Time for a realignment?
For the next couple of months, NCARs realignment committee will consult with staffers from across the organization over possible adjustments to the organizations structure. The goal of a realignment would be to ensure that NCAR continues to deliver scientific research needed by the university community and policy makers.
"An institution has to evolve over time," says NCAR director
Tim Killeen. "Were facing significant interdisciplinary science
problems of national importance. The question for the realignment is:
How can we adjust our current configuration to address these problems
One possibility that is likely to be discussed is the creation of new
entities, or institutes, within the organization. One of the possible
institutes, which committee members refer to as "Crosscutting Initiatives,"
would focus on NCARs strategic initiatives (interdivisional programs,
such as biogeoscience, that get funding each year). Another, which is
referred to as "Math in Geosciences," would work on new mathematical
techniques to support science throughout the organization.
In addition, the realignment committee is looking into the possibility
of expanding and renaming two of its existing divisions. The Environmental
and Societal Impacts Group, which may be renamed "Coupled Human-Natural
Systems," will bring on board more social scientists to study how
decision makers can make the best use of the latest environmental research
to help society. The Advanced Study Program, which may become the "Advanced
Studies Institute," will bring in more scientific visitors and
more graduate students.
The realignment committee, which consists of members drawn from every division, will present a plan to Tim by Thanksgiving. (See Realignment Committee membership.) NCAR may begin to implement the changes next year.
NCAR deputy director Larry Winter.
"This is a natural evolution of the organization in directions
that allow us to address the large scientific needs of the nation in
regard to climate and weather," Larry says.
Spurring the realignment, a review panel set up by NSF recommended
last year that UCAR and NCAR "should think carefully about the
current UCAR/NCAR management structures in the light of evolving research
needs and leadership role of NCAR and should determine whether structural
readjustments or realignments could best meet these evolving needs."
The committee does not expect to greatly transform or eliminate any
NCAR has undergone several realignments in the past. Most recently, in the 1980s, the organization split up the Atmospheric Analysis and Prediction Division, much of which landed in the newly created Climate and Global Dynamics Division.
Under the coming realignment, scientists could fall into one of three
categories, Larry says. One possibility is for some scientists to remain
entirely within the existing divisions; some would split their time
between the divisions and the new institutes, and some would work entirely
within the new institutes.
The committee has formed several subcomittees to review the implications
of a realignment. The subcommittees are looking at the budgetary and
administrative impacts of a realignment, as well as fleshing out plans
to bolster mathematics and put a stronger focus on strategic initiatives.
During the next couple of months, Larry and other members of the realignment committee will hold a series of meetings with staffers to discuss realignment plans. Staffers can also can e-mail Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org or Catherine Shea in the directors office at email@example.com, or they can talk with one of the other committee members. David Hosansky