the Commission on Research at Emory is not whether
investment in research will continue, but how the University can
best direct that investment. We need to be bold in the next step.
Diamond and Geiger
The commission has demonstrated its commitment to this project by
consulting leading research scholars. On April 5, Nancy Diamond,
fellow at the Pennsylvania State University and co-author of The
Rise of American Research Universities (1997), discussed the history
of Emory, the lagging support for the graduate school, fiscal priorities
and decisions, the dual emphases on teaching and research, and the
appropriate role of collegiality and interdisciplinary interaction.
In particular, Diamond talked about the burden of time and expectations
for teaching and other activities that disadvantage research, often
in the humanities. By looking at this and other issues, Diamond
said, the Research Commission follows Emorys historical tradition
of self-critical examination, pushing the University toward further
aspiration along with leadership support. Diamond said she fully
believes Emory has the ability to reach its long-term goals for
development due to its social capability to adjust to the
In another consultation held April 16, Roger Geiger, Distinguished
Professor of Education at Pennsylvania State University and author
of To Advance Knowledge, explained that his research illustrates
how students are becoming more important in the marketplace as universities
become more competitive.
As geography becomes less of a factor in student choice, students
will choose their college based on different factors. One of these
factors is resources. For Geiger, leading institutions not only
have more money, but also spend more moneyand spend it strategically.
This is an important realization at the heart of the Research Commissions