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VA 2020 Science and Technology Planning Commission to hold workshop Sept. 23-25

September 24, 1999

By Fariss Samarrai

The Virginia 2020 Science and Technology Planning Commission will hold a workshop for members and invited guests Sept. 23 and 24 to evaluate how other leading universities have created programs and initiatives to perform outstanding scientific and technological research and education.

Guest speakers from 12 universities are scheduled to discuss with commission members and invitees the ways in which their institutions achieved success in building strong programs in science and technology.

The commission will meet the morning after the conference, Sept. 25, to evaluate what its members learned and to begin defining recommendations. Eventually, the commission will create opportunities to discuss alternatives and emerging recommendations with the U.Va. community. The ultimate goal is to develop strategies that will advance the University in coming years as a national leader in selected areas of the natural and life sciences and engineering.

"The two-day workshop will allow commission members to ask questions and brainstorm with our guests about ways in which a university may strengthen itself," said Anita Jones, chair of the Science and Technology Planning Commission. This is part of our planning process. We will see how others have done it, so we can look for ways to do it even better. We will seek strategies that are particularly appropriate to U.Va..

"The work of Virginia 2020 is very special in that this university is actively and seriously thinking through alternatives for the future, rather than passively letting good ideas slowly bubble up from the bottom. Our objective is for U.Va. to be among the very best universities in the world in science and technology," she said.

Jones' commission invited representatives to participate in the conference from several schools, including Baylor, Rutgers, Stanford, U.C.-San Diego, the universities of Rochester, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Penn State, Cornell, N. C. State and Virginia Tech. The workshop will be organized into sessions based on five themes: "Pinnacles of Excellence Within a State University"; "Industry/University Cooperation in the 21st Century"; "Cross-School Initiatives to Promote Excellence in a Broad Research Area"; "Building Strengths in Focused Core Disciplines"; and Interdisciplinary Centers and Institutes to Focus Resources on Critical Research Areas."

"We are bringing in some of the nation's leading experts and innovators to provide a detailed and personal view of how their institutions have tackled the complexities of managing and creating programs in major theme areas," Jones said.

The first session, "Pinnacles of Excellence," will be led by U.Va. President John T. Casteen III and President Paul E. Torgersen of Virginia Tech and moderated by Donald Kennedy, president emeritus of Stanford, who is serving as a consultant to all four Virginia 2020 commissions. Workshop participants will discuss the roles of the faculty and the administration in defining and selecting science and technology areas to pursue, in creating organizational structures of excellence, and in nurturing such structures.

In the second session, "Industry/University Cooperation," participants will examine how industry and universities can best cooperate and collaborate, in light of a state university' responsibility to citizens of the state. They will consider how to take advantage of the opportunities that might arise due to the ever shorter process time involved for research projects to make their way as products into the marketplace. Dean Robert Conn from U.C.-San Diego and Charlie Moreland, vice chancellor for research at N. C. State, will discuss how their institutions have succeeded in collaborating with industry.

"Cross-School Initiatives," the third session, will center on ways to best accomplish multi-disciplinary research between not only traditional departments, but across schools as well. Kennedy; Dan Huttenlocher, professor of computer science at Cornell; and Nina Fedoroff, director of the Life Sciences Consortium and Biotechnology Institute at Penn State, will discuss innovative cross-school enterprises at their universities.

The fourth session, "Building Strength in Focused Core Areas," will challenge participants to look for ways to achieve excellence within the department structure by selecting specific areas to strengthen. Bill Brinkley, vice president and dean of the graduate school at Baylor College of Medicine, will discuss infrastructure and support programs to attract outstanding graduate students. Willard Harrison, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Florida, and Felix Browder, professor of mathematics at Rutgers, will discuss ways to strengthen a university within the departmental structure.

"Interdisciplinary Centers and Institutes," the fifth session, will provide participants with an opportunity to look at several examples of university organizations formed to focus on very specific research objectives. Peter Davies, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Penn, will discuss the Institute of Medicine and Engineering that he directs. Jiri Jonas, professor in the Center for Advanced Study at Illinois, will discuss the Beckman Institute. Dennis Hall, William F. May Professor at the University of Rochester, will discuss Rochester's Institute for Optics.

The Virginia 2020 Science and Technology Planning Commission is one of four commissions created last year by President Casteen to look for ways to create excellence at the University well into the next century. The other three commissions are the Fine and Performing Arts Planning Commission, the International Activities Planning Commission, and the Public Service and Outreach Planning Commission.

Original Article | Local Copy


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