NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
GENERAL FACULTY MEETING
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Talley Student Center (Stewart Theatre)
3:30 P. M.
1. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 3:30 p.m. by Professor Philip B. Carter, Chair of the Faculty.
2. Remarks of Professor Philip B. Carter, Chair of the Faculty
Welcome to the autumn meeting of the General Faculty of North Carolina State University. The Chancellor will introduce members of her administration shortly.
Let me acknowledge the members of the Faculty Senate present. These individuals are the elected representatives of the various constituencies of the faculty and EPA professionals in the university’s ten colleges and other academic units. They contribute their time most generously to the University and we should all be grateful to them for their contributions.
Also present are members of the Council of University Professors, individuals who have distinguished themselves in their various academic fields and represent an especially treasured group of colleagues who contribute their collective wisdom as an advisory body to the Chancellor on matters of broad university importance.
Lastly, I wish to recognize the members of our ROTC units represented on campus. These men and women contribute in very important ways in providing our students with education, training, and leadership skills for an honorable career in our Armed Forces which so well complements their other academic courses.
Academic Freedom - One year and six days ago, this country experienced an attack like no other in our history. We are now engaged in a war on terrorism which must be won quickly and decisively by those committed to world peace and the peaceful and democratic resolution of problems. We acknowledge with pride that the commander of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan is an alumnus of this university, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Dan McNiell. We wish him success and his safe return home as well as that of all the troops engaged overseas. As university faculty, we must recognize our responsibility, particularly at this point in history, to educate our students in our classes, and also citizens of our state, nation, and the world through our televised and written communications, in the understanding of other cultures and religions toward the end of addressing the pernicious problems of poor health, poor literacy, poor government, and poor economy afflicting so many of our world’s nations. It is only through such education that any hope for improvement can exist. We must be free to educate our students in the understanding of other cultures and the perspectives of those in other countries. A university must be a haven for the free search for such understanding wherever it may be found, whether in the Bible, the Qur’án, or even a text entitled "Approaching the Qur’án". I applaud the public defense of this bedrock tenet of higher education by Chancellor Fox and at our university system level by President Molly Broad. I ask the University Board of Governors to never waiver from their responsibility to defend this freedom against whatever misguided political pressures may arise. For it is only through the free search for knowledge and understanding that we can ever hope to address the underlying causes of world conflict, to understand the feelings of hopelessness that must exist to cause young people to suicidally sacrifice their lives in desperate cries for world attention to their problems. As a university, we must remain free to study and educate in the best way we know in the hope that we and our students may use the talents and knowledge we develop in this place to best serve our nation and all the nations of the world in addressing the basic concerns of humanity.
Recruitment, Retention, Progress toward Degree, Graduation Rates
On a related topic, yesterday the U.S. News & World Report issue on "America’s Best Colleges" flooded newsstands nationally: NC State ranks 41st among public universities granting doctoral degrees.
So it is not just me as a Notre Dame graduate that is so obsessed with rankings. The joke is, how many Notre Dame students does it take to screw in a light bulb and the answer is seventy five hundred. One to screw it in and the rest of the student body to find out where they rank.
I am sure we are all concerned when public perceptions are created by publications such as U. S. News & World Report especially when our ranking is less than what we think it should be, as I do.
The percentages used in these rankings, at least outlined by the Washington Post article over the weekend is that 25% of the ranking is based on pure perception of excellence, 20% on student success, and 20% on facilities which include faculty salaries. Although I would like to think that we can make major headway in faculty salary and thus increase our national standing, I am not optimistic in the next year or so. Perception we can always work on, but I think the thing that we can most easily address is student success. In this area I think we should place our greatest effort in the near future.
Recent reports on the general student body indicate that we may be falling back from our high water mark of graduation rates in the mid to late 90s.
It is not an insignificant change; Let me remind you that even a 2% drop in sales prompted Coca-Cola to completely reexamine their logo and color scheme on their cans and bottles.
Personally I would like to see that we have an alumni association not, as Texas A&M, an Association of Former Students.
I am pleased that Professors Jim Clark and Ellis Cowling reactivated the Watauga Seminar last spring and are continuing this fall, sessions held in the Faculty Chambers, having a view toward addressing graduation rates, recruitment and retention.
Working with relevant university committees and the Provost’s new Task Force on these issues, I am hopeful that the Watauga Seminar will issue an interim report based on the presentations of last spring which would be most useful to the Provost’s Task Force.
I encourage all faculty to participate in this seminar.
Wednesday Lunches - Last year I instituted a weekly "brown bag" lunch in the Senate Chambers to foster collegiality among faculty from all of our colleges and facilitate communication with your elected faculty representatives. We held it every Wednesday last academic year and shall continue through this academic year. We will have it tomorrow, and I encourage all of you to participate as your time permits. I shall again supply the cookies and soft drinks. I encourage you to join your faculty colleagues from all over campus in the Faculty Senate Chambers for lunch on Wednesdays.
Collegiality - In recent months, issues have arisen, as often happens in academic circles, in which faculty colleagues have found themselves on opposite sides of questions on which they are quite passionate. In some cases, this has led to perceived instances where the public debate of the issues carried over to personal attacks and I, as Faculty Chair, was asked to mediate. My position is that I shall defend a faculty member’s right to express their point of view, but I am not able to accept public attacks on colleagues. As academicians, we should set the example for how academic discourse should be conducted and hold ourselves to higher standards than we might expect of others. I am especially concerned that we set the proper example for our students, mindful of the fact that we do not teach only in the classroom but influence students by our conduct throughout the day.
Lastly, I invite the faculty to attend the open session of the Board of Trustees meeting this coming Friday morning at 10:00AM in the Alumni conference room. Please contact the Chancellor’s office if you plan to attend so that adequate chairs can be provided.
It is now my great pleasure to introduce our Chancellor who will make some remarks introducing her staff and other administrators.
3. Introduction of Guests
Chancellor Fox acknowledged the presence of the Executive Officers of the university.
4. Approval of the Minutes of the February 5, 2002 General Faculty Meeting
The minutes were approved without dissent.
5. State Employees Combined Campaign
Professor David Haase, Chair of the NC State Employees Combined Campaign stated, "The State Employees Combined Campaign does count. It counts to young people who are tutored and programs such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scout, the Y, the elderly that receive help with everything from meals to calculating their taxes, to hospices, to people in our community; they count on our support. The State Employees Combined Campaign was founded approximately a decade and a half ago as a way to consolidate all of the fund raising that was done on the campus and in the other State offices. You are only asked to support charities once a year. In addition, the combined campaign has become a way for the university to show its solidarity with the needs of the community. It is a way that we show, as people who are already in a service organization, how we serve the community, how we feel that we are partners in the community.
The State Employees Combined Campaign starts October 5, 2002. Our goal this year is $420,000 which is the same amount that was brought in last year. It is going to be a challenging goal this year, but I think we can do it very proudly. I hope that you will take the opportunity to support the campaign, to encourage your colleagues and co-workers to support the campaign, and to give yourself. This year is the first year that the need based scholarships for the children of NC State employees is an option for the State Employees campaign and so a designated gift to that is a gift to help the children of people on our own campus. It is a privilege for us to be able to give at this time, at this place when there are many people in much need at this time, and I hope that you will take advantage of that giving and to show that North Carolina State does care about its community. Thank you very much."
6. Reaffirmation of Accreditation by SACS
Karen Helm, Director, University Planning and Analysis stated, "We are know preparing for reaffirmation of our institutional accreditation by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools).
NC State is in the first class of an entirely overhauled process that was approved by SACS last December. There are fewer criteria. The criteria are less prescriptive and that gives us more flexibility in determining how we respond to those criteria. The process is simpler and shorter and there is given greater focus to improving quality on our campus. Quality in a way that we define it for ourselves.
NC State is organized in this way in preparing for reaffirmation: we have a leadership team, a small group of five people including Alton Banks from the Faculty Senate, Susan Nutter from the Libraries, Provost Cooper chairs the leadership team and the Chancellor serves ex-officio and I come along as accreditation liaison. We also have a compliance team co-chaired by William Kimler from the Department of History and myself. Our job is to prepare a report that describes what we do to be in compliance with the now fewer and more general criteria given to us by SACS. The compliance team has a subcommittee. The subcommittee will look specifically at planning and assessment as it takes place across the campus. In addition to the leadership team and compliance team, we have a quality enhancement plan team. The quality enhancement plan will address a critical strategic issue of our own choosing, an issue that will improve student learning in the learning environment on our campus. The Chancellor selected the topic for our quality enhancement plan in consultation with the Deans and the Vice Chancellors and a variety of other people on campus. The topic for our QEP is Learning in a Technology Rich Environment. The QEP team is co-chaired by Hugh Devine, Professor of Natural Resources, and Sharon Pitt, the Director of Learning Technology Services in DELTA. The schedule for our reaffirmation is: Compliance certification will be submitted to SACS in August 2003. That compliance certification will be reviewed off site by SACS in the Fall of 2003. Then we submit our quality enhancement plan in January 2004 and that plan will be reviewed by an on site in the Spring of 2004. We expect that SACS will reaffirm our accreditation in December 2004. It is approximately a two-year process from this point until we are reaffirmed. My office is maintaining a web site so that you can get more information on accreditation all the way through this process. From the University Planning and Analysis website go to Accreditation and there you will see the information that we have related to this entire effort."
Learning in a Technology Rich Environment (LITRE)
Sharon Pitt, Director, Learning Technology Services in DELTA stated, "Learning In a Technology Rich Environment has a leader team comprised of faculty, staff and students from service and academic units across NC State. The team will develop an institutional plan focused on the intersection of student learning and educational technology. An outcome of the study is the SACS quality enhancement plan for NC State. Unlike previous reaffirmations at NC State and in contrast to the new revised compliance check, this QEP will be a living document for NC State, and, an opportunity for us to carry the university into the future on an issue that is important to us. This long term plan will focus on improving and enhancing what is already a strength of our university. A challenge for the LITRE team will be to organize and engage the university in discussions about learning and technology rich environments. This process is not one that is built into the fabric of the university institution. Therefore, it will be important for the faculty to engage us in discussions as much as the team reaches out to faculty. The LITRE team will research topics like student information fluency, faculty engagement, learning resources and innovative instructional applications, high quality distance education and distributed learning environments, instructional systems and facilities and educational technology infrastructure. The LITRE team will make recommendations for leadership action on all topics, building on a foundation of similar work that is already happening and is happening at NC State. These recommendations may focus on developing exceptionally competent and efficient learners who adapt readily into changing learning and research environments. We will be making recommendations on building the network that empowers faculty to engage highly effective learning technologies in their teaching. Some of you may have seen that LITRE initiatives are a part of the compact planning process. Feel free to contact me or Dr. Hugh Devine if you have any questions concerning that process. Thank you."
7. Progress Toward Degree Completion
Dr. Thomas Conway, Associate Vice Provost, Undergraduate Affairs stated, "This pep talk is a part that is easy for me because I have been living with this for a while now. I’ve been asked how long have you been doing this. I can trace the origins of the discussion about progress toward degree back to at least 1992, so this is not something new to the university. Many of you sitting out here have been involved in those ongoing discussions. As the university and faculty continue its focus on student success, one of the big opportunities that we have now through having a progress toward degree regulation in place is that we can move forward with our dialog of how to generate the momentum to move students more directly and purposefully toward graduation. A couple of issues drove this discussion as time went on, and you are aware of these. You have had students over the years that have languaged in a position of continuing to try to gain access to majors that they either showed no talent for or made no real progress toward getting into. The university was never in a position of saying that you have to make a decision based upon what is available to you. The other issue that has been bothering us over the years has been that when students do not get into majors, they tend to blame the department rather than focusing on the requirements for getting into those majors. A couple of things drove that.
1) We have not clearly articulated what our internal transfer requirements were.
2) As requirements have changed and we have brought students into campus, we have not made it clear in an ongoing fashion that admission to our competitive programs is really competitive and that is a reality that they are going to have to deal with. I think we are in a position to start saying that more deliberately and more accurately.
Three things are going to be a part of a successful ongoing implementation of the progress toward degree regulation. First, the deans are working with the Provost in the establishment of the real capacity in the colleges so that as we start talking about what admission levels should be, our internal transfer requirements are done on the basis of some fact rather than the ongoing lore that exists. Then we are going to look at providing students with alternatives to some of the impacted degree programs that we have now. We have some areas that are over enrolled, and they do not have the capacity to add additional students, so we have to look at what the viable options are going to be.
Second, the university requirements are going to be fundamental. We are going to talk about things we value. We are going to say to students, we value planning. We want you to value planning. We are going to require you to develop an academic program of study. To that end we are in the process of developing a tool which will actually be previewed at the technology expo. It is a template that will be available for the student to generate the in plan and it will have an electronic signature by the faculty advisor or department designee so that now you know what the student intends to do. We are going to ask students to enroll in courses consistent with that plan. We are going to ask students to complete at least 24 hours in an academic year. The regulation is designed to work in conjunction with other existing regulations in the university. That 24 hours is based on a plan to be a full time undergraduate student. If students come in and indicate to you that their goal, either by circumstance or choice, is to pursue their degree as a part time student, then doing a plan of study that indicates that intention allows you to approve that student and grant their ongoing satisfaction of this regulation without getting in that student’s way.
Finally, the progress toward degree regulation requires students to be matriculated into a degree granting program when they reach 60 hours. Those factors are going to be the major metrics that will be used. Each May there will be a university wide monitoring of the process. Those students that have not satisfied any of the four variables will be flagged. The student, department, and faculty advisor will be notified. A decision has to be made at that point. The decision can be made that the alterations that the student has made make sense and the advisor can lift the flag. If it is a case where the advisor needs to bring the student in, then the student is required to meet with the advisor to discuss what the flag means. Students that are flagged will be notified that they need to make appointments with their academic advisors. If the flag is lifted then the student proceeds. If the flag is not lifted, the student has a semester of progress warning. The expectations during that semester are that the student will meet early with the advisor to come up with a specific set of expectations for that semester. Upon meeting those expectations, the progress warning is lifted and the student proceeds. The idea is not to trap students into situations where you are looking to remove them from your programs or the institution but to get students into conferences with their academic advisors or departmental designees so that corrections can be made early on when they can be effective. If the student does not meet the expectations during the semester of progress warning, then the student stands to lose their degree seeking status. A new category of student is being developed that takes students out of degree seeking status and essentially parks them while they make a decision about what the next step is. In order for a student to end up in this situation a student will have to either refuse to follow the plan or not make progress in the number of hours completed or not matriculate into a degree for which they qualify. There is a serious need now to call the student’s attention to this issue so that the threat now is that there will be loss of degree seeking status. If a student goes into that category, that student must then apply through the readmissions process to a program that they qualify and meet the internal transfer requirements for going into. Again, the idea is to encourage students to avoid this.
I started out by describing this as an opportunity. The real test of whether or not this regulation is going to be successful is going to be the quality of the dialog that takes place between students and faculty in those advising appointments and the quality of the dialog that takes place between faculty and faculty, because the cultures in each of the departments have to be set as to how you are going to work with your students. Thank you."
8. Remarks from Chancellor Fox
"Rarely has our nation faced a more difficult period than our last academic year. But despite the events of September 11 and the downturn in the economy, NC State has continued her proud traditions. We have pledged a continuing commitment to the academic values that drive unfettered inquiry through innovation at the frontiers of knowledge and that provide for the top quality education of the next generation of leaders. We have been active and creative in affirming our land grant traditions, responding quickly and effectively to the needs of our students and of the citizens of North Carolina, as together we pull ourselves toward economic recovery. Despite many challenges, we move into the current year, intent on assigning the highest priority to keeping our promise to maintain outstanding educational opportunity for our students.
Today, more than two and a half months after the start of our current fiscal year, we are still operating without a defined budget. We have learned to manage our operations through informed guesses about what our ultimate level of state support might be. Although dealing with this uncertainty has been challenging, I am so proud that our faculty, the heart of this institution, have responded as a team to assure that momentum is not lost. The budget read into the record last night as the report of the Joint Conference Committee is encouraging in that it minimizes cuts, maintains indirect cost return on the campuses, continues graduate student tuition remission and fully funds enrollment in a manner fully consistent with North Carolina’s traditional support of higher education. We applaud our legislators for their strong support of NC universities during tough budget times. If adopted, this budget will allow flexibility in managing our campus and will allow us to restore some fraction of cuts made in July. Specifically, I have asked Susan Nutter, our Vice Provost and Director of Libraries, to plan to keep open the library, week nights until 2:00 a.m. beginning Sunday, and to plan for full restoration of overnight weeknight hours as feasible, probably mid-October.
Regardless of the challenge, the future remains bright, as together we build the new NC State. The year just completed provided opportunities for us to explore academic freedom and the right to free speech, to review of our promotion and tenure policies, and to establish a post-tenure review and validation. The challenges we have faced together illustrate what George McDowell has called the core of the University, "the civilized and civilizing risk which society assumes in creating the university."
Our vision for the new NC State remains unchanged: we have sought to build an intellectually and demographically diverse campus community; to foster new partnerships; and to adopt a business model that works to integrate academic plans with budget priorities. Each of these goals remains valid and worthy of energetic pursuit. As time permits, I would like to comment briefly on the status of each of these.
Building our campus diverse community: Access and affordability are serious long-standing goals of this University. This year the high school grade point average for our incoming freshman class moved past 4.0, reflecting increased participation in honors and advanced placement courses and an improved SAT score of 1193. Our undergraduate student body has grown by about 800 since last fall, while our graduate student census has been reduced by about 450 students. Likely, this decrease in the number of graduate students reflects uncertainty at the time of spring admission decisions in the level of legislative funding of the graduate student support plan, decreased availability of industry support of part-time graduate students, and restrictions on visas for foreign students. Overcoming these obstacles within the next year to get back on track to grow our graduate program will be very important. Only if we do so will we reap the full benefits of sponsored research, which has grown by a margin of about 10% for federally sponsored research and by over 30% for state supported research this year. We are grateful that the budget being debated as we speak will fully fund our net enrollment increase and will permit staffing levels that facilitate our students' smooth progress toward their degrees.
This net gain in entering students’ qualifications was achieved while at the same time increasing the student body size. In doing so, we have also worked actively to recruit African-American and Hispanic students. African-Americans continue to be represented as about 11% of the student body, with all minorities comprising about 19% of our students. We have also assigned high priority to recruiting and retaining faculty from under-represented groups and to improving the campus climate to foster success for all.
One consequence of the improving quality of our student body is that we have moved, with our sister school UNC-Chapel Hill, into the top 20 of the nation’s best values in public colleges, according to the Kiplingers Managing magazine, which cites NC State as an institution that combines great academics and affordable tuition. This, despite an increase of $520 in in-state tuition and fees, a 16% increase over last year’s levels.
Our inclusion among the nation’s top institutions in other rankings, however, has been hurt not by the quality of our programs, but rather by our 4-year and 6-year undergraduate degree completion rates of 27% and 65%, respectively. Although these figures are not unusual for technically focused schools (for example, Georgia Tech=s comparable numbers are 20% and 69%), they are unacceptably low, especially in competition with universities focusing on a liberal arts education. Improving this performance must be an area for intense analysis and emphasis. To that end, Provost Cooper led the effort last year to define a Progress Toward Degree regulation that assists undergraduates in choosing to pursue a specific degree program at an early stage of their studies. He has recently appointed a Task force on Improving Retention and Graduation Rates which will define those factors that can be most efficiently addressed. We ask for your best ideas and your focused dedication to addressing this challenge this year.
Although our students recognize the value of their education, many require financial assistance to continue their studies, and we are pleased to see that the currently proposed conference budget will include about $4.5 million in additional need-based financial aid, to supplement the funds available through last year=s highly successful Campaign for NC State Students. We have also been successful in the early stages of planning for a capital campaign: We have raised a record amount from private donors, over $110 million in the last fiscal year. The number of members in our lifetime giving societies has also increased dramatically, reflecting a renewed participation from alumni chapters inside and outside the borders of North Carolina.
Great faculty deserve great facilities. In the last year, we have made dramatic progress in moving toward the goals for facilities made possible by the November 2000 Bond referendum. Currently there are 37 major construction projects being developed or built with bond funding. The first of these, the Ruby McSwain Education Center at the JC Raulston Arboretum, will open this Saturday morning.
The Conference legislative provision to retain full overhead costs associated with sponsored projects, if incorporated in the final budget, will allow us to continue to make wise investments in the research equipment and infrastructure that makes possible the most innovative research. This is a recognition of the importance of all sponsored projects covering the full cost of research.
Fostering Partnerships. As a function of these investments, we have been able to plan or offer new graduate degrees in bioinformatics, communications, computer networking, design, functional genomics, school administration, and financial mathematics, all non-traditional areas that have brought together faculty from different disciplines. We have new undergraduate offerings as well in environmental technology, biomedical engineering, anthropology, and professional golf management. We are planning for a unique joint Ph.D. program in biomedical engineering with UNC-Chapel Hill, an area that neither institution could address alone.
We have also continued strong collaborations at the faculty research group level with Duke and Chapel Hill. We are delighted that Nan Keohane, the President of Duke University, is with us today to celebrate the more than 100 joint research projects or centers involving both faculties. In preparing for today’s talk I scanned some of these topics. They include training programs in fungal pathogenesis; biostatistical analysis of clinical trials; the use of research animals as models for human health (one I particularly like is in a collaborative program studying the use of aged laying hen as a model for human ovarian cancer); work on the effects of hypoxia in shallow estuaries; the offering of critical languages (like Persian, Tamil, and Bengali) through the NC Center for South Asia Studies; environmental sustainability through research at the Water Resources Research Institute; advanced computing and communication; and molecular electronics and photonics, to name only a very small sampling of this rich collaboration.
Our premier partnership achievement is the continued growth of our Centennial Campus, which expanded last year as we acquired an additional 130 acres across Centennial Parkway on the old Dix hospital grounds. Despite the economy, we have maintained >97% occupancy of leased space on the campus and have grown the assignable square footage of the campus to about 1 million assignable square feet. Since its opening in 2000, 47 companies have used the Business Incubator, and many have moved on to greater success outside the space limitations imposed by the Centennial Campus model.
The campus has also been home to our Industrial Extension Service, which served nearly 8000 clients last year. Even this number pales, however, in comparison with the nearly 4 million contacts achieved through Cooperative Extension. And all the while the census of students and faculty working on the campus has grown proportionately.
Building a Business Model that Works: An important means for communication across divisions in this large and complex university is our Compact Planning process. This academic year we move into the third year of the first cycle of this exercise. It is a process that therefore requires revisiting and refocusing during this same year. The process has been astonishingly effective in some units and in some colleges, less so in others. The key to success has been active and continuing participation by faculty in this highly iterative process. Compact Planning is not a panacea for budget restrictions, but it is a very valuable tool for sorting internal priorities and for avoiding the numbing effects of across-the-board cuts or expansions. I urge you to each become actively involved in these negotiations. Even if next year’s legislative session will operate under some of the same restrictions under which the current session has functioned, a definition of common goals will be critical for our efforts to maintain momentum.
We are also challenged to develop collaborative models that meet common financial realities. Working with our Triangle partners for a financially solvent model for networking and supercomputing will be an additional challenge soon to be confronted. Our trust in collaboration and our recognition of the need for high performance computing in emerging areas such as structural biology and functional genomics makes accessibility to cycles and data storage an unquestioned need for a top quality research university.
In summary, we are making sure progress toward our University vision despite fiscal austerity. It is a time reminiscent of other difficult times, like 1944, when Jose Ortega Y Gassett, in his acclaimed work, "The Mission of the University," said, "The University must be open to the whole reality of its time. It must be in the midst of real life, and saturated with it; must intervene, as the University, in current affairs, treating the great themes of the day from its own point of view: cultural, professional, and scientific." Staying true to that vision and to our cherished traditions and values will get us through these financially difficult times.
Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our students, and for joining us today. I appreciate your support."
9. Remarks from Professor Nanerl O. Keohane, President of Duke University
"It is an honor and a pleasure to be invited to address this faculty. This meeting underscores the ties that have historically drawn our two institutions together -- despite our appropriately fierce sports rivalries. It will also, I hope, help chart a course for even more fruitful partnerships in the future.
Among the great universities that have given this region its intellectual vitality and provided its economic engine, NC State is unique. Where else but State would you look to redesign firemen’s uniforms in the wake of 9/11? Who else spins off businesses as diverse and successful as Cree, Red Hat, and SAS? And to whom did Duke turn a month ago to save us from near-disaster when our first-time offering of a core course in Bioinformatics and Genome Technology suddenly found itself without a professor?
And when we think about the leaders who did most to shape the fortunes of this state in the late 20th century, two of NSCU’s graduates come to mind: Jim Hunt in government, and Bill Friday in education.
Common History and Existing Collaborations - Our relationships have been here over the years; at the outset, they had a chance to be even closer! In 1890, Trinity College, the precursor of Duke University, was very nearly relocated from rural Randolph County to what is now literally NC State turf. Only a last-minute donation of $9,361 from the good citizens of Durham tipped the balance and persuaded the institution’s leaders to move there instead.
The earliest and best known of the collaborative arrangements between our institutions all involve UNC-Chapel Hill, as well. As I’m sure most of you are aware, our ground-breaking library consortium, now called the Triangle Research Libraries Network, was founded in 1934 as the Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. In the decades since, during which we have been joined by NC Central University, this arrangement has made it possible for our institutions to coordinate our purchases so efficiently that at this point, I am told, only 6.7% of our holdings duplicate each other across all partner institutions.
Over the years, many collaborations between our two schools have been in the life sciences, especially botany, forestry, and environmental issues. For example, today NC State is a member of the Organization for Tropical Studies, a consortium of universities which maintains field research and teaching facilities in Costa Rica. Duke serves as the consortium’s headquarters.
During the past decade, most of our collaborations have been in statistics, information technology and bioinformatics. Many of you know that for the last half dozen years or so, we have partnered in the Center for Advanced Computing and Communication. Even more visibly, Duke and State are two of the six "Core Universities" in the operation and governance of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The premier example of our working together from the previous generation of science—the "physics" generation rather than the "biological" generation—is the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory, funded by the Department of Energy, which today continues to carry out a great deal of superb research.Just recently, Duke and State were among the principals behind the launch of the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute, dedicated to a radical synthesis of math, statistics, and applied disciplinary science. We also work closely together in the National Institute for Statistical Sciences; the Triangle Universities Center for Advanced Studies; the Triangle Computer Science Lecture Series; the Triangle Research Data Center; and the Sun Microsystems Center for Excellence.
We both play roles in the governance of the supercomputing and biotechnology centers, and the Research Triangle Institute as well. And every year, dozens of grants housed at State have subcontracts to Duke and vice-versa, involving millions of dollars.
Of course, not all our partnerships are in the sciences and engineering. Your humanities and social sciences faculty have fruitful collaborations with ours, as well.
On October 10, State and Duke are jointly sponsoring a regional roundtable under the auspices of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, whose Campaign for the Advancement of Liberal Learning calls for intense campus-community dialogue about the direction for higher education in the 21st century. We hope this meeting will help us become more engaged partners with leaders in local government, secondary education, civic and business life, and, multiplied by many hundreds of such meetings around the country, help revitalize liberal education.
I understand that this fall we are also teaching a jointly sponsored course on Afghanistan, with interactive videoconferencing that allows students on both campuses to take part simultaneously. Maybe this will finally solve the parking problems at both ends.
But of course, it is the Research Triangle Park that demonstrates our historical relationship at its best. The park was created in 1959 because of the vision of leaders in state and local government, the universities, and industry. Surely one of the great moments in the entire history of North Carolina was when the leaders of the Triangle universities, working cheek by jowl with the governor and the business leaders, agreed to work aggressively to create the Research Triangle Park.
RTP is still the defining feature of our part of the world. It has lifted our region from the relative obscurity of the piney woods to the front page of Fortune magazine or the Wall Street Journal, and of papers in London, Tokyo, and Sao Paolo. It has put us on the short lists for possible relocation. The Research Triangle adds greatly to our ability to attract and retain strong faculty members, as well as providing many of our students and our graduates with internships and employment. Duke and State both have thousands of alumni still living in the area in large part because of what RTP makes possible.
The park not only brought to the region some of the foremost industrial and biotechnology firms; it transformed the regional culture, and positioned North Carolina as different from any other place in the southeast. Our state leaped from near last in the league to being a viable alternative for up-and-coming research firms, competitive today with the best that Austin, Boston or Silicon Valley have to offer.
But nota bene: the first research enterprise to go to the Park did not come from Duke or from Chapel Hill. It was a statistical project at NC State that laid the foundation for RTI, having been very purposely moved to the Park to assist with recruitment efforts there. You stuck your neck out, and it paid off. Thank you for that, too.
This is only a brief summary of decades of collaboration, enough to give us a flavor of how important this has been for both institutions. What about the future? Are we doing enough together, and if not, why not? Does it really matter whether Duke and North Carolina State University collaborate? My answers would be, no, we are not yet doing enough together; and yes, it does matter greatly that we -- along with Chapel Hill and others -- collaborate well and often. In the remainder of my talk, I’ll sketch out a few points to support those answers.
The Importance of Collaboration - Research in Triangle universities has for decades been strongly correlated with new products, new industries, and new jobs in our state. Research universities help develop the high density of talent necessary to support clustered economic growth. We spin off new businesses, and create technically sophisticated jobs as well as the people to fill them. Research universities attract external financial support whose impact is multiplied many times over, and provide expertise of enormous value to state and local governments. We develop the intellectual capital for startups and act as magnets for talent, reversing the brain drain that plagued this region until the 1960s. We know all this, of course, but we need to be sure that we are engaging proactively in making it happen for the future.
What are the present obstacles to bold new collaborative ventures that would allow us, in our time, to be just as visionary as our predecessors in 1934 or 1959? Although we have shown good will, and although many dyadic and faculty-specific collaborations are engendered all the time, we have not been able to take the next step. Our challenge - and our opportunity - is to invigorate our economic climate with some major new infusions of money and talent to take the Research Triangle up one more notch - and to protect its competitive advantage against would-be RTPs around the world.
When I ask why we have not been more proactive, the answer is not the real estate mantra of "location, location, location" -- we have that pretty well covered; instead, it’s the more recent mantras of show me the money, or it’s the economy, stupid.
It would be pleasant to echo Marilyn Monroe and say, "I'm not worried about the money. I just want to be wonderful . . ." But of course we are worried about the money. When our representatives in Raleigh are struggling to balance the budget, and businesses in the Park are steadily laying off workers, it seems a poor time to be talking about a bold surge ahead. We’ll be lucky, they might say, just to cover our current bets.
It is useful to recall that when the RTP was launched, our state wasn’t rolling in money. Yet our leaders had a vision, and they looked to make investments, even in difficult times-- investments that changed the economic face of our state. North Carolina won’t be broke forever, and when the recovery begins to occur, collaboration will be an essential driver for the economy. Public-private partnerships in research fields that are emerging as high-tech leaders must be a top priority if this state is to regain its lead in this very competitive environment. Investments in innovative and cost-effective research will train a generation of scientists and engineers who will be leaders in areas with high potential for growth. State financial support for seeding and promoting innovative research will be particularly crucial.
And we need to be planning for that now, laying the groundwork for that collaboration, and doing whatever we can to work towards those goals, even in our present highly constrained environment. Dedicated support for such efforts during tough times is even more critical than when the economy is flourishing, because only then do we have a chance of rebounding. Our predecessors understood that; today’s leaders must as well.
I worry that some short-sighted decisions are being made that are going to put North Carolina behind -- not just behind the big players like Texas or California, but behind our near neighbors Maryland and Georgia. Our state has chosen to use the windfall of tobacco money to protect our farmers, and some of it had to be siphoned off to deal with desperate needs after Hurricane Floyd. But many other states used that money for research in promising new fields like biotechnology, fields where North Carolina at present has a competitive edge -- but it’s an edge that surely will not last when other better-financed states come roaring up behind us.
In Georgia, Maryland, Michigan and elsewhere, the state government itself is thinking strategically about how to stimulate research, jockeying to make their state the next hot intellectual and business property by fostering collaborations between the public and private sector, and public and private universities. The expected return for the state from the way tax money or tobacco windfall money or any money is spent can be much higher if we think investment for the long run rather than just covering our short term needs.
I understand that for the immediate future it would be naive to count on any substantial investments from the state budget. Nor is it realistic to expect businesses that are themselves strapped to pony up a lot of money to support investment in long-term research.
However, not all businesses in the Park are strapped, and new ones are being created every day, many of them from folks on our own campuses. And most important, I would argue that during this time in our history, in terms of the triadic partnership of government, business and academia, it’s up to us to take the lead and show the way. It’s not that any of us are flush with money, to be sure, but we are rich in ideas, in people, in technologies, and in dreams that are only a step or two away from realization.
Short-term collaborative steps - Let me begin with the easy part: we can do an even better job on some of the collaborations we engage in every day, or others that are easily within our reach. We can improve our financial condition and management practices by taking advantage of opportunities to consolidate services and programs. We can enhance academic quality for both of us by using the attractions of the Triangle to lure the best and brightest, and we can think strategically about matched hires and partnerships.
It could be quite attractive to potential faculty recruits to be offered the opportunity to get to know colleagues on both campuses and work with more graduate students. We could coordinate our hiring of experts in a variety of fields, to make sure that advanced course work is offered, particularly in relatively esoteric disciplines, without duplicating one another’s efforts. It is much easier to have faculty members teach one semester on one campus and the other on the neighboring campus than to confront the logistics of transporting and scheduling undergraduates. This seems in some ways a parallel to our library consortium, with the same obvious advantages.
However, people are not texts or software, and joint hiring gets much more complex than joint purchasing of books. There are issues of criteria for hiring, promotion and tenure, of credit given for university service, of multiplying committee and departmental obligations, of how to decide which courses will be taught, in what sequence, with what specific content. These are thorny issues, but they are surely not insuperable, if we have the will to act. I’m happy to say that our provosts are pursuing this, meeting together at least once a month. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit, much that we can accomplish with only a small degree of incremental planning and encouragement. The last time our provosts got together, they talked about a 10-year strategic vision for collaboration. The benefits would be enormous both for our institutions and ultimately for our state.
And when it comes to securing grants and contracts, our universities sometimes prove to be more successful when we collaborate than when we don’t.
Let me give an example. For SAMSI, an external visiting committee came to town to evaluate our joint application, meeting with the provosts or chancellors of Carolina, Duke, and State. The committee commented that it had been deeply impressed by the fact that not only did our top people show up at the same time, but we actually seemed to know each other, knew what we were talking about, knew what each other’s faculty were doing. And that, they said, greatly strengthened the proposal.
The same comments were made by the team that came to the Park recently to do a promotional video advertising RTP to firms around the world. They were to film Chancellor Fox, Chancellor Moeser and me, and the head of the team later confessed that she was very worried that we’d have nothing to say to each other and would simply each try to promote our own campuses. Instead, as soon as the three of us got there, we began an intense conversation about a totally different matter that was on all our desks while they tried to attach our mikes. They had to shut us up to begin the filming, and then we kept talking to each other, building on each other, mentioning strengths on each other’s campuses. The film folks said they’d never seen anything like it.
Colleagues, such relationships are in many ways as good as gold, and they are powerfully productive in making partnerships happen. We must not squander this opportunity.
Some Bolder Steps - What are some of the steps we might take? Faculty members and administrative leaders on our campuses have already identified many areas for productive cooperation, where bolder moves are promising: from photonics to genomics, environmental sustainability to biomedical engineering, nanotechnology to information technology, bioinformatics to marine sciences. Some are underway, some are still on the drawing board, and all are worth talking about.
As the complexity and cost of scientific and technical research has continued to increase dramatically, the physical proximity of collaborating universities becomes a bigger and bigger differential advantage. Not everything can be done through cyberspace, and air travel gets more difficult all the time. Given this precious proximity, it makes no sense to duplicate, say, highly sophisticated genomics labs and other facilities—a costly independence indeed.
Discussions have been underway for several years about the exciting possibilities for collaboration in genomics, still a work in progress. Combining Duke’s strengths in law, business, public policy, clinical research and the basic sciences in the medical school with State’s substantial investments in plant genomics, genome technology, and bioinformatics would let us work together across the continuum from plants to animals to humans. Engineering, veterinary medicine, the ag school—all would figure prominently. This is truly a natural, a win-win that we would be profoundly foolish not to pursue. Imagine the synergies in studying animal models of human disease, or of a combined training program that would allow NCSU vets to take a Ph.D. training in transgenic animal models at our end.
Once we finish our new Center for Human Disease Models facility at Duke and get a permanent director on board, our transgenic mice will have a decent hotel, and our institutions will have even more to talk about. Already, of course, we are both members of the North Carolina Genomics and Bioinformatics Consortium, formed by the Biotechnology Center to promote public, private, and foundation partnerships so that all our genomics, bioinformatics and proteomics efforts will thrive.
A second area with huge potential for collaboration, and where the total is likely to be greater than the sum of the parts, is in research and development related to homeland security. Duke’s Fitzpatrick Center for Advanced Photonics and Information Systems is working on sensors for detecting pathogens in living human tissue, while the N.C. State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is doing the same for pathogens in plants. Why should we not team up in the biomedical area to work on, say, both point and remote detection of biological agents such as anthrax?
At least according to the House version of the Homeland Security Bill, there will be an Undersecretary for Science and Technology who will manage R&D funds through university-based centers. Those funds will go to universities with expertise in agents of biological warfare, emergency medical service, educational outreach, technical assistance, interdisciplinary public policy research, and engineering; with affiliations to the Department of Agriculture as well as animal and plant diagnostic labs; and with established means of outreach regarding science, technology and public policy.
Does that description sound familiar? There’s a rumor that Texas A&M is first in line to get all this; why should the Aggies beat us to this punch?
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases plans to set up ten centers of excellence to conduct basic and clinical research, train the next generation of biodefense scientists, and help out in case of attack. The centers will require microbiologists, cell biologists, virologists and chemists—and the institute’s director has said publicly that a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach will increase the chance of a successful bid.
If we are in the doldrums in terms of the good stuff for partnerships at the state level, let’s take advantage of our strength at the federal level and the money that is being apportioned out rather generously for research projects in which we are best of breed, projects that specifically require collaboration for success. It’s like a gold-edged invitation to a party that we miss at our peril.
Marine sciences are another area where we have a unique set of advantages in this state. How can we let Maryland beat us out for federal support in marine sciences when we have one of the longest and most interesting coastlines in the world, with intersections of land, estuaries and deep water that form fascinating areas for research? It’s an area were we have worked together, but not nearly enough. NC State scientists in Morehead City regularly use the research vessel, the Cape Hatteras, berthed at our Marine Lab in Beaufort for work on diseases of oysters and blue crabs. And Our faculty and graduate students are building their own small-scale collaborations, along with colleagues from Chapel Hill. But we could and should be doing so much more.
You will not be surprised to hear that I’m a preacher’s kid, and I know I’m preaching to the choir. But I do feel passionate about this, and I worry that we are letting some magnificent opportunities slip away because short-sighted concerns are dominating our choices. If it’s not a good time for the state and the businesses in the park to help us big-time, let’s do it ourselves as the Triangle universities, with help from businesses in the rest of the world that need our expertise, and with research support from the federal government. The state will benefit enormously, and in good time, our other partners will again be in a position to join us.
ConclusionThey say the planning horizon for some Japanese companies is 100 years out. I had a look at some 100-year-old prophecies during the millennial year, and they did not bode well. H.G. Wells talked of anti-gravity paint that would enable spaceships to break Earth’s orbit; the great Lord Kelvin declaimed, "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible"; and the director of the U.S. Patent Office pompously announced in 1899 that "Everything that can be invented has been invented."
Fortunately for the research enterprise, he was mistaken; and I am grateful that Duke has a strategic plan for only ten years out.
But last year, a communications industry executive in RTP commented, "Everyone is talking about the current state budget deficit and how to fix it. Nobody, absolutely nobody, is looking five years out. These short-term horizons are clouding over the region’s ability to plan," If we, and our legislators, and our citizens, do not ask ourselves "How do we want to grow?" we may find that we do not grow at all. Where’s the smart money? Collaboration.
If I have been optimistic—or even idealistic—in thinking about the advantages collaboration offers us, it is because I do not care for the alternative.
You may know the story about the woman who stopped by the fortune-teller’s tent at the state fair. The seer peers into his crystal ball and frowns. "The next 15 years of your life," he intones, "will be filled with disappointment, unhappiness, and poverty."
"Then what happens?" asks the anxious customer. "Then you’ll get used to it," was the response.
So forgive me, but I’m not going there! And I think that we, our administrations, our faculties, and in the long run our state government and our business partners, too, have the guts and the brains to do the right thing. Our predecessors did and we should too.
I don’t believe in crystal balls. Like Thomas Jefferson I’m a great believer in luck, and as he said, I find that the harder we work, the more we have of it. I’m also a great believer in North Carolina, and in the wonderful advantages and potential of this great state. And finally, as you have heard, I’m a great believer in collegiality, and you have shown collegiality at its best with your kind invitation and close attention. Thank you."
Chair Carter thanked everyone for attending and adjourned the meeting at 5:00 p.m.