Importance of Funding and Advancing Research at Public Universities

research-1I recently attended two events that spoke to the great importance of research and innovation in higher education. Advancing excellence in research is integral to the soon-to-be-completed Strategic Plan at PSU.

A National Conversation about Research
In late October, Lisa Zurk, our Associate Vice President for Research, and I took a trip to Eugene to participate with members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for a discussion on “The Role of Public Institutions in Higher Education.”

The program considered “the importance of public research universities as engines of innovation, growth, and opportunity for Americans of all backgrounds.” A recognition that teaching AND research are vital, non-competing, goals. The meeting featured the work of the Academy’s Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher Education, named for President Abraham Lincoln’s role in signing the 1862 Morrill Act, which created over 100 public universities in the United States.

We at PSU share the Lincoln Project’s focus to “encourage the development of new federal, corporate, and philanthropic sources of support to sustain public higher education in every state”, among other goals of the project.

Key takeaways
The panel provided diverse and informative views of changes taking place in American research universities.

  • A changing business model
  • The need for greater diversity
  • Strategies for how universities need to be engines of social mobility
  • Changes in funding
  • State funding competitors (Medicaid and corrections)

state-funding-updateFunding Research
The Q&A was a lively dialog about how states (Oregon in particular) should reexamine the proportion of funding that goes to higher education versus other state services and the need to make investments in faculty research. The Academy’s Public Research Universities: Changes in State Funding publication provides compelling data on state expenditures related to higher education. I encourage all to read this informative 20-page booklet.

At the end of the session a panel speaker made a noteworthy statement, “Private good is someone’s income; public good is about citizenry and the foundation of a democratic society sustaining the capacity to be engaged in conversation and innovation.”

Let us foster this sentiment at PSU.

research-2PSU’s Chemistry Graduate Student Research Session
The Department of Chemistry held their 3rd Annual Alumni Seminar and Graduate Student Poster Symposium in mid-October. Distinguished PSU alumna and Colorado State University Professor of Chemistry, Amber Krummel, gave the lecture, and a lively reception followed. The second floor lounge of the Science Research & Teaching Center was buzzing with current students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Student posters lined the walls and were impressive in both their substance and appearance. I never stop being amazed at the innovation, enthusiasm and ease at which our students talk about their research. And, their ability to explain to someone like me, who knows little about their specific research work, the relevance of what they are doing and what they have learned.research-3

Mark Your Calendars
Many PSU departments do similar events. I encourage department chairs and faculty to publicize and collaborate on these events, so all can attend. Do not forget to mark your calendars for our campus-wide Student Research Symposium that will take place on May 4 in the SMSU Ballroom with paper presentations throughout the day in all of the rooms on the third floor of SMSU.

Whether it’s our Chemistry students, our faculty, or our external collaborators, public universities are about the public good.

Share your thoughts on how PSU can advance, foster, and promote research for students and faculty.


2 thoughts on “Importance of Funding and Advancing Research at Public Universities

  1. In addition to these events at PSU, recently we also had the second annual American Chemical Society (ACS) Poster Symposium and Career Fair at PSU chemistry department. This symposium is sponsored by the ACS and local businesses such as FEI, Intel, molecular probes, Klarquist and Sparkman, Vernier, and TCI etc. The symposium is comprised of stellar undergraduate students who do research at several regional universities including PSU in several research areas (Organic, Inorganic, Biochemistry, Physical, Analytical, Materials, and Polymers). In addition to the symposium we had representative recruiters from the companies as well as universities that came to recruit students for graduate school and entry level positions within their company. This year we had an industry-academic partnership with Intel that sponsored the symposium and also interviewed students for bachelor’s level position within the manufacturing division in Hillsboro. We had over 35 interviews conducted that night on campus and half of the candidates were women. Though this was a bachelors level position we had a great number of master level representatives that were also given a short interviews and their resumes passed on to other hiring mangers within Intel. More importantly, of the bachelor’s students that were interviewed, 85% of the candidates were offered positions at Intel. Several of these students also presented their work at the symposium. Intel was very impressed with the quality of the candidates that applied and presented their research and will be back to recruit at PSU next year. This type of industry-academic partnership is allows us to sponsor high quality researchers and scientists at PSU. For information about the undergraduate ACS symposium and career fair, check out.


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