March 29, 2005

Research 'town meeting' is April 4

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's second annual "town meeting" on research will take place from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Monday, April 4, in Student Center Ballroom D on the SIUC campus. Refreshments, available at 3 p.m., will precede the meeting.

"We had somewhere around 150 people turn out for the one we held last year, " said Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Dean John A. Koropchak.

"We got a lot of feedback that indicated they were appreciative that we had the meeting and looked forward to opportunities to discuss research and scholarly and creative activity on campus."

As with last year's meeting, Koropchak and his staff will update those who attend on the status of research at SIUC and some of the crucial challenges it faces.

"Part of the value of this kind of meeting is to find out where we are because people can be apprehensive about things when they don't have information," he said.

"We can publish all the documents we want, but reading them and fathoming what's going on can sometimes be two different things. We will be providing opportunities for discussion and answering questions people might have about the data."

In fact, Koropchak said, he intends to reserve most of the meeting for discussion because the University's researchers must deal with some "significant issues."

"The most significant is the chancellor's challenge to increase graduate enrollment by more than 1,000 students by the year 2010," Koropchak said.

"That's a lot — an increase of nearly 30 percent — and we have only five years in which to do it. To achieve that goal, we have got to be able to take advantage of the ideas and talents of virtually everyone on campus who is involved in graduate programs. We hope there will be a great deal of discussion about this — it's one of our primary agenda items."

The SIUC research community also needs to discuss changes in the funding environment.

"Traditionally, we have relied more on state support for scholarly activities than most universities do, but we are slowly switching to more emphasis on federal support," Koropchak said.

"During these lean budget years, that has put a dent in our productivity. How do we respond as a university — do we come up with different tactics for assessing our success?"

Koropchak also noted that federal support is shifting from projects involving basic research to those that involve security and defense.

"Do we need to begin thinking about those changes as far as getting grants is concerned?"

Last year's meeting concluded with an open forum that allowed those attending to bring up any topic for discussion. Koropchak plans to repeat that aspect in this year's event.

In addition to Koropchak's office, the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Council, Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Xi are sponsoring the meeting.