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VP Jackson Delivers Keynote Address to Research Administrators Conference

Date: April 27, 2000
By: Chris Curran
Phone: (513) 556-1806
Archive: Research News

Howard Jackson, vice president for Research and university dean of Advanced Studies, took a theoretical step up from his eighth floor office in Edwards One to offer a "10,000 foot view" of research and the changing role of research universities. Jackson served as the keynote speaker for the annual meeting of the Ohio Chapter of the Society of Research Administrators April 23-24 at the Kingsgate Conference Center.

Whether zooming in to the local level or zooming out to provide a global view, Jackson emphasized the importance of universities in both education and economics. "Universities are one of our oldest institutions," said Jackson. "but the role of the university has certainly changed. The 'knowledge economy' is here to stay, and we're an important part of that." Jackson suggested that research administrators take a lesson from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is expected to get a 13 percent budget increase this year while the National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts aren't expected to see any significant increase in funding.

"Think about tying research goals to national goals. The NIH has done that with programs focused on the heart, the lung, the Human Genome Project. We need huge ideas, and in the end, we might get more support both from the public and from Congress." On the state level, Jackson shared the highlights of an economic analysis done by Case Western Reserve University that clearly showed the importance of education and economic development. The five most highly educated states had average incomes soaring above the rest, with the five least highly educated states settled uncomfortably at the bottom of the income scale.

Less than a quarter of Ohioans earn bachelor's degrees, and Jackson said the impact is obvious. "From per capita income to employment growth, Ohio is well below the national average. We're 45th in the number of new businesses started. We're not doing very well." Locally, Jackson was encouraged by a number of developments, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Procter & Gamble Regional Technology Initiatives, which include UC as key partner. There are also new opportunities for faculty to develop their ideas into patents and commercially viable products and businesses. They began with the BioStart incubator in 1996 and now include Emerging Concepts Inc. and the new BioVentures development fund to support very risky, but potentially high-return ideas.

Jackson said if Ohio is willing to make an investment similar to that made by Georgia, Michigan, Illinois, Texas and other states, "the payoff will be substantial."

The Ohio SRA meeting was chaired by Brian Gladue, research facilitator at UC's Institute for Health Policy and Health Services Research and president-elect of the association.

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