The October meetings
Representatives of UCAR members and affiliates gathered in Boulder at UCAR’s Center Green campus for the 2003 Annual Members Meeting on
7–8 October. In addition to regular business, this year’s meeting included UCAR Forum sessions on how to enhance collaborations between the universities and NCAR scientists and educators in the context of new technologies, funding issues, and other agents of change in
our nation’s universities.
New trustees elected
One of the important duties of the UCAR members’ representatives is to vote for new members of the Board of Trustees. The new (in bold) and continuing board members are listed below.
Duderstadt opens UCAR Forum
What is the role of the research university in today’s shifting technological and social climate? James Duderstadt (president emeritus, University of Michigan) addressed this question in his kickoff to the 2003 UCAR Forum. Duderstadt, author of A University for the 21st Century and several other books on the future of higher education, urged UCAR members to “take out a blank piece of paper” and start from scratch, envisioning what tomorrow’s citizens need to know and how universities will serve them.
“The authority of faculty in the teaching process is shifting,” said Duderstadt. “Students are taking much more control of this process.” As technology evolves at a breakneck pace, students are entering and exploring the academy in a variety of nontraditional ways, said Duderstadt. Faculty, in turn, must rethink the traditional paradigm that Duderstadt sees as still dominant: “rather mundane use of classrooms and a highly structured curriculum.”
Duderstadt also discussed a “convergence of universities with other knowledge-intensive organizations.” Helping to drive these partnerships are what Duderstadt calls “the market forces now sweeping the world”—as evidenced by the current “Darwinian competition” among universities for the best facilities, academic leaders, and athletic programs. Moreover, state support is now viewed by some “as a highly regressive tax where the poor pay for the education of the rich . . . The average family income of students at my university and others has soared to more than $100,000.” Such schools may find themselves coupling high rates of tuition with generous financial aid.
Panelists weigh in
In the panel discussion that followed Duderstadt’s talk, the themes of technology and market-driven evolution continued. “Our world is changing very rapidly,” said John Snow (University of Oklahoma). “[Today’s students] have figured out how to use the tools to learn things in ways that we don’t. ” Snow noted that many of today’s doctoral students are over 30, making their experience with technology far different than that of undergraduates who’ve been using the Internet most of their lives.
Rosina Bierbaum (University of Michigan) and William Gern (University of Wyoming) both called for a greater emphasis on well-considered multidisciplinary work. “I think we need to make it easier for students to get joint degrees, ” said Bierbaum. However, she cautioned, “many attempts at interdisciplinary research tend to be rather sophomoric, because they proceed in a linear fashion.” Snow agreed: “I think just bringing current academic units together, with the idea that the sun will rise and all will be well, is naive.” At Wyoming, said Gern, “It’s a real challenge to those of us in a small state to figure out how we’ll move our university forward.” His goal is to engender trust among his faculty as they grow more accustomed to discipline-spanning degrees. “We have a lot of programs that are very narrow and very, very thin,” says Gern.
Gary Ostrander (Johns Hopkins University) touched on some of the fiscal issues facing universities. The increasing revenue stream from university-industry partnerships will come with “big strings attached,” such
as restrictions on publication, said Ostrander. At the same time, universities themselves are major players in their local economies. According to Ostrander, Johns Hopkins is now the largest employer in Maryland.
Following the panel discussion, members split into five breakout groups to discuss topics of keen interest to the university community. Summaries of each breakout meeting, prepared by the session leaders, are available in PDF form on the meeting follow-up site (see “On the Web”) under Members Meeting Forum Summary. The topics included:
- Water cycle
- Next-generation observing systems
- Next-generation faculty
The University Relations Committee met immediately following the Members Meeting. This committee serves as a bridge between UCAR, its members, and NCAR, and reports to UCAR president Richard Anthes.
John Merrill (University of Rhode Island) was elected as the new URC chair, replacing Eric Betterton (University of Arizona). John will chair the next meeting, to be hosted by Gene Takle at Iowa State University. The new (in bold) and continuing board members are listed in the sidebar at right.
One of the functions of the URC is to review the proposals submitted over the past six months by NCAR to non-NSF entities and by UOP to NCAR’s core NSF funding. This review is intended to ensure that NCAR and UOP are not engaging in unfair competition with the universities. Subcommittee chair Merrill reported that the review process is running smoothly. In its review of the 78 proposals submitted from January through June 2003, the subcommittee found the cosponsorship ratios to be very reasonable and the documentation thorough, according to Merrill.
The committee continued a discussion of the role of the three NCAR and UOP staff appointed to the URC each year as resource people. The URC decided to move these three slots into full committee membership rather than continuing their observer status. In the future, the names of resource appointees will be included on the URC slate for election at the Annual Members Meeting.
by Susan Friberg, UCAR governance liaison, and Bob Henson